Grad Spotlight: Follow Up with Eric Nichols

In a previous post, we mentioned CRAS Grad Eric Nichols. Eric started his audio career training at the Conservatory of Recording Arts and Sciences in October of 2010. Since then he has been constantly working in various fields, and has recently landed a pretty sweet gig! While he spent a lot of his time doing radio and live sound, he recently got accepted as Associate Producer with Learfield Sports in Missouri. We recently caught up with him, and here is his report from his first week on the job!

“Aside from a very nice welcome package waiting for me on my studio chair (flash drive, new bag, receptionist greeting card and more), I was put to work almost right away learning the ropes after reintroducing myself to people I met during my interview.

“I was in charge of getting all radio stations hooked up with radio station personalized liners for football season. YES! Football season starts the day after the national championship game. So I will get scripts and send them to all the play-by-play guys to read for the local stations. I am also writing and producing some of the football promos for all Universities, 2 generic and one custom…so we have to research new coaches, players up for the Heisman award and things like that to see what is going on with each football program!

“The only sports going on right now is NCAA Baseball Tournament action. Compared to Football and Basketball, its very slow going and long hours with rain delays, double headers and the loser’s bracket. But it’s a great time to learn how to get your feet wet. For the most part I setup the computers and the ISDN satellite lines for that days games. A software called Sky View runs the commercials when cued up with a mouse click. Then there is a great program called “highlight capture”. When the board operator hears a big play they can hit record and it starts recording 2 minutes BEFORE the point where you hit record, so nothing is cut off. Then the producer edits it down with fades in and out, and a vocal compressor. Sometimes (especially during basketball) you gotta be a super quick editor to get the highlights on in time if requested!

“We also record every broadcast for archiving purposes in Adobe Audition. A few play by play people request highlights for the next day’s game or for morning show sportscast.

“Like almost every other profession, bad stuff happens. We have stations who on their side lose the broadcast, so we have phone lines for each university ready to go so they can run the game off the phone line. It’s not as good as a satellite signal but its gets everyone’s commercials cleared and ran on the air!

“Usually if we “lose the satellite signal” for a game, it’s a quick redial of the ISDN line. It’s as quick as calling anyone on a cell phone, but it sounds like the old 56k dial up!

“I will say I am amazed how much the stuff I learned at CRAS makes me friends with the Chief Engineers since I speak their language. I think I am going to help with the installation of the new broadcast booths if allowed to!

“The company in general has blown me away with the hospitality of its employees. It’s a company everyone would enjoy. I met the CEO today and he said “let’s do lunch, I wanna get to know you.” I WAS FLOORED! But then again, he’s the guy who participated in the Learfield Harlem Shake video!

“Every signal also runs thru a DBX 160 with a 6:1 ratio…[Here at the Conservatory we have a DBX 160 in nearly every studio]

“As we prepare for Football season, I hear the work will be ungodly. There is hell week in August and I have been told to prepare my wife for not seeing me for that month. So many commercials to prepare and produce!”

It’s awesome to hear that things are working out so well for you, Eric! It takes a lot of work to get somewhere in the audio industry, a lot of patience and a lot of dedication. We can also see here that there is a lot more to the audio industry than just music, movies and television. The entire broadcast spectrum of the audio field is something a lot of people don’t think about! There are so many radio stations, live shows, sports games, car races and other live events that require all sorts of audio technicians – from the mics on stage, on the floor, to the producer’s desk, to the broadcast room and beyond!