New York (July 7, 2006)–As far as urban parks go, Bryant Park is pretty cool. Nestled behind the gorgeous main branch of the New York Public Library and only a block away from Times Square, the impecably manicured Park is the center of it all. During Fashion Week, it’s home to some of the biggest fashion shows of the year; other times, it hosts movies, political rallies, circuses and more. And, hey–free WiFi throughout. Despite all this, however, it’s Good Morning America‘s summer concert series that gives the park an extra high-profile, bringing the tiny plot of land into 4.5 million homes across the country.
Every Friday morning at 8:30 AM throughout the summer, ABC News and GMA broadcast a live concert from the Park, offering up cool showsby Prince, Mary J. Blige, The Beach Boys and even the Pussycat Dolls. The shows routinely fill half the park, about 2,000 people, all who hear the proceedings through a Yamaha PM5D for the FOH mix, while another is used for the monitor mix. The equipment is provided by Wireless First (Mt. Vernon, NY) in conjunction with Solotech, a Montreal-based sound and lighting company who also supplies all PA gear for the Summer Concert Series. ABC staff mix engineers drive the PM5Ds.
For the morning broadcast, production setup starts at midnight. The AV crew doesn’t get stage access until 3:30 AM. Line check is at 5 AM (with an hour break) and soundcheck at 7 AM. “We can’t make noise until 7 AM,” said head music mixer, JC Convertino, who mixes the live broadcast feed in the OSR truck (from Effanel/XM Satellite Radio) on two Yamaha DM2000 digital audio consoles, strapped together, giving him access to a 48-fader control surface. That mix feeds the ABC HD production truck and another Yamaha console, a PM5D.
Key to bringing the sound to the crowd outside–and the homes across America–is the wireless rig, falling under the aegis of Mary Falardeau audio coordinator. “We have a base package of equipment that, with some variation, is there every week,” she said. “The biggest variable is the wireless portion, which changes week to week. Half the acts want monitor wedges, and half of them want in-ear monitors. For Mary J. Blige [June 23], there were no monitors on stage at all, except for the drum sub. No bass amp, no guitar amps, no side fills. Nothing. Everyone’s on ears.” Ten of those in-ear monitors were hard-wired, with the only person on wireless ears (Sennheisser G2’s) being Mary J. Blige.
“The PM5D has become a standard for touring because it’s so flexible,” said Falardeau. “From the touring engineers’ perspective, it eliminates a lot of guesswork. They don’t have to worry about what processing racks you’re going to give them because you’re not going to give them any. The processing is all in the desk. And this makes things a lot more consistent from show to show. Half the monitor engineers we work with now come with their monitor settings on a card that they plug into the PM5D. That’s a huge advantage for these guys, especially on a show like this where we have so little time. Engineers don’t have to deal with levels and assignments. They just plug in their card and we’re good-to-go. Because the PM5D has become such a popular desk, more and more engineers are likely to do this.” Mary J. Blige’s engineer, Ramon Morales, requested a PM5D and had his settings on a card.
Convertino controls what he says is always a collaborative effort between the GMA guest artists’ production staff, FOH personnel and the artists. “I’ve had the opportunity to work with so many people now, from FOH guys to the artists themselves, that when they appear on GMA they know they’re in good hands. The FOH guys mainly just sit back and enjoy the show.”