Crews busy setting up before the Tree Lighting Ceremony at Rockefeller Center. INSET : PR G used gear by VUE Audiotechnik for the first time this year. NEW YORK, NY—In New York City, the Christmas season doesn’t officially start until the tree at Rockefeller Plaza is lit— an event that happened December 1st during the televised annual Rockefeller Center Tree Lighting Ceremony. As always, Armonk, NY-based Production Resource Group (PRG) handled the event’s audio, but sadly, this year’s edition found the audio team remembering Jim Lovell of Cold Spring, NY, an audio crewmember who died only days earlier in a train derailment north of the city. NBC dedicated the broadcast to Lovell.
Of course, the show must go on, and it did, with a strong list of performers for the event, including Mary J. Blige, Goo Goo Dolls, Jewel and Mariah Carey. PRG has handled the event for more than two decades.
Beneath the 76-foot Norway spruce that was shipped to New York City back in early November sits the famous Rockefeller Center skating rink, which in turn held one stage, along with a VIP area. A second, smaller stage was located on the east side of the skating rink to alternate performances during the broadcast special. For speakers on those areas, PRG used a VUE Audiotechnik al-4 line array system.
For the public audience, the set up for the event covered a four block area, spanning from 48th Street to 51st Street between 5th and 6th Avenues in the center of Manhattan. To help distribute the sound down the streets, PRG set up al-4 and L-Acoustics V-Dosc line array systems on stands that cranked up above the crowds during the performance. “It’s a lot of area to cover, and we couldn’t do something like this without a quality speaker,” said Bob Rendon, vice president, Audio, at PRG
Three Yamaha PM5D consoles controlled the stages, with two for monitors and a third for FOH, manned by engineer Joe Turiczek. All of the wireless systems and mics, including a bedazzled Shure UR2 mic for Mariah Carey, were provided by Clair Global’s wireless division.
On Sunday, December 1, Lovell, 58, was traveling into New York City on the Metro-North Hudson train line when the train derailed. Lovell was one of four passengers who died that day.
Lovell, a freelance audio engineer with PRG, had worked on the tree lighting ceremony for 18 years, Rendon said, and had been traveling into the city that morning to help set up for Wednesday’s event. He described Lovell as a kind, dedicated worker, who always showed up early ready to work, rain or shine.
Members of Lovell’s community have started an online fundraiser to help support Lovell’s family. To donate, visit http://www.gofundme. com/5jmdbg. At press time, the fundraiser, intended to raise $15,000, has already passed the $110,000 mark.