Sennheiser, HBO Give Student a Leg Up in Sports-Audio Job Market

Last weekend, thanks to a sponsorship by HBO Sports and Sennheiser, Dustin Gregg made his first strides toward an audio career in sports broadcasting. A student at the New England Institute of Art, he will graduate this spring with a host of contacts, having spent more than 26 hours in the HBO compound last weekend shadowing the A1 at the network’s Boxing After Dark event at Mohegan Sun.

“We’ve discovered that not only does this work but it could be a huge opportunity to be a great success story,” says Jason Cohen, director of East Coast production for HBO. Cohen opens the doors of his nationwide productions to student workers and observers whenever possible. “Sennheiser did a phenomenal job of vetting someone who was enthusiastic, eager, hard-working, and incredibly curious. My audio team responded phenomenally to him and welcomed him with open arms.”

HBO Sports A1 Randy Flick spent two days mentoring student Dustin Gregg at Mohegan Sun Arena.

Gregg spent most of his eight hours on Friday and 19 hours on Saturday at Mohegan Sun Arena shadowing Randy Flick, the event’s A1.

“I had the opportunity to work alongside some of the best in the business, and it was really cool to get a real-world feel for everything,” he says. “I was exposed to information and situations that could never be conveyed in a classroom setting. Being out in the field adds a whole new element to the learning experience.”

Gregg has been to production compounds for events produced by NESN, MASN, and MSG network, so he has seen the technical setup for some hockey, baseball, and tennis matches. However, HBO’s boxing setup was much larger than he expected, so having Flick as a ready and willing tour guide was crucial to giving Gregg a positive experience in the compound.

“Learning the A1 position from Randy Flick is like learning basketball from Michael Jordan,” he says. “Randy was really great about showing me step-by-step everything that goes on with the audio side of things. Other times that I’ve been on shows, I was just setting up headphones and microphones, so it was really cool to be in the truck and see what goes on there.”

In addition to discussing the signal flow of the show and establishing all the communication lines — IFB and PL — Gregg worked on routing, patching, and even console setup.

“I was very perplexed by the setup and establishment of the communications lines,” he says. “After going with Randy through the entire communications system, my understanding of it improved tenfold. We went over every piece of gear and every patch made when establishing those communication lines. It took my knowledge of broadcast audio to a new level.”

Flick was very impressed with Gregg’s effort throughout the two-day show.

“I think he’ll make a great addition to someone’s broadcast audio team someday,” Flick says. “He had some good initial training with the classes that he had taken, and he was able to expand his knowledge by observing a major network operation from the inside out.”

Gregg also spent time with Paul Hoggatt, the A2 on the show and a 20-year veteran of HBO boxing. Hoggatt took him ringside to set up microphones and communications for the announce table as well as ring effects mics.

After the event, Flick extended an open invitation to Gregg to sit in on any show he does in the Northeast. Gregg also exchanged information with Cohen, who likewise is open to working with him on future shows.

“The crew would love to have him back on a future show as a working member of the team,” Cohen says. “If we can go from end to end, take someone who’s coming out of college who wants to learn more and get them into the job market by hiring them when we’re in their area, then this program is a total success.”

Both HBO and Sennheiser are interested in continuing this sponsorship at future events and will discuss the program at SVG’s College Sports Video Summit this June in Atlanta. Click here to register for the event.