Sennheiser, HBO To Field New England Institute of Art Student at Boxing Event

This weekend, in cooperation with HBO Sports, Sennheiser is putting a student from the New England Institute of Art to work on a major sports broadcast. On the strength of his résumé and recommendations from professors, Dustin Gregg was selected to attend this weekend’s HBO Boxing event at Mohegan Sun as a shadow to the event’s A1, Randy Flick.

“I think it’s valuable that the principles of TV get passed on to people that are just starting out,” says Flick, who has been working on HBO boxing events for 11 years but has never before had a student shadow him. “There’s a lot of stuff that is just not in the books. You can learn how to mix in a studio, and you can learn a little bit about microphone placement, but, when you’re out working in arenas and stadiums, you have to make your sound consistent, and that kind of stuff just isn’t in the books. It’s best to learn it on-site.”

This weekend, Gregg will get the chance to do just that, thanks to the generosity of Sennheiser, which will be paying his way, and HBO Sports, which will be opening its doors to the soon-to-be graduate.

The New England Institute of Art has 450 audio students, and, thanks to strong connections with faculty members who are working engineers, within six months of graduation, 90% of students are working in the field.

“We have a number of students who work for companies like ESPN and Bose,” says John Krivit, associate professor at the Institute. “Oftentimes, at a college audio program, everyone comes in wanting to do music, but, when they see that there are all different kinds of options out there, they decide they would like to work at ESPN or in the control room at the Boston Garden. We look at the broader picture, so, for the students, it’s not just about music in a recording studio, but it’s live sound, sports broadcasts, all different types of things.”

The New England Institute of Art sent a student to intern with NBC Olympics in Beijing, so a partnership like the one HBO and Sennheiser have offered for this weekend is not completely new, but it’s not exactly an every-day occurrence either.

“David [Missall from Sennheiser] has presented at the Audio Engineering Society summit that we have,” Krivit says. “He is always well received. He decided that he wanted to work with our school to find a worthy student that he could sponsor to shadow an A1.”

Missall, who works in national market development for Sennheiser, had several teachers pick their top audio students who had an affinity for broadcast, receiving copies of their résumés.

“That list of students all had a professional mindset, good communications skills, and the passion to learn,” he says. After reading through the group of résumés and cover letters, Gregg’s qualifications stood out from the pack.

“He has had experience working as an intern with NESN and MASN,” Missall points out. “This is important because, with no broadcast experience, walking into a full-blown live sporting event can be overwhelming. If the student is too awed, he won’t learn and get the most out of the situation.”

Gregg will be graduating this year, so this weekend is an opportunity for him to make business contacts for future employment.

“He has a good handle on audio, 5.1 surround, soldering, postproduction, and mixing,” Missal explains. “Walking into this situation at HBO, he should be able to grab the concepts happening around him, ask good questions, and learn about the real world of mixing a live broadcast.”

Gregg will shadow Flick beginning on Friday, when the HBO Sports team will do a full day of setup at Mohegan Sun.

“We won’t have access to the arena floor on Friday because there’s an event there, but we’ll set the TV truck up and get all pieces and parts ready to go in on Saturday,” Flick explains. “We’ll have a long day on Saturday installing equipment, having rehearsals, and doing the show on Saturday night.”

In addition to spending time with Flick in the mobile-production truck, Gregg will head out into the field with Senior A2 Paul Hoggatt, who has worked on HBO Boxing for 20 years.

Flick is looking forward to this weekend’s experience almost as much as Gregg is. “I haven’t worked with anybody who’s been educated just out of school, so I’m curious as to what they’re teaching the students of today and what type of technology they’ve had a chance to work with. Now they’ll have a chance to see what we’re actually using in the broadcast field.”

Says Krivit, “Hopefully, this is a life- and career-changing opportunity that’s provided by Dave and the good people at Sennheiser.”

SVG will check back next week to report on Gregg’s shadowing experience at Mohegan Sun.

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