Dr. Fritz Sennheiser, the founder of audio specialist Sennheiser would often say, "Luck is chance plus preparation." Since 2009, the company's Student Mentorship Program has been providing audio students real-world preparation to become audio professionals in the sports broadcasting industry, working in collaboration with top broadcast networks such as HBO and Fox Sports.
Zachary Templin, who participated in Sennheiser's Student Mentorship Program in 2012, recently got a chance to apply the knowledge he acquired as a participant in the program, having been hired by HBO to be lead RF coordinator on its first Pay-Per-View boxing match broadcast from outside the U.S. Templin, who already had three major national broadcast events under his belt under, one of them in the Mentorship Program, was recruited as an understudy to lead RF A2 Lloyd Jacobsen, who was not able to attend due to an emergency just six days before the crew was set to broadcast the Pacquiao vs. Rios boxing match from Macau, China.
"Zach's situation represents the perfect scenario of the Sennheiser mentorship program," commented Jason Cohen, director, sports production at HBO. "This is a young man who started with us in September of last year and quickly immersed himself into the audio team. Almost instantaneously, he became a person we wanted to use in a freelance capacity in an A2 role."
Templin's chance to lead as RF coordinator for the Pay-Per-View bout in China came about partly through being at the right place at the right time, but mostly by his being prepared. While shadowing lead RF A2 Jacobsen during the Ward-Rodruiguez bout at the Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, Calif. on November 16th, Zach was asked to be an emergency fill-in for the event in China. "Not only did Zach finish the entire show by himself, but two days later, my lead engineer was supposed to fly to an island off of Hong Kong, Macau, to handle HBO’s first ever international PPV telecast."
"When my lead RF A2 couldn’t do it, my options were either to cold call freelancers who may or may not know our show, or asking Zach, who just spent the past month working with Lloyd on the RF system, "When I asked Zach how well he knew the system, he said 'I know it, I can do it.' He had absolutely no hesitation or pause, and his response was so convincing that I knew he was ready." Cohen then asked him to fly home to pick up his passport and his bag, and he was in Hong Kong six days later.
For the Macau production, HBO's mission was to recreate a 'Las Vegas' style Pay-Per-View event, maintaining a similar standard of quality the company has firmly established in its domestic broadcasts. This required shipping a flypack setup with over 200 cases of equipment and overcoming other logistical hurdles such as working on off-hours in a foreign country alongside a mostly non-English speaking production crew.
"To achieve a smooth and seamless production, we turned to our friends at Bexel and they sent a Hercules Fly Pack, an elite production system that provided all the flexibility we needed," said Cohen. "It was the most beautiful, pristine flypack I've ever seen and our team was blown away by its firepower and overall monster size."
Randy Flick, senior audio mixer, HBO Boxing, worked closely with Zach throughout his participation in the Sennheiser Student Mentorship Program, which included many HBO productions including the Pacquiao-Rios bout in Macau. "He just performed wonderfully," says Flick. "It is a really big deal moving this production outside of the U.S. and the engineering team knocked it out of the park." As lead A2 RF coordinator, some of Templin's responsibilities included coordinating frequencies on the RF software program, ensuring RF beltpacks and wireless microphones are operational and assembling RF antennas.
Lloyd Jacobsen has nothing but accolades for Templin: "I had done all the prep work for China, but I couldn’t go due to a last minute emergency," he said. "Zach just went in my place and just tore it up. What he was able to pull off was very impressive. Having a few shows under his belt leading up to that was key."
The Sennheiser Student Mentorship Program has proven to be a win-win for not only for students and top broadcast networks, but also for the larger broadcast industry as a whole. "We want to make sure that the new people coming into our shows have the required knowledge, and the only way they can learn is by doing. Our partnership with Sennheiser has been a great and they have provided many capable mentoring students," observes Randy Flick. Jason Cohen agrees: "The program gives my guys a chance to reach out to this community of younger talent and offer them opportunities that many others didn’t have when coming into this industry. At the same time we are able to build a pool of talent that we can rely on with young men who are eager to learn."
For Zach Templin, the program has offered a depth of experience that he would not have otherwise been able to acquire: "It’s not experience you can get locally, because these are major national, and sometimes worldwide broadcasts that only happen a few times a year. There is no other mentorship program that I know of that gets you into the thick of things on such a large scale."