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My Most Embarrassing Moment: Confessions from Behind the Board

by Curt Taipale

Last year I wrote to our ChurchSoundcheck Discussion Group to ask about their Most Embarrassing Moment serving on the tech team in their church. Doesn’t matter if we minister on the sound, video, lighting, or music ministry — we all have them. I told the group “If you have a good story about a mistake that you’ve learned your lesson from, let us know — I’ll gather them up and who knows where they’ll end up.”

Well, here are just a handful of them, and I have to say these stories are absolutely priceless and wonderfully cathartic! Not to mention the fact that everyone reading these should feel a deep sense of reassurance that we’re all human and we sometimes make mistakes. Enjoy!

About 15 years ago, my assistant Eric and I were working a worship service for a women’s conference at Ridgecrest Conference Center where we were employed at the time. I was running sound and Eric was running lights and graphics. At the time we were using very simple PowerPoint graphics on a large center screen behind the podium.

When it came time for the message, Eric said he was going to step into the back part of the booth to work on a training video he had been editing for the Ridgecrest staff. I began to work on the computer inputting a last minute change to the invitation song. Eric had his headphones on starting his video editing, and I was concentrating on the computer, so obviously, neither of us were paying much attention to the message.

After a few minutes I began to notice some giggles from the crowd, but still not really paying much attention. A few moments later, a large roar of laughter started, so I looked up in time to see the speaker with a dumbfounded look on her face, uncertain as to why the crowd was laughing, totally oblivious to what was on the screen behind her. To my horror I had looked up just in time to see one of our Ridgecrest employees prancing goofily across the screen in a silly outfit and the words “How To LOSE A Ridgecrest Guest” in big bold letters!

In shear PANIC I went tearing into the back part of the booth scaring the pants off Eric who had no idea what was going on, but thinking I had lost my mind. Only after he ripped off his headphones could he hear me screaming “IT’S ON THE SCREEN! IT’S ON THE SCREEN!”

We had forgotten that we had switched the video projector from the VGA input to the Video input so that I could work on updating the PowerPoint file for the invitation. When Eric had begun his editing, it was visible on the screen for everyone present to see…except for the unfortunate speaker who had her back to the screen, and the two preoccupied tech guys in the booth!

After quickly fixing the problem, we both spent the rest of the message with our eyes glued to the platform and our hearts beating about 150 beats per minute. Of course at the end of the service, we made a beeline for the platform to apologize profusely to the ladies in charge of the conference and ESPECIALLY to the speaker. Thank the Lord they all had a good sense of humor and were quick to forgive us.

Draw your own conclusions as to the NUMEROUS lessons we learned from THAT ONE! 🙂

Contributed by Dave Duncan
Director of Worship Media
Biltmore Baptist Church
Asheville, NC

Several years ago my church did a night of singing. Probably 10-15 different people all with split tracks on cassette. I cued every one and double-checked. About mid way thru I hit play and the song was cued on the demo side. Of course I flipped the tape over re-cued and played the song. After it was all over, almost in tears, I handed the tape to the performer and apologized. He smiled and told me he could not remember the first words to the song and had it not been for me playing the demo he would have bombed.

He does work all things together for the good doesn’t He?

Contributed by Gary Vieth
Odessa, TX

OK I have two from years past:

1.
I’ve shared this with more than a few folks, but never put it in writing. I was in charge of wireless for the Miss America Pageant – which at the time, was a live to air broadcast. I had carefully mapped frequencies around the casinos and the convention center in Atlantic City. Still it was no walk in the park, and it took a lot of trial and error to get things working and stable. After a couple of days rehearsal with no major trouble, life was ok. Then, out of the blue, I had a loud intermittent buzz on one of the hand held mics. Then the same thing on one of the spares. I opened up the transmitter and all looked fine – it was perfectly stable – then I would tilt it and BZZZ – then nothing. Maddening. I would shake the mic – nothing – touch up solder on the power switch and on/off switch, microphone connections etc – all would be fine – then BZZZZ. What I didn’t notice was the rest of the crew trying to stop laughing in the background. It seems that one of the crew (Larry – I won’t reveal his last name) was catching live flies in a jar – then managed to transfer them inside the windscreen of the SM87’s. Genius.

2.
I was doing similar duty for the Country Music Awards, which at the time, was also live to air. All of the rehearsals had been flawless. Receivers were located in a rack under the stage with multiple remote antennas. When the show opened, there was an unexpected flash of light from the front of the stage. A photographer had been given access to set up without proper authorization. He had plugged his strobe lights into the power that was feeding the wireless receivers. When the strobes lit, they blew the circuit breaker. The primary wireless was dead – out came the spare, which was also dead – within 5 or so seconds the director went to commercial. No fun.

Contributed by Steve Barbar

Several years ago, I was running the board for a Saturday night service, and we had a guest speaker. I kept hearing something “funny” in the mix and was trying to isolate it, and get it out. So, once again I grabbed my phones, held one cup up to my right ear, and hit the solo button on the speaker’s channel. It took me about 10 seconds to realize that all I was hearing was very faint and through my left ear. A quick look down at the board, and I notice the red mute light is glowing, not the amber solo light. I quickly unmute the channel and decide that what I was hearing wasn’t that annoying anyway. I don’t think I touched the board the rest of the service except to shut it all down at the end 🙂

Contributed by Matt Sorrell
Richardson, TX
Tech Team Volunteer
Iglesia El Faro

There was the Sunday morning where the band started to play “on time” (I quote here cause our normal start time was at least 5 minutes late, but this week we managed to start right on time). Me and the rest of the tech crew had just finished praying and were not quite ready for down beat. I caught the signal from the MoM to start and nodded that we were ready. Lights, projection and video recording all hit their cue. I noticed very quickly that the room was strangely quiet, all you could hear was the piano, winds and brass and the sound of the sticks hitting the E-drum pads. Almost as quickly I realized I still had all the mute groups engaged. So I pulled back the master cleared the mutes and faded the master back up. Fortunately it was only a few seconds of the intro and no words were missed, but the looks from stage and the front row (pastor and senior staff) were more than enough to make we want to shrink into the background.

Contributed by Brant Harman
Grapevine, TX

For more of these stories, keep reading the TFWM newsletter and make sure to sign up for the ChurchSoundCheck Discussion Group here: http://www.churchsoundcheck.com/list.html

Compiled by Curt & Jeanna Taipale, Founders of the CSC Discussion Group

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