Back in the mid-90’s I worked for a corporate AV company. There was a myriad of “gigs” involved. Political rallies,Fund raisers, Fashion shows, Training sessions, Video shoots,Etc.
I started to become the audio guy of the bunch. The long timer guys had moved on from audio so I was the default A1 on the crew. I found a work-order for a new and interesting assignment. A luncheon for some collegiate athletes celebrating their newfound scholarships.
The gig entailed a handful of local celebrities, giving speeches and awards. The keynote speaker was Coach John Wooden. Only, he wasn’t actually there. I had a telephone interface feeding the telephone audio into the PA system for the attendees to listen to him, and a return feed of the podium mic and an audience mic for him to hear the cues, responses,questions and applause. If you are old enough to remember Phil Donahue-when he would dart around the audience-then ask, “Is the caller there?” Pretty much the same thing. The contact for the event handed me a California phone number with instructions to call at a given time before the event to call and test both directions of the signal. Then I was to call him back at showtime for him to speak to the folks and take a few questions.
Here is a quick rundown of the conversations:
Me: “Hello, Mr. Wooden?”
Me: “Hello sir, My name is Rob, I am with the production company handling tonight’s ev-[interrupted]
Me: “ok, I just need to adjust the level of your phone and make sure you can hear the podium mic”
Me: “can you count from one to ten in a steady pace so I can-”
Me: “o…k.” [I didn’t even have time to adjust the phone to my ear-with my shoulder and grab the gain pot to check]
Me: “ok sir, I am going to put the phone down and speak into the mic. Let me know if you hear everything to your satisfaction?”
JW: [pause] ….”What?”
[It has come to my attention that Coach Wooden wants NOTHING to do with the entire process]
Me: “I just want to make sure that you can hear the presenter/Emcee in your phone handset”
Me: “Ok, 1,2,3,4,5,6…are you hearing any of this?”
Me “Are you having trouble hearing me sir?”
JW: “No, I can hear it”
Me: “[confused] Ok, is the level working for you?”
Me: “Great, I will call you back at”-CLICK-…..dial tone
The mother fucker hung up on me.
Fast forward to the given time to call him and set him up for his speech and Q&A session.
Me: “Hello Mr Wooden” [Mind you, I am whispering since there is a presenter giving a speech in the ballroom at this point]
Me: “This is Rob again calling from Indianapolis-”
JW: “What? Who?”
Me: “-Rob, with the production-”
JW: “WHO IS THAT TALKING?”
Me: “It is the Emcee-name omitted”
JW: “Oh, How long until I speak?”
Me: “Less than four minutes sir”
Me: “I have the script, I’ll give you a ten second warning if you like?”
JW: “……pause…..”Huh? oh, sure.”
Now, let me imply the tone of his voice thru this entire process. He is very impatient and doesn’t want ANYTHING to do with me or any of this process. So,it gets close to the emcee giving him an intro, and I pick the handset back up, and whisper, “Mr. Wooden, are you ready?”
JW: “Yes, I am listening”
The Emcee then calls out his name, and the nicest, friendliest voice you can imagine comes thru the PA system. He gives his speech, answers 3-4 questions wishes all of the athletes well, and everyone claps. As they are clapping, I mute the signal, grab the headset and pick it up to thank him,
Me: “Mr. Wooden?”
Me: “thanks for all of your help!”
JW: [speaking over the sentence I am saying to him] “uh-huh….”
Mother Fucker Hung up On Me AGAIN.
I was tempted to stick that phone number into my pocket and call him back after a bender, let him have a piece of my irish mind.
But that would be unprofessional.