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Ohio U Student Gets Taste of Audio Mixing at NASCAR

Fred Aldous, A1 and senior mixer for Fox Sports, pictured alongside Ohio U student David Polster on site at the NASCAR Coca-Cola 600.
Fred Aldous, A1 and senior mixer for Fox Sports, pictured alongside Ohio U student David Polster on site at the NASCAR Coca-Cola 600. (Photo courtesy of Sennheiser.)

A unique mentoring opportunity allowed an Ohio University student to shadow a veteran production mixer for Fox Sports during the NASCAR Coca-Cola 600 race earlier this year. David Polster, a music production major at the Athens-based university, recently spent three days with Fred Aldous onsite in Charlotte, NC to watch how production comes together for one of the physically largest sporting events in the world.

The three-day internship was set up by audio company Sennheiser and Mike Rodriguez, director of the student professional development program at WOUB Public Media, a PBS affiliate that sits on the campus of Ohio U. "The Sennheiser mentorship program is an extremely valuable opportunity since we do not get a lot of live productions with big trucks like the NASCAR event rolling through Athens," Rodriguez said.

As the "host" broadcaster for the event, Fox Sports provides feeds for ESPN, International Sports Broadcasting, and other vendors on site. "We have close to 20 semi-trucks in the compound at any one time, so essentially it's a very complex setup," Aldous explained. "One of the biggest takeaways for the student is to gain an understanding of not only what I do as a sports mixer, but also how everything interacts and interfaces as a whole."

On day one, Aldous walked Polster through of the facilities at the racetrack. On day two Polster sat with Aldous for part of the day and observed individual setups, including the announcement booth and microphone installations around the track. On Sunday, when the race took place, Polster spent the day with Aldous in the mixing truck.

"Whenever I mentor students, I intentionally try to overwhelm them since it gives me a good indication of just how serious they are about going into the broadcast audio field," Aldous said. "The NASCAR Coca-Cola 600 is the perfect event to immerse a student since it's probably the largest live production setup they would ever get to see."

"It was a very exciting experience," Polster said. "There is no way you can learn about this level of broadcast engineering event from a text book. Sennheiser's mentorship program helped me determine that live sports broadcasting is a very viable career option for me."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at dian@dischaffhauser.com.

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