Practicing The “Lost Art” With Shure UHF-R Wireless

April 14, 2008

JC Convertino Mixes For ABC's “Good Morning America” NEW YORK, NY, April 14, 2008—Just like other morning shows all over the television airwaves, "Good Morning America" makes good use of live music. "So many acts have been through here that it's easier for me to recall those I haven't worked with as opposed to those I have," says veteran audio engineer John "JC" Convertino, the man behind the music mix on ABC's popular rise and shine program. "In the 10 years I've been doing this, everyone from Bruce Springsteen and Rascal Flatts to Maroon 5 and Lenny Kravitz have been on our stage at one time or another. The pace here is exceptionally fast, with each artist essentially showing up just as they would for any other tour stop. We have to do all the work required of a full-blown concert at Madison Square Garden and more, but usually just for two or three songs. If there's any real trick to it all, it's making each guest sound just like they do on their records." You'd be hard pressed to find anyone better suited for this kind of challenge than Convertino. In the business since 1974, he has logged countless hours in recording studios on both coasts working with major label acts, and has an avowed passion for what he describes as a “lost art” — recording live tracks without the benefit of overdubs, sampling, or any other studio trickery. "That's how we used to do it back in the day," he recalls. "We'd just bring everyone in, get them in the groove, and then capture everything on tape. A show like this is one of the few places left where an audio engineer is essentially faced with the same dynamic, except that the performance is live, not taped. We get one chance to make it sound great. No excuses, no second chances." Production for the show's musical segments either takes place inside the network's Times Square studios at 44th and Broadway, or, in good weather, outdoors…usually at New York's Bryant Park, which is nearby. Convertino readily admits that one of the biggest technical challenges he faces on the set comes from RF interference. Arriving at 3:00 A.M., he and the rest of the audio crew do everything they can to prepare in advance of the band's arrival, as the tyranny of the clock weighs heavily on each moment of their workday. "When we initially get here, we'll scan for open frequencies for our wireless systems and get everything all dialed-in," he relates. "On many days everything will remain fine until right around 7 A.M. when the show starts, then we get rained on by all kinds of RF garbage coming in." Surrounded by a concrete canyon of high buildings and shunted by the disruptive bombast of the RF Hell that is midtown Manhattan, Convertino turned to Shure UHF-R wireless to alleviate his woes. Knowing that the auto-scan and auto-sync features inherent in the system save him the valuable time he so desperately needs in his setup process, he also appreciates the sonic purity and rock-solid dependability of the Shure technology. "There is no time available for me to worry about my wireless," he adds. "And with Shure, I don't. Even despite all our preparation, we may take a hit. If we do, we can simply change frequencies on the fly if we have to. With UHF-R, I am ready for whatever comes our way right out of the box." Off the set, Convertino is always studying and listening to the records put out by bands scheduled to appear on the show so that he can replicate their sound accurately. "I think we do a pretty good job of it 99.9 percent of the time," he says, commenting on the results. "Having the opportunity to work with bands like this performing all together is the real reward of our efforts, however. There is nothing like putting down tracks and getting a live mix that's designed to be heard and enjoyed right then and there by such a huge audience."