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ARSCLIST  February 2013

ARSCLIST February 2013

Subject:

Re: Tip for ARSC Conference presenters -- reinforcing previous lessons

From:

Michael Biel <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Sat, 23 Feb 2013 16:13:47 -0700

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (107 lines)


As someone who has been to every ARSC conference except two since 1971
(the 5th conference) and who has planned and run five of them, let me
give a little background of how we got here.  My tenure was prior to
there being two concurrent sessions -- our philosophy was that we ALL
wanted to,hear ALL the talks and learn things that were outside our
perceived interest areas.  It also was the time when the Program Chair
ran the show and did all the introductions themselves.  It was a MUCH
more efficient system than these 90 minute "themed" groupings of three
or four semi-related papers introduced by a moderator who often was a
complete stranger to the presenters and sometimes the theme.  Since I
had planned the flow of the entire day I was able to keep things moving
efficiently.  I could get the next speaker and their AV prepped while
the previous speech was going -- not wasting time after the speech.  AND
every speaker had been allotted the proper amount of time -- 45 minutes,
or an hour, or a half hour, or whatever they REALLY needed.  I knew them
-- I talked on the phone with most of them about their needs.  It
worked.

While some of the Program Chairs would give speakers the hook if they
were a couple of seconds over their time, all too often some of the
talks would run short and end early.  Or the next speaker would not be
ready and waste time that the previous speaker could have used to finish
properly.  As a victim of the hook myself, I vowed not to give the hook.
 Ever.  Nobody ever ran more than 5 or so minutes long anyway.  Five
conferences -- 15 or so days, 30 or so mornings and afternoons.  NOT
ONCE DID WE EVER DELAY LUNCH OR THE END OF THE DAY BY MORE THAN 15
MINUTES.  I never gave ANYBODY the hook.  

Well, there was this famous time in Bowling Green in 1984 where I HAD to
go across campus to Bill Schurk's office to photocopy the registration
lists for everybody, and after introducing Martin Williams I turned the
reins over to a prior prog chair, Charlie Simpson.  I had forgotten that
he was a ruthless and unnecessary hooker, and sure enough, just as he
was introducing his last record, he gave the hook to Martin.  I returned
about five minutes later to a FISTFIGHT in the Holiday Inn lobby between
Martin and Charlie! And Martin was so right -- the afternoon ended up
finishing EARLY.  

I am not a fan of concurrent sessions.  While I was on the board I
resisted and resisted and resisted.  I much rather have an extra day. 
Most of the expense is travel, and three days or four is not what makes
a big difference.  One or two times I added some Sunday morning sessions
and it worked for many people.  I agree with the little off-list
discussion that is going on that the arrangements of which papers are
opposite each other has not been planned skillfully in some of the
recent years.  They must be as dissimilar as possible, and that is
sometimes screwed up by having to put the talks into these "theme"
groupings that often make no sense.  It is not an easy job putting the
schedule together, and I sometimes wish the Prog Chair would ask some of
us for advice.   

Let me explain the history of ARSC and AV.  Once upon a time it was all
talking heads.  And occasional recordings.  You can put some of the
blame on me for changing thins because I was the FIRST presenter to ever
use visuals. I was the absolute first presenter to show slides of the
labels of the records being played.  It was my 1977 talk "Electrical
Recording Before Western Electric" and I had about 30 35-mm color slides
of labels, patents, and equipment.  (The slides I re-took in the
Smithsonian storage rooms the week before of the Paul Fortin head to
replace the film in my camera which got stolen the previous trip,
arrived from the lab 30 minutes before my talk.  The hotel front desk
was watching for them.)  

So I started the trend of using visuals. BUT don't blame me for starting
the Powerpoint trend -- I was a Luddite and still using an overhead
projector, transparencies, and a reel-to-reel tape recorder until
threatened with bodily harm if I used these technologies ever again. But
like Tom at his group, I was the go-to guy to fix the AV from then on. 
Sometimes it was embarrassing that we had a roomful of audio experts and
nothing was going right.  FINALLY we got the exec board to put some
money out to hire pros, but even those were not always good.  They
sometimes tend to think that we are a group of bankers or execs rather
than audio experts.  One time in Washington DC I gave the operator my
R-Dat (ugh!) and a marked script.  "Oh I can't use the script, I'll be
too busy."  What do you mean you'll be too busy?  This tells you exactly
when to bring in the tracks and the ID numbers to check."  He sneered
back at me "Are you telling me how to do my job?"  "YES, I AM telling
you how to do your job.  I've DONE your job.  I've TAUGHT your job. 
I've been doing your job since probably before you were born." And sure
enough, he messed it up.  He couldn't figure out how to skip a track,
and he ended up wasting more time than the skipped track would have
used.

It will probably come as no surprise to some of you who were at the last
ARSC that the audio of 4 or 5 of the talks from the main room will be
sourced from our videotapes on the ARSC website instead of the ones the
AV guy was supposed to record.

Finally, to answer Don's question of why we don't use academic
facilities instead of hotels, we have done it when it was feasible.  But
it is too difficult to get people back and forth from their hotel to the
campus over and over and over and over. And then we have to work around
school vacation schedules. I think many of us look back fondly at the
year we were in a dorm in Syracuse -- but most of that was because of
the marvelous bull sessions with our dear, dear friend, the late Milford
Fargo.  And Don Wetzel's wake-up tapes!  (The loop of the Nelson Eddy
Wobble is forever etched in my brain!)

Which gives me a chance to end with the note that most of the wonder of
an ARSC Conference is getting together with everyone.  Ah but there are
now so many absent friends -- we just lost David Hamilton last week.   

Mike Biel  [log in to unmask]   


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