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It All Sounds Good

It All Sounds Good

The Team You’ve Heard Before 

By Emmett Pennington-Guthrie 

 
If you have been to an event on campus such as vespers or CommUnity, you have heard their handiwork, but you may not know who I am referring to. They operate behind the scenes and make each and every event work, doing it with the intent to not to be noticed at all. Referred to above are the two teams: campus and institutional sound. 

If you have not heard of them, that means they are doing their jobs well. 

The two sound teams do similar things but function in different areas. Both oversee sound for events where equipment is needed, but institutional sound only does events done in the University Church. 

Campus sound covers everything institutional sound doesn’t, relating to the audio and visual aspects of events. Essentially, if there is an event that does not take place in the WWU church, campus sound is the one who handles it. 

Interestingly, there is significant overlap in that many of the employees for campus sound are also employed by institutional sound. This works well for the most part, but it can cause difficulties since it places large amounts of work on the team’s shoulders. 

Consider that the sound teams are made up entirely of students, many of whom are working both sound jobs simultaneously. At times, their workload is overwhelming. 

During Week of Worship for instance, Andrew Sanchez, a senior product design major and religion minor who works for both campus and institutional sound, described the challenge that arose when the weeks’ worth of events moved online. 

He recalled getting a phone call at dinner and hearing that he was going to be spending the rest of the night at the chapel, which was especially difficult since, “we already had a lot of things coming up on our plate already.” [1] 

Sanchez further stressed, “I had to postpone a whole assignment; I didn’t finish it until a week later. Yeah, I could’ve focused on my studies more, but who would’ve done the whole [Week of Worship] production?” [2] 

This is not the only time they have been pressed by the sheer workload of the job.  

At the start of the school year, for instance, Sanchez described the sound teams being overwhelmed by the cumulative likes of the Welcome Back Bash, Week of Worship, and Jump Start. [3] 

“No one knows,” but the sound teams put in long hours throughout the year to keep things running. [4] 

Institutional sound’s control of the audio in the campus chapel is done from within one small room. Photo by Emmett Pennington-Guthrie.

Although she was not able to share a definitive number of hours the sound team members work each week, Andrea Keele, Associate Chaplain for Missions, confirmed that the teams work many long weeks. [5] 

Considering the hours put in, it seems likely that the sound teams might struggle with issues of burnout. 

The funny thing is that for all the work they put in, both Keele and Sanchez attest that the sound teams do not often have these issues, although they admit that at times the workload can be overwhelming. 

Furthermore, Keele points out that the students who work for sound tend to continue working for their respective sound teams from year to year, indicating that in general, the long hours do not drive the team members away. [6] 

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What, then, keeps away the burnout? Sanchez credited the sound teams’ group dynamic and love for their work. “We love our job, that’s why we keep doing it,” he explained. [7] 

Sanchez also acknowledged respect from the other departments that campus sound works alongside, which he said helps the burnout. [8] 

Are there truly no troubles in paradise? Of course not, but Sanchez related that whenever team members are overworked, the teams are flexible enough to give them a day off. Typically, that is enough to get them back to normal. [9] 

This sort of flexibility and camaraderie appears to be a solid counter for burnout. Consider that the hours, the sudden changes in demands, and the largely invisible nature of the sound teams are not enough to keep students like Sanchez from enjoying his work. 

The sound teams deserve recognition for their effort, but more than that they should be recognized as examples of healthy, effective teams. By the nature of what they do, neither campus nor institutional sound would function well if individual members did not cooperate smoothly with each other. 

As Sanchez stated, “It’s a big emphasis on the team with campus sound, and it has to be. You’re working with other people, and you have to make sure everyone is on the same page, otherwise you suffer the consequences.” [10] 

It is necessary, then, that the teams be filled with people who can get along with each other. Maybe, then, the retention rates and enthusiasm on Sanchez’s part are simply the byproduct of a good team. 

References 

  1. Interview with Andrew Sanchez, 2/2/2022. 
  1. Ibid. 
  1. Ibid. 
  1. Ibid. 
  1. Interview with Andrea Keele, 2/3/2022. 
  1. Ibid. 
  1. Interview with Andrew Sanchez, 2/2/2022. 
  1. Ibid. 
  1. Ibid. 
  1. Ibid. 
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