With over 25 years of audio experience, Oakie Pitakskul has worked on many major events in the sports industry including awards shows, the World Cup, and games for the MLB, NHL, and NBA. Most recently, he was the lead engineer for the 2022 Super Bowl post-game, which featured the Earthworks FM500 podium mics. We sat down with him to talk about why these are the best podium mics for can’t fail situations and why these are the go-to microphones for speakers with bad mic etiquette.
What makes Earthworks’ FM500 your mic of choice for the post-game?
The FM series looks good, sound great at all volumes. I have no issues with soft speakers even when off axis and it does not break up with loud voices. A rock-solid unit. Hands down my go to for anything mission critical.
I don’t know how Earthworks is able to achieve this but I am able to get enough Gain to the broadcast trucks and the PA system at each and every interview Pod. There is always a struggle to get proper levels from the losing team with their soft and whispering voices and a huge issue with the winning teams are at the top of their lungs screaming into the mics.
What does the process of running sound for the post-game involve?
Running audio for broadcast is a monster. For this year, we have 12 interview pods with the possibility of all of them running at the same time. Basically 12 Earthwork FM500 Flex microphones for 12 hot dog stands, the hot dog stand also has a pair of Speakers along with another microphone for the press core to ask questions thru a monitor hidden inside the hot dog stand. So not too many inputs but the fact that they are all happening at the same time, has its challenges.
As always, the winning team is easy to do with their happy and loud voices, yet I must gain down on their mics to not clip the preamps. We have players jumping and high fiving other winning team members at the hot dog stands. At this point I am more worried about the hot signal going to broadcast trucks. Then the losing team comes in and it’s the opposite, low volumes and just not speaking into the mics. It’s literally from one extreme to the complete opposite. All of this is happening while my Audio A2 is recording the multitrack on 4 machines. We usually have to upload the recordings to an NFL site where they edit the audio and post it online for other press to use almost immediately after each interview.
And finally, do you have any takeaways or insight from working the Super Bowl that you could share with our followers?
I couldn’t have done the post-game show without Earthworks. The lectern mics are always a misconception, many will just grab whatever is available. With the FM series, it will make your life so easy to get what you need from the source or actually any source and combine it with a multi-band compressor, and you will find your sweet spot for all kinds of talent.