My first year covering hockey full time was rough, and in particular my first couple of months. Making the jump from calling 20 or so home games, to travelling with a team and broadcasting what wound up being a 75 game season in my first year tested me in many ways. What helped was refining what broadcast gear I carried with me on the road to broadcast
In a situation where space is at a premium on a team bus during long road trips, it’s important that all the broadcast gear I took with me on the road had a purpose and in many cases was multi-functional. Here’s a breakdown of everything I have with me on the road.
The Bag: Swiss Gear Business Traveler Roller (SWA0568)
Your broadcast gear is useless unless you can house it safely in one place. On a bus with hockey bags and clumsy players, you want to make sure your headsets, mixers and other stuff is tucked away and unlikely to break from one game to another. I use the SWA0568 bag from Swiss, although there are several models available from Swiss and other manufactuers. You’ll see the style a lot with pilots and flight attendants, or business people on quick overnight trips.
What I like about this bag is endless. The main compartment which is designed to hold clothes for a 1 or 2 night stay is deep enough to safely house a mixer, headsets, power and audio cables. My model also has a laptop sleep inside there which, along with the reinforced walls in the main compartment mean that everything is very well protected. These styles of bags typically have a middle section designed for documents, which I find great for my paperwork, my iPad and other ‘flat’ things. In front there’s a flap-style pocket for bulkier items like keys, battery packs, pencil bags and other items.
The Mixer: Behringer Xenyx 802
I have two mixers that I purchased a while ago, and this is the smaller of the two. It’s bigger brother, the 1202 is my home-based mixer because it has some extra inputs for things like a PA feed and extra headsets that I typically don’t use on the road. The 802 is the perfect size for the bag I use, it has room for two XLR microphones, so two headsets, or a headset and crowd mic. Outside of the XLR inputs, there’s plenty of ins and outs on the 1/4″ side that you can do just about anything you need to do on the road.
The Headset: Audio-Technica BPHS1
I typically carry two headsets on the road, however the second headset is purely for a post-game interview. During a game, I switch it out for a dedicated crowd mic (see below). This is a very popular headset among broadcasters because it’s good quality, it’s durable and it’s cheap. On sale you can get it either side of $200, although hunt around on eBay as I got a pair for $180/ea 6 years ago. In that time, I’ve had to repair the boom mic on one with epoxy and a brace, and get a replacement cable for the other (about $50).
The Crowd Mic: Behringer Ultravoice Xm8500
Quite honestly the cheapest microphone I was able to find with an XLR connector. Regular price is around $30, but is always on sale somewhere, you get a good quality microphone for a great price. Is it the best microphone? No. The handling noise is a bit much when using for interviews, and it picks up a lot of background noise, but suspend from a press box, or sit on a desk with a bit of padding underneath and it’s a perfect microphone for picking up ambient noise.
Cables, etc: Sourced from MonoPrice.com
The cables I carry with me are two stereo 1/4″ to 1/8″ cables that are about 3′ in length. Both go from my computer to and from my mixer for playback and recording/broadcasting. I also carry a 20′ XLR cable for the crowd microphone. In many places it’ll be coiled up on a desk, but the length gives you plenty of options to hang over a rafter, or dangle down from a press box.
What else is in the bag?
Mostly personal items for the road trip. I carry my scorebook in the middle pocket along with any spotting boards and misc. notes. I’ll also have a small notebook for interview questions and prep on the bus. Of course the iPad is standard and loaded with movies. In the front pocket I’ll have a 10400mAh battery pack to charge my phone or iPad on the road, a pencil case with pens, highlighters, markers and tape. I’ll also have a couple of phone charging cables and my keys.
That’s it. The bag I have on the road now is a refined piece of equipment where my broadcast gear gets housed. It’s durable, sits nicely on the seat next to me or underneath the seat in front. I can access everything easily and it makes long trips a lot better. I’ve sure come a long way from carrying an actual suitcase on the road for my first season, with not only my broadcast gear in it, but a lot of stuff I never used.