Stick It In Your Ear

By: Jason Colthorp
By: Jason Colthorp

My fantastic new TV toy.

In the TV biz you're required to have an earpiece to hear your producer and such.  It's also called an IFB which stands for Interruptable Feedback.  Anyway, I got one from our engineering department in 2002 when I became an anchor.  Since then, I've tried a smaller size, a larger size, one for my right ear, then back to my left-- but never had one with much comfort.  It's always been popping out and annoyingly uncomfortable.

Just about everyone else around this place has a custom-made earpiece.  David's had one for 20 years.  A.J. has had one since his last job.  Andy and Jeremy even have one.  Some stations have a deal with audio companies to provide those, although we haven't had one since I've been here.  Andy, Jeremy and David all got theirs when they were at that other TV station in town.  I poked around the Internet and came across plenty of places to get one.  But most wanted $110-$120 for it.  It's not that uncomfortable.  So, Andy gave me the name of the company that his came from and I checked them out.  Audio Implements has a rudimentary website with pictures that look like they were taken with the cast of Anchorman and without any pricing.  An email to the company got a very quick and nice response with an even nicer price-- $45.  They even sent the molds for my ear for free.

Monday night I took my ear impression and FedEx'd it back on Tuesday expecting to have my ear mold, as they call it, back in about two weeks.  Things must be pretty slow at the plant in Waukesha, Wisconsin, because I got it Friday afternoon.  And it's fantastic!  Fits like a glove and you can barely notice it on air.  Go ahead, try and spot it during the next newscast.

Anywho, I thought the literature that came with it was pretty funny.  The instructions for my new "on-camera audioclarifier" were labeled "IMPORTANT!"  I opened it to find some "Do's" and "Don'ts."

#1 on the "Do's":  For maximum and lasting trouble-free performance, handle your Audioclarifier unit with respect.
Obviously, they are showing respect by capitalizing the "A" in audioclarifier.  So apparently, being patronizing or condescending to my new earpiece will cause it to malfunction.

#1 on the "Don'ts": Do not abuse your unit.  If treated properly, it will give you the service and comfort you expect.
The first part is begging for a Beavis and Butthead laugh.  Usually, I lock my new IFB's in a closet for two days without food or water.  Just to show it who's boss.  So much for that.

Aside from the funky literature, I love my pretty new earpiece.  If you're interested, I still have three boxes of molding to get you started on the road to owning your very own audioclarifier today.  Oops-- Audioclarifier.  Don't want to be disrespectful.

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