My Most Embarrassing Moments, Part 4

Stories compiled by Curt Taipale

Before we upgraded from the Behringer to Soundcraft mixer and many moons ago when I was still new to mixing: I was supposed to play a background track on CD. However, having forgotten what the routing was, I could only manage to get the CD to play only on the monitor wedges. The vocalist had started to sing so I backed off the level of vocals in the wedges and cranked the CD aux level! (Proved to me that stage volume does come through to FOH though not with the best of tonal/timing qualities!)

- We have our Starbucks break (between sets in the service when people mill around eating snacks and sipping coffee/tea water) during which time we play tracks. During one of the services, I had a complicated set of cues and transitions before the band came back to play the second set. When I'd scan the members on stage I thought I kept noticing the WL have that look that parents have when their cute little child at a restaurant has suddenly decided to have a serious bad attitude! (One of those I've-lost-control-and-I'm-clueless-or-embarrassed looks!) When the set ended, I found out what had happened! I had lowered the volume on the player but the playlist was still very much playing loud enough! Needless to say, the WL did not have grace to give me a break ... he did announce that I had forgotten to stop the background music! (I guess he was relieved that the band was not playing a different song than he was!)

- I was training one of those new recruits who was on the board. In the middle of the set, it was easier for me - or so I thought - to address the low SPL in the house that speak and have the recruit figure it out. I leaned over and decided to ride the master fade up on the tt24! I did it and did not feel the house rising so I rode it up some more .... and I saw the drummer throw his cans and run out of the drum booth and make obscene gestures! (He is not a believer - just a paid drummer!) I realized what I had done wrong .... in reaching over, I missed the Master fader and was riding the Aux master for the drummer's monitor!! (My wife and I did buy him lunch - to smooth some rustled feathers - and to apologize and explain to him that his headphone amp also has a volume control. I also did assure him that there was compression on his monitor!)

Contributed by Alex

I run the sound at a small conference, where a semi-professional band worked together with the worship leader. Most of the musicians were professionals, very skilled and comfortable guys to work with. However, as often at such events, the equipment was not as good as desired, and the board I had at hand had mute buttons that did not disable the entire channel strip; The auxes were still alive. So during the message I had to turn down the aux master for a couple of monitor feeds to avoid feedback. At the end of the message the band entered the stage again, picked up their instruments and started playing. The band leader (guitarist) signaled repeatedly that he needed more monitor, and I adjusted his guitar and mic as much as high as I could, but he looked very little satisfied. When the musicians was playing and the people was singing, I went forward to hear what was wrong; He had no monitor at all, neither he nor the worship leader! He could not even hear his own guitar! I had forgotten to re-adjust the aux masters, and rushed back to the desk to open for the monitors. What I felt at that moment cannot be described, but after the service I had to apologize deeply for the incident. Luckily the guys were not only professional in skills (the congregation did not recognize the incident), but they were also very forgiving in their attitude.

Contributed by Alf Inge Iversen | Norway

One Sunday, a relative novice was running sound and forgot to mute the band's channels after the worship. During the sermon, a mic stand started to droop slowly until the mic was pointing directly into the monitor - cue horrendous feedback. The operator panicked. I rushed back to help. We killed the main faders, but that didn't fix it. It probably was only 30 seconds, but it felt like an absolute eternity until we worked out to kill the aux sends.

So add to the list, 7. Don't buy cheap mic stands.

Contributed by John

Normally I enjoy trouble free services. Since I have started doing sound work, I have had 99% trouble free services, until the last 3 weeks or so :(

Three weeks ago, I show up at 8:00am as usual, power everything up, do small checks here and there. First thing I noticed was one of the monitors was really LOUD, someone had messed with the volume on it, so I double checked the other monitors and everything was ready for practice. During practice I had a few issues with feedback, which I figured had to do with me not having the monitor volume set just right. I adjust things to work and we continue on. About mid-way through the worship service, I start getting tons of feedback, no idea where it's coming from, so I start killing monitor auxs, finally track it down to the pianist's monitor. After the service I trouble shoot a bit and notice that pretty much ALL the controls on our 24 channel monitor mixer had been messed with, changed, buttons pushed, etc.

My wife commended me for not blowing up on the spot, in fact she mentioned that she was avoiding FoH because she knew I was gonna be in a bad mood. But, I wasn't! I took it in stride, got things straightened back out that afternoon and retuned it all. I thanked God for providing me with peace in the situation and helping me control my temper. Although, I did meet with the Pastor and Elders, stating my request, firmly, that no-one should be messing with our equipment (we have a quest church that meets there twice a week). And after they experienced what can happen, they all agreed and made arrangements to inform everyone.

2nd story?

This last Sunday, Mid-way through the worship (Why is it always right in the middle of worship?)... one of our Mackie SWA1801 subwoofer amps goes poof. A bit of panic on stage as there was a strong burning smell. I am at FoH not really sure what is going on. I heard some pops and noises, and after a few minutes of frantically hunting down the source, I noticed the sub was not on and not working, so I shut down the right side mains/sub and ran with only the left side mains.

3rd times a charm, so I am staying alert this coming weekend.

Contributed by Kev

Ok, my turn first, I have to say a big thank you to Dave Spoelhof and for all the work he did to bring our system back to excellence and beyond anything it has ever been. And to Bob Enlow for the Surgex products. As many of you may know, we have just finished a major overhaul of the system in the main sanctuary here at Dayspring. We took ownership of a new APB Dynasonics Spectra T 48 console, two new DSP's and added Surge-X protection to the racks.

Well when I first installed the Surge-X (two units in the rack) I still had all of the analog processing in place, two dual 31 band EQ’s, a crossover and two digital delays. With that many units in the rack I had to plug all EIGHT power amplifiers into the second Surge-X knowing that once the new DSPs were installed that I need to move some of the amps to the first Surge-X unit to balance out the load.

Well last Sunday with all the new equipment finally installed, the system freshly tuned and praise team getting into a really rocking song, I decided I needed to push the system a little to kick the tires and see just what it would do. As the lead guitarist was finishing a beautiful solo in the bridge, I started to bring him back down into the mix; he "just faded away". I thought I bumped the mute button on his channel until I realized I could no longer hear the lead singer, the keys, the bass player, the backup vocals, etc. (as I am running the list in my head I realized I had lost all power to the amp rack) I sprinted to the amp room.

For those of you that have met me, I do not typically move that fast. I am frantically looking for tripped breakers as I clearly see in my mind the back of the amp rack with all of the amps still plugged into the one 20Amp Surge-X power conditioner. A quick reset of the breaker on the back of the unit (after moving two power cords) and we were back in business. Oddly enough the whole thing kind of fit into the service God IS GREAT) the whole congregation and singers on stage just continued to sing the chorus until power was restored.

I must say that I wanted to test the Surge-X to see of they would fail gracefully and I can say without a doubt, they do. It will not happen again, but I would have rather it had never happened. After the service the guitar player asked what had happened because he thought that was the greatest effect he had ever heard and wanted to be able to reproduce it. I told him that was not going to happen.

Contributed by Greg Pierce | Ohio

On a similar note, I learned to be sure of if the choir accompaniment CD is a single track or multiple tracks...really helpful to know when you typically use the "single play" setting on a Numark CD deck. Yup, 30 seconds into the song, it just stopped and we were praying for Jesus to come and remove us from this embarrassment.

We also learned that when the "single play" setting was in effect, it's best to just mute the channel as a backup to letting the Numark stop the song, as we too many times hit the "pause/play" button just milliseconds AFTER the Numark had already stopped the song. So, a few seconds later the next track starts playing...

Contributed by Jeff Klein | Maryland

Couple stories... not sure they are terribly embarrassing...

First one: I get a call on like Thursday from my worship leader to see if I could do sound for a wedding on Saturday at 11. No prob. Something happened and I ended up showing up a little later than I wanted, maybe 10:40? I run around real quick turning on the system getting things set up. At about 10:50 I get handed a program and a CD for songs to play. That's when I found out it was a funeral, not a wedding.

Second one: At a church we used to go to, we have a sort of open mic policy during worship. If people wanted to read a scripture or say something encouraging, they would check in with a pastor or an elder and then give a message. A guy came back to the booth to get a wireless mic to talk about something to do with a Jewish holiday that was that weekend. I didn't really know what it had to do with anything, but I didn't have the authority to say yes or no. I hand him the mic, and in the exchange it was dropped like 6 inches onto the shelf at the front of the booth... He picks it back up, and heads up to the front just off the stage. There is a pause, and he starts talking... nothing... He checks the mic... nothing. I check the channel... nothing. I knew the batteries were good... The moment passed, and he gave up and gave the mic back to me. 15 minutes or so later, I figure out that we had dropped it on the receiver when I handed it to him and hit the mute button.

And one recently that was kind of embarrassing. We have a group that meets for prayer Thursday nights. We pull an Internet feed from the International House of Prayer... The leader will often cue up sections that he wanted to emphasize, and we would play a song from a CD while we cue up the next section. I was in one of those modes where I was kinda in over drive... Trying to get ahead, make sure everything gets done... The clip ends, I switch to CD. Switch the video to a PowerPoint show. I cue up the new clip, and get it ready to play. I check my cue sheet... I start to cue up the next song on the CD... WHOOOPS... the CD was playing... I hit stop... said Sorry... and went back to the beginning of the song... Not a big deal... but a bit embarrassing...

Contributed by Kelly Dodge | Nevada

I've already told my guitar amp left turned on story... so here's a recent incident...

This may or may not qualify as an embarrassing moment... even though I was embarrassed about it. Last Sunday, I found that my two cables to go in and out of the crossover, had been plugged into main insert 1 and group insert 1... that should've tipped me off. I pulled them out and re-patched them to the crossover.

Next, I couldn't get to my talkback mic to come up in the monitors. Checked everything, tried a different cable, tried a different mic, tried doing it old-school, through a regular channel... no dice. Band does their first rehearsal song, which is our version of sound check. I immediately start getting heated demands for "more, more, more!!!" Things just aren't making sense. Bass player lets me know (nicely) that there's nothing in the backline mix and that he checked all the (1/4") connectors. They get kicked, sometimes, but were fine, this time. I start looking at the back of the console, which is hard to see and get at... sure enough, my snake fanout leads for Aux 1 & 2, are unplugged and hidden below. I re-patch them and voila, we have monitors, talkback works, everything was fine.

W/L saw what I was doing and asked if something got unplugged. I said that it had and asked if he or anyone else had done any rewiring. He answered "no".

Our building gets used by 2 other regular groups and numerous "one-offs". It's very strange that this happened, as the 2 other groups _usually_ obey the policy and don't mess with the back of the console. Pastor didn't know, either and he & W/L are doing some checking around.

Fortunately, that was it. Nothing was damaged or stolen this time. I was embarrassed because the monitor mix is usually perfect after 1 or 2 rehearsal songs and this time it wasn't. And even though it wasn't my fault, I still felt stupid and the band didn't help me feel any better with their comments.

Contributed by Paul Folkestad | California

Had a similar thing this past Sunday...piano couldn't be heard in the record mix or monitor, Pastor started off way too loud, and we had a monitor jack plate busted in half. But none of it was our fault :\

There was a wedding on Saturday which we were not told about; I only found out about it when I discovered the monitor damage Wed night when wondering why all the choir chairs and monitors were backstage. Apparently the wedding party had "struck the stage" themselves... unsupervised... with no warnings to not touch any sound system equipment... and dropped the monitor in the process... and not told anyone.

Well, I assumed the wedding party didn't need sound, but it turned out MoM had offered to save them some money ($25) by just turning on the system himself and put the lapel mic on the Pastor (well, okay fine, he's the boss), but then they turned out to have a soloist so MoM gave her a mic and had one of the deacons who has a side DJ business run the board. I guess he was the one that cranked the Pastor's lapel mic channel way up...he uses an E6 and they used a clip on lapel for the service.

I don't know how the piano jack got moved, as I know DJ Deacon and think he'd have warned us to verify it; it probably got unplugged when the wedding helpers were setting up the stage, and then realized they needed the piano and willy-nilly picked a jack to plug it back into...I mean, it doesn't matter, right? All the jacks go to the same place, right?

So, moral of the story is have a clear cut sound system policy for weddings and, more importantly, even when you do, make sure your staff adheres to it. It'll make your Sunday mornings so much less embarrassing ;)

Contributed by Jeff Klein | Maryland

OK - here goes - we started a new service a couple of weeks ago and I am mixing FOH. During practice everything was good - subs sounded good. Get into the service (halfway thru) and all of a sudden my subs disappeared - aux fed subs with my kick and bass running thru them. I panic, start looking around, didn't see a thing - ran around to the back of the building where our racks are and everything is checking out fine. By the time I get back we are into preaching.

After the service I start playing a track and there are my subs. Go onstage to check stuff out and come to find out 2 things happened. 1st our drummer, young kid who only knows how to play one way had put so much force on his pedal that the mallet fell off. About the same time our bass player's bass went kaput. It was a fun time for all.

Contributed by C J Bodiford | Tennessee

Ok guys, you keep stealing my stories ... every time I think of one to contribute, someone tells it. Although, I haven't had any flies put in my wireless' yet (not that I know of anyway). I stopped having "audio-centric" nightmares awhile back. Once you have lived them, they no longer haunt your dreams.

I have always said that the details are what will kill you.

The most recent stupid thing that I tried was changing the global linking function in a PM5D in the middle of a service, right before a transition, not realizing that the layers change from numerically ascending channels to evens on top layer and odds on bottom layer. Managed to get out of that unscathed though by frantically undoing the change. Was unnerving to see all the channels jumble up.

Brings me back to one of my general guidelines. If something goes wrong all of a sudden, undo the last thing you did. If it was your fault, it will probably fix it. (I know it is a little simplistic, but you would be surprised how often it works, especially with inexperienced people.)

Contributed by Jeff

Well, this story really isn't even "my" story in that I wasn't operating sound when this happened, I was backstage. We were doing a "Hells Fire Heaven's Glory" type of production. The Youth Pastor was playing Satan with a great costume and of course the wild vocal effects. Apparently he didn't tell his toddler son that he was in the production.

During the opening night, his son frantically noticed that Daddy was now the devil! He was so horrified by this that his mother decided to bring him backstage during the show so that his dad could show him that it was all just pretend. Somehow, right as he was leaning down to talk to his son and explain everything, FOH accidentally un-muted the mic and the devils voice came over the backstage speakers! All of us backstage were severely torn between laughter and true pity for the little boy as he ran in complete fear.

Don't worry, all turned out ok.

Contributed by Aaron Poff | Washington

1. Normal Sunday morning routine, got up early for the 30 minute drive to church to start setting up at 6:00 am. Connected and turned everything on, setup the stage, loaded mics with fresh batteries, warmed up the stage lights, turned on the video camera and cued the tape to record the services. I even powered up the computer and projection equipment because I noticed the computer operator wasn't there yet. Spent some time in prayer. Then started to worry a bit because 7:00 rolled around and no one from the band was there yet. At 7:20 AM I started to make calls, but no one was picking up.

Then finally at 7:30 one of the leaders for the men's group showed up - Saturday morning men's group. The light not coming on yet, I mentioned that everyone must be really running behind this morning and he agreed (usually some of the other men are already there for the Saturday morning study ). Light still not coming on, at 7:45 I'm really concerned because the service starts in 15 minutes and not even an usher.

Then I finally saw the senior pastor and he asks "Hey, what do you have going on this morning?" Puzzled at why he would even ask that, I said "today's worship services" in a - "duh, why would you even ask that" sort of tone. He replied "Really, I didn't know we had worship services on Saturday morning." Well, it sure felt like it should have been Sunday.

2. Someone broke wind in the sound booth and wouldn't claim it. So with a lapse in judgment in conversation topics, we were laughing and joking about it with two of the youth tech volunteers, we got on the conversation as to what foods gives us gas. The computer operator kept looking at the schedule thinking he's missing a cue because the pastor kept saying beans. Then we realized that something has gone horribly wrong because he was looking directly at us and somehow heard our conversation.

It finally clicked when the pastor says with a grin "Beans give me gas, thanks for asking, could you turn off the talk back mic, it's a little distracting." (Oh no, sound check, how could I forget?)

Compounding my guilt was wondering if I said something which would explain why the worship leader was giving me the angry look during worship, but as it turns out he just thought I was messing with him during rehearsal by putting an echo or something in the monitors and forgot to remove it before the actual service.

I thought for sure my days in the booth were over, but the pastor just laughed, only saying - everyone leaks once in a while and in different ways, thank God for grace. The good thing was that the sound level from the talk back mic was low and didn't carry out past the first couple rows where few were sitting.

Contributed by Trent Schwartz

One Easter all of my usual folks for PowerPoint were out of town so I found out about a guy who might be willing to run it for us and he apparently did training with it, so I figured he probably knew enough. He did fine except for forgetting that clicking on the left screen brings focus away from the show. I was at the lighting position behind him and could see he was having trouble.

Just as our service was starting and our pastor was welcoming everyone to our Easter service, I bent over the lighting board to tell him what to do and my belly pushed down the button labeled "Blackout". OOPS. I quickly sat down, hit the button, and then proceeded to walk AROUND the lighting board to help him (while trying to act nonchalant about the whole thing...)

Contributed by Blanton Lewis | Texas

While this wasn't such an embarrassing moment for me it was for one of our choir members. When we have a choir solo they use a Sennheiser wireless handheld. One of the choir members is one of those people that just doesn't like to be told what to do. I tell everyone not to touch any of the buttons on the bottom of the mic and I will take care of all mic cues.

Well she either mutes the mic or turns it off and tells me that she is afraid that I will accidentally leave it on and embarrass her. So the next time she had a solo I used black tape to secure the plastic cap on the bottom so she could not get to the switches and told her _not_ to take off the tape!

So right as the service starts she looks at me with that little HA-HA grin and unscrews the mic and takes out the battery shows it to me and gives it a little more of the sarcastic grim. Everything went fine till she stood up to begin her solo that opened the choir anthem. When she started singing of course nothing came out because she forgot to put the battery back in. She stopped and held the mic up and looked at me with that "I thought you said you would take care of it look." I stood up at the sound desk and said in a loud voice "If you would put the battery that you took out back in it might work better."

For some reason the rest of the service seemed a bit awkward. That was years ago and to this day if a choir member has a solo and they even look at the buttons on the bottom of the mic other members of the choir will tell them not to touch them.

Contributed by Larry (don't touch the buttons) Burton | Ohio

This last weekend, one of our very smart teens was running the video projection system. During the lesson, like most teenagers, he got a little bored and started playing with a hole in his pants. After sticking one of the fingers on his right hand in the hole, our minister called for the first slide in a deck of slides. Our teen tried frantically to get his mouse hand free from his jeans. It was like a Chinese finger puzzle - The harder he pulled, the harder his finger stuck. I almost fell out of my chair trying not to laugh out loud. He turned a very bright shade of red, but finally managed to extricate his finger and get the slide displayed. It felt like years of time, but was really only a few seconds. We had a good chuckle about it later.

Contributed by Robby Wright | California

There've been the usual cables not plugged in, channels muted, wrong CD track, etc. I'm the full-time media person at my church and last winter I arrived early on Sunday, got everything ready to go, and did the run-through with the singers, band and rest of the media team. I started feeling very sleepy during the 9 am service and realized that instead of taking my blood pressure medicine, I'd taken an Ambien instead.

Fortunately, there was a full crew of volunteers to handle everything so I didn't have to operate any equipment. I took a nap that morning and woke up during our 2nd service, ready to wrap things up and head to lunch. I look at my medicine labels very carefully now.

Contributed by Guy (catnap) Hall | Indiana

I'm really enjoying all the embarrassing stories. I have one or two of them myself. :-)

Here's the worst one, though, and I apologize in advance for the length of my nightmare. :-)

I was about 18, and had been running FOH audio for a few years in smaller venues. I was just "promoted" to running sound in the main room on Sunday nights, and was pretty excited about it.

We had a special music guest that night - not named to protect the innocent, but some of you might recognize the name - and I went down to the green room to meet him before service.

The guy looked at me, a kid, and looked a little concerned. "Are you a good sound man?" he asked. Our MOM hopped up and lavished praise on me. "Yeah, he's great! One of our better sound men! He's great! He's going to do a great job tonight!"

So the singer handed me all of his cassette tracks, but pointed out one in particular. This tape looked like it had spent a lot of time on the road...the printing was mostly rubbed off.

He had put a little pen mark on the side that was the performance side. "Now, make sure you play this side tonight, not the other side with the demo," he stressed.

I nodded and smiled.

"Oh, and this track has a false'll think the song is over, but just let it run, and it kicks back in after a couple of seconds."

"No problem, sir." I said.

"Now son, remember's very important," the singer said, with a serious look.

"Oh, don't worry! He's great!" our MOM chimed in again, "he'll do a great job for you!"

So I went back to the sound booth and the evening went well.

Until we got to *that* song.

I accidentally put the cassette in with the wrong side cued, and started it.

Of course, the demo started playing, with someone else's voice!

I stopped the tape, flipped it over, and started rewinding. It was the slowest rewind ever!

The singer was gracious and made a little joke about it, along the lines of "I should have just lip synced, and you all would have thought I was a better singer!"

So I started the tape again, and things seemed to go okay, but I was pretty flustered at this point, and the song came to a big crashing crescendo and faded out.

Then I stopped the tape.

The singer pulled the mic up to his mouth for the real ending of the song, and it wasn't there.

"Don't stop the tape!" he said, and every head in the room turned to me.

I started it back up, and played the big, big ending. The crowd loved it, and the senior pastor came up, grabbed a mic and said "That was great! Chris, rewind the tape, let's hear it again!"

At this moment, I'm thinking two things: First, why does my pastor hate me? And - did he really have to say my name? Just in case someone in the room didn't know who the imbecile at the sound board was?

So I rewound it and started again. This time, after I started the tape, I stood at the other end of the booth, so I wouldn't be tempted to stop anything early.

The song got to the big crescendo, and as the first silence hit, he sang, in perfect pitch: "Don't stop the tape, brooothhheerrrr!!!!'

There was a red glow coming from the back of the room. From my face.

The rest of the night was pretty uneventful, but after it was over, I packed up all his tracks and dropped them off in the green room. I shut down the system, and, not looking at or talking to anyone, I walked right out of the building, to my car, and straight home.

I still get the willies thinking about it. :-)

Contributed by Chris Lesher | Arkansas

Speaking of others' embarrassments:

My wife's vocal group was having a rehearsal in the Sanctuary and the leader had given me some new songs to load into the sound booth computer, so she puts a CD in her boom box on stage so the group can warm up while I'm loading. As the song ends, I'm all done and standing at the board waiting for instructions and then the boom box starts playing the next track (with turned out to be the split track version of the song).

When the voices kicked in at the chorus, she stops the group and says, "Hey Jeff, this is the one with the voices, go back to the first track."

(The rest of the group just kinda looks at her with smiles on their faces)

I stand there waiting for it...

She looks up after a moment and says, "This one's a split track, so you can just take the voices out of it if you want."

In my best Daffy Duck I reply, "And how exactly would you like me to do that, hmmm?"

(By now the rest of the group is starting to giggle but she's oblivious as she looks over the sheet music)

Finally I walk to the front of the Sanctuary, up onto the stage, and press Stop on the boom box as the rest of the group about falls over in giggles...which after about 10 seconds of total confusion on her face, she does too.

Life just ain't as sweet without friends to giggle with. :)

Contributed by Jeff Klein | Maryland

Some years ago a soloist walks in late to the service just seconds before the service begins and hands me a tape with a sheepish face. I am sorry but this tape just fell in the toilet can you get it to run. Fortunately the tape was wound tight and the case was clear. The tape ran flawlessly just a few small water droplets in the case. I think she was more embarrassed then I was.

Just another one of those moments of shear panic.

Contributed by Andy deLivron | New York

Not embarrassing but funny.

It was one of those Sundays when nothing went right. Example: We needed a step ladder to get the lights working. We finally got it together with a few seconds to spare. This particular Sunday the worship team started the service.

As the worship started I remembered that I hadn't checked the Pulpit mic. The mic and a small video monitor are mounted on our big old hard wood pulpit.

I soloed the mic to my head phones and sure enough, silence. Well I am blessed to have a teen working for me who will do anything. He is quiet and shy but he loves to serve the Lord. I told him "I don't thing the pulpit is plugged into the floor pocket. Would you go down and plug it in, no one will notice while the worship team is singing.

Well off he went, I watched as he waited until the congestion was really into the chorus and then popped across the open platform and despaired behind the pulpit. At 6 foot 6 inch I can only dream about moving and disappearing like that. Then I watched and watched. the song ended, the next was half way through and he was still back there.

What happened. Did he freeze in stage fright? Did he get stuck in the pulpit? Is he going to stay there for the service?

The next Chorus starts and ends. What will the pastor say when he sees him down there?

Should I go help?

Finally he pops out. I test the mic again and all is well.

What happened? I ask, He says, I got up there and the pulpit was on top of the floor pocket. I had to push it forward, but I didn't want to go to fast and be seen, and I didn't want to go to far and have it topple down the steps and take out the worship leader. I thought that would be bad.

He and I and this list are the only ones who know this ever happened.

Contributed by Frank DeWitt | New York

OK, OK...I'll 'fess up!

Most of you guys probably won't even know what I'm talking about, but back in the old days, reverb units were a pair of springs with different twists (moments??) The sound signal took longer to travel through the tighter spring than the loose one and reverb resulted. The reverb control determined the amount of signal that was fed to the tighter spring.

It was about 25 years ago and we had a Biamp 12 channel mixer with built-in reverb. During the sermon (of course), I turned and slammed an elbow into the right front corner of the mixer, causing the reverb unit to make the most awful noise throughout the auditorium. Those of you old enough to remember these beasts will know the sound I'm talking about, I'm sure. I know that 449 of the 450 heads were turned toward me, because we all know that all goofs are caused by the sound guy...right?

My other one wasn't quite as dramatic, but embarrassing nevertheless. The pastor's wife was to sing a solo and when I handed her the Shure 565 mic, I told her not to touch the switch as the mic was already turned on and I would control it from the sound room. Did she obey? Ya gotta be kiddin'...after all, she is the pastor's wife. When she began to sing, there was no sound but her natural voice. She stopped, looked at me and asked me to turn her on. I asked her to turn her mic on and I was sure she'd find plenty of volume.

Not embarrassing, but annoying as all get out, I was singing on the worship team this past weekend. A new member, who had been an associate pastor at a nearby mega-church, was totally unsatisfied with our monitors. They happen to be Renkus-Heinz units with one of the sweetest sounds I've heard. He wanted more volume. I suggested he move the monitor closer, since it was about 6' away from him. He said no, because it was directly in front of their faces. I told him he could move it 3' closer, double the level and it would still be directly in front of their faces. He moved it about 6-8". Then he proceeded to ask for more electric guitar, then more synth, then more bass, then more drums.

Since my partner and I were on the same mix, we were not happy campers. I wanted so badly to tell him that if he wanted to hear what it sounded like out front to go out there and sit! I didn't, because he's an old Canadian school chum of our Director of Music, and she caters to him. How do you teach the unteachable?

Contributed by Bob Enlow | Ohio

Peavey MD-16...just replaced one in our gym a year ago with a newer model. Cuz it was broke? Nope. Cuz it lacked modern features? Partly. Cuz the 8:30 service tech's kid always sat with him and would nod off and thump his head against the table? BINGO!

"Tawangnagnagnagang" is right!

Contributed by Jeff Klein | Maryland

About 5 years ago, a staff member had purchased (without consulting us, of course) a rather, ‘em, exceedingly affordable 4-channel VHS wireless lapel mic system.

I was aghast. I was offended. I was beside myself with (self)righteous indignation. So, in my frustration, I compounded the initial error by crossing my arms and using said system whenever the need arose; without regard to the critical nature of the application. I griped to the Offender, but I used that system with glee.

Next thing you know, the pastor's lapel mic craps out. So, ol' Randy puts him on channel one of this abomination. The unit failed due to interference intermittently every time used, without fail. But, hey, it wasn't MY fault, right? I didn't order the thing. They should have consulted me, and they didn't. Who do they think they are? Let them come to me and ask for my help and I will be glad to order a suitable unit.

Well, several weeks pass with the Pastor cutting in and out about 4 times per service and he passes me in the hall and asks what can be done. I reply that we can order a "real" system and chalk it all up to a learning experience. Since the initial decision involved a staff member, he simply replies that is probably a wise course to take.

He does not come out point blank and say - "Buy it today!" In my naiveté, I do nothing....assuming he is pondering the situation. After all, we are Southern Baptist. Being boiled in oil is preferable to stepping on someone's toes.

So, 2 more weeks of Sunday morning agony and in mid-sermon the mic drops out for the third time and Pastor stops....looks down.....grabs the podium....and says: "Folks, I apologize. I promise you, this time next week WE WILL have a new microphone, no matter what!"

And there it dawned on me for the first time. He was hamstrung by the political situation and was counting on me to make the call, and make the move.

Now, Randy is feeling about 1 ft tall, and rightfully so. Later in the message, Pastor apologizes for the "outburst" because the Audio Operators are working as hard as possible and it's not fair to vent like that. Now, Randy is feeling about 1 inch tall. (for the record - I am normally 5ft 2, so it ain't that big a stretch). To make me feel even more foolish, after the service, a member goes straight to the Pastor and hands him a blank check to purchase a suitable replacement. Okay, now I am microscopic.

I caught the Pastor in the hall and assured him that any and all apologies were due from me - not to me. Needless to say, I made the call Monday morning and made sure it was there by Thursday.

And to this day, my goal has been to never make the same mistake twice.

Contributed by Randy Goldman | Mississippi

Did you enjoy living vicariously through these stories from other church techs?
Click here to enjoy My Most Embarrassing Moments, Part 2.
Click here to enjoy My Most Embarrassing Moments, Part 3.