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The Kids Are Alright: Two Father/Son Teams Handle Audio for Colts-Jags Game

11/01/2022

The Kids Are Alright: Two Father/Son Teams Handle Audio for Colts-Jags Game It's a first for a major-network NFL broadcast By Dan Daley, Audio Editor

Tuesday, January 11, 2022 - 7:00 am

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Longtime Turner Sports A1 Jim Budka has one solution for the looming A1 shortage: teach your kids to do it. In fact, he and his son Ben Budka joined fellow veteran A1 Dave Grundtvig and his son Nick Grundtvig working on the Jaguars-Colts game Sunday in Jacksonville, FL - the first time a pair of father-and-son audio teams worked the same major-network NFL broadcast. At the game, on CBS, Dave was the A1, and Nick submixed the audio; meanwhile, Jim handled the A2 duties in the booth, and son Ben managed them on the field.

I'll be setting the booth up while Ben's downstairs on the field setting up the interview mics and time-out coordinators, says Budka p re, who began grooming his son in the ways of broadcast audio when he was still in elementary school. Ben watched as his dad set up sound for Blackhawks games on WGN when they lived in Chicago and for Braves ballgames on Turner Sports after the family relocated to Atlanta. By the time he got to high school, he was getting good at it. I tried to talk him out of it, but, when your dad is mixing the World Series, the Super Bowl, the Olympics, it's pretty hard to say, Don't go there.

From left: Jim Budka, Ben Budka, Nick Grundtvig, and Dave Grundtvig at the Jacksonville Jaguars' TIAA Bank Field

Early on, Jim let Ben get hands-on, though not without the occasional hitch. At a Braves game, he assigned his young son to hit the play button on the DigiCart for the music lead-in to a break. Ben hit it on cue but then hit it again, causing the music to restart.

The director calls in and says Hey, what's going on in there? Budka recalls, laughing. It was the first time [Ben] was ever called out by a director, the first time feeling the pressure.

Ben, now 27, pursued the calling his own way, bringing a degree in entertainment media studies from the University of Georgia and an affinity for videogames to doing audio for the ELEAGUE, the esports league and show of the same name on Turner Sports network.

I had a combination of media studies in school and learning in the field from my dad but no real formal training in pro audio, he says. But there was always the opportunity with him to ask questions and see how something was done. He has a wealth of knowledge and always has a story to go with it. I'm an only child so it was a way to connect. We're friends for life, and audio seems to be the path I'm on in my life.

Both Jim and Ben Budka are freelancers, and their working paths cross occasionally, such as at the Jaguars game. Ben, 69 and now living in St. Augustine, FL, is nominally retired but is called on to fill in as A1 or A2 while broadcast sports navigates COVID lockdowns and his dwindling cohort becomes part of what has become known as the Great Resignation. Meanwhile, Ben is experiencing the typical freelance arc, padded only very slightly, he says, by the familiarity of his family name in the industry.

People know who [Jim] is, and that helps, but that gets you only so far, Ben notes. You still have to prove you can do the job every time out. It's a demanding industry, and there is competition for the work, with more people coming over from music into broadcasting. And there is more new technology to learn about than ever, especially wireless.

Having seen the pressure that lead mixers can be under, Ben isn't champing at the bit to become an A1 himself.

I like to mix, but I don't need to, he says. I love being an A2, and I can be a better A2 with the kind of knowledge and experience that makes me good at troubleshooting. I also love being able to just watch the game from the field.

But I can also see myself moving toward the production side of the business, he continues. Whatever it is, it'll have to be something I feel a passion for.

The father-son connection is a special one for Jim Budka. He recalls how his father, a card-carrying Teamster truck driver in Chicago, seemed unable to reconcile how his son would be happy working on a mix console at the rear of a trailer instead of in the semi's driver's seat.

He would say I see you're at the backend of the truck, Budka laughs, and I would say, Yeah, but I'm making a lot more money than I would be driving it.

The Camaraderie's the Thing Dave Grundtvig has been an A1 and sound designer for NBA, NFL, MLB, and NHL games and events for more than 25 years, and, like the Budkas, he and his son Nick are Chicagoans. But Dave and Nick remain Windy City denizens, and both have Bulls and Blackhawks credits to show for it. On Sunday in Jacksonville, they formed what is becoming a semi-regular battery for them, as the A1 and the effects submixer for the game.

I would bring Nick to games when he was a kid, Dave Grundtvig recalls. But he seemed to start getting into it in high school, when he began doing mixing and sound design for the theater productions. He had a band, he was recording them; it began to spark his interest [in audio].

Dave, who's now 60, says he can identify the actual turning point: when he took Nick with him to the 2016 NBA All-Star Game in Toronto as an audio-utility hand. He had been into audio and music up to that point, but really getting his hands on it, actually working and getting a paycheck for it, and seeing what we were doing on the road, he was like a kid in a candy store.

In fact, that camaraderie attracted Nick Grundtvig to the calling as much as anything else.

It was a mind-blowing experience, says the 26-year-old Grundtvig, who spent that weekend assisting A2s, running cabling, and doing whatever else was needed fo
LINK: https://www.sportsvideo.org/2022/01/11/two-father-son-teams-handle-aud...
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