As a freelance sound engineer for one of the networks, Neal Gettinger didn't just monitor the microphones at the John Edwards trial. He set the tone. With his trusted heads-up that defendant's vehicle was near ("Suburban!")' to the crisp salutation that followed ("Good morning, Senator."), to his insistence we TV swine clean up after ourselves ("All right, you filthy animals..."), Neal boosted more than his client's audio levels. He boosted morale. And he did so with a deft touch, one he's no doubt honed over years of hoisting that boom mic over tripe and travesty. Of course it helps that he's a bear of a man with a Yankee's accent; the kind of guy who can get away with saying ANYthing - and not just because he's looming over you with a ten foot pole. Not that he'd need an equalizer. Dude's got a thick stash of zingers somewhere in that mixer board he wears. (Think W.C. Fields with headphones.) Why, I dare say John Edwards himself came to appreciate the towering sound guy who apparently ran the show along press row. I know those federal marshals cracking up behind their sunglasses certainly did. Hell, even the 'scribblers' Neal kicked out of the tent seemed to savor his savoir faire (well, most of 'em, anyway). I myself came to count on the man, for he more than anyone kept the growing scrum of cameramen, reporters, still photographers and attendant weirdos from embarrassing ourselves too badly. Yes, you'll find a quieter recordist than our friend Neal - but you won't find one who holds his audio, his assignment, or even his colleagues - to such exacting standards.
Just don't get in between him and his subject. Dude will flatten ya and make you feel like it was your fault. Now THAT'S a professional.