The Cirque du Soleil fights for radio frequencies

In Las Vegas, radio frequencies are at a premium.

LAS VEGAS--If you're involved in the technical side of the Cirque du Soleil, like Keith Wright and David Dovell are, then the scarcity of available radio frequencies poses a potential headache for you.

That's because Wright--the operations production manager for the Cirque's show, Ka, and Dovell, the technical director for its LOVE show, are both in charge of productions that depend heavily on wireless radio transmissions between hundreds of crew members.

And they face different, but equally challenging, problems.

For Dovell--and, actually, for Wright as well, come to think of it--the problem is political. He told me Thursday, as he helped lead me on a backstage tour of LOVE, that his show and many others in Vegas are facing a potential shortage of radio frequencies due to the Federal Communication Commission's interest in auctioning blocks of spectrum to digital television networks.

"The whole town is writing congressman after congressman," Dovell said, "trying to get them to change that. Every now and then, they'll test one, and knock (a bunch) of our radios out."

For Wright, there's a different problem.

The communications control room at the Cirque du Soleil's Ka. Daniel Terdiman/CNET News.com

Because Ka is at the MGM Grand, which also houses a concert arena, radio transmissions from visiting-concert technicians frequently pose interference problems.

So, Wright has in his employ a full-time technician whose sole job is negotiating those situations and resolving conflicts.

Unfettered wireless transmissions are crucial for both Wright and Dovell because, they told me, Ka and LOVE have the two largest sets of wireless needs of the Cirque's 13 shows.

And if you love the Cirque, as I do, then you're just as interested in making sure these technicians are able to do their job without interference from other shows or political agendas.

 

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