MAJOR SHOW PRODUCER FINDS HIS HEARING AIDS “En-dEAR-ing”!
As a show producer, I am basically an executive who works with a lot of creative talents. Part of the system in creating a new show experience is to have what we call “brainstorming sessions”. These are meetings where the full staff gathers together, rolls up their sleeves, and throws out crazy, off-the top-of the head ideas, the best of which will later be turned into the show concept. I began to notice that I would constantly ask for the comments made to be repeated, because I didn’t understand the words spoken. I found it particularly difficult in contract negotiations. It almost got to the point where I wasn’t sure of what I was agreeing to with the client. After a while, I began to realize that every other person in the meeting understood the words. So why not me? I realized something needed to be done.
Backing up a bit, I have been fortunate to have produced primetime television specials and some of the world’s largest event shows with thousands of performers and spectacular visuals for audiences in the hundreds of millions viewing on their television screens. Each show tries to be bigger, better and more spectacular than the last. I’ve been doing this since college … a long time. When the show is actually happening I wear a headset to communicate with the staff and crew. Particularly when doing live spectaculars, such as a Super Bowl Halftime extravaganza, or an Olympic Opening Ceremony, everyone’s tensions run very high. All know there is no second take. With thirty to forty crewmembers on the headsets, and with all the excitement and adrenalin flowing there is a lot of yelling into the headset mouthpieces, blaring into the ears of all the others. Added to this is the rehearsal noise of speaker testing and super loud music. This constant high-level noise over the years obviously took its toll on my hearing capabilities.
When I finally mentioned my condition of not being able to understand people in meetings to my wife she admitted that I’ve been playing the home TV super loud and often don’t understand or even hear her. She is so sweet that she didn’t complain, but knew I was having a hearing problem. I assured her my hearing was not “selective hearing”.
So I went to the audiologist and found all suspicions confirmed. I had never thought of myself wearing a hearing device and wasn’t too sure I wanted to. After all, I didn’t need glasses … why would I need a hearing aid? But when the audiologist showed me the audiograms indicating the levels of lost frequencies, I was convinced I needed to do something. I knew I couldn’t give up meetings … or TV, so I decided to get hearing aids.
The day after receiving the aids I had a important meeting with a client and I was hesitant about wearing the new aids. What will they all say about me wearing hearing aids when they see them? How would I respond? I’d be so embarrassed. Maybe this concern was brought about by my years as a producer for Disney where everything centered on Mickey. A mouse and his big ears. At Disney our “ear” logos, “ear” waffles, “ear” hats and nEARly everything. And Mickey is so … “en-dEAR-ing”. Maybe, so will I be. Reluctantly I put the aids in my ears and went to the meeting. To my surprise no one said one word about the hearing aids. Everything was normal. Well almost. What wasn’t normal was that for the first time in a long time I could hear and understand everything said. After the meeting, I invited my staff to lunch, just to see if they noticed the devices and to see what they would say. Again, nothing! Now I am getting bolder. I go into a second meeting, this time I am standing in front of all, making the presentation. Still no comments made about what I am wearing. Now I am getting frustrated. I spent months ignoring the hearing problem. I agonized about the fact that I needed to wear hearing aids. I spent what I thought was a lot of money for these super tiny devices. And now, after all that, not one person noticed them! After this first day, I never had any hesitation about my appEARance wearing my new hearing aids.
Now life is bEARable again. I hEAR clearly. The TV doesn’t blare making my dEARest very happy. I am fEARless in front of a crowd. And I am endEARed to my audiologist.