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Intercom Upgrade for Samford University Theatre

Stage Directions • Industry NewsOctober 2019 • October 23, 2019
Tech student, Hope McMahone using the new Pliant CrewCom on Ella Enchanted at Samford University Theatre

Tech student, Hope McMahone using the new Pliant CrewCom on Ella Enchanted at Samford University Theatre

Through trial and error with other manufacturers, David Glenn, director of technology and design for the Samford University theatre, finally found the communications solution he was searching for with Pliant Technologies’ CrewCom wireless intercom system. For the 288-seat university theatre, it is crucial to deploy a reliable intercom system that never compromises on quality and has a small learning curve – ideal for students working in live production for the first time.  

“We had planned to upgrade our wireless system for a long time now,” explains Glenn. “We were previously working with a failing two-channel wireless system, and its poor quality left me frustrated and seeking other options. When it comes to live performances, it is a top priority for us to have a dependable coms solution – this way all directions and cues are heard, and we can put on a smooth show.”

Samford University upgraded to Pliant’s 900MHz CrewCom, which provides the theatre with a strong signal and a range large enough to cover the space. “The CrewCom integrates well with our two-channel hardwired system and gives us the flexibility that was lacking with other solutions we’ve tried,” adds Glenn. “Something that stood out to me about CrewCom is its ability to increase user counts down the road. Other manufacturers’ systems would cap out at four wireless coms, but with CrewCom, we can deploy up to six Radio Packs at a time, and we have the ability to add more, if needed.”

When Glenn took a first look at CrewCom, he was immediately impressed by the rigidity of the Radio Packs (RP) – especially after finding other manufacturers’ packs to be frustratingly fragile. “They are a great size – not too big or too small,” adds Glenn. “The ability for these packs to take a beating is especially important when working with students. If they drop a pack, I know it’s going to hold up, and I won’t have to tape them back together, like I used to. They are durable, lightweight, compact, and well-constructed.”

Glenn finds the rechargeable batteries within the Radio Packs to be another standout feature at the Samford University Theatre. “We have the ability to plug the pack into an outlet close to our stations, and the next day when we come back, it’s fully charged,” adds Glenn. “Before CrewCom, we would have to take the packs after every show or two and pop out a bunch of AA batteries and replace them – a tedious and time-consuming task. The ease of charging with these RPs, especially with the younger students, is majorly beneficial.”

The Samford University Theatre department also purchased several of Pliant’s recently enhanced SmartBoom LITE Headsets to complete its CrewCom system. “For such lightweight and sleek headsets, their strength is really impressive. They are definitely more comfortable and flexible than the headsets we were previously using, and we have especially enjoyed the flip up microphone muting feature.”  

The Samford University theatre puts on six professional quality shows each school year, as well as providing for the academic needs of the university, including orientations, assemblies and lectures. So far this school year, the theatre is currently working on its production of Ella Enchanted. With the deployment of CrewCom, all of the theatre’s events continue to run smoothly for Glenn and his production students.
The production of Ella Enchanted at Samford University Theatre where the school first used its new Pliant CrewCom intercom system for the crew

“Thanks to Pliant’s CrewCom, we are able to better communicate, behind the scenes, for the shows we are working on,” he says. “The CrewCom system isn’t like anything else that we’ve tried – it’s a step above – and I’m really happy that we made the decision to upgrade.”

Further information from Pliant Technologies:


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