Mar 7, 2011 5:53 PM,
with Bennett Liles
Editor’s note: For your convenience, this transcription of the podcast includes timestamps. If you are listening to the podcast and reading its accompanying transcription, you can use the timestamps to jump to any part of the audio podcast by simply dragging the slider on the podcast to the time indicated in the transcription.
You’ve got an outdoor venue that can host a crowd from several hundred to several thousand and it has to sound right for any event. James Cioffi from New Jersey’s Boulevard Pro is going to let us know how they handled that job in the amphitheater called Central Park West. That’s coming right up on the SVC podcast.
James it’s great to have you with me on the SVC podcast from Boulevard Pro in Oradell, New Jersey and tell us about Boulevard Pro. What do you do and how long has Boulevard Pro been around?
Well Boulevard started in 1986. We’re celebrating our 25th year in business this year and it’s a milestone for us. My twin brother, Anthony, and I started the company many, many years ago. We were touring musicians and we started by opening up a rehearsal studio which then turned into a production business which back aligned a full event production which lead its way into the installation business and we’re happy to say that we’re on the “A-list” here in the New York tri-state area and we do quite a different type of job every day. We’re very, very diversified. We have a home theater division, we actually have a home theater retail pro-audio store and as well as a production company. So having my brother running the production end and I run the design/build end has been pretty easy for us and it’s been really nice because we’re able to run two parts of the company simultaneously without them really interfering with themselves. [Timestamp: 1:59]
Well it sounds like you’ve always got a lot of plates spinning and this new project that came up in, I think it’s Overpeck Community Park, in New Jersey an outdoor venue they call it Central Park West. How did that venue come up out of what I heard was a former land fill?
It was a former land fill and you know what’s funny when my brother and I were 16 years old we used to work for the Teaneck Board of Ed in the summer and we would go and they would throw everything in this place. I don’t think there were any PA standards, anything at this time. But it’s right at the intersection of the New Jersey Turnpike and the George Washington/Lincoln Tunnel exchanges so it’s quite a busy area. It has been overlooked for many years and what happened was they were deemed some money many years ago that grew and grew and grew and by the…I guess the good fortune of the residents in these towns that the governing bodies were able to hold these states to the fire and made them fulfill on a promise that was, I think, 50 years old. So I don’t know how that happened but it did happen and we were invited in as a consultant and when we saw the original design/build plans we were able to effectively get our influence there and we turned what would be a pretty vanilla audio system into a really great live venue. So it worked out on both ends for us. [Timestamp: 3:29]
And this was put together by the Bergen County Parks Department and they wanted a performance facility in that park and of course these days it’s not just a stage and a couple of speakers. Everybody expects the kind of clear sound they hear on TV and the big shows. So what did the Bergen County people tell you they wanted for this facility?
What happened was we were brought into the bid pretty much after it was designed. And this gentleman, John Biale who is project manager for the Bergen County Parks, is a pretty forward-thinking guy and what he thought the original plans of the sound system that was specked were going to be inefficient so he went out and looked into the pool of many great design/build companies in the area and we just happened to be one of the ones he called on and we convinced him that we were the guys for the job and they were agreeable to that and we went on from there. So our design was… “If we’re going to spend all this money, let’s try to get something that would be actual useable in a professional production environment,” and we’re happy to say that that’s exactly what happened. [Timestamp: 3:34]
And you had a little bit of an inside track having seen the situation and what they wanted to do but when you saw what they wanted did you have any initial concerns or questions from the outside of the project?
It was more just spoken-word type of system—just a sound over a large area. Almost like a stadium system that we do and things like that but it was not anything for high definition or any kind of a venue performance type of sound system and the space is a huge…it’s a huge Proscenium stage—it really is a monumental achievement for what this place was. When we were brought into it obviously it was just a hole in the ground. We had no expectations of what it would look like and after we were invited to see the plans we just said, “Hey, I think there may be a better way to go about this.” And that was an odd thing for us because we’ve been involved in a lot of state-designed builds and I’ve never seen one that changed but this one did. [Timestamp: 5:36]
This is a pretty large area. What kind of seating capacity? Or do they even have an official seating capacity? Is it just an open area they can just fill up with seats for any occasion?
It’s really set up as an amphitheater. Its set in…down a hill and the suggested amount was 3,000-3,500 people and it’s quite comfortable at that. We did do a…the first real high profile live venue concert there in September and 7,500 people showed up and the system was able to cover it so we were quite happy with that as well. [Timestamp: 6:12]