School of Music Facilities Manager Rusty King recently returned from a trip to Mexico where he facilitated the audio plan for Pope Francis’s visit to Juarez, Mexico. Because King has been involved with at least two other Papal visits previously, he said the call to serve alongside the Pope’s team didn’t come as a surprise.
“The planning for these events is huge—it’s key,” King said. “When 500,000 people are expected to show up for the Pope, it effects an entire city, state and country!” Prior to the team’s arrival, drawings of the venue for the Pope’s visit were sent out to prepare the team for providing sound to cover 400,000 people on the main stage, a large parking lot and a small soccer stadium. King said he had been involved in planning phone calls with his audio, power and signal vendors for the full month leading up to his departure for Mexico.
The audio team sent three trucks full of speakers, amplifiers and as many cables as they could find to the site prior to their arrival. King and his two assistants, both from Nashville, created a “Plan A,” as well as many contingency plans because according to King, “you can never count on that plan…we had to have ideas for how to make the event happen under any circumstance.”
After four days of preparing and setting up the systems, bands began playing on the main stage, the Pope arrived along with 400,000 event attendees and the visit was underway. King said the Pope and his team were impressed with the set-up and how the event went. “He said this was the most organized and sounded the best of all the locations he visited that week in Mexico. I was a blessed man before he got there, and the extra blessings he passed along during his time on-site only added to the experiences I’ve had thus far and the work I love doing. What a great opportunity!”