Best Audio’s Laurence Estrin has served as the audio and communications consultant for the presidential debates since 1976 at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco.
Pete Erskine has worked at the debates since 1996. Erskine engineered the communications systems for the 2008 presidential debates, including the Riedel Digital intercom programming, the infamous timer buzzer, and the backup audio console.
The 2008 debates were held over the course of only three and a half weeks at The University of Mississippi, Oxford, Miss.; Washington University in St. Louis, MO; Belmont University, Nashville, TN; and Hofstra University, Hempstead, NY.
Each debate year most of the crew are the same with slight changes. In 2004 the cities and crew were:
- Tom Nicks was the FOH engineer for Coral Gables, Cleveland and Tempe.
- Michael MacDonald was FOH for the Town meeting in St. Louis.
- Russell Emery was the Media center engineer. Emery was also in charge of timing the lights.
- On Stage Audio’s Kelly Epperson was the TD and equipment supervisor. Epperson designed all the audio systems.
- Michael Abbott was the FOH engineer for all of the debates.
- Russell Emery was A2 for Mics and in charge of the timing lights.
- Stan Hunter managed all the installation of equipment.
- Shipley Landiss was the Media engineering coordinator.
- On Stage Audio’s Jamie Ransford was the equipment supervisor.
- Steve Savanyu was the onsite Audio/Technica rep.
- Steve Mendelsohn coordinated all of the RF both inside and outside the venues.
The Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) was established in 1987. Read the history on (CPD website address), along with video footage and complete transcripts of many presidential debates.