Why We Suddenly Needed New Microphones

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NextStop, like most every live theatre out there, extensively uses wireless microphones in our productions. Although our space is small, even a production with a single piano and a singer needs amplification to be heard clearly and consistently. (Our cinderblock walls, corrugated roof, and steeply elevated seating are a nightmare for acoustics and impossible to overcome for even the most talented vocalists.)

Unfortunately, with every electronic device these days vying for limited frequencies and channels over the airwaves, wireless microphones used by theatres like ours have gotten crowded out.

In short: the microphones in which NextStop invested a number of years ago have become obsolete before the equipment itself wore out.

Under the supervision of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), over 70 MHz of high-value, low-band spectrum in the 600-MHz range (where our microphones operate) was sold by broadcasters and bought by mobile broadband providers. There are some exceptions carved into the new frequency usage rules, which benefit large venues (like Broadway theatres, or operators who use more than 50 mics per show–we do not).

Sadly, with the DC area’s crowded airwaves, we began experiencing issues with our microphones from the very beginning of the phasing out period of these frequencies.

To produce our musical Urinetown, we needed to purchase new microphones: an expense of more than $13,000.

To put that in the perspective of a small, growing theatre company, that is an unplanned expense exceeding our entire repair and maintenance budget for an entire year on our facility or an entire month of payroll expenses.

We would love to prevent this expense from necessitating the reduction of funding to our summer programs, which include education programs for kids and our first presentation of the work of Rodgers and Hammerstein in our 30 year history. If you would like to help NextStop with fundraising to cover this expense, or know someone who might be interested in helping NextStop, please give me a call at: 703-481-5930×0 or make a donation online.

Every dollar can help defray the cost of this mission critical expense.


~Matthew C. Thompson

Managing Director, NextStop Theatre Company

Donate Make a tax deductible contribution online today or call 703-481-5930x0

For more technical reading on the FCC Wireless Spectrum Auction, check out: