05.28.22 I By Mark Foley
Weekend services are unusually busy at University Baptist Church (UBC) in Houston, Texas. With a current membership base of around 800 people, UBC has its production hands full with two very different worship styles each Sunday morning, plus a host of outside activities during the week. “The room itself is very well known. It’s a great acoustin room – very, very live so our facilities are in near-constant use for concerts, etc.,” says Michael Cowey, director of tech arts at University Baptist Church.
The 9:30 am service on Sunday is a traditional service with a full orchestra and choir. Within 20 minutes after the end of the first service, the room and the stage are reset for soundcheck for an 11 am contemporary service.
UBC Faces the Music
So, how does a church like UBC deal with so many moving parts? Turns out that resolving the issues of not having reliable communications became a priority. “Prior to installing the CrewCom wireless intercom from Pliant Technologies, communication was a hit or miss proposition for us,” Cowey says. “We have 20 minutes to change our room from traditional to contemporary and get ready for our next service. But we also have kids services in yet another room, and streaming too. Our old intercom system was failing, so we would end up having to try to call or text each other.”
“Currently, we have the new CrewCom System with 10 wireless users. Essentially, we run our intercom as a two-channel system, one channel for the director just to the camera ops, and one channel that can cover everyone. Once you learn the software that ties all the units into the main hub, you can configure the Pliant system any way you want.”
Cowey explains that having Pliant’s CrewCom intercom recently satisfied an equipment rider from an outside group that rented their facility, that stipulated the church could provide a reliable, professional intercom system. This meant that UBC ended up not having to go out and rent one.
Covid changed the entire production process for UBC. The church went from just recording its services to going live with multiple feeds across multiple channels such as YouTube and Facebook. According to Cowey, once he saw that protocols had changed, he knew they (UBC) had to go spend the money to be able to live stream. So UBC not only invested in upgrading their intercom system, but cameras and audio upgrades as well. UBC can now adapt on the fly, which is so important when you have multiple services both live and online. Connectivity and communication are key, and the CrewCom intercom is helping UBC do that.
“Things are constantly changing for us,” Cowey adds. “We have a particular way we are supposed to handle our services, but there are always changes. Now we have the immediate ability to communicate those changes to all our production positions. It’s really helped us since we installed Pliant’s CrewCom intercom system.”
Photo Credit: University Baptist Church, Houston, TX