Philly Creative Guide

Creative Personality

Dave Abramson | Chief Engineer for The Philadelphia Phillies

Interview :: Dave Abramson
by Ruth Weisberg, 1 May 2008

This month's Creative Personality is Dave Abramson, Chief Engineer for The Philadelphia Phillies. Dave has been in broadcasting and television production for 39 years, and has been with the Phillies since 1983.

He can be reached at: [email protected]

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Host: Ruth Weisberg; Production: Tat Communication:
Tom Thompson, Videographer; Sage Thompson, Lighting/Sound; Editing, Jessica Lloyd

PCG: There are actually two games being played right now. The one on the field, and the one happening in the Phillies scoreboard control room.

DA: It's quite an operation. It's substantially bigger than what it was at the old Vet. When we moved here, we expanded on what we wanted to do. We added equipment, we had a brand new facility to work with, and we created a really grand presentation, night after night. And we're constantly fine-tuning it, too.

"...we've learned and stolen from the best out there..."

PCG: It's not just a matter of coming to the stadium for a baseball experience, you're trying to create a TV experience here for the fans.

DA: We try to treat it like our own small broadcast. All of our crew mostly works in broadcasting--most of them are freelancers--a few of us work full-time for the Phillies. But we pattern ourselves—we've learned and stolen from the best out there—we try to create an experience that's no different than what they might see at home.

PCG: Watching you in the Phillies scoreboard control room, I noticed this Zen quality about it, this calmness there.

DA: Well the worst control rooms are the panicky control rooms where you've got all this yelling and screaming going on. You just can't concentrate on what you're doing. We've created this atmosphere where every operator bears down on what they're doing. If they have a question or problem, they speak up; if they've got a spectacular shot, they speak up. It's not a yelling or screaming atmosphere by any stretch. It just makes for better concentration on your product in the end.

PCG: You've got quite a few years of production experience..

DA: ...Yes, I held the flashlight for Edison!

PCG: How'd you make the leap from the production side of television to engineering

DA: When I started in television, it was an engineer's medium, really. I was in production. I was pushing a B&W camera. But all along, I had an electronics background, and the engineers at the station out in Illinois were wonderful to me. They showed me how this stuff worked. And I slowly picked it up and kept it in the back of my head. And now that I've moved over into the engineering side, I understand what production wants, what they're trying to do. Now I can easily create the engineering atmosphere that they need to do their part of the show. It's such a ton of fun for me.

PCG: There's such a buzz in the air when a game is being played on the field, as it is right now. What's your favorite time of day here in the Park?

DA: I wish I could figure a way to charge admission to people and allow them to come in here at 4:30 in the morning, especially in the middle of the summer when the sun is just starting to come up. It's a gorgeous time of day down here The field is all covered in dew, the work lights are on so you can see what's going on, the sky is just starting to change color. It's a dead calm, and it's gorgeous.

"People who don't know me would be surprised to know that... I'm probably one of the great collectors of antique television sets."

PCG: OK, Dave, play ball with this one. People would be surprised to know what about you?

DA: People who don't know me would be surprised to know that in the middle of all this digital technology, I'm probably one of the great collectors of antique television sets.

PCG: You call them your "mahogany monsters."

DA: My mahogany monsters, it's true. It's a lot of fun for me to tinker around with those wonderful old things. Digital is a great thing, but there's nothing fun about digital. OK, it's just a bunch of 1's and 0's that work. Or don't work.

PCG: But there's something about an old television..

DA: Nothing's better than the glow of a warm tube.

PCG: You have a great gig. Did you ever think that some kid from Rockford, Illinois would wind up here, doing this?

DA: Uh, about that great gig part. Check back with me after about an 11-day homestand, putting in 14-hour days, all in September. You're kind of cross-eyed by then. It can be a long day, but it's so enjoyable. And for me, it's broadcasting, it's another show to get on the air. It's a baseball game, but it's also a television show you've got to get on the air. Seven o'clock this thing goes, whether you're ready or not. So be ready.

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