(Editor’s Note: Carol Moore, CVE, holds a very special place in my heart. She likely holds a very special place in the heart of everyone in this industry. If she does not, the problem is not with Carol. As she prepares for her June 30 retirement, we could not let Carol leave without sharing some thoughts on this incredible longevity in the public assembly venue industry. On a personal note, I consider Carol one of the dearest friends I have. I can only hope I have “been there” for Carol as she has been for me through life’s ups and downs. Through it all, Carol’s ever-present smile will be in my mind’s eye. Wishing you the very best, Carol. Thank you for everything and God bless. Now on to Carol’s reflections…)
By Carol Moore, CVE
I’ve been asked to write about my career in this industry. As I thought back over my 49-year career, it is amazing to see the vast changes that have happened during that time. I began my career in 1974 as a secretary.
When we rented the facility, there was one main phone line that rang into the building. We had ten button phones on our desks that would allow multiple calls to come through at one time. Everyone was responsible for answering a ringing line. It was always amazing to see all ten buttons light up all at once when Elvis was announced, and they would ring non-stop for eight hours. When we prepared contracts, we used pre-printed forms and inserted carbon paper between each copy. Everything business was handled through mail. At this point there weren’t fax machines yet. We did not have a copier, but rather used a mimeograph machine to print things when you needed a lot of copies. All files were manual and stored in file cabinets as there weren’t computers. Your financial accounting records were all done manually and kept in ledger books. I used shorthand when my boss dictated a letter to be sent out as there weren’t small recording devices back then.
All event tickets were hard tickets that were housed in these wooden boxes with pigeonholes. The tickets were arranged in these boxes as the arena was laid out. Back then a concert ticket was $7.50 – a far cry from today’s prices. Processing a credit card payment was handled by a machine that would imprint the customer’s card information onto a 3-form carbon receipt. The customer received a copy, the building kept a copy, and the third copy was turned into the bank for processing. Then you had to manually add up the total charge card receipts for settlement each day.
Advertising for a show was vastly different as you only had newspaper, radio, and television. Concert show posters were put out around town on the telephone poles announcing the event. Our ticket outlets received a section of hard tickets to sell from their location and we would have to deliver and pick up tickets and money.
Production was very different as well. For years our stage consisted of scaffolding and plywood pieces that were built by the operations team. The power needed for sound and lights back in those days was only 200/400 amp – a huge difference from today’s show needs. The show would consist of two semi-trailers at the dock – not the sometimes 50 semi-trailers you see today! Rigging plots weren’t as elaborate back in those days either.
The first concert I remember that had the stage in the round was Kenny Rogers. I always felt bad for the poor stagehand who kept having to crawl around in circles while Kenny walked the stage. The first audio/visual used for a concert that I remember was for John Denver, who showed video of his then wife Annie. The show riders were so much simpler back in those days as well, although I do remember the Van Halen rider about the chocolate M&Ms.
I remember when we would have hockey or Holiday on Ice, the operations team would have to hose down the concrete floor 24 hours a day with a water hose until they created an ice floor. Such a tedious task and a very expensive one to do as well.
The other difference I have seen is in the aesthetics of the venues. Back in the old days venues were sterile and consisted of a lot of concrete. Today they are state-of-the-art venues with beautiful aesthetics, very high tech, and create an unforgettable experience for the guest. The food and beverage from the old days consisted of your typical concession fare of hot dogs, hamburgers, popcorn, nachos, etc. Today of course there are chefs at our venues that prepare culinary delights for everyone’s palate.
Security was obviously very different back in those days and nothing like what is faced by our venues today. Technology was non-existent in a venue for me until 1988 when I was first given a desktop computer. I learned the computer by grabbing a co-worker when she would pass by my office door on her way to do something. In those days, the computer was DOS based and you had to type in commands to get it to do what you needed.
There are so many other things that were different that escaped my mind. But let’s leave it to say that “we’ve come a long way, baby!”