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How I Work: Brad Kern

By May 17, 2017September 16th, 2023No Comments

Mixing Dessa (Photo by Tim Rummelhoff)

What do you do?

I am an audio engineer. My official title at Northrop is Stage Manager/Audio Supervisor, but as nearly every event in the auditorium requires audio support, I am rarely stage managing. I was fortunate find what I love to do at an early age.

I began mixing a high school cover band that my best friends were in, and that was all it took to be hooked on sound. I interned at a production company in my teens, which turned into a paid position. I began touring with bands in my early twenties. Trip Shakespeare, Semisonic, and N*E*R*D are the bands I spent the most time with. After almost 15 years circling the U.S. and then the globe, I settled down and started a family. I did corporate audio for the next 10 years. Good money, but not a lot of fun. The position at Northrop then appeared, and I was hired a month before the reopening in spring of 2014, ending 26 years of freelancing….whew! We do a great mix of concerts, dance, lectures, and university events. It’s a wonderful place to work.

What tools/gear/software/hardware/etc do you use to do your work?

With a few different working spaces in the building, there is quite a variety of tools to play with. In the Carlson Family Stage, I have a DiGiCo SD9 console (love it!) and a 51-box JBL VerTec sound system. The system processors (BSS) and amplifiers (Crown) are run with Audio Architect software via the HiQnet network. I also have Pro-Tools with a UB MADI interface connected to the SD9.


In the Best Buy theater, there is a Midas M32 console and a Renkus-Heinz cinema sound system. There is also an E-Coustic LARES active architecture system, which, with two mics and 32 zones of speakers, can change the acoustic properties of the theater. It’s neato.

For our summer concert series on Nortrop’s plaza, there is another Midas M32 console, and a JBL VRX sound system.

What do you use that you love? What do you use that you wish worked better?


I love the beauty of the space that I get to work in, both sonically and visually. I love that three out of the four people I work with backstage, have both an audio background, and a music background. Communication is rarely an issue. Tech-wise, the consoles that are here are ideal for their applications, and there is a lovely compliment of microphones, as well. Almost everything is new and in lovely working order. There are very few antiques left over from the old auditorium, only our wireless com system is a bit outdated. Can’t really think of much that doesn’t perform the way I’d like it to.

A note from the librarian:

If you’re interested in learning more about multi-media design and editing tools, the Libraries has a page on graphics and video editing resources to help you get started. The SMART Learning Commons can loan recording equipment and provide in-person assistance with your project.

Kristi Bergland

Mark Engebretson

Author Mark Engebretson

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