Hear and There
On location and on set, a sound pro copes with a personal challenge.
After 15 seasons as an audio mixer for CBS’s The Amazing Race, Bruce Beacom shucked his traveling shoes in 2014, choosing to stay closer to his L.A. home after the birth of his son.
Working on the go can be challenging for any crewmember, but Beacom had another consideration — an unusual one for a sound man — he is hearing impaired and has only 80 percent hearing with hearing aids.
Beacom has otosclerosis, a hereditary condition that causes an overgrowth of bone in the middle ear, obstructing the hearing process. He was unaware of the condition until 2000, when at age 30 he began experiencing a siren-like ringing in his ears that escalated to a 95 percent hearing loss. Nevertheless, he kept working, on the Fox reality show Paradise Hotel and on corporate events.
“Being a location television sound mixer, I was moving around wearing gear that picked up sound on set — I was a walking hearing aid,” says Beacom, who is also a singer-guitarist-composer fronting his own acoustic-funk band. “I would amplify the sound through the mixer into my headphones. I also watched the visual readings on my VU [volume units] meter like a hawk — I relied on those to tell me if I had good sound.”