(Gazette (Cedar Rapids, IA) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Aug. 28--IOWA CITY -- Iowa football will sound different at Kinnick Stadium this year, and it's not just because of its $1 million sound system.
Yes, public address announcer Mark Abbott's voice will be more recognizable over the new speakers. Everything from the replay of Nile Kinnick's iconic Heisman speech to video montages and commercials will have a clear and crisp sound. But the most important change for many is the music at Kinnick Stadium will have a modern bent.
"The charge we've given a small group of people who are kind of overseeing the music piece of it is go ahead and skew a little young," said Rick Klatt, Iowa's associate athletics director for external relations. "We understand it's important for the team. We understand it's important for the future."
This off-season Iowa hired a consultant, Graystone Media, to provide guidance on in-stadium entertainment. The company works primarily with NFL and other college football programs and advises everything from music selection to video imagery and graphics. Klatt raved about the suggestions Graystone provided and the school plans to implement many of the display recommendations.
But the most noticeable changes will come with the musical selections. In an adrenaline-filled environment, music has the potential to alter momentum. It's also, perhaps, the most polarizing aspect of in-stadium entertainment. People of the same age group often disagree about music, let alone fans ranging in age from 15 to 75.
Marketing and football staffers collaborated with the consultant on songs for the upcoming season. Members of the football program will select the music for pregame warm-ups. During the game, marketing assistant, Rori Carlo, will click the selections. Most of the choices will be contemporary, but it might shift to heavy metal or classic rock for key events, such as a third-down situation on defense.
"Music is a threefold decision: it's the right music at the right time, played at right volume," Klatt said, reciting what the consultant told him. "The right music could be something that was popular a year ago or it could be something that was popular 40 years. The person responsible for making that selection just needs to be aware of the game environment that they're making that right pick.
"I have lots of confidence that (Carlo is) in a good place," Klatt added. "She gets it, she's a big sports fan."
Iowa's marching band will continue to have a prominent role. The school won't shed its famous team introduction that begins with AC/DC's "Back in Black" and concludes with a video montage and "Enter Sandman."
"You have to be true to yourselves, you have to be true to your school, you have to be true to your core values and that's one of things that's become us," Klatt said. "A change in that probably only gets triggered by the football staff. I would not be recommending changing that. That's become such a staple of the Kinnick Stadium environment on game day. That's us."
Iowa defensive tackle Carl Davis listened to AC/DC only during dodgeball in gym class while growing up in Detroit. But the song has become such a staple to him that he wouldn't want the intro to change.
"It sends chills down your spine every time. It starts playing in the weight room ... and it gets a little bit closer to game day when that song comes on," Davis said. "We're really looking forward to it."
Ultimately, the consultant relayed to Iowa that music can add or detract from a game-day experience.
"We have to go home at the end of the season and be able to look ourselves in the mirror and say did the operations of your sound system and the operations of your video system, A) provide value to your customers; B) help you win the football game; C) meet your obligations to the world?" Klatt asked. "If you're able to say yes, yes and yes, you've had a great year."
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