Hi, I have been working on a few documentaries/interviews over the past few months. More recently, I have been working on a few Ob-Doc TV shows where having to hide Radio Mics on people has been important. More often or not, the characters that I have been working with have been "ordinary people" who haven't really minded a little bit of fudging around to get some right if something needs adjusting.

I have just been offered a job, where we will be working with UK Prime Minister David Cameron for a few hours. I have to say, I am a little bit nervous and I feel I should prepare my Radio Micing skills to make sure everything goes 100% smoothly.

Baring in mind this is an Ob-Doc, normally I would tape the mic to the chest of the character and have it under their clothing so it is out of shot. However, I don't think that I will be able to get away with asking Mr Cameron to do this.

This may ofcourse not be the case and I may only need to boom him, or this may be a sit down formal interview where I can pin a mic to his tie and it remain out of shot. I am yet to hear the full details. But I am asking this questions just so I can be prepared for anything.

So, I am really interested in what Etiquette people use when working with people of this Profile and how to ensure that I get 100% perfect sound.

How do you speak to them?

Where do you place the microphone?

Where do you place the transmitter?

How do you make sure they are comfortable with this?

Is there a 1,2,3 step-by-step guide for this sort of thing?

I have worked with the producer before, so she must feel confident that I am good enough for this. But there is no harm in brushing up my knowledge before hand.

I have read alot of the Lapel/Radio mic related threads in the forum already, so I am mostly interested in work Etiquette than mic positioning. However, any pro tips and must have accessory recommendations are also encouraged.

Thanks, and I will edit this question once I get more details on the style of the shoot.

  • 1
    As a further question, would it be wrong to Check In on Foursquare at Downing Street? Commented May 13, 2011 at 15:31

9 Answers 9


Always explain everything you're about to do before you do it, and work confidently. These people have been miked up countless times, so they're usually privvy to the routine, but they operate at a high level and can smell fear/inexperience a mile away. In the end, they want to be around people that know how to make them sound good with minimal hassle and they appreciate that situation when they're in it.

If you're anxious, I would def suggest getting a buddy with a suit on to run a few practice installs. Have him give you some attitude so you can be prepared for worst case.

maybe try this:

"Hello sir, my name is XXX and I'll be miking you up today. I'm going to pin this mic right there on your clothes and run the cable over here to keep it out of view. I'll use some gaff tape right here around your collar to keep everything in place. Great. Now I'm going to drop this transmitter down the back of your jacket, and you can clip it on your belt there. I'll switch it on and get you to talk to me in just a moment."

that's how I approached Nolan Ryan and his wife anyway. :)

  • Nice tip. I think a preparing a speech like that will be very important. Thanks alot. Commented May 13, 2011 at 16:32
  • Rene was that the Nolan Ryan before or after the gut? I could see micing being more of a challenge post gut
    – sepulchra
    Commented May 14, 2011 at 0:06
  • Rene's got it all there but I just wanna add on a point. I found it useful, while explaining what I was about to do, to demonstrate on myself. So I would basically show him/her what I was about to do by first doing so on myself. Helps give them a better picture.
    – user6513
    Commented May 14, 2011 at 2:01
  • @sepulchra - Ryan was actually easy because the bit was that he was grilling thousands of hot dogs. I just pre-lav'd his grilling apron and he put it on. His wife was more of a challenge though because she was sitting and watching in regular clothes. Can't find it on youtube yet, but it just hit the air last week.
    – Rene
    Commented May 15, 2011 at 17:29

I deal with 'high profile' people at work sometimes - academics, occasional high-ranking politicians, diplomats etc.

  1. Be polite and pleasant but don't be deferential. Smile and look them in the eye. Don't waste time on small talk. Answer any pleasantries they come out with in a friendly but concise way. You have a job to get on with and so have they.

  2. If you must address anyone as 'sir' or 'madam', only use it once at the beginning of the conversation.

  3. I've never mic'ed up any of those people visting my work, but I'd imagine you wouldn't lay hands on them unless absolutely necessary and you would always proceed this with a 'May I?', explaining what you need to do and waiting for their assent or otherwise. I imagine they can attach mics to lapels and so on for themselves. Point to yourself to indicate where you want the mic to go, not at them.

  • Good answer. No. 3 is exactly what I was wanting to hear. If you are not Mic'ing them, how are you recording them? Do you boom above or below? Out of interest, what sort of work do you do? Commented May 13, 2011 at 15:40
  • Thanks Audious Sound. I work at the British Library's Sound Archive. Before then I did front-of-house work at the BL which involved meeting various visiting dignitaries, a few big household names among them. I guess the rules of working with such people are pretty much the same whatever you're doing. Good luck, sounds like you've got a great opportunity there. Commented May 13, 2011 at 15:47

Always be courteous and polite. I've made a habit of checking with the AD about how the person prefers to be addressed before I interact with them. This cuts down on the chance of them being offended at the get-go. I've also had a producer introduce me, which was exceptionally helpful.

Everything else that has been said stands. Be polite, courteous, and inform them of what you're doing before you do it. I've worked with a number of people who would stop me halfway through and simply state "Do whatever you need to do! I'll be fine." Even then, I'll let them know what's going on, which they do appreciate.

As always, your mileage may vary


Great advice from Rene, London and Sam. I used to work on a national TV show, which involved miking up a lot of guests (some of them fairly famous - in australia, at least), and i found that it's not as intimidating as you initially feel it will be.

Introduce yourself, tell them what you're doing, and do it quickly and effectively. In other words, treat them like anyone else you'd be miking up. They'll probably be busy with something else and ignore you while you do it. However, some people can get a little snippy if it seems to take too long.

Also, maybe chat to your producer about whether or not they care about a lapel mic being visible. It'll sound a lot better and, if you clip it on neatly, i think it's perfectly acceptable for a TV presenter or politician to have a mic visible; it's just part of the medium. Some producers might have a problem with it, but the average viewer isn't going to see it, or care if they see it.


I know in Live situations say at speeches and press conferences, All high level politicians I have dealt, President, VP, First Lady's etc, have the white house av staff that travels with them. Usually their assistant, Secret Service, or the AV staff will Mic them up. From my experience, they generally do it correctly, it is in their best interest that the person they work for sounds great.

I have also found that generally most high profile has been miced up countless times and they are way way more comfortable with the process than you are haha.

But like everyone else said, Talk them through it step by step, demonstrate on yourself, make sure your FREQS and Levels are spot on before you get to them, and have everything you could possibly need with you to do it before approaching them.

If it is at an event, always have a backup plan like planting a lav at the podium, grabbing the house feed. Sometimes people land and walk right on stage and then off they go.


At every opportunity refer to him as dear.

  • or perhaps 'my love' Commented May 18, 2011 at 4:42

Make sure that you tell the Prime Minister when the mic is live, and remind him to take it off afterwards.

The previous Prime Minister had a mishap.



This article is maybe pertinent?

Someone talks about interviewing Morgan Freeman and trying not to be in the way. http://www.boxoftoys.ca/?p=180



I remember my first time micing up an A-List. I know exactly how you feel right now.

They respect competence. I suggest having an altoids case nearby at all times and throw one in just before you mic him. I also suggest being ready to ask him politely to take off his jingly watch or pocket-watch. Also, don't be afraid to jump in and start micing and not waiting for someone to tell you when to do your job - do it politely of course - and they will respect you for this. Show interest in wanting to make it perfect.

I had everything set up 3 hours before-hand and I double and triple-checked my lines to ensure they were clean and ready to record.

I set up every possible alternative way of recording (lavs, wireless, headphones, no headphones, boomed mic, different types of boom mics ready, etc. etc.)

This was an ADR session I did so I'm sure an off-the-cuff interview will be much easier (i.e. you don't need to be able to play back video/audio, etc.)

I would definitely try to boom this interview and not use a lav mic. This will also make it easier to mic him if you're worried about getting too close.

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