By Shari Valenta
There’s a flurry of activity under a white portable tent in the Denver Tech Center. Truckloads of performance stage lights are being unloaded and carried onto a stage surrounded by folding chairs. There’s energy and anticipation, as people work quickly, doing sound checks and setting up portable movie screens. In a corner, Rob Schenk, owner of Line Level ShowTek, aims a colored light onto one of these screens.
The technical production company provides lighting, audio and video for large-scale events. Schenk is adept on both sides of the microphone, acting as emcee at many of the events he produces. Perhaps he gets his confidence from teaching martial arts during his free time. In any case, he is certain things will go smoothly.
Schenk’s been a member and guest speaker for the National Speakers Association of Colorado. He’s also one of the founding members of the Denver Chapter of International Special Events Society. ISES members consist of caterers, convention coordinators, decorators, hotel managers, and, of course, audio-visual technicians.
Schenk also has an electrical engineering background. He graduated from DeVry University in 1985.
“My college roommate and I decided to start a business, doing the audio and lighting at parties. When we graduated, he got a different job, but I decided to keep the business going,” said Schenk. “That was in Ohio. Then I decided to move it out here. I thought, ‘How can I grow my business?’ I decided to do larger events rather than more events.”
After almost 20 years, Schenk continues to direct technical productions. Each gig becomes more complicated than the last, and involves more high-profile people. The events feature world figures, from President Bush and former President Bill Clinton, to entertainers such as Frankie Valli and Tony Bennett. Corporate clients have included Sun Microsystems and Time Warner Communications. Line Level ShowTek also produces parties, weddings and mitzvahs.
Perhaps Schenk’s fondest memory at an event was when he met Pittsburgh Steelers great, Rocky Blier.
“Rocky Blier’s not huge here, but back in Pennsylvania he was big; he went to the Super Bowl four times, and won four times,” said Schenk. “I provided audio support for him. I normally don’t ask for autographs, but in that case I asked him, ‘Can I be a fan and get a picture?’ He said, ‘Absolutely.’ Somebody took a picture of us and he said, ‘Know what? I didn’t like that one; let’s do this instead.’ He pulled out his four Super Bowl rings and handed them to me. Then he said, ‘Put those on.’ That was cool; he certainly didn’t have to do that!”
Schenk has won awards for his technical skills, including Westie and ICON Awards. He won a local ICON award for an event that took place in 2005.
“It was for a very technical corporate event,” he said. “Multiple cameras were shooting and putting an image up on a screen, so if there was a person talking at the podium, they were also on the screen. It’s called I-MAG (image magnification). It was very involved. I had multiple videos playing and a laser brought in from a company from California. There were 30 moving lights.”
Currently, Schenk is working on a string of events, which include showcasing the new Landmark high rise in DTC and helping raise funds for the Kempe Foundation.
“I certainly think lighting is an art and that’s why I like doing it,” explained Schenk. “I do sound, audio and video, but I think the lighting is beautiful. I like it when all the hard work is done and I can sit back and say, ‘Wow, this is what the work was for.'”
Schenk works out of Castle Rock but has traveled as far as Canada to work his magic.
“In Canada, I toured with a corporate awards event and did several of them,” Schenk said. “Companies would rather do that than reinvent the wheel in every city. It’s easier to bring in the same crew or someone like myself that knows what the client wants.”
Schenk regularly hires a group of freelance vendors.
“It’s a really good crew; I work with people I like,” Schenk said. “I know it sounds like the corporate line, but we have great chemistry. To me, it’s all about the relationship. I do a lot of public speaking on this from a business standpoint—how you work with your customer and how you connect with them. I think it’s important how I treat my clients and vendors. I would do anything for them.”
Line Level ShowTek serves the Denver metro area and beyond. For more information, call 303-663-5959 or 800-269-3415 or visit [http://www.linelevel.com].