Politics, protests and, despite it all, music—the Eurovision Song Contest has been the biggest media event in Europe for decades. The contest held in Tel Aviv in 2019 was particularly eventful. Volker Schmitt, who was on site with his team, remembers it well. “The political situation had little effect on us because we spent most of our time inside the halls. We had a job to do.” This opinion was shared by the teams from other companies who all came together to manage this major event. As a result, the hundreds of crew members forged a fascinating bond, each bringing their own unique cultural identity.
“Such a strong working relationship is only possible if you reach out to others, and if you have a good partner at your side whom you can trust.” Volker and his team already shared a long-standing partnership—and friendship—with Meir Kilim, the owner of the Sennheiser sales partner in Israel. Together, they spent months planning the wireless networks and the system architecture so that nothing could go wrong during the live TV broadcast to 200 million viewers. “This time, however, frequency management and broadcasting simply wasn’t enough. We all felt that we could contribute more. We thought of ways to collect donations so that we could make a difference in Tel Aviv even after the final of the ESC and help the people outside the venue walls,” says Volker.
They discovered the children’s hospital in Haifa—a partner that needed support to care for seriously ill children. When it came to convincing the crew to make generous donations, Volker and Meir were particularly ingenious: Meir’s wife had her famous cheesecake delivered every day, which lured the crew members to the Sennheiser Coffee Corner. “We attracted quite a crowd,” Volker winks. On the day of the 2nd semi-final, the friends invited a group of children for a backstage tour. For many of them it was their first outing after months in hospital. “I don’t need to tell you how moving it was to see their faces full of wonder as we led them through the backstage area. Everyone in the hall held their breath for a few minutes.” The hectic rush inside and the political madness outside were forgotten for a moment. There are so many different ways we can work together.