Church Executive: How did WAVE come about?
Ron Procopio: WAVE is something that I have wanted to pursue for quite a while. There hasn’t been many events servicing the West Coast, and I saw an opportunity for the House of Worship market in California in particular.
Back when I was with CFX, we had some tentative plans to do some work in that area, but that was not in our imminent plan. So, I wanted to take up that mantle and service those churches on the West Coast.
The other thing that’s different about WAVE is that many events in the industry tell you what you can do, but they don’t necessarily tell you what you should do. I wanted to focus on the practicality of the technology and how we are using that technology in a way that isn’t just setting people up for an unattainable objective. I thought it was more practical to get them connected with real people and real technology and show them what they can be doing to enhance their churches immediately.
CE: What is your long-term vision for WAVE?
Procopio: This is intended to be a much smaller event than what you would see in some other conferences and expos. This is an intimate event where we are expecting 300 or so attendees and 30 or so exhibitors. This is meant to attract people that are actually doing the work and provide the ability to speak one-on-one with the exhibiting manufacturers.
That being said, for 2022, we are looking at a possible second event in the fall, which would happen on the East Coast. It’s still in negotiation at this point, but it’s well on its way. Next year, we have the same goal; we’re hoping for an East Coast, West Coast series.
CE: What kind of demographic does this event appeal to?
Procopio: This event is primarily focused on church production teams, the team that is going to be responsible for worship services. With technology that is available from the parking lot to the sanctuary. How are people using LED screens in public spaces? How are they using sound systems in public or outdoor spaces? We intend on focusing primarily on audio visual production managers and technical directors, but we are also talking to executive pastors and business administrators, because we want to connect the relationship between the people that are spec’ing the equipment and the people that are authorizing the purchases. We want them to understand why those people are coming to them and saying, ‘I need X product to help us improve our services.’
[M]any events in the industry tell you what you can do, but they don’t necessarily tell you what you should do. I wanted to focus on the practicality of the technology and how we are using that technology in a way that isn’t just setting people up for an unattainable objective.
CE: What kind of tools can people expect to walk away from this event with?
Procopio: Immediately you are going to see what technology is going to be best used in your churches. You’re going to find very practical technology. You’re going to find skills that will allow you to make immediate changes, whether they’re with live streaming, which has become very popular, obviously. It could also be with your video production services, your audio mixes, your lighting systems. You’re going to walk away with practical tools that can work right away.
CE: How has COVID-19 impacted the planning process?
Procopio: Omicron made some changes over the winter, but we are very hopeful for the spring. California has recently changed their restrictions, downgrading from a pandemic to an endemic, which allows for us to connect a little bit better, with fewer limitations. We’re beginning to see very good numbers in event registration, and I think audiences are excited to return to live events.
CE: What can staff gain from a peer-to-peer networking environment like the one that WAVE provides?
Procopio: Ultimately, I think the best thing is that you get to see what your peers are doing at their facilities, you’re learning from others how they are tackling similar challenges. You’ll find churches that are the same size that are able to discuss what they’re doing. It encourages dialogue when you’re able to have those commonalities together in an educational space. They say, ‘we learn best when we’re together’ and I totally agree with that.
CE: What resources are available to help familiarize people with WAVE?
Procopio: Right now, our website is live: www.wave-event.co. We are partnering with Church Executive, Technologies for Worship and Church Production Magazines, where members and subscribers for those publications have access to our event and to our content.
All the sessions are going to be recorded and will be made available after the event. That’s something that people can take away, not only when they’re there in person, but they’ll have the ability to watch later on as well. We’re excited about that.
— Reporting by Emma Green