After winning last year’s EuroVision Song Contest (ESC) with singer Conchita Wurst, Austria received the right to host this popular event that took place at the Wiener Stadthalle, the largest arena in Austria. Producing and organising the ESC is traditionally carried out by hosting country’s national public broadcaster, and this year, Austria’s ORF worked closely with the European Broadcasting Union on this daunting task. ORF sent out an advertisement looking for 800 volunteers to work in various fields as project assistants at this mega event. More than 1,500 people applied from all over the world hoping to land one of these jobs. Leica Geosystems factory tour guide and retired employee, Anton (Tone) Schneider, decided to take a chance and applied for a job.
After traveling to Vienna for two castings and interviews, Tone got the news that he was chosen for the exclusive job as VIP backstage tour guide. This job was the most sought after and from 800 volunteer jobs, only 10 positions were available as a backstage tour guide.
Tone had to learn a lot of facts about the ESC and the Wiener Stadthalle for his tours, especially technical information about the impressive new stage, which was designed exclusively for the Song Contest.
Security in and out of the arena was very similar to airport standards with X-ray control points, sniffer dogs etc. To enter the various halls and rooms, a special accreditation card code was required. Tone not only had access to all the areas of the Wiener Stadthalle, but also to the Outside Broadcasting vans. This was highly unusual, but being a technician, Tone was also the designated tour guide of all TV-teams.
For three weeks, Tone gave tours to various VIPs such as contestant delegations, politicians, journalists, TV-teams and to sponsors, like Osram and Humanic, as well as many others from all over the world. The tours through the Wiener Stadthalle included the press conference centre with up to 100 press conferences in one week, the makeup room, the dressing room, where contestants from the 40 countries wait for their stage entrance, the green room, where the stars wait for the voting after performance, and most importantly, the big show hall with its remarkable, state-of-art stage.
“…it’s quite certain, that I’ll never get another chance to do that !” says Tone proudly. He was even lucky enough to lead tours during rehearsals. Tone quite happy claims, “I was in the right place at the right time!”
Before retiring in 2013, Anton Schneider worked 42 years for Leica Geosystems in Technical Service, mainly as a trainer for service technicians, but also in Technical Documention and as an auditor for Service Centres worldwide. Now, Tone gives factory tours at Leica Geosystems ’ Heerbrugg location.