Jumping Into Voiceover
Updated: Dec 11, 2019
Up until two years ago, I had worked inside a radio station since I was 18 years old; most recently as a program director. I had always had access to a microphone and a recording studio. After doing airshifts on the radio, I would wait for a production studio to become available and then fiddle with every button to see what magic would happen.
In the summer of 1989, the station's sales manager, who had a production company on the side, asked me to audition for a few commercials as an actor. You know that look when someone you are auditioning for says, "You're not getting the part"? Well that's what his expression expressed. I was a little disappointed because it was the first time I had ever struggled in the moment. I really believed my abilities could extend into voiceover, but that day it wasn't to be.
What I learned was that voiceover and voice acting are polar opposite to being an on air personality. The goal on air is to be yourself. The goal in voiceover is to be the copy. As years went by and I worked at radio stations where the music was Tool, grunge, Goo Goo Dolls, grunge, grunge and Rob Zombie, producers would ask me to reach for a smile in my voice. I had no idea what they were talking about until I actually did it and it sounded better. I had a number of paying voice gigs over the years but never treated it as business as much as an extension of my job as a radio program director and on air personality.
When I was let go from my job in 2014, someone asked me what I was going to do, and I said, "Whatever the fuck I want."
That was all well and good, but there was no microphone.
Over the next few weeks I researched, listened and asked people in the know about buying microphones, building studios, software and the voiceover business. The business itself was not totally foreign to me. I had hired many voiceover artists to image radio stations, and I evolved into writing and working directly with producers and voiceover artists to craft the right sound for a radio station. Having voiced some things well (and a few other things not so well) I wanted to find my place in the voiceover world. The time was right to build a studio.
One of the smarter things I did was invest in a "Pay-to-Play" membership on an online voiceover service. Now I understand these companies are hot button topics in the industry, but when you need the practice every day to get to know your studio, your microphone and your abilities, it serves a positive purpose in terms of process, practice and client relations. The next smartest thing I did was operate without the membership to gain even more knowledge. Those P2P places aren't for everyone. One radio station I consult has an announcer who is padding out his income pulling in an extra 20k a year. This is nothing short of phenomenal for him as there isn't any other voicework available in the mid-west logging town of 60,000 he works in. Inversely, there are a number of professionals who are less than thrilled with the practices at one company in particular.
My greatest take away from working and speaking with people is how everyone takes time to help one another out and pay it forward. I love how people share ideas about what works, and ask for solutions to problems they encounter. It is something that is lost on the radio business since people probably fear that sharing, discussing or venting might lead to dismissal. While radio might be tightening its belt in a few places, the demand for audio on the planet has increased.
My day feels a lot like the canoe trips I used to take during my summers in Algonquin Park. The non-stop cycle between canoeing and portaging was one where I yearned for the other while you were dealing with the moment. I still spend half my day consulting radio stations, and working with radio programmers and talent to develope their stations and talents. But after consuming audio, it is a joy to shift gears for the next half of the day and bring people's copy to life.
If you need anything voiced, I would love to audition for you. My webpage has my most recent work samples and quotes are assembled expeditiously.