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We are so excited to have Kelly Malone join our roster! She’s got a versatile voice that’s perfect for any station. Oh and total side bar…she has a Stanley Cup ring…WHAT!

What radio VO work have you done in the past? I have been voicing radio stations for close to 15 years; mainly in the Northeast including markets around New England and Pennsylvania.

What are you up to presently? Freelancing and loving it! I spent close to 8 years hosting mornings on WBMX in Boston and have been doing voiceovers ever since. Commercial and radio imaging are my passions.

What do you love about your job? I’m a media geek. When most people turn off commercials, I love listening to the latest production and radio station imaging…and I still love hearing myself on radio and TV!

How did you get started as a VO actor? What was your first gig? My VO career began while I was hosting mornings in Boston. I picked up some commercial gigs and radio stations to image. One of my good friends, the great voice talent, Damon Oaks, was the Imaging Director at the station and helped me gain a few clients to voice after I was off the air in the morning.

Have you ever had a voice coach? Would you recommend it? Yes! and Yes! I’ve worked with the legendary Marice Tobias. Her guidance has been worth its weight in gold.

What is your dream gig? I spent 11 seasons as the Public Address Announcer for the Boston Bruins…but I’m still waiting to voice a McDonalds commercial. :-)

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The Bruins Stanley Cup Ring Ceremony in 2011 after they won the Cup.

The Bruins Stanley Cup Ring Ceremony in 2011 after they won the Cup.

Can you offer 3 helpful tips for newbies trying to make it in the voice-over industry? Don’t give up; you won’t get every gig, but you’ll get the gigs perfect for you. Talk to audio engineers for advice on affordable equipment. Never correct your clients. And don’t wear headphones.

If you weren’t doing voiceover, what else do you think you’d be doing for a career? Media in general has always been a passion. I’ve hosted a TV show for the local CBS affiliate in Boston, but radio and voice work has always been what I love. Although I’d love to be on a sitcom.

What’s it like being a part of the voiceover community? I’ve been lucky to have many ultra-successful friends in the industry who have been nothing but supportive!

How do you schedule/prioritize your work? Work is always a priority. I’m constantly in contact with clients in case there is a scheduling conflict or if I’ll be out of studio. Courtesy goes a long way.

How much time do you spend auditioning for new work? Depends on the length of the script. I try not to get caught up in my head too long, but always listen back to the audio with a critical ear while trying not to over think it!

How do you market your services to potential clients? Word of mouth has worked wonders for me and I’m in the process of updating my website while beginning to market my services.

Which production system do you use and why? Well…Garage Band, to be honest! I spent quite a bit of money on Logic a few years ago, which was unnecessary. A good friend of mine, who is an audio engineer, set up my recording system. It’s been highly effective for the last 8 years!

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What gear do you use? Focusrite and M-Audio at home; Apogee One for Mac when I’m traveling.

How has new technology changed the way you work? You can work from anywhere!

What is the best voice processing trick or voice-over technique everyone should know? My audio engineering friends! 😉

When it comes to VO work, studio & gear, what are your most ingenious methods/discoveries for saving time and cash? Your closet is a pre-made sound booth!

Do you have a different approach to reading radio imaging copy as opposed to TV/Radio commercial ads? Absolutely. Voice coaches have really stressed visualizing the script and audience. Radio imaging is generally more tongue-in-cheek and fun than commercial ads.

What did it feel like the first time you heard your voice on the radio/television? Exhilarating!

If you could go back to any decade and hang out which one would you go back to and why? The 1980’s. The combination of music, movies, sitcoms…

What’s your guilty pleasure? Tequila and french fries.

If you could travel anywhere in the world right now where would you go and why? Alaska and Iceland. I’ve been to many warm weather destinations and would like to see what else mother nature has to offer.

Links: 

Benztown: https://www.benztown.com/brigade/kelly-malone

Kelly’s Site: http://kelly-malone.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/_kellymalone

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1) What radio VO work have you done in the past? After doing my first commercial at 12 years old, I started in radio at 15 and became a Production Director at 17 and then Imaging Director for stations in my hometown of Colorado Springs including: KKMG, KKFM, KILO, KKCS and KVUU. I later voiced KSPN/Aspen, KSNO/Steamboat, KSMT/Breckenridge, KAFA/US Air Force Academy and KTFX/Muskogee. I also help at US-103.5 Tampa from time to time.

2) What are you up to presently? I’ve been a freelance VO talent since 2001 and have been with the legendary Atlas Talent since 2011. I’ve worked for ABC, CBS, Discovery, History, Nat Geo, TBS, truTV, A& E, Spike, Cartoon Network and others. I’ve currently been working as the promo voice for the Weather Channel during all the hurricanes in 2017. I’ve been getting into TV affiliate too and just picked up 4 stations! I also own a post-production studio called Audio Architects for sound design and commercial work.

3) What do you love about your job? I love that every day is different and it’s always an adventure! I absolutely enjoy helping spread the word with the power of voice.

4) How did you get started as a VO actor? I did my first Commercial at 12…my sister was a model and the agency needed a kid for a commercial for a local Chiropractor. That commercial is on my site at www.davehoffmann.com.

5) What was your first gig? I worked in promotions at KATM. I was a mascot. Yup…a “Kat”. You’ve gotta start at the bottom and work your way up, right? lol

6) Have you ever had a voice coach? YES. I trained and learned from many of them.

7) Would you recommend it? Absolutely. You don’t know…what you don’t know. It made a huge difference in my ability to self-direct and my range.

8) Who are your VO idols/mentors? I remember rewinding tapes of Brian James and Joe Kelly and trying to learn off the reels they sent in where I produced. (Boy, that was a long time ago, eh?). I later was able to work with the talented Chris Corley, the late Sam O’Neil and Joe Cipriano. I have also always been a huge fan of Dave Foxx and Brian Lee! Brian once used my studio for a week while on vacation in 2007 and that’s when I really got bitten by the VO bug. Undoubtedly, I’ve learned a lot about this business from Jonn Wasser at Atlas too. His belief in me changed my life.

9) Who influenced your work as a VO artist? My coaches, for sure! I’m better because of them! And Brian Lee has been a big supporter of my work and I owe a lot to that guy.

10) What is your dream gig? I’d love to voice Z100 or KIIS FM. Who wouldn’t, right? They are epic stations!

11) Can you offer 3 helpful tips for newbies trying to make it in the voice-over industry? Get coaching to get better, be persistent and don’t give up.

12) If you weren’t doing voiceover, what else do you think you’d be doing for a career? I hope I never know, but I wouldn’t mind being a race car driver.

13) What’s it like being a part of the voiceover community? This business of VO is growing and becoming more competitive. But, conversely, what I love is that people still are willing to help each other along the journey. It’s a supportive bunch as we all hear no…way more than yes! Oh, and hearing great talent is always humbling…and inspiring!

14) How do you schedule/prioritize your work? I try to do it as it comes. But some scripts are more urgent than others and I shuffle around things every day. You know, like they say, “Everyday I’m shufflin’”!

15) How much time do you spend auditioning for new work? It’s daily and often.

16) How do you market your services to potential clients? I try to make connections everywhere I go. You truly always have to be planting seeds and watering your “Client Garden”.

17) Which production system do you use and why? I love ProTools, and after 15 years, it’s hard to stop.

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Dave’s booth AND his two studios in case one goes out. That’s dedication!

18) What are your favorite plugins? I love WAVES. They have everything you could need. The C4, L1 Ultramaximizer and on and on. Izotope is awesome too.

19) What gear do you use? I use the Neuman TLM-103 and Sennheiser 416 shotguns with Presonus and Symetrix pre-amps. The booth I made with my Dad years ago helps make it all nice and quiet. I even recently recorded VO when my house was being re-roofed and on the same day my neighbor put up a new fence. Nothing will stop me from talking. Ha!

20) How has new technology changed the way you work? I think technology is making us all faster. Source Connect is awesome but I still like ISDN.

21) What is the best voice processing trick or voice-over technique everyone should know? Try talking quiet, you can sometimes sound huge that way.

22) Do you have a different approach to reading radio imaging copy as opposed to TV/Radio commercial ads? Radio Imaging can still be very stylized in sound, whereas many commercials are more natural these days. I do what is needed to cut through, but I think knowing what you are talking about and finding an angle to share the story is the biggest thing. It all starts with the copy.

23) What did it feel like the first time you heard your voice on the radio/television? Hearing myself the first time is still the same feeling as it is now. It’s pretty cool.

24) If you could go back to any decade and hang out which one would you go back to and why? I liked the 90’s, it’s where I grew up. I would just tell myself to “go for it” sooner.

25) If you could invite one person to dinner, living or dead, who would it be? I would like to dine with Casey Kasem. You know, cause he would have the best radio stories.

26) What’s your guilty pleasure? Dark Chocolate…and Seinfeld.

27) If you could travel anywhere in the world right now where would you go and why? I’ve always been fascinated by Egypt…but Paris or NYC is always awesome too.

Links: 

Benztown: https://www.benztown.com/brigade/dave-hoffmann

Website: http://www.davehoffmann.com/

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From Fox News to big moves, we caught up with our “can’t stop won’t stop” friend Pete Gustin…who by the way, nails Blue Steel. I mean come on! It must be hard being that ridiculously good looking.

1) What have you been up to lately (new projects, life happenings, etc)? 

Well it’s been a busy year. In July 2016 I sold my house in the suburbs of Boston and built a brand new house and a brand new studio right by the beach in North County San Diego. 8 months later, I landed the largest single VO job I could ever imagine getting in becoming the new voice of the Fox News Channel along with Fox News Radio and all of their affiliated network properties. The opportunity came out of the blue but actually landing the job was A LOT of work. I’ve added six new stations to my roster in the last year including major markets like Boston and Denver and also became the Creative Director in Charge of Music Imaging for TuneIn. I’d been the voice of TuneIn for the past 3 years but took on the added responsibility of running their imaging near the end of 2016. My work in the land of movie trailers has also been going great as I was able to be a part of the latest Pirates of the Caribbean campaign over the summer of 2017. Along with all that WORK, I’ve decided to try and have some FUN out here in San Diego as well. Some may know and others may not, but I am legally blind suffering from a degenerative eyesight disorder called Stargadt’s disease. The disease made it impossible for me to “read” copy and so I developed my ear prompter system. It also made it impossible for me to partake in any of the sports my friends in Boston were playing like basketball, golf, tennis and all that good stuff that involves….you know….seeing. Since I’m right around the corner from the Pacific out here though, I walked into a surf shop in late October 2016 and grabbed a surf board thinking “hey…the ocean is pretty damn HUGE. I can probably see that, right?”. I started with an 8 foot foam board and just a few months later was riding with some pros down in La Jolla on my 6’ 2” Channel Island Pod Mod. It’s super exciting for me to be able to get out of the studio and do something really physical. True I might end up getting eaten by a shark someday….but at least I’ll never get hit in the face with a return volley of a tennis ball. The latter is SO MUCH more embarrassing and “blind guy eaten by shark while surfing off coast of San Diego” is a pretty cool headline.

Pete's new board

2) You’ve had an outstanding career already. What are some goals you have professionally? 

I started in radio and always wanted to be the voice of as many radio stations as would have me. Every time a station makes the choice to use me as their voice I get all kinds of excited just as if it was the very first time. There are just so many people doing VO’s these days, the fact that a station can decide on just one of them…and it ends up being me…..is a huge honor and I absolutely love that feeling. I want to experience it as often as I can. I also had a pie in the sky dream of becoming the voice of a TV Network and never would have dreamed I’d land that job as the voice of the most watched cable network in America in Fox News. Now, I’m looking to do even more in TV promos and especially trailers. The trailer pool is an extremely small and extremely elite pool of talent and I’m both super excited and very honored to be competing with them for those coveted jobs. Going forward, I’d like to land more and more of them.

3) Any new gear or upgrades? 

Most of my gear is still the same, but I made a HUGE upgrade to my studio. I built this San Diego house from scratch and so I was able to build a really awesome studio inside of it. I hired a company called Sound Proof San Diego to build me a booth from the studs up. The walls are air gapped, packed with max weight vinyl and all that other good stuff that makes a booth bomb proof. All my “gear” is outside the booth and anything inside runs completely silently. I close this door….and I’m in an amazingly silent little cocoon where the only thing I have to worry about and focus on is my performance. I love it.

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4) How has new technology changed the way you work? 

If this were maybe just 15 years ago, I don’t even think I’d be able to be in this business. The text to speech technology I use to “read” copy has literally given me the ability to work in my dream job. without little robot voices reading copy into my ear buds, I’d never be able to “read” copy and would just have to get a WHOLE LOT better at surfing so I could get sponsored and do that professionally.

5) What advice can you give to aspiring voiceover artists trying to get into the biz? 

Two things. First is – be patient. Second is – use your own voice. Starting a VO career takes just a second. Buy a mic. Buy a computer. Boom….your career has begun. Getting people to pay you to speak into that mic and send it to them via that computer could take years. Honestly, I started trying to get into VO’s when I was just 18 years old. It was a decade later before I was making any sort of money doing it and another five years after that before I was able to actually begin supporting myself with VO work. It takes time…and patience. As for using your own voice, that’s another one that took me a LONG time to learn. While it can help to listen to some of the more popular voices out there, what you don’t want to do it try to copy them. think about it, if someone wanted a voice that sounded like them….they’d just hire them…not you doing a copy of them. have confidence in your own unique sound. Don’t’ force anything. Do what comes naturally to you. Be super confident about it and focus on your read. read that last sentence very carefully. FOCUS ON YOUR READ. do not focus on the timber of your voice or the pitch and tone of it. just let your voice do its own natural thing and you…..you focus on reading that copy and trying to convey the message the writer wants you to convey.

Contact & Social Links: 

Benztown: https://www.benztown.com/brigade/pete-gustin

Pete’s Website: http://petegustin.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PeteGustinVoice/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/petegustin

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Howard Cogan…yeah, that guy. It’s been awhile since we’ve interviewed our talented voiceover friend so…yeah, here it is.

What have you been up to lately? I have actually been exploring more video content, there’s so much that can be done and right now it’s still the wild west. It’s like a radio station with no bosses! Well maybe, except for Mark Zuckerberg and the Google guy.

You’ve had an outstanding career already. What are some goals you have professionally? My goals are to keep evolving. I got lucky once, the next bolt of lightning may strike somewhere completely different or just hit me right in the ass, who knows?

Any new gear or upgrades? Gotta really get rid of the Mac Mini one day but it still works. Love my Universal Apollo. I am really a gear minimalist. Hardware breaks, plugins just crash.

Nowadays it seems necessary to have your hands in multiple aspects of the industry, not just one. How do you feel about that? Unfortunately all I do is voiceover but I honestly don’t see that as a full time thing much longer for most of us. As the talent pool dilutes, so does the value of the individual as well as the available equity. It’s posing an interesting problem for many of us who have done this for a while as to what the skill of voiceover artist can leverage itself to next. My hunch is probably a massive pivot or a government program.

Looking back, what do you think about? Wins and losses but never the ties.

Looking forward what are you excited about? HOCO NEWS.

Social Links: 

Benztown: https://www.benztown.com/brigade/howard-cogan

Website: http://www.howardcogan.com/

Twitter: @hcogan

YouTube: http://bit.ly/2wShM1B

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Valerie, we’re so glad we could catch up with you. Remind us how you got started in the biz, what VO work you’ve done in the past and what you are up to currently? I was a kid when I got started! I was working at my college station WFUV-NY, and there was a card on the bulletin board in the hallway asking for voices for a project. I applied, and got the job. I was paid $25 and I was thrilled. I realized if I could get one job, then I could get two, and three and more. And so I embarked upon my VO journey. I have had the pleasure of being at the same radio station for 24 years in the best market in the country! I hosted mid-days on powerhouse music station 106.7 Lite-FM, New York City. I’ve also hosted and produced several syndicated radio shows heard nationally and worked at talk station WOR, also in NY. I’m currently imaging news station 1010 WINS in NYC, CHUP in Calgary, Canada and WBEI in Tuscaloosa, among others. I also just picked up KVSF-FM in Santa Fe. What I love is that every day is different. From narrating audio books, to doing live VOG work, to commercials to radio imaging…you never know what to expect!

From your experience, have you ever had a voice coach? What helpful tips can you offer up and coming VO artists who are trying to make it in the industry? I have never had a voice coach. And when I think of it, I have never been coached in any areas of performance from acting to radio to voiceover, I just learned on the job. However, I do recommend it these days because the opportunities are plentiful and so many people have jumped into the pool. If you are someone interested in getting into voiceover, I highly recommend doing your research; articles, books, websites, all the information you can consume. Prepare and know that you have to: 1) Work on your craft/practice, listen back, and develop that “discerning ear.” You must learn to self-direct. 2) Become proficient in technology. You have to be able to record, edit and send, at the very minimum. 3) Understand that you must market yourself. You are your own brand so you have to find the avenues to where the work is and the decision makers are. Google is your very best friend!

What gear do you use and how has technology changed the way you work? Any production tricks you’d like to share? I use Pro Tools because it is what I was introduced to. I also use a RE-20 microphone, Apogee, and Apogee Maestro. Technology has quite simply and literally provided a world of opportunities. You can work all over the globe from the comfort of your own home. Priceless! Here’s one trick I use when auditioning for a casting director and there are no headphones. I really like headphones and feel a bit uncomfortable without them. It is an old school trick that was taught to me. To be able to replicate the sound of headphones, put your hand around one ear and push it forward. You can use that technique and hear yourself so much better!

What is one of your VO goals? Being the announcer for an episodic television show, or a daily talk show, and the VOG for a national awards show.

Looking back, what do you think about? I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to either introduce on stage or interview giants in the music industry on so many occasions. Those experiences absolutely stand out in my mind.

Looking forward, what are you excited about? I continue to use my voice every day, teach privately, conduct workshops, consult with brands, and develop content. Every day is different for me, and every day I have this gorgeous mosaic of responsibility to tackle. It is fun and daunting at the same time!

FUN FACTS!

We hear you’ve got the golden gloves and taken up boxing, do you ever have anyone specific in mind when you’re hitting the bag ;)? You know, I am concentrating so hard on the choreography and strategy of boxing that that doesn’t even occur to me. There is so much to keep in mind when boxing, so it’s all about the technique for me, not so much the power or even the hitting.

We are animal lovers over here and you’ve got 2 furry friends. What pets do you have and what are their names? I have two little girl guinea pigs, Nocciolina and Nebbiola. They are absolutely adorable and make me laugh every day. Will send photos! I am going to be acquiring my mother’s cat soon. His name is Bailey and he is black and white and beautiful.

GUINEA PIG GIRLS

Links:

Benztown: https://www.benztown.com/brigade/valerie-smaldone

Website: www.valeriesmaldone.com

Twitter: @valeriesmaldone

FB: http://www.facebook.com/valerie.smaldone

LinkedIn:  www.linkedin.com/in/valeriesmaldone

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Lucas, we know you’ve got a lot going on so lets get started! So how have you been??

CRAZY! And I mean crazy GOOD! 2016 was such a supernova year, I had no idea how 2017 was gonna top it… but it did! And not only professionally, my wife and I adopted two baby brothers. Our two guys, we just love them to death. So now I’m living the #dadlife. When they start school I’m assuming they’ll be the only ones with a recording studio in their basement.

Professionally I’m hitting places I only dreamed about years ago. And that’s all thanks to my rep team. My agent Nate at CESD and my manager Marc at ACM. Wow. Where to start with them. Having solid representation is key. It’s access to work, access to coaches, access to their knowledge and experience. And they just know what to do with every deal and every challenge that comes up. You get to working as such a team. I hold so much love and admiration for them. And trust. That’s the key. Your team will fight for you, support you, and I know I can bring anything to them and it’s gonna get handled.

And not to mention of course the amazing Benztown people. Some of the most professional people on the planet here. It’s crazy. Do any of you have bad days? I have no idea cause every time I pick up the phone you guys sound on top of the world.

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You are becoming the new sound of Urban radio. Was that a goal of yours? 

We initially fired things up with my imaging in spring of 2015, and my first get out of the gate was Big Boy. Which I know is ridiculous. But there’s the “ten year overnight success” thing. You make friends, and contacts, and you practice, and you’re just there and present and available. There’s a dear dear friend and mentor of mine that is almost solely responsible for my entire career. He’s kinda on the inside so I’m not sure if he wants me to mention him or not. But there’s people like that you just end up being close with. And when they say ok we need this or that, hey Lucas is ready, let’s give him a shot. And hopefully you hit it out of the park when you get that shot.

The Urban thing is definitely one of my areas that I wanted to jump on. Urban radio is one of the most fun formats to listen to. It’s so unapologetic. It’s intense and sometimes over the top and funny and serious and a nonstop party, and just everything. It’s in this big growth mode right now and is everywhere. And it’s so great to read. You can be silly and fun, but then menacing and dangerous all in the same ID. I give it this driving modern sort of sound. Seems to work well!

Any new gear or upgrades?

Yes! Can I talk about this for hours?? My wife is bored to tears hearing about it, hopefully you’re a tad more interested. I’ve upgraded a few things, I added the Audient ID22 to my chain. What a beast. It’s got some serious preamps. I had been using this old gear that wasn’t doing what I needed it to. But this thing picks up stuff on mic I hadn’t heard before. It’s funny I actually had to improve my mic technique. And for some reason I waited until this year to investigate these “plugins” that everyone talks about. I now roll a 1073 EQ on my VO then feed it into an LA-3A plugin.

You don’t just do imaging, you branch out into other VO areas. How’s that going?

It’s challenging but going well. I’m currently in the midst of some in-depth trailer and promo coaching. Every aspect of this is so competitive, you need to be on the absolute top of your game at all times.

For this aspect, the job is auditioning. Competing in it is like being signed to the Red Sox. You’re a draft pick in the majors. Every audition is a pitch. First you need to learn how to hit the ball (return a good audition), then you need to learn how to hit a homerun (nail it). And then once you can hit a homerun, you get compared to all the other homeruns that were hit, and hope they like your homerun the best. It’s here that your demos don’t matter. Your resume doesn’t matter, the sound of your name doesn’t matter. All that matters, is how good that particular read is.

Also, you gotta be available. If they go to you once and you’re difficult “oh sorry I’m out shopping” you can bet they won’t be back. You need to be really flexible. Tuesday at 2? Thursday at 9pm? You got it. Everyone’s got a story about having to leave dinners out with your wife, family vacations etc.

You’ve also gotta step off one type of read and step up to another. I could be cutting liners for my kickin’ San Diego station Jam’n 95.7 SHOUT OUT WHATUP ROB AND FRANKIE AND PABLO AND MELISSA, LOVE YOU GUYS and then an audition comes in. National TV insurance commercial. Or a trailer for an animated movie. Changing gears is something you don’t think about until it hits you and you’re frustrated and straining “why isn’t this sounding good”. Oh right I’m still in that imaging mindset.

Anyone Can Get Car Insurance Easily at Kanetix.ca from Lucas Nugent on Vimeo.

Looking back, what do you think about?

I think about how I’m glad I worked at it as much as I did. I have no idea if I’ve hit my 10,000 hours yet (probably not), but the fierce intensity and laser focus of this is something I am truly thankful of my past self. We were talking about this last time. Like how I used to do morning radio, work at it during my shift, go home and sleep, then go back to the studio after dinner and train more, etc. I also think about what everyone looking back thinks about: what was I so worried about. It would keep me up at nights. I gotta do this, gotta do that. What if, what if. But of course that is what drives you. If I got into coding I’d be up all night practicing until I could make an app as good as Angry Birds.

Looking forward what are you excited about?

Honestly I get excited about all of it. Every aspect of this has something that gets me pumped. I gotta say there’s something magical about finding a passion where I actually get a little bummed out when the weekend comes!

Snatched (2017) TRAILER – Amy Schumer / Goldie Hawn from Lucas Nugent on Vimeo.

For Booking: 

Nate Zeitz, CESDnzeitz@cesdtalent.com or 212-477-1666

Social Links: 

Benztownhttps://www.benztown.com/brigade/lucas-nugent

Soundcloudhttp://soundcloud.com/lucasnugent

Vimeohttps://vimeo.com/user54351982

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Hey Rob! We’re glad you’re so busy these days but we miss ya. Fill us in on what’s new! Besides my day to day voice over work, I have been working with an old friend, Brian Vollmer lead singer of Canadian rock band “Helix”. We’re creating a documentary on the band. We’ve completed one day of shooting and are currently going through hours and hours of vintage footage from years gone by. Helix originally formed in 1974….so just imagine the fun we’ve had reviewing the old videos. Haven’t had this much fun since the days I used to party with the band while in radio!

That sounds awesome, we can’t wait to see that. What else has been up? I signed on for another year with Sirius XM radio! I’m the official voice of Channel 167 / “Canada Talks” – Keeping Canadians connected!

Congrats on your year renewal. How are you celebrating?! Carmela (my better half) and I purchased a new vehicle this year. The Ford Escape. I’m really enjoying the technology that new vehicles provide these days. If I’m not in my home studio voicing stuff, I’m probably out this summer cruising the streets of Stratford, Ontario Canada! (Carmela is already hinting that, I should set up my mobile audio gear in the car…..and I’m ok with that!)

Looking back, what comes to mind? On a personal note, the radio station where I cut my teeth at a young age goes off the air this August. 1240 CJCS is our local station in Stratford. After 87 years on the air, CJCS AM will go dark and the new “Juice FM” hit’s the airwaves at 107.1FM on August 3rd, 2017. I have many good memories as a kid at 1240 CJCS!

Looking forward, what are you excited about? This year I’ve welcomed many new clients to my voice over services and I hope to get added on more before the end of 2017. Rock radio is my specialty! Give my demos a listen!

Links:

Website: http://robwreford.com/

Benztown: https://www.benztown.com/brigade/rob-wreford

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Drew Patterson’s VO work speaks for itself…but he’s so damn awesome we highly suggest getting to know him as well. He knows what the industry needs and he delivers. And also…how can you resist that perfectly groomed beard?

1) What radio VO work have you done in the past? I just signed WAAF in Boston. KIOI (San Francisco), KNOU (St. Louis,) the now-defunct WKQX (Chicago), WWDC (Washington, D.C.), WYSP (Philly), and others.

2) What are you up to presently? I’m the CSD for KPNT and KNOU in St. Louis. And I’ve been doing promos for the legendary KSHE. My PD Tommy Mattern is an incredible boss that lets me do it all from home while I build my voiceover empire. I also did Q101’s imaging for a few years in a poor attempt to fill Ned Spindle’s shoes, before Emmis sold it off.

3) What do you love about your job? Voiceover is constantly challenging. I’m extremely passionate about it. I love radio, but as an imaging guy you eventually hit a ceiling. And because it’s a background job, I never got the attention the on-air talent get. It’s an underappreciated job. Voiceover fills my need for attention with a strong creative fulfillment.

4) How did you get started as a VO actor? What was your first gig? I was an imaging guy for CBS-owned WKRZ in Pittsburgh (back when some moron executive thought David Lee Roth could replace Howard Stern) and hooked up with the local talent agency. Booked a set of commercials for the Columbus Dispatch and caught the fever.

5) Have you ever had a voice coach? Would you recommend it? Of course! If you want to get better at anything, you should seek out training. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to work with David Lyerly for a long time. His insight and feel for acting as it applies to voiceover is masterful. I’ve also been taking acting lessons for a few years to round out my training. Coming from radio, we’re not exposed to the way actors think. It’s been a huge help in dropping the “announcer” sound, talking like a real person, and focusing on script analysis, emotion, motivation, etc… If I ever reach a point where I feel like I can’t improve, it’s time for me to do something else.

6) Who are your VO idols/mentors? Who influenced your work as a VO artist? Few people can tell a story like Keith David. His work on Ken Burns’ documentaries is so damn good. I love Rino Romano, Bill Ratner. Corey Burton has a really unique approach. And I really enjoy hearing actors like Idris Elba, Oscar Isaac, or Cate Blanchett’s opening monologue from the first Lord of the Rings movie (nerd alert).

7) What is your dream gig? Any one that pays.

Drew with Impractical Jokers

8) Can you offer 3 helpful tips for newbies trying to make it in the voice-over industry? Take acting lessons. Be patient. Talk like a normal human being.

9) If you weren’t doing voiceover, what else do you think you’d be doing for a career? Starving.

10) How do you schedule/prioritize your work? Almost every client needs everything yesterday. For my radio stations, I typically turn everything around within a hour or two. Back when I first started doing imaging in college at WPGU/Champaign, WQ, Paul Armbruster would FedEx us a DAT tape. Things sure have changed.

11) How much time do you spend auditioning for new work? A lot.

12) How do you market your services to potential clients? I’m horrible at marketing myself and don’t do it as much as I should.

13) Which production system do you use and why? I record in Adobe Audition. I currently use Sony Vegas for my radio production. No particular reason. I was forced to learn it for a job and stayed with it. But I’m forcing myself to learn Audition CC.

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15) What gear do you use? Sennheiser 416 > Avalon 737 > Manley Massive Passive. And I just started using the UA Apollo Twin. I record in the inexpensive Drum Perfect booth. It ain’t fancy but it sounds great.

16) How has new technology changed the way you work? I wasn’t around for the “glory days” of voiceover where guys like Don LaFontaine would roll up to the studio in a limo, record their lines with the director listening and offering feedback, and be on their way to the next job. Now you’re the actor, director, and engineer. You have to direct yourself in the audition phase and then try to get some objectivity on whether or not you achieved your goal. And technology has made it very competitive. If you can’t do what the client wants, there are thousands of other people who want your job. But that’s a #blessing for me. Tech has opened up the market to guys like me in St. Louis. I can compete on a national level and pay a lot less in cost of living.

17) What is the best voice processing trick or voice-over technique everyone should know? Creating honest moments should be your only goal. I’ve tried polishing up my auditions or adding an effect that I hope might give me an edge. It doesn’t. If the acting sucks, no effect is going to make it better. You can’t polish a VO turd (unless you really filter the shit out of it).

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18) Do you have a different approach to reading radio imaging copy as opposed to TV/Radio commercial ads? The whole industry is in flux…transitioning away from polished, deep announcers to “real” people. Slowly but surely, radio seems to be moving in that direction. Lots of radio stations still think they need an announcer to get people to pay attention. But it’s changing. I hope that more program directors and creative guys discover that talking at your listeners with a “cool” voice is nowhere near as effective and real as talking to them. And a person with any voice print can do that. Obviously, I’m biased and have deep voice envy.

19) What did it feel like the first time you heard your voice on the radio/television? I get a little giddy every time. And then insecure about what I could have done better.

20) What was your first concert? Probably some shitty ska or punk band. I played trumpet growing up and I’m still a sucker for any song with trumpet.

21) If you could invite one person to dinner, living or dead, who would it be? Howard Stern. I’m a mega-fan. Or Father John Misty.

22) What’s your guilty pleasure? Answering VO blog questions.

23) If you could travel anywhere in the world right now where would you go and why? My agent says I’m not allowed to travel, sorry.

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Contact Links: 

Benztown: https://www.benztown.com/brigade/drew-patterson

Website: http://www.drewpattersonvoice.com/dpv/

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Brian Haddad not only has a great personality, he IS a great personality! With a stellar attitude at all times and having worked at legendary radio stations, Brian is a hall of famer that you can’t deny.

1) What do you love about your job? Working at a heritage sports/talk station like WIP, in a city with fans that truly bleed for their teams has great advantages for the Creative Director. I basically get marching orders to make fun of other cities’ teams and fan bases, and of course, our own when appropriate. I shape it to the way the city feels, good or bad, based on current events of the day or week. How is that not fun! A lot of work to keep everything relevant, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. As far as voice overs, I just love that every time you get a script, it’s truly an acting role. I really enjoy diving into the specs the client is looking for, and rehearsing to “get there”. Every VO is truly a different challenge, and that makes every day exciting.

2) Who are your VO idols/mentors? Who influenced your work as a VO artist? I think everybody puts Don LaFontaine on their list, because he was IT. One of the first voices I remember loving was Arthur Penhallow, or “Arthur P” on WRIF in Detroit. He was the afternoon host, and just had a big, vibrant voice, and he was funny. I would imitate him to my friends when I was in high school. I also loved Spaceghost, George Lowe. I was really affected when I heard Keith Eubanks. The non-big voice, filtered was really cool, and I believe he was the first to do that. This might sound crazy, but I was also influenced by people like WWE wrestler Randy “The Macho Man” Savage. Wrestlers often times combined hilarious acting with unique voices. Loved Macho Man! On the other end of the spectrum, it’s captivating to listen to David Attenborough on the Planet Earth series. Same goes for Rod Serling. I’ll throw one more in. Pete Stacker. He was the deep voice on those Bud Light “Real Man of Genius” commercials, and he was in the video game Halo. I met him a few times, and he gave me very helpful tips on improving my skillset.

3) Can you offer 3 helpful tips for newbies trying to make it in the voice-over industry? Be yourself. I know, that sounds cliché, especially since I think many of us get interested in this game by imitating people. “In a world…”. But eventually, you’ll have to develop something unique about YOU. Take an improv or acting class. It’s all about the acting, and if you want to be on the radio side, work on your writing skills as well. Invest in quality equipment. The better mic can actually get you more work.

4) If you weren’t doing voiceover, what else do you think you’d be doing for a career? When I was young I wanted to be Neil Armstrong, Michael Jordan, and Eddie Van Halen. In the fantasy VO world, I guess I’m kinda all of them now!

5) Describe the role of a Creative Director at a radio station and the marketing/branding control you have. Simply put, you shape the sound and vibe of the station. Doesn’t really matter what format, even sports/talk. Every second counts. I meet daily with our Program Director, Spike Eskin, to discuss what we’ll need for that day. Obviously, some days are busier than others. Once I know what we’re looking for. I’ll write copy, and send it back to him for approval. Then either I’m voicing it or our voice guy, Vic Caroli. It all starts with the writing when branding anything. You have to get that in line with the mission you’re trying to accomplish. So essentially, it’s a team effort with branding the station. And there are a lot of elements to brand: Our 25 year morning man Angelo Cataldi, the other hosts, Eagles play by play, and Phillies play by play. Plus this year the NFL Draft in Philly. We’ll use even 5 seconds out of a break to make sure the audience knows something about us.

Vegas WIP Broadcast

 

6) Can you let our readers in on how you balance working at a radio station and working as a freelance artist? Basically do you ever sleep and how do you do it all so well?! I’ve heard of this sleep thing you speak of. I can’t wait to try it. Sometimes it can feel chaotic, but I embrace that. Yeah, I’m weird. It’s almost like a sport. Get out of the gate strong, and look for points in the day when you can take a 5-minute mental break. I’m constantly looking at the clock, making sure I take short breaks to recharge my mind and voice.

7) How much time do you spend auditioning for new work? I think I said it earlier, but I look at each audition like an acting role. Once I see what the client is looking for, I’ll usually go on YouTube to comparison shop and get motivation. I’ll practice a few various reads. When I feel I’m ready I do it. Maybe I’ll give them a few takes. The main point, take time with it, otherwise, you’re wasting everyone’s time.

8) Which production system do you use and why? I’ve been using Vegas and Sound Forge for over 10 years now. I’m probably in the minority there, but really, they all do just about the same thing. It’s kind of funny to see arguments over which is better. Just use whatever you’re comfortable with.

9) What gear do you use? I use the Sennheiser MKH 416, and I love it. Works well with my voice. In the home studio I send that through a TC Gold Channel. Don’t have a booth, but the expander is so amazing on the Gold Channel, I don’t see a need.

10) What is the best voice processing trick or voice-over technique everyone should know? If you don’t have a vocal booth, get inside your car. It works!

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11) I’m sure all of the readers are very interested to know (including us), where the nickname “Sludge” derives from…if you don’t mind us asking. I started using “Sludge” when I joined Rock 103.5 WRCX Chicago for late nights. Dave Richards was the PD, and he’s basically the Theo Epstein of radio. However good you are, he’ll make you better. He was there at the beginning of “Sludge”. I think I’ll keep that between me and him. I will say, I was almost “Abe Froman, the Sausage King of Chicago”, instead of “Sludge”.

12) Your Instagram is effing hilarious. HOW do you come up with this stuff?! Were you always the funny guy at school? Why thank you! Follow me @BrianJHaddad I actually was the guy in my group of friends that everyone looked to for a laugh. I’m pretty sure I honed my skills by having 3 older brothers, so I was always looking for attention. There is so much that’s funny to me in everyday life, right? In the official sense, it’s just an extension of branding. Unofficially, I mock just about everything, so thank god social media finally came along. Before that, I was having to call my friends and deliver the content by voice!

13) You’re a big sports guy. What’s your favorite sport to go watch? I’ve been at a Bears/Packers game where it was -7 with -50 wind chill. THAT was livin’. Almost nothing compares to playoff Hockey, because the pace is so fast, it looks like collisions will occur any second. Speaking of which, everyone should go to one NASCAR race. One of my favorite things to do was go to a Cubs game on the rooftops. But the view from those rooftops is kinda blocked now. Sad. Going to see a Michigan football game at the Big House, pretty awesome. I’m a big fight fan. Even though you can see UFC or boxing matches better on TV, it’s still intense to be in the room when 2 guys are trying hurt each other. I guess that’s why Jerry Springer did so well back in the day.

Home Studio

 

14) If you could go back to any decade and hang out which one would you go back to and why? I wish I could go back to the 80’s, and take my guitar to LA, and see what happens. Maybe I could have been in Guns N’ Roses, kinda like Hot Tub Time Machine! Not to mention, as a proud Gen X’er, I’m starting to think things were cooler before we had smart phones. Cue: “GET OUT OF MY YARD!” drop. I embrace all new tech, and love it. However, I work with many millennials, and they seem fascinated about the stories I tell pre-smart phone involving concerts or actually going to bars to meet women that you did NOT set up in advance with an APP. Insanity! But I should save that debate for a podcast. BTW, please subscribe to The Brian Haddad Podcast!

15) If you could invite one person to dinner, living or dead, who would it be? I’m a huge American history buff, so I was gonna say George Washington. But then I thought Lee Harvey Oswald, to ply him with mashed potatoes to get the real story out of him. At the end of the day, Leonidas, so when I brought out the food, he’d yell, “THIS….IS…..DINNER!!!!!”

16) What’s your guilty pleasure? No question, it’s the MTV Challenge shows. I’m embarrassed how much I love it. Johnny Bananas, CT, Cara Maria. Yup, I know their history.

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Contact Links: 

Benztown: https://www.benztown.com/brigade/brian-haddad

Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/briansludgehaddad

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/brianjhaddad/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/BrianJHaddad

 

 

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Randy Thomas has got to have the most impressive resume out there. A pioneer for women in radio and TV, Randy found her calling early on and she’s the dependable, hard-working, uber talented artist you want on your station. 

1) What radio VO work have you done in the past? Since 1993 I have done imaging for some of the top radio stations in America from New York, Detroit, Cincinnati, Memphis, Denver, Los Angeles and more. For a long time I mostly imaged AC and Hot AC radio, but then I picked up more Talk radio and Rock formats. I just returned from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony at Barclays Center in NYC. Journey, yes, Pearl Jam and Elo were all a part of my rock radio days.

2) What are you up to presently? I am a full-time voice actor and live announcer.

3) What do you love about your job? What don’t I love? I get to work with fantastic clients and travel to the best cities to voice some of the biggest live shows on the planet.

4) How did you get started as a VO actor? What was your first gig? The first national radio and television commercials I did was for Hooked On Phonics. You may remember me saying, “Get Hooked on Phonics, call 1-800-ABC-DEFG!”

5) Have you ever had a voice coach? Would you recommend it? a) Always! You cannot become a great voice over artist without a great coach, or several great coaches. No one gets to the US Open, without a great coach. VO is the same way. b) Yes! You want someone who teaches, and best case scenario is that they are also artists who work at a very high level. Make sure you vet your coaches, demo producers, and marketing gurus. I created an event called Voice Over Mastery. We are celebrating our 4th year with another amazing conference in Los Angeles.

6) Who are your VO idols/mentors? Who influenced your work as a VO artist? a) Don LaFontaine was a mentor, in fact he wrote the foreword to my book “Voice For Hire“. b) Many people…Peter Thomas for one. Joe Cipriano was super-helpful and a good friend when I started out at FOX doing promos in the 90’s there. My radio career as a DJ and voice over career has had one constant. I tended to get hired for the jobs that only men had held previously to my arrival on the scene. From being one of the first women on the air in Detroit rock radio, then later in Miami. Around 1993 I was one of the first women to do radio imaging, and of course the job that set my career in motion, the Academy Awards. I recently returned to the 89th Oscars for my eighth time.

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7) What is your dream gig? I love the variety of work that I get to do: promos, commercials, imaging and TV affiliate work. Movie trailers is a door I would like to kick open next.

8) Can you offer 3 helpful tips for newbies trying to make it in the voice-over industry? 1) Find a great coach. I can help you find one if you like. I just need to know what your budget is for a coach, and eventual demo. I coach in person on occasion and every week via Skype. My rates are consistent with most Los Angeles or NYC pros, generally charging around $150 an hour via Skype. 2) Buy a decent mic. Learn Pro Tools or Twisted Wave and create a proper recording space in your home. 3) Study, practice, and after studying with a great coach or two, figure out where you will succeed in VO. Commercials, promo, voice imaging for radio and TV? Animation and character work, online narration, cable documentary narration? There are a lot of choices, so you need an expert that has succeeded at scaling these various VO mountains, because advice is always cheapest if you are smart enough to get it secondhand.

9) If you weren’t doing voiceover, what else do you think you’d be doing for a career? I would probably be a teacher, an activist and coach.

10) What’s it like being a part of the voiceover community? It is an amazing community filled with some of the most talented people in the world. Most are kind, giving, caring and honest. To be a member of the brother and sisterhood of SAG/AFTRA is an honor and a privilege, to live a creative life.

11) How do you schedule/prioritize your work? Every day I plan out my workday and exercise schedule based on copy coming in the night before. I generally do my auditions in the morning and map out my day from there.

12) How do you market your services to potential clients? I send them my demos and let them hear what I do in the hopes that they like a particular read or sound and go from there.

13) Which production system do you use and why? I used to have a state of the art studio in Florida with all the bells and whistles. Now I rent a house in LA so I use my Sennheiser 416, Scarlett 2i2, Avalon, and I record in Twisted Wave. For big sessions like the Tonys and Academy Awards, I use a studio in town.

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My former studio that I used for the past 15 years doing all of my work from.

14) What gear do you use? I love my Sennheiser and Neumann u-87. I also have a Manley Mic and Vox Box which I will use again, down the road.

15) How has new technology changed the way you work? It allowed me to leave Los Angeles 15 years ago so my daughter could grow up there, but now that she is at USC we are back. But I was able to leave and travel because of the digital world we live in.

16) When it comes to VO work, studio & gear, what are your most ingenious methods/discoveries for saving time and cash? Hire an editor. It is worth it for me to do more work knowing I can have an editor take hours of work off my plate.

17) Do you have a different approach to reading radio imaging copy as opposed to TV/Radio commercial ads? Of course. In radio you have to engage the listener even more and in television it is a much more subtle performance.

18) What did it feel like the first time you heard your voice on the radio/television? I loved it! A real high!

19) Your resume is crazy impressive (THE voice of The Oscars, The Super Bowl, The Emmys, Tonys, and SAG Awards to name a few). How did you feel when you got those first phone calls and how does it feel to hear your voice on the most watched programs?! My heart skipped a beat the first time I was chosen to announce the Academy Awards, and I am so very grateful and honored every time I get a call for a major show. I am truly blessed, but I have also learned over the years how to keep those major clients close and I learned why they keep coming back to me :).

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20) What are some acting tools you bring into your voiceover career? You have to ask yourself certain questions: Who am I in this situation? Who am i talking to? What is the message? Keep it real and relatable.

21) When did you realize voiceover was going to be your career…and a such a successful one?! At first I thought radio broadcasting was my career, but it took me into live announcing and voice over and it felt honest and true. It is easy for me to live in all three of these worlds.

22) If you could go back to any decade and hang out which one would you go back to and why? Believe it or not I don’t like looking backwards. While I am always pleasantly surprised when I tune into a rock station and I happily sing along with the music I grew up with, I don’t live in the past… I find myself focused on today and tomorrow. I like new contemporary music that makes me feel good. My daughter has the best Spotify playlists ever! However I also find myself tuned into news-talk stations, like KFI and KABC driving around LA.

23) What’s your guilty pleasure? Chocolate and wine. Flowers too! In fact I’m starting a new podcast this summer called “Wine Women & Chocolate”. I am doing it with my best friend Catherine Curry Williams. We are talking to men and women all over the world and having conversations about things that matter today.

24) If you could travel anywhere in the world right now where would you go and why? A beach, any beach. I have a lot of writing on my plate right now and spending a month near the water writing is my dream!

Links:

Benztown: https://www.benztown.com/brigade/randy-thomas

Website: http://www.randythomasvo.com/