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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.

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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.

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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/

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Yep we knew it, Joanna Stadwiser is the real Superwoman. She also happens to be really good at her job, voicing everything from Hot AC to Sports/Talk…and one of the chosen voices for Iron Imager VI. Oh yeah, and she turned her master bedroom closet into a temporary studio. Told ya she’s impressive. 

1) What radio VO work have you done in the past? KROQ, Q102 – PHILLY, KISS FM – DALLAS, MIX 98-5 – BOSTON, CHFI – TORONTO to name a few.

2) What are you up to presently? I’m currently doing VO full time from my home studio and keeping busy in other areas like promo and affiliate! Thanks to Atlas Talent Agency!

3) What do you love about your job? So many things! I love that I wake up every morning and don’t know what is going to be in my inbox! Whether it’s an audition for something, a booking, or some really fun and awesome copy for a station, each day is different and each day brings new opportunity. I also love the flexibility and absolutely love working for myself.

4) How did you get started as a VO actor? What was your first gig? I was on-air at LIVE 105 in San Francisco where I met then Creative Director Will Morgan. He was using me on some spots and tags and then put me on some imaging. He then got scooped up by KROQ and used me on some of their stuff and it just took off. I realized I could paid for that! My first real station was Mix 98.5 in Boston with the awesome Damon Oaks!! Both of those guys (along with Atlas) are responsible for my career!

5) Have you ever had a voice coach? Would you recommend it? Yes and Yes! ESPECIALLY if you want to do different kinds of VO. For instance, it was and still is difficult for me to make the switch from radio and promo to commercial. That read is stripped down and natural which is actually hard! I’ve worked with Nancy Wolfson and David Lyerly. Both are fabulous.

6) Who are your VO idols/mentors? Who influenced your work as a VO artist? Will Morgan first influenced what I did because he helped me first find “my voice”. He taught me a ton. I’ve always had a girl crush on Ann Dewig though :)

7) What is your dream gig? I’m living it! Seriously, all I wanted when I started this over 10 years ago was to have enough work to do something, anything, every day. I’ve built it up over the years and am so grateful everyday to do what I do!

8) Can you offer 3 helpful tips for newbies trying to make it in the voice-over industry? Well, that advice would depend on where people are in the process. If you are just starting out, a voice coach is invaluable. Also, it can be incredibly affordable and easy to set up your home studio with just a laptop, mic and some kind of mixer, or MBox. And finally, if you spend money in one are – spend it on the mic!

9) If you weren’t doing voiceover, what else do you think you’d be doing for a career? I have always had a fascination with health so I would probably have been a doctor. I’m always diagnosing people! LOL

10) What’s it like being a part of the voiceover community? I have found it incredibly supportive. Especially the women. I have met some of my best friends through this field.

11) How do you schedule/prioritize your work? Usually, I wake up and have a list of stations that have emailed and I make sure nothing is urgent. If not, then I begin by first come first served. Simple as that.

12) How much time do you spend auditioning for new work? A lot! Which is awesome. It means possible opportunities! There are days where it’s quiet for radio or TV but I’ve got 10 auditions or more. Love those days too!

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14) Which production system do you use and why? I use Audacity. It’s free and there is an MP3 plug-in. It resembles the old Adobe Audition. It’s fine for me because I do not produce anything. I’m also not trying to tweak my voice. I send all my files flat as can be so the producers can do all their magic! I do need to get a new mic for my TV stuff though. On my list!

16) What gear do you use? My set up is super simple. I have a MacBook Air with an M-Audio External Mixer, an Audio Technica Microphone and that’s pretty much it.

17) How has new technology changed the way you work? It is amazing to me that I can take my studio anywhere and work from anywhere. It has allowed me to travel and not stress. The murphy’s law of voice over is, if you want to book a gig, go out of town! I have been burned before by not taking my equipment with me thinking that it’s a holiday or whatever and then I get either a huge job or a huge audition. NEVER AGAIN!

18) What is the best voice processing trick or voice-over technique everyone should know? Learn how to sound ok with a head cold! I use a neti pot whenever I get sick and it has helped me every time! There aren’t too many sick days in VO.

19) When it comes to VO work, studio & gear, what are your most ingenious methods/discoveries for saving time and cash? Honestly, if you can find a room in your home that is small and quiet like a walk-in closet that you can convert into a studio that is awesome. A laptop, a good mic and an MBox is a good quick start (and I’ve stayed there for the most part).

21) What did it feel like the first time you heard your voice on the radio/television? Amazing and frightening and terrible! Ha! Whenever I hear myself I think of all these ways I could have done it better. Even when it’s on the air! In radio, the producers do such a great job making me sound awesome! Sometimes on TV I cringe more.

22) Besides being a talented voiceover artist, you’re also a mother to 2 children (ages 4 and 7). How in the heck do you juggle 2 kids and a full-time job, aka are you secretly Superwoman? Yes, I am secretly Super Woman. And now you have blown my cover dammit! Seriously, it is a challenge sometimes, BUT I am so incredibly grateful that I have a job that I can do from my home and have the flexibility to be here for my family. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

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23) You mentioned you record all your work out of your master bedroom closet. Where are your clothes? And you mentioned you used your shoes as part of your recording process. How so? – ok, this is funny. I don’t use my shoes but they are behind a curtain that I have up in my “studio”. I truly am set up in my master bedroom closet right now because we just moved into our new house. Studio is under construction. So for the time being I am sharing space with my clothes and shoe collection. So that’s why I say, to get started, it’s relatively simple! My closet is awesome right now because with all of the clothes it dampens the sound just right :)

24) If you could go back to any decade and hang out which one would you go back to and why? I’ve always had this obsession with 50’s. Aside from how women were viewed, especially in the home, I would so love to go back and be a Pink Lady! It just looked like such a simpler more innocent time. But looks can be deceiving I’m sure.

25) If you could invite one person to dinner, living or dead, who would it be? This is so weird, but I have this thing about Pioneers! Can you imagine sitting down to dinner with someone that crossed the entire desert in the summer in a covered wagon and then complaining to them at the dinner table that you A/C isn’t working??! Ha! I would love to pick their brain and really understand what is was like to live life that way.

26) What’s your guilty pleasure? I’m too embarrassed to tell you!

27) If you could travel anywhere in the world right now where would you go and why? Tuscany. I want to go to there.

Links:

Benztown: https://www.benztown.com/brigade/joanna-stadwiser

Website: http://joannastadwiser.com/

Atlas: http://www.atlastalent.com/atlas_radio_imaging_women.html

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Whoo! Today we released the third annual Benztown 50 list, the radio industry’s exclusive listing of the top 50 voiceover artists in the U.S. and Canada. We enlisted the uber talented P1 Media Group to compile and analyze industry data that was the foundation for this powerhouse list.

This year’s Benztown 50 reflects increased industry participation and interest. More than 300 U.S. and Canadian radio groups provided information for this prestigious annual list, which was analyzed and evaluated by P1 Media Group’s proprietary algorithm. The Benztown 50 list is based on several criteria, including number of radio station affiliates, station size and market.

The following voiceover professionals comprise this year’s Benztown 50. They will be honored at a reception in May at the Worldwide Radio Summit in Hollywood. Congratulations to everyone that made this year’s list!

2016 Benztown 50 (in alphabetical order)

Jeff Berlin
Sean Caldwell
Joe Cipriano
Howard Cogan
Jude Corbett
Chris Corley
Jim Cutler
Cousin Deke
Ann DeWig
Kelly Doherty
Chad Erickson
Dr. Dave Ferguson
Scott Fisher
Dave Foxx
Donna Frank
Pat Garrett
Wendy K. Gray
Lynn Hoffman
Vanessa James
Steve Kamer
Dave Kampel
Jake Kaplan
David Kaye
Austin Keyes
Jeff Laurence
Harry Legg
Earl Mann
Scott Matthews
Mark Maurer
Rachel McGrath
Mocean Melvin
Jim Merkel
Damon Oaks
Rick Party
Drew Patterson
John Pleisse
Randy Reeves
John Reilly
George W. Robinson
Melody Sharp
Roberta Solomon
Joanna Stadwiser
Steve Stone
Jennifer Sweeney
Paul Turner
Rich Van Slyke
Rena-Marie Villano
Heather Walters
John Willyard
Neil Wilson

Benztown VO Blog Archives  – Benztown 50 Edition:

Jeff Berlin: http://bit.ly/2ltJ7Ox

Sean Caldwell: http://bit.ly/2kYeajL

Joe Cipriano: http://bit.ly/2lKvcX0

Chad Erickson: http://bit.ly/2f2fAtR

Dr. Dave Ferguson: http://bit.ly/2mkxl8j

Donna Frank: http://bit.ly/2avU00X

Steve Kamer: http://bit.ly/2b4KyAp

Jake Kaplan: http://bit.ly/2ltRsBG

Harry Legg: http://bit.ly/2l6xVXk

Rachel McGrath: http://bit.ly/29FQLCl

Jim Merkel: http://bit.ly/2kKMjIz

Johhn Pleisse: http://bit.ly/2kKC5Ik

Rich Van Slyke: http://bit.ly/2mkJBWx

Neil Wilson: http://bit.ly/2a7kfb1

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If you want to learn some real radio tricks of the trade, John Pleisse is the one to talk to. His wealth of industry knowledge and experience is enough to want to make you grab some ‘smores and sit around a campfire just to listen to what he has to say…especially because he has one of the greatest voices ever.

1) What radio VO work have you done in the past? I worked in several small markets, winding up in the Baltimore and Washington markets working for programming legends like Steve Kingston, Chuck Morgan and Lorrin Palagi. I also had associations with Scott Shannon, Jym Ryan, Tom Cuddy, Chris Conley and many others who were a wealth of knowledge. My last stint was creative services with WRQX Washington DC. I was also the station promo voice. I succeeded from full time radio in the late 90’s and have been doing 100% freelance V/O since.

2) What do you love about your job? I like being my own boss and being rewarded commensurate to work. If you go after it, you’ll make more money.

3) How did you get started as a VO actor? What was your first gig? I actually voiced the station I produced, WRQX. The mothership in the company was WPLJ, who later hired me for V/O. This was my biggest break and the mark of all that has followed.

4) Who are your VO idols/mentors? Who influenced your work as a VO artist? Scott Shannon molded me for radio instantly. While I am a fan of legends like Ernie Anderson, Danny Dark and Don LaFontaine, it is actually today’s contemporary success stories that shape the future. I actually take more stock in who is hot NOW.

5) Can you offer 3 helpful tips for newbies trying to make it in the voice-over industry? No. I can offer only one tip. Never give up. 51% of V/O is a business.

6) If you weren’t doing voiceover, what else do you think you’d be doing for a career? I liked law, but never had the academic prowess, scoring only average on the LSAT. Probably Real Estate.

7) Have you ever had a voice coach? Would you recommend it? Yes and I could not recommend it more. Remember, it is not just voicing that happens. Today’s coaches are up on all trends and provide endless knowledge on everything from marketing, to who is hot, to how much you can make, to motivation, to where you fit in and so on. $250 for one hour with a V/O coach will change your life.

8) How do you schedule/prioritize your work? I used to prioritize based on rate and market size. Now I don’t. I work as hard as a I can, as fast as I can, without compromising quality. The days of scheduled windows and 24 hour turnaround are a thing of the past. People want it now and the market requires immediate work. I start work late in the morning eastern time and I am still voicing west coast TV clients at 8pm eastern.

9) Which production system do you use and why? I like Adobe Audition for voice work. Remember, you have to work fast and Adobe offers the fewest number of keystrokes to code an MP3 file. I am a Pro Tools lover, but to code a mono MP3 file is too many keystrokes, one window even asking for copyright information (silly). My interface is a Focusrite Saffire. It’s easy, has killer headphone amps and offers everything a small Mackie board has.

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10) What gear do you use? I use the Sennheiser 416 for TV and I use the Neumann M149 for radio. There is a reason for this that is too long and convoluted to explain here. The 416 matches what TV and film use for mic’ing. TV sets use either the 416 on booms or similar sounding lavalier mics for anchors and sound on tape, so the 416 makes you blend in better. However, the 416 has a characteristics that pick up spit and saliva sounds, is quite colored and has a pick up pattern that is razor thin. The M149 is flatter and warmer with much more room to process if you wish. It has a fatter sound for radio and the bottom end booms. But remember, it is a large condensor mic, so it will pick up all studio noise….literally everything in the room. My channel strips are the API and the Avalon 727. Both are great. One is solid state, the other tube and on the other end, they sound alike. I built an in-home studio 15 years ago. The V/O booth is a custom, octagon shaped room with fiberglass insulation and built in rear wall bass traps. It has its own HVAC system to deal with the heat a human body and equipment generate.

11) What is the best voice processing trick or voice-over technique everyone should know? Working a flat mic. No, really. The more you process, the worse you’ll sound. If you work a heavily processed mic, The Today Show and NBC News or HBO will fire you on the spot (learned that the hard way). Flat is the reference by which film houses and TV networks produce. If you start turning knobs to make yourself sound good, they’ll know it. I have a simple approach. If you are limiting/compressing more than 6db or EQ’ing more than 5db, you are talking into a brick wall. I am a disciple of Marine Tobias, working the mic close with very little pressure. Let the mic pull the words from your mouth, not the other way around.

12) Do you have a different approach to reading radio imaging copy as opposed to TV/Radio commercial ads? Yes, radio is a single dimension medium with nowhere to hide. It requires a more muscular, one dimensional presentation. All other mediums are more pulled back requiring greater acting ability. Commercial ads and film trailers are the epitome of acting ability and I am still honing this craft. My favorite reads are radio……there’s nothing like working to cut through. Now days, this needs to be moderated somewhat so your voice prints evenly across all platforms. If you are a screamer, you’ll sound yucky online, on a phone or on an I-pad.

13) What did it feel like the first time you heard your voice on the radio/television? I immediately cringed and thought I sucked. Fast forward to last night hearing a TV promo?……….Same thing. I am critical of everything I do. It’s a curse that drives me to always work hard to try and sound better. Does it work? I don’t know, because I will always be self critical. I felt the same way driving out of the Lincoln Tunnel starring at Empire State hearing my voice on CBS FM. Seems like a a rough existence, but always running scared has netted me the best result.

14) Being the branding king of New York City for over a decade, are you partial to a good slice of NYC pizza OR living in the D.C. area…some Old Bay seasoned crab legs? Actually, I have been on in New York City continuously since 1996 (on 3 stations). I have been told by many that if a V/O person wants to succeed, your best chance at continuous work is to live in NYC or LA. Sure you can work out of a home studio in Florida and make millions, but if you wanted the edge, living in these primary markets, though expensive, can only help. Lots of people do it and I believe in it. I am born and bred in the DC area, went to the University of Maryland and had all my major market radio successes, all within the 40 mile zone of Baltimore and Washington. Met my wife and had three kids here and really don’t know anything else. Plus, where else can you eat jumbo crabs for $40 a dozen?

15) If you could go back to any decade and hang out which one would you go back to and why? Ok, how’s this for a weird, outdated answer………….the 1940’s. The advent of radio and TV were life changing, to the same extent multiple platforms have changed today’s world. It would be fascinating to see. Second? The 90’s…….radio was still the number two medium, the primary driver of music sales and concert promotion………and all the goodies that came with it. But alas, there is tomorrow and all the blessings that come.

16) If you could invite one person to dinner, living or dead, who would it be? Can’t say. My wife would kill me. Bahahahahahahaha!!!!!!!

17) What’s your guilty pleasure? Flying airplanes. I solo’ed on my 16th birthday, have over 1,200 hours flying time, hold Private, Instrument and Commercial licenses. Flying is too expensive for a guy like me and I basically gave it up some time ago. Freelance V/O can be a financially worrisome business and there is only one thing that makes an airplane fly…………money. I have three kids and college to think about. But if you are the next Don LaFontaine with a private jet, I’d love to be your corporate pilot.

18) If you could travel anywhere in the world right now where would you go and why? Well, since I haven’t had a week long vacation in over 7 years (welcome to freelance V/O), I’d go to the Florida Keys for 30 days and just chill with the white sand and western sunsets. Oh, and I would hold a drink up high to YOU!!!!!!

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Nate Johnson is an actor and a storyteller. With a naturally friendly voice, he has the ability to switch it up and do impressions, documentaries, cartoon characters, video games, and even accents from New Zealand! How’s it going mate?

1) What radio VO work have you done in the past? I’ve voiced Church’s Chicken for the Inland Empire market and Labatt Blue for the Rochester, NY market and a few others. I also do a mean Delilah impersonation.

2) What are you up to presently? I do most of my work in commercials but my specialty is emceeing awards shows and conferences. For example, I announce all events for Inc. Magazine around the country.

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3) What do you love about your job? My favorite part of the job is perking folks’ ears. You hear commercials, promos, emcees every day and you come to expect what it will sound like. I love doing something different so that the audience will turn and pay attention. Hopefully they’ll be entertained.

4) How did you get started as a VO actor? What was your first gig? I moved to NYC to be an actor. I soon found out that was difficult (why didn’t anyone tell me?) but more than that, I was frustrated that teachers didn’t teach you how to get hired and treat acting like a business. I’m a singer so I tried out for a couple VO agents. I thought I was going to rock it. They all said, “Yeah…you need lessons.” Haha. So I talked my HR manager into letting me use my tuition reimbursement for VO lessons. I had an awesome coach who told me if I didn’t want to get paid as a VO actor, I should find a new coach. What a gal. She got me my first job. It was a radio spot for Labatt Blue. Recording took 3 hours and I made more than I did in a month at my job. I was hooked.

5) Have you ever had a voice coach? Would you recommend it? Absolutely! I’ve had two coaches, both while in NYC. I couldn’t recommend a coach enough. You think you know technique, but you can’t be as honest with yourself as a coach can. Even Tiger Woods has a coach.

6) Who are your VO idols/mentors? Who influenced your work as a VO artist? Modern VO has a big focus on realism and storytelling and I think it makes for much better commercials. But honestly, I love the old Voice of God artists. They were big and bold and ridiculous. They’re memorable, iconic and people love to imitate them. When I do live announcing and product stuff, I try to ham it up as much as possible. Michael Buffer, Bruce Buffer, Don Pardo, and Alan Kalter are big inspirations. On the other end of the spectrum, I love the hilariously dry delivery of Patrick Warburton and H. Jon Benjamin. And last but not least, my mentor, Steve Mackall is a huge inspiration for me.

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7) What is your dream gig? As an emcee/VOG, I would love to announce the Oscars. Later in life, I want to announce minor league baseball games…and I want to mow the outfield. No joke. My biggest dream would be to perform in a Pixar movie and a more adult cartoon like Archer.

8) Can you offer 3 helpful tips for newbies trying to make it in the voice-over industry? 1) Get a private voice coach. Private coaching usually costs as much as classes. You can get to know the coach personally, they’ll know your strengths and weaknesses, and they’ll also help you cut your demo. I highly recommend getting coaching from a casting director as he/she can call you in without an agent and of course they can recommend you to agents. As a beginner, this was invaluable for me in terms of “breaking in”. 2) Don’t be deterred if you don’t get a job right away. I got my first job on my third audition, then nothing for 8 months and like 150 auditions. On that 8th month though, I booked the voice of Amazon Kindle Fire. 3) You’re not tied to gatekeepers. Create an Instagram or Youtube channel and do funny stuff there. Be your own brand and don’t wait for someone to say you’re good enough. There’s no grading scale for something subjective like VO. Your voice is unique. Even if you’re terrible, be awesome at being terrible and create your own niche.

9) If you weren’t doing voiceover, what else do you think you’d be doing for a career? Voice over is just one of the things I do. I do online advertising for home improvement companies, I want to work for XPrize, I’m working on becoming an on screen actor.

10) How do you schedule/prioritize your work? I’m honestly always struggling with this. My VO work comes in so randomly that the best I can do as far as scheduling is just record when my room mates aren’t home.

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11) How much time do you spend auditioning for new work? At the moment, most of my work has been pre-booked. These are things like live shows. For commercials, it just depends on work that comes in from my agent.

12) How do you market your services to potential clients? My agent takes care of a lot of this. At live shows, it’s much easier. I just come out from behind stage and introduce myself as the VOG. Most people are expecting a portly, old guy. When they see that it was me, it’s usually a fun icebreaker that leads to me handing out my card.

13) What gear do you use? I have an M-Audio condenser mic and a Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 preamp. I just use the free version of Audacity and that does the trick for auditions. My walk-in closet is a converted booth.

14) How has new technology changed the way you work? I haven’t been in the game that long so I’m not sure what constitutes “new”. Audio quality plays a huge role in being taken seriously, but you don’t need to have the best, most expensive stuff. When giving a seminar, someone asked Steven King what kind of pencil he used to write with as if that would give them an edge. I try to be great at what I do and if my tech is actually costing me jobs, I’ll update it then.

15) What is the best voice processing trick or voice-over technique everyone should know? You’re not selling the product. You’re selling the emotion. Learn to elicit an emotion from your audience and your voice will naturally adjust. Use what’s unique and if you need some training for the particulars, get a coach so you’re not guessing at what you need to fix.

16) When it comes to VO work, studio & gear, what are your most ingenious methods/discoveries for saving time and cash? Craigslist and Ebay. There are so many audiophiles out there who don’t have use for their “outdated” equipment, so you can get a steal on great equipment out there.

17) A big difference between commercial and imaging vo…how do you “get rid” of the radio in your voice for commercial VO? Personally, I ham up my radio announcing, imitating big voices and having a ton of fun. I try to entertain the crowd. For commercials, I trust my natural voice and all its imperfections and then I try to just speak to the emotion that the product is meant to make the user feel.

18) You’ve got to harness your acting skills in comm vo, how do you tap into the emotions the script is trying to convey? I learned at Kalmenson & Kalmenson to speak to one person. Use substitutes if you personally connect to a product. And of course, identify what the emotion is you’re speaking to. That’s not always given in the script.

19) To that end, how are you sure you’ve nailed the writers intention for the copy with your VO delivery? Agh, I’m honestly never sure. Ultimately, you just have to choose how it makes you feel and then go for it. Even if you don’t nail the intention, it can give a fresh perspective to the script that the writer hadn’t thought of. Sometimes, that can get you the job.

20) What did it feel like the first time you heard your voice on the radio/television? Psh, unbelievable. I never heard the Labatt commercial on the radio because I didn’t live in that area. But I was laying in bed with my girlfriend before she went to work when I pulled up the Amazon ad on my phone. I had just quit my job the day before I booked Amazon so it felt like a huge accomplishment to be paid the day after taking that big risk. It was surreal and awesome to share that moment with someone close to me.

21) If you could go back to any decade and hang out which one would you go back to and why? I like the decade I’m in. But there are some experiences I would have loved to have been present for. I would have loved the suspense and disbelief of the first moon landing. I would have loved the surprise of Darth Vader revealing that he is Luke’s father. I would have loved being at one of the few concerts back in ‘91/’92 where Nirvana, Pearl Jam and the Red Hot Chili Peppers were all on the same bill after coming out with three of the most iconic albums of all time.

22) If you could invite one person to dinner, living or dead, who would it be? Teddy Roosevelt. Followed by Ben Franklin. Then Casey Neistat.

23) Favorite food? Pepp & Mush all day.

24) What’s your guilty pleasure? I think Sean William Scott is hilarious.

25) What’s the best Halloween costume you’ve ever dressed as and why? I had no costume one year in college so I took the sheet off my bed and cut three holes in it. I went with friends to Isla Vista in Santa Barbara. Out of the thousands of people there, I never saw one ghost. Sometimes less is more.

26) If you could travel anywhere in the world right now where would you go and why? As long as this is a wish, then I would go somewhere you can’t get access. The Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Switzerland, Area 51 or the Super-Kamiokande Neutrino Observatory in Japan.

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Contact Links: 

Benztown: https://www.benztown.com/brigade/nate-johnson

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/nate.johnson.980

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Right now as you’re reading this, most likely Chad Erickson’s voice is somewhere on the airwaves. His fun and fresh approach to the radio imaging world is infectious. He’s been bit by the radio bug and we’ve been bit by the Chad bug!

1) What radio VO work have you done in the past? From WJBQ/Portland, ME to KBFF/Portland, OR and all points in-between. CKBE/Montreal, KQKE/San Francisco, MTV TRL Weekend Countdown, The Toronto Maple Leafs, WQAL/Cleveland and many more.

2) What are you up to presently? From Vancouver(CKZZ) to Virginia (WGH-FM). Dublin (Spin 103.8) to Des Moines (KPUL) 100+ super happy stations and counting.

3) What do you love about your job? To have the opportunity to work with some of the BEST PD’s and imaging people on the planet every day! I’ve been a radio guy my whole life and to serve as (in my opinion) the most coveted job on a single radio station; The STATION VOICE…Is just so awesome!

4) How did you get started as a VO actor? What was your first gig? Let’s flash back to my days in elementary school when I actually got bit by the “radio bug” and got to intern at the world famous KISS 108/Boston. That internship made my eyes “POP-OUT” at this amazing industry and instantly got me the opportunity to be on-air at WJYY/Concord, NH. After being on-air I really took to production and imaging and knew then that was what I wanted to do. I was working at WGIR in Manchester, NH as the night DJ and imaging guy and the hands down best Operations Director I have ever worked for, Todd Thomas, brought me to Hartford, CT as Creative Services Director. It was there I signed with the William Morris Agency and was one of the coveted featured voices on the famous (at the time) VOICES CD (pic attached..I KNOW you remember those CDS). Currently I am represented by the best Agency in the world, Atlas Talent and damn proud of it (Lisa and Ricky are standing by for your call, anytime)!

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5) Have you ever had a voice coach? Would you recommend it? Absolutely had and have coach(es)(ed). You must continue to hone your craft and work at it constantly as it evolves. The business is changing every day and it’s important to always be one step ahead.

6) Who are your VO idols/mentors? Who influenced your work as a VO artist? Casey Kasem, Will Arnett, Brian James, Jeff Berlin, Keith Eubanks, Chris Corley, John Plessie, and of course the guy who voiced my favorite radio station “Kiss 1 oh HO HO HO 8”; Ernie “The Looove Boat”Anderson. Sorry, got a little excited.

7) What is your dream gig? Still, to host a live Television Event or Awards show. Come on important people…Are you reading this?? HIRE ME!!

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8) Can you offer 3 helpful tips for newbies trying to make it in the voice-over industry? 1: Don’t quit your day job 2: Don’t take anything personally.  Accept rejection and use it as fuel to do better 3: Audition your balls/tata’s off!

9) If you weren’t doing voiceover, what else do you think you’d be doing for a career? It would totally be to run a Blockbuster Video…But, we all know what happened to them. So, next; Financial Advisor or Finance Anything!

10) How do you schedule/prioritize your work? Sessions are booked daily to my studio schedule and radio is 1st come 1st served.

11) How much time do you spend auditioning for new work? Tons. Daily. You are only as good as the last promo you booked. I hammer new radio stations every day to audition me and part of my weekly work plan.

12) How do you market your services to potential clients? Sure I do fun tchotchkes and banners on-line because I love it. But, I find the most success the old fashion way…New business by recommendation. It starts with that “white-glove” service that each and every one of my affiliates gets. Fast, Instant and On Demand! Every client is treated as my number 1 client regardless of market size. If you make a commitment to me, I make it right back to you.

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13) Which production system do you use and why? I’m only doing VO and no production so I am Adobe exclusively. Quick, Clean and easy!

14) What gear do you use? I have 2 studios that are 100% identical and a mobile rig: Sennheiser 416 shotgun mic, KRK Rokit 5 monitors, Avalon 737sp, Focusrite Liquid Chennel, Mackie 1402-VLZ3, Telos Zephyr Xstream all to my Cyber Power PC (from Costco…love that place) with (in my opinion) The best PC sound card ever, LYNX E22. When I travel I use the USB Yamaha MG10XU.

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15) How has new technology changed the way you work? It allows me to travel and leave the house and work remotely which before was never an option.

16) What is the best voice processing trick or voice-over technique everyone should know? Honestly, the cleanest and less processed the better.

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17) When it comes to VO work, studio & gear, what are your most ingenious methods/discoveries for saving time and cash? Learn to read waves. I record several stations in chunks and it’s amazing how your wave reading senses take over.

18) Do you have a different approach to reading radio imaging copy as opposed to TV/Radio commercial ads? Sure do! But, as my read has evolved over the years they do end up connecting and sharing some similarities.

19) What did it feel like the first time you heard your voice on the radio/television? Weird/Amazed/Excited while looking around at other peoples reactions… but at the same time very cool and grateful.

20) If you could go back to any decade and hang out which one would you go back to and why? 1990’s for sure. If I knew then what I know now…WOW. WATCH OUT WORLD.

21) If you could invite one person to dinner, living or dead, who would it be? John Candy.

22) What’s your guilty pleasure? MOVIES! I love the whole theater experience and am a total nut for 80’s Horror!

23) If you could travel anywhere in the world right now where would you go and why? I would love to visit Ireland with my family to take in all the beautiful sites and not to mention raise a few pints to my radio client friends at Spin 103.8 in Dublin. It’s been on my bucket list and who doesn’t love a business expense?

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Contact Links:

Benztown: https://www.benztown.com/brigade/chad-erickson

Website: http://www.chaderickson.com/

Atlas Talent: http://bit.ly/2aK6iAi

Facebook: http://bit.ly/2gee1uu

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You don’t get on over 90 stations by sittin on your a**, just ask Jeff Berlin. This hard-working dude knows what it takes to be successful in the industry and because he happens to also be a supppeerrr nice guy, he let us on his tips and tricks of the trade. 

1) What radio VO work have you done in the past? WPLJ NYC; KKBT LA; CFNY Toronto; KHKS Dallas; WWDC, WRQX DC; WWWQ Atlanta; WIOQ Philly; WAAF, WXKS, & WKLB Boston; WHYI Miami; WDVD Detroit; KYOT Phoenix; KSTP Minneapolis; KHTS SDiego; KALC Denver; WLIR Long Island; WIYY Baltimore; KSLZ St. Louis; WNKI Charlotte; KBBT SA; KENZ, KBER SLC; WREW Cincinnati; WAKS Cleveland; CFOX Vancouver; WXXL Orlando; KMXV KC; KHFI Austin; KVVF San Jose; WRKZ Columbus; WPRO Providence; WRVW Nashville; WAPE, WWJK Jacksonville…and more.

2) What are you up to presently? 90+ stations.

3) What do you love about your job? That a twisted brain…is a requirement for the job.

4) How did you get started as a VO actor? What was your first gig? First gig: Announcing weekly specials over the PA system at Big“Y” Supermarket, as a cashier during high school.

5) Have you ever had a voice coach? Would you recommend it? Yes. At best a coach helps hone your skills. At worst you just hear another perspective.

6) Who are your VO idols/mentors? Who influenced your work as a VO artist? Dick Orkin. Ernie Anderson. Don LaFontaine. Mark Driscoll. Danny Dark. Brian James. Chris Corley. Keith Eubanks. Ann DeWig. Brian Lee. John Pleisse. Steve Stone.

7) What is your dream gig? Winning the lottery, then operating a cool radio station in a fun town without worrying about how much money it makes.

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8) Can you offer 3 helpful tips for newbies trying to make it in the voice-over industry? Immerse yourself – always study and refine. Learn how to produce audio. Smile and have fun.

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

10) How do you schedule/prioritize your work? Scripts that need to be voiced are top priority. Mowing the lawn is bottom priority. My neighbors hate me. Now using a Google Doc to stay organized, instead of any specific app.

11) How do you market your services to potential clients? By taking damn good care of my existing ones. Fast turnaround, quick tracks with just enough takes to cover all the bases, processing choices. A contemporary, interpretive, compelling read. Ability to take direction. Funny ad libs if I think of them. I make it as easy as possible for the PD and producer to get a VO that pops and helps bring their promos and imaging to life. Word gets around.

12) Which production system do you use and why? Pro Tools. ‘Cause I own 4 licenses, I’ll be damned if I’m gonna switch now!

13) What are your favorite plugins? For basic EQ and compression: Fab Filter Q2, C2, and L…‘cause besides sweet sound, ease of use and powerful capabilities (the Q2 lets you isolate frequencies with surgical precision) they only make you buy it once. I can run FF on many rigs without needing an iLok. Also use Izotope Ozone & RX, and Metric Halo’s Channelstrip.

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A screenshot of some of the plugins I run in the session I use to do VO (I usually roll 5 settings at a time and post them all..) this is on ProTools 10 HD – an old TDM rig running on a turbocharged 2009 MacPro, so some of the plugins are older versions. I have ProTools 11, soon switching to 12, on my smaller rigs.

14) What gear do you use? I just got a Kush Tweaker. Beast of a compressor. You can’t help but tweak this thing.. (“what’s THIS knob do?”) Otherwise I’m working out of three different studios, the gear varies but the goal is for them all to sound the same. All 416 mics except one, all have voice booths.

15) How has new technology changed the way you work? Yes, Neural Audio Workstations have finally gotten so good that I only have to think about the promo, the software renders my neurosynaptic impulses into hearable audio, like telepathy. I think about the old days back in 2017 when we had to stare into tiny screens and use our fingers or voices to operate computers – no wonder people had so many issues back then! At least we were able to work in the then new self driving cars since we were stuck in traffic all the time.

16) What is the best voice processing trick or voice-over technique everyone should know? Cut the lows before you compress, boost the highs (if you must) after. Gargle with Alkalol to kill mouth noise, or eat green apples.

17) When it comes to VO work, studio & gear, what are your most ingenious methods/discoveries for saving time and cash? Macros enable huge chunks of work at lightning speed. I use Keyboard Maestro to rename my tracks in ProTools every day so everything I record has today’s date embedded in the name of the audio file. I use it to rename the files, find the right folder for upload, then render a web page with players so the client can preview and download… all in a few seconds.

18) Do you have a different approach to reading radio imaging copy as opposed to TV/Radio commercial ads? Yes. The read for Radio imaging is informed by the individual station and format – we’re branding a media outlet, there has to be consistency for the brand’s continuity. Unless it’s for Halloween, then all bets are off. The reads for commercials are case by case. They depend on individual advertisers (that includes TV show promos), and will vary wildly depending on the product and campaign.

19) What did it feel like the first time you heard your voice on the radio/television? Awkward, uncomfortable. Maybe because it was a spot for feminine napkins…

20) You mention you like to ride your bike around town. Do you listen to music when you ride and if so, what’s a song that’s on your playlist that we’d be surprised to hear you have on there? I never wear headphones when I bicycle, but lately I’ve been using a JBL Charge2+ in the water bottle cage. I play a loop of the Jetsons Space Car really loud so they hear me coming on bike paths. A song? I was digging Arbor Labor Union while mountain biking a week ago. Friggin’ love cranking the extended remix of “Speed Your Love To Me” by Simple Minds when I ride.

21) If you could go back to any decade and hang out which one would you go back to and why? I guess the 1980’s so I could use my knowledge of the future to manipulate events to my advantage…and maybe do good by trying to prevent catastrophes like 9-11. Can I have super powers when I go back too? Might mess things up.

22) If you could invite one person to dinner, living or dead, who would it be? Albert Einstein.

23) What’s your guilty pleasure? Slitherio. Stupid addictive game. My daughter turned me onto it. I blame her.

24) If you could travel anywhere in the world right now where would you go and why? Stuttgart. Just to visit the Benztown crew in Deutschland. If you’re offering free airfare maybe Sydney to visit Jeff Thomas. Or Rome where I think I left a pair of sunglasses in a hotel room this past June.

*Bonus video of Jeff being all profession and cool and stuff*

Contact Links:

Benztown: https://www.benztown.com/brigade/jeff-berlin

Website: http://jeffbvo.com/

Atlas: http://bit.ly/2aK6iAi

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Blog readers, meet Jonathan Hanst, Jonathan Hanst, meet our blog readers. Being in the business for a while now, you could say this guy really knows what he’s doing once he gets behind a mic. On top of being a pro, he’s as easygoing as they get and if you hang around just long enough…maybe he’ll tell you the joke he thinks is really funny (picture above). 

1) What do you love about your job? Well… I mean, what’s not to love? From the moment I started doing VO, I had a lot of fun. Almost 20 years in, I still find it hard to believe that I get paid to do this stuff. The thing I like most is ad libbing, making jokes up on the fly and cracking myself up. I normally don’t like to laugh at my own jokes, but I work alone, so if it’s not me, the house plants aren’t gonna chime in.

2) Have you ever had a voice coach? Would you recommend it? I worked with a coach that is not as well known as some. Her name is Brandy Hotchner and Ann DeWig turned me on to her. What I liked about Brandy is she comes from a full-on acting background. She pushed me into reads and mindsets that I probably wouldn’t have gotten to on my own. So, yes I would recommend her for sure…some coaches I feel come from the “if you can’t do…” background. I would say, choose your coach wisely.

3) What radio VO work have you done in the past? I started this whole journey being an imaging guy at WIYY Baltimore and before that, under the mentorship of the great Archer Dusablon at WZLX in Boston. I was always inserting myself into promos as some character. I did 10 years at KBCO in Boulder (as Creative Services Director) which was the best radio gig a boy could get. My first time imaging voice gig was thanks to Brad Savage, then at the Corner in Charlottesville. I’m also the voice of The Bert Show (syndicated out of Q100 Atlanta), Majic in Austin, KOOL FM in Phoenix and a few other small market stations.

4) If you weren’t doing voiceover, what else do you think you’d be doing for a career? I’m trying to do other things alongside VO right now because it’s essential to my creative sanity. I make art using old images from dusty thrift shop album covers (Plug alert! Check out HiFiJones.com) and also try to put together a mix tape once in a while (Plug 2: Listen at RadioDetour.com) VO is great, but let’s face it, doing a 4000 word eLearning script for Cisco isn’t the juiciest gig creatively. I love when I get to play with voiceovers, and when I don’t, I have other outlets. (Mixtape demo below).

5) How much time do you spend auditioning for new work? Is it wrong to say as little as possible? I know auditioning is important, and I do work at it, but in some ways, I sort of feel like I vibe with producers that hear my work and my demos and ‘get’ me. Most auditions these days feel like invisible cattle calls. You never know how many people they’re reaching out to, or if you’ll even be considered. I try to jump on them quickly when they’re posted, but that’s if I have the luxury of time.

6) Do you have a different approach to reading radio imaging copy as opposed to TV/Radio commercial ads? I absolutely do, and it’s why radio imaging is my favorite VO work to do (and Benztown did not make me say that). Radio imaging is where I get to be most creative in voiceovers. I like goofing around with radio branding…making side comments and jokes about contests, artists, the station itself or some pop culture event. I think by and large, imaging takes itself way too seriously. It’s radio. I mean: c’mon. Every voice, sound effect and bed does not need to be turned up to 11. (editorializing complete)

7) How has new technology changed the way you work? It’s opened up so many doors, but it’s also a double edged sword because so many people are doing this now and there are a lot of talented people out there. My most recent technological wonder was doing a session with some dude in Saudi Arabia over Skype. That’s crazy! He found me online, we scheduled the session, next thing I know we’re talking on Skype. Miraculous.

Studio Ideally

Studio Ideally

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Studio For Real

8) What is the coolest/most unique thing you’ve stumbled across at a thrift store? I love thrift shops. I find used things to be so much cooler and more interesting than new stuff. Underwear excepted. Most of the time in thrift shops, I’m hunting for vinyl. 9 times out of 10, you’re seeing Barbra Streisand and Lawrence Welk records. But now and then, you’ll find a cache of stuff that’s been dropped off like REM, Zeppelin, classic jazz or weird spoken word LPs. Sure you could go online and find any of these things, but when you find them in a thrift shop, it’s like buried treasure.

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9) What’s your guilty pleasure? Musically I have all sorts of guilty pleasures. Let’s say Billy Joel. I mean: Billy has sold a s— ton of records, but you won’t find many people saying: Billy Joel is the greatest! It’s like you have to be too cool for Billy Joel. Or Rush. Rush is the geekiest band that will ever exist. I love that they never altered who they were or what they wanted to do. But I guess one of my biggest guilty pleasures song wise is a song from the band Kix. They’re from Baltimore and so am I, so I have a soft spot in my heart for this tune called “The Itch.” It’s horrible and incredibly catchy at the same time. God bless Kix.

Contact Links:

Benztown: http://www.benztown.com/brigade/jonathan-hanst

Website: http://www.ihanst.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jonathan.hanst

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

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/jhanst1

BrianPeck_Selfie

Buzzwords about Brian Peck: Fresh, fun(ny), friendly, real(ly) cool. No we’re not hitting on you Brian, or are we? What we are saying is that Peck brings an undeniable energy and style to his work that’s…what’s the word we’re looking for…UNDENIABLE. 

1) How did you get started as a VO actor? What was your first gig? A VO job for ESPN-U. But as glorious as that sounds, I’ll be surprised if they used it. It was not my most epic work.

2) Have you ever had a voice coach? I have and do work with NY’s best regularly. But more than that. Find a colleague you can bounce your auditions off of. It’s great to get another ear in there. For me that guy is Chad Erickson. My phone log is 78% ‘Chad’s Cell’.

3) Would you recommend it? That’s a tough question to answer because I know people who’ve found success with and without a VO coach, but I would recommend it most definitely. If you want to elevate your game and take it to a new level, yes, seek a great VO coach.

4) Who are your VO idols/mentors? Who influenced your work as a VO artist? To this day Ned Spindle has influenced my alternative reads, and Ned is a great guy. John Frost is another one. Jeff Berlin is a guy I’ve always admired for years and years (hey Jeff!). A lot of TV people (too many to count) have helped shaped Brian Peck the Voice Actor.

5) What is your dream gig? I would love to do work for the X-Games, Survivor, and my favorite baseball team, the Washington Nationals!

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6) Can you offer 3 helpful tips for newbies trying to make it in the voice-over industry? 1.) Know from the get go that you’re gonna fall on your face and it’s gonna hurt. 2.) Watch, learn, give it a shot, and repeat. 3.) Don’t give up. Please don’t give up. The bottom is only that. Cause you will hit it. Pick yourself up and keep fighting for that gig. You will be awesome!

7) If you weren’t doing voiceover, what else do you think you’d be doing for a career? Like are we talking dream scenario or reality? Ok. Cool. I’ll answer both. If I could do anything I’d be a pro surfer or snowboarder or make documentaries. And if we’re talkin’ reality here I’d say I’d probably be making art.

8) How much time do you spend auditioning for new work? A lot of time. A lot more than I ever imagined I would.

9) Which production system do you use and why? ProTools and nothing else. I only use it cause it’s all I know.

10) What are your favorite plugins? I have a lot of Waves fav’s. GX MixCentric, Vitamin (for filter), H-Delay, L2, Air, and Time Adjuster are just some of the ones I use a lot.

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11) What gear do you use (microphone, pre-amp, booth, etc)? ProTools 11 & 12, Sennheiser 416, Studio Projects C1, Avalon M5 and a now vintage Symetrix 528-e.

12) Do you have a different approach to reading radio imaging copy as opposed to TV/Radio commercial ads? Fo’ sho! Like for my alternative stations I get to be freaking weird and nuts. And for TV it’s more controlled. Radio Brian is who I’d hang out with. TV Brian is who my wife would hang out with.

13) What did it feel like the first time you heard your voice on the radio/television? The first time I heard myself on the radio as a professional, signed VO actor, was incredible! Like someone just smacked me in the face with chocolate donuts and wrapped me in a robe made of Big League Chew. That doesn’t make any sense does it. Yeah. Well. That’s what it felt like. Sweet.

14) If you could go back to any decade and hang out which one would you go back to and why? Oooooo…….I’m gonna go 1850’s and the wild west.

15) Favorite food? Chocolate chip cookies. Hands down. No questions. I want to die with one in my hand. It’s the only way to go.

16) What’s your guilty pleasure? The brownie mix bowl and a spoon or Goldfish crackers with an ice cold Coke.

17) If you could travel anywhere in the world right now where would you go and why? I would go to either Spain or New Zealand. I would love to go to Popeye’s right now.

BrianPeck_Family

Contact Links:

Benztown Site: http://www.benztown.com/brigade/brian-peck

Website: http://brianpeckvoice.com/