It is officially out … the 2018 Benztown 50 list of the 50 most heard voices in radio! The Benztown 50 is a compilation of Radio’s Biggest Imaging Voices and it wouldn’t have been possible without enlisting P1 Media Group who compiled and analyzed the hundreds of submissions we received in December (Thanks P1!)

This year we also had a new category, the Iconic Voice Award, which was honored to the prolific voiceover talent, Chris Corley. We are saddened to say that Chris passed away on the day that the Benztown 50 list was announced. He inspired voiceover talents in the radio biz and was loved by many especially by those on the Benztown 50 list.

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The Benztown 50 is an opportunity to highlight the voices behind the mic that help create experiences between the listener and radio programming. Congratulations to everyone who made it on the list this year!

2018 Benztown 50 (in alphabetical order):

  • Ann DeWig
  • Austin Keyes
  • Beth Cameron
  • Blaze Berdahl
  • Brian Christopher
  • Brian Lee
  • Chad Erickson
  • Cousin Deke
  • Damon Oaks
  • Dave Foxx
  • Dave Kampel
  • David Kaye
  • Donna Frank
  • Dr. Dave Ferguson
  • George W. Robinson
  • Harry Legg
  • Heather Walters
  • Jake Kaplan
  • Jeff Berlin
  • Jeff Laurence
  • Jen Sweeney
  • Jim Cutler
  • Jim Merkel
  • Joanna Stadwiser
  • Joe Cipriano
  • John Pleisse
  • John Reilly
  • John Willyard
  • Josh Goodman
  • Jude Corbett
  • Jules Riley
  • Kelly Doherty
  • Lisa Keys
  • Lynn Hoffman
  • Malcolm Ryker
  • Melody Sharp
  • Neil Wilson
  • Pat Garrett
  • Pete Gustin
  • Rachel McGrath
  • Rena-Marie Villano
  • Rich Van Slyke
  • Roberta Solomon
  • Scott Fisher
  • Scott Matthews
  • Sean Caldwell
  • Steve Kamer
  • Steve Stone
  • Steve Taylor
  • Wendy K Gray

Behind the Mic: Kelly Doherty

Posted: 11th March 2019 by benztownvoiceover in Uncategorized

Kelly Kelly Kelly aka Kelly Doherty is not your average VO talent. You’ll hear her voice on the airwaves, catch her producing radio imaging, see her running the ultimate  resource called “The Imaging House” and you’ll probably be at her radio imaging and voiceover conference next year.

What radio VO work have you done in the past (stations/markets)?

K3 photo Oh gosh. I’ve been so fortunate to voice many legendary stations. KIIS/Los Angeles, KROQ/Los Angeles, WHTZ/New York, Capital/London, Virgin/Dubai, KSCS/Dallas, WKSC/Chicago, WBBM/ Chicago, WIOQ/Philly, WTDY/Philly, OnAir w/Ryan Seacrest, x929/Calgary, 5FM/South Africa, etc. Many of those for 10+ years.

What are you up to presently (freelance/on-staff at a station)?

I’m still voicing many of those stations and lots of others while looking for my next big gig! And I started TheImagingHouse.com which is like Facebook for VO/Imaging Talents and a one-stop-shop for programmers looking for imaging resources. We just launched “Imaging House Radio” which features all things imaging 24/7. It’s really cool! Station launches, jingle packages, promos, sweeps, outtakes, demos from legendary stations, the famous ‘Nine’ tape, the best of Eric Chase, John Frost and other genius producers in our industry. It’s great having it on in the background! Very inspiring! And funny!

What do you love about your job?

It’s an honor having a programmer and producer entrust you with their radio station. I mean- the VO is on 24 hours a day- more than any jock. So, to be THAT person chosen to bring their imaging to life is quite a compliment.

Also- The VO and producer community is so much fun and very supportive. I’ve planned mixers and networking events so everyone has a chance to meet each other face to face. The adrenaline is intense! I’m planning an Imaging conference for 2020 unlike anything out there. Produced by VO/Imaging talent with legendary talent, a one-of-a-kind agenda and lots of inspiration. The goal is for attendees to leave feeling like they can conquer the world!

Check out Kelly’s demos:

 

How did you get started as a VO actor?

I voiced a Thanksgiving commercial for Safeway. LOL! That was my first spot. Then I tried the Imaging side of things and went crazy as a producer. Shortly after I arrived at KDWB, I was told my voice would never ‘print’ on the air and I’d never be a voice talent. THAT gave me the adrenaline to explore VO work even more. When I sent my demo to Miami- I replaced the station VO with my own and finally landed my first official VO gig at Y100/Miami while imaging their six-station cluster.

What was your first gig? Any memorable ones since then?

LOTS! LOL My first radio gig was KRQQ/Tucson. I grew up in Los Angeles and left the day after graduation as my father worked for General Dynamics which has transferred to Tucson as Raytheon. So I followed. First day there I noticed ‘KRQ’ on the side of a building and thought- ‘Awesome! They have a KROQ here!’ which wasn’t the case at all- but close! LOL I worked for the city newspaper as a reporter/photographer while I was in high school- so I showed up at KRQ telling them they needed me to photograph remotes and sales presentations. I was hired as an intern and then the PD, Mark Todd, went on vacation so I started helping the programming department which lead to production on a 4track. Then the Roland arrived and I remember spending 12 hours producing one promo. I wanted to know that thing inside and out. Totally worth it. 😊

Who are your VO idols/mentors?

That would be a long list! First- John Frost. I sent imaging/VO demos while he was at KROQ. LOL- I have several stories about those. Haha The funniest is when he told me to send my demos on longer/higher quality cassettes so he could record over them. LOL Eric Chase is up there with John as far as mentors. Eric gave me my voice. I was driving from Minneapolis to my new gig in Miami and stopped in Tampa where my friend, Nick Daley, introduced me to Eric. I was SO nervous! He had me read on the mic and after a while- he stood in the back of the room, leaned up against the wall listening to my reads and said something like – “I think I know what your place is in VO- you’re the bitch in the radio”. I LOVED it. And that began my witty, sarcastic, bitchy read that suddenly took off on CHR and Alternative stations. It was soooo crazy!! And really fun! My female VO idol is Annie DeWig. By FAR the most heard female voice in radio and TV. She’s as authentic as it gets. When I was at KDWB, she was imaging DC101. We were two of the only female radio producers we knew of and people used to make up stories that we hated each other. Haha We’d call each other and say ‘By the way- I apparently said this about you’. And I’d say- ‘Oh! We’re fighting now in case you didn’t know.’ We had fun. I have a ton of respect for Annie. My VO Idol.

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

I’d be a writer and a photographer. Both are creative outlets for me. Or even picking music for movies- whatever fancy title that is. Every time I pick an obscure song for a promo- it winds up on TV or movie preview.

How has new technology changed the way you work?

The biggest change is supply and demand. The quicker you deliver, the better your business.

A close second is connection. Whether it’s networking, brainstorming, finding the newest/best plugins/gear, etc- connection is key to everything we do. It seems like such a generic answer- but there are SO many specific answers to name. Marketing is another big one. The RIGHT marketing opens doors. Sending your tape doesn’t do it anymore- it’s all about having the right marketing to get buyers to LISTEN to your demo.

What gear do you use on the road? In your studio?

The Sennheiser 416 is my best friend. I call it the ‘Bob Barker’ mic. And the Focusrite Platinum Pro with my secret settings. 😊 I take my laptop, mic and Duet on the road and a Zoom just in case. There are also some pretty cool iPhone apps to use in case of emergency which work pretty well.

Have you ever had a voice coach? Would you recommend it?

I haven’t. But there are a couple coaches I’m thinking about- Dave Walsh is one of them. I’ve met him a couple times and he has a great reputation in the VO community.

I’ve done some VO coaching myself. I don’t have a curriculum. I just go by what I know and what I’ve experienced as a VO talent. You’ve just got to find the right coach for you. Everyone has a different method. Talk to people, ask around- you’ll find the right one.

How do you schedule/prioritize your work? How much time do you spend auditioning for new work?

K3 VOProdFriends-1I schedule ME first. And then I’m on the mic. The majority of my day is spent voicing, marketing my voice and finding new clients. The other working part of my day is dedicated to The Imaging House. It’s such a great resource for programmers, VO talent and producers. I try to improve the experience every day.

When it comes to VO work, studio & gear, what are your most ingenious methods/discoveries for saving time and cash?

Some talent get so wrapped up in cost that they overlook the simple things and psyche themselves out of doing something they might love. Don’t pay to be on a manager’s list- they should make money by getting you work and taking commission. Don’t pay for coaching if you haven’t started practicing. Find your voice first. Get out of your comfort zone. If you want to do commercials- watch a commercial on TV, rewind, transcribe and play it again on mute while YOU voice it. Really simple beginnings. THEN find your coach and spend money on coaches or workshops that benefit YOU. Don’t waste time and money on something you’re doing just because everyone else is. My pet peeve is other VO talent who preach how expensive it is to get into the VO world. It’s not. And another pet peeve is telling someone they can’t be a VO talent. The talent pool is ENDLESS. Don’t let anyone pigeon-hole you into a format or tell you other formats aren’t right for you. Coaches aren’t program directors. And, these days, there might be 15 different reads per format. Maybe a programmer is looking for something completely different. Maybe your CHR read would be great on a country station. Maybe the NewsTalk station wants a softer read. Your job is not to read minds. Your job is to be YOU and do your own take on VO. And don’t be the cheap version of someone else.

Can you offer 3 helpful tips for newbies trying to make it in the voice-over industry?

I’ll give you five. 😊

Network like crazy. You’ll find opportunity but you’ll also find support.

Never stop learning. Sometimes even the best VO talents think they suck. But they never stop learning.

Don’t rush. It takes time to find your comfort zone. Whether it’s radio or TV or even just another radio format,

Stop being so hard on yourself. I’m the worst at this one. And it brings on the depression. I’m  learning that progress is better than perfection.

Don’t Ask, Don’t Get. Stop being afraid to reach out to your mentors. They’re human just like you. Ask them questions. How’d you get the KROQ gig- ask them. How do you read for trailers- ask. You’ll gain so much ‘insider-info’ while making a great contact. 😊 You should be busy getting around the typical obstacles rather than creating your own.

Favorite 2 pizza toppings?

Canadian bacon and Pineapple. THERE. I said it. Mmmmmm! Served. Owned. Bring in the lion. (that’s a frost bit)

If you could invite one person to dinner, living or dead, who would it be?

My future self.

Connect with Kelly and check out her sites:

Sites

https://kellykellykelly.com/

https://theimaginghouse.com/

Social

Facebook: FB.com/KellyKellyKelly

Twitter: @kellythreetimes

Instagram: @theimaginghouse

Behind the Mic: Roberta Solomon

Posted: 28th February 2019 by benztownvoiceover in Voice of the Week

Roberta has been a full time voice artist for over 20 years. Calling herself a radio and TV “lifer,” she’s imaged hundreds of stations, has voiced promos on every major television network, Roberta Solomon and narrates documentaries, concert spots and movie trailers. In a former life, she did morning radio with her husband in Kansas City, appeared on a sketch comedy show carried on Sirius/XM, and drew a rabid following as a TV Horror Host.

What radio VO work have you done in the past (stations/markets)?

The bulk of my imaging work has been for AC and Soft AC, Newstalk and Sports radio, and I’ve voiced some legendary stations: WCCO/Minneapolis, KPRI/San Diego, KEZK/St. Louis, WDBO/Orlando, WMGC/Detroit, The Game/Portland, etc.

I currently image radio stations in about 20 markets, including KCBS/San Francisco, Sunny 92.3/Chattanooga, CV 1043/Palm Springs, and I’ve been the sponsorship voice of the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network for 14 seasons.

I’m also the branding voice of a number of TV stations around the country and pop up regularly on network TV. (Jimmy Kimmel Live, Late Late Show with James Corden, NBC Sports, Reelz, Adult Swim) I’ve narrated documentaries for NatGeo, Discovery and Smithsonian Channel and have voiced a handful of movie trailers.

Check out some of Roberta Solomon’s demos:

 

 

What do you love about your job?

Well, I’m doing what I was put on the face of the earth to do, and I’m happy every time I’m behind the mic! I fell in love with radio in part because it was a mysterious kind of story-telling, and the “theater of the mind” aspect of VO, regardless of the project, still excites me. Whether I’m voicing a radio imaging piece, a promo or long-form narration, I get to tell stories for a living and how cool is that? But what I really love is when the producer shares a finished piece with me and I can “hear” the story. Creating radio and TV is a communal act, and when I hear how all the elements fit together because of our collaboration, and especially when the CLIENT is happy, that’s the real gift of this work.

How did you get started as a VO actor?

In college, I was a semester away from a degree in theater when I was invited to audition for the campus radio station. The minute I opened the mic for the first time, I knew I’d found my path. Within months, I’d moved to another station in the market, and producers and local ad agency folks started calling the station to see if I was available to voice spots for them. My outside work began to grow and after a few years I joined with a group of busy voice actors to co-found a talent agency. Eventually, it got to the point where I was doing so much outside VO work that it was conflicting with my “real job” on the radio. At that point, I put a studio in my home and stepped into voiceover work full time.

Who are your VO mentors?

The late Drew Dimmel, a talented VO and on-camera actor from Kansas City, was the first guy I knew who was voicing radio and TV stations from home. He was the most generous mentor and basically gave me a template for how to run a VO business. I got a lot of radio-specific guidance early on from consultants: Dick Stadlen (who was also the first to hire me as an image voice), Vallie Richards Donovan, Gary Berkowitz, McVay Media, Holland Cooke, Albright & O’Malley & Brenner, etc. VO legends Joe Cipriano and Beau Weaver were incredibly helpful. Pat Garrett introduced me to my first imaging agent. My current “VO Tribe of Counselors” includes Ann Dewig, Jen Sweeney, Virginia Hamilton and Steve Stone.

I admire not only their work but also how loved they are by their clients.

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

I’ve always been fascinated by the science of sound, and could easily see myself as an audio engineer or field producer. There’s some amazing work going on now researching ocean sounds — I’d love to be out on a boat planting hydrophones and listening to whales. Bernie Krauss’ Wild Sanctuary Project is fascinating: recording and archiving the soundscapes of the natural world. I’d go to work for him in a heartbeat.

How has new technology changed the way you work?

It’s made the work so much easier, but it’s also turned VO into a solitary job. On the one hand, the technology has freed us: with the right gear, voice work can be done from anywhere. On the other hand, we’re often alone in our booth for hours at a time. And the more successful you are as a voice talent and the bigger the projects you work on, the more isolated you can become.

The days of “next day turnaround” are over; producers often need their VO tracks back within the hour, sometimes late at night, early in the morning, often on the weekends. It’s part of the job to be available whenever you’re needed, and depending on the type of work you’re doing it can be nearly impossible to unplug. The voiceover joke is: “You wanna book a big job? Try to take a vacation.”

In addition, technology has changed the way we tell stories, and that’s changed the VO performance. Social media in particular has had a huge impact on the “sound” of voiceovers. That’s why working with coaches is more important now than ever.

What gear do you use on the road? In your studio?

In my home studio, I use a Sennheiser 416 most of the time and a Neumann U-87 on occasion. I pair the 416 with a vintage Focusrite Red-7 processor, and I also use an Avalon 737 from time to time. I built out a gorgeous studio above the garage in my last house, but when I moved cross-country to an apartment a few years back, I bought a double-walled Vocalbooth with a floating floor and a window.

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I carry another Sennheiser 416 when I travel, run it through a Scarlet 2i2 interface, and plug it into my laptop. In addition, I’ve got a little Apogee mic that I toss into my purse for emergencies when I’m in transit. I can plug that into my phone for quick fixes; I once used it to record tags for a TV spot while sitting under a massage table at an airport spa. (Long story.)

Roberta's road gig set up

Roberta’s road gig set up

I use Adobe Audition in both my home and main travel studios because it’s the software I’ve used forever, but if I’m recording on a mobile device, I use Twisted Wave.

For longer projects when I’m traveling or if there’s a ton of work, I’ll sometimes book a session at a pro studio and let someone else handle the recording

Have you ever had a voice coach? Would you recommend it?

Yes and yes. I’ve worked with voiceover coaches for years and it’s been an essential part of my growth as a VO artist. Each coach has different techniques and tools but they all focus on the same thing: helping you get out of your own way so you can best serve the story with your voice.
A good coach will not only teach you how the structure of each genre of VO differs, but can also help you identify the trends in VO and how to stay current with your read. That can be really difficult to do on your own, when you spend all day talking to yourself in a booth.
I’ve worked with Marice Tobias for years. She’s kind of legendary, and has coached most of the top VO artists in the biz. I’ve also studied with David Lyerly, Bob Bergen (for character VO) and Dave Walsh. In addition, I’ve trained with a number of singing coaches, which has been helpful in learning how the voice actually works and ways to keep it healthy.

How do you schedule/prioritize your work? How much time do you spend auditioning for new work?

There’s no real schedule to my day; I voice projects as they arrive, prioritizing by the deadline, and I juggle sessions all day long. I live on the West Coast but I’ve got a lot of East Coast clients, so my days start early. Directed sessions (usually narrations or network promos) are scheduled ahead, so on those days I work everything else around those bookings. But it’s not unusual for me to start recording a project and then receive a promo that has to be cut immediately or an audition due within an hour. So I drop what I’m doing to accommodate the most pressing deadline. Auditions can come all day long, and I average about five a day. There will always be a couple of auditions due first thing the next morning, so sometimes I’ll record those after dinner.

I’ve always told people that if you’re not dealing with ADHD before you begin a voiceover career, you will be once you’ve done it for a while. If you’re working a lot, it’s a life of constant interruption.

Can you offer 3 helpful tips for newbies trying to make it in the voice-over industry?

  1. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. The art of VO is what you’ll spend the rest of your life studying. And just when you think you’ve “got it,” the art form will change. That’s the exciting part to me, and it’s why this work is never boring.
  1. The gear is not the career. VO folks love to talk about what mic they’re using and how they’ve constructed their studio. And yes, you need to know how to set up a studio, record, edit and deliver broadcast-quality audio. But those are merely the tools for the work, not the work itself.
  1. It’s not a hobby, it’s a business. If you’re serious about getting into VO and don’t know how to run a small business, you’ll need to learn. Should you become a Corporation? How will you market yourself and to whom? What are the particular needs of your potential clients? As your business grows, developing a trusting relationship with a bookkeeper, accountant and lawyer is important, and each of those people needs to be familiar with media and entertainment.

Want to see more of Roberta Solomon?

Check her out on the Benztown Brigade roster, here or on her website.

Connect on the Socials:

 

Behind the Mic: Lisa Keys

Posted: 21st February 2019 by benztownvoiceover in Uncategorized, Voice of the Week

Hi! I’m Lisa Keys! As a fan of the Benztown’s Behind the Mic feature for years, I’m so flattered to be included! I’m currently doing imaging voice over full time based in Toronto for stations all over the world.

Lisa Keys - Photo

What radio VO work have you done in the past (stations/markets)?

Lisa Keys - KOIT

I’m incredibly fortunate to be on board voicing with:

  • 96.5 KOIT/San Francisco
  • 92-5 XTU/Philadelphia
  • The Rogers Country Network across Canada
  • Radio Globo/Rome, Italy
  • 100.3 The Bear/Edmonton where I got my start
  • B93.3/Milwaukee
  • Now 100.5/Sacramento
  • Sunny 106.3/Colorado Springs
  • among other amazing stations!

 

What are you up to presently (freelance/on-staff at a station)?

Working full time doing voice over in Toronto from the comforts of my basement suite recording studio. I made the leap to full time VO in September 2016. Prior to that, I was a promotions director for the Bell Media cluster in Edmonton, Canada. After pursuing voice over on the side for a couple years while in radio, I knew there was a time to make the leap, and it’s been one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life.

What do you love about your job?

The people and the product! I have met some of the coolest, kindest people through radio and voice over and treasure the relationships that have formed over the years. I’m so honored to help radio stations with their branding and SO incredibly grateful to every station who’s ever used my voice.

Getting a piece of production back and blasting it, getting chills or having it make me laugh out loud – I can’t get enough of that feeling. There is SO much about this industry I’m absolutely obsessed with and I feel like the luckiest girl in the world to take part.

How did you get started as a VO actor?

I got into VO through working in radio. One of my best friends – Gary McClenaghan – our imaging producer at the time, started using me on our rock station and the rest is history. Gary, Jeff McKnight (another very talented producer I previously worked with) really helped me find my sound and both built me demos and demo material I could start sending out on my own.

What was your first gig? Any memorable ones since then?

It was a local commercial with our station cluster. The first time I heard it on air it was a feeling I had never experienced before, was surreal! One of my most memorable gigs was a skit for Jimmy Kimmel!

Who are your VO idols/mentors?

Ann Dewig, John Willyard who’s been an outstanding mentor to me, the fantastic human that is Rachel McGrath, Wendy K. Gray, Kelly Kelly Kelly, Chad Erickson, the crazy talented Jamie Watson up here in Canada – the list goes on. There is no shortage of inspiring talent in this industry. A couple other amazing mentors have been Rob Vavrek, my previous PD in Edmonton and Brian Figula at KOIT who gave me one of my first big breaks.

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

Probably running events in some capacity. I like organization a lot.

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

Amazing. Absolutely loved it. Thought it was way too cool. I was hooked. Anytime I catch anything of mine on air, I freak out a little bit inside.

 

Gear/Technology:

How has new technology changed the way you work?

My studio (as you’ll read in the next answer) is nothing crazy. I record in my closet! My mic does a lot of heavy lifting with sound. New technology has made building my own studio a possibility.

What gear do you use on the road? In your studio?

I use the same gear on the road as I do in my studio – Sennheiser MK416 mic, Focusrite Scarlett-2i2, laptop.

Which production system do you use and why? Any favorite plugins?

Adobe Audition CC. I love Adobe. I’m not currently using any plug ins with my voice work.

 

Skills and Helpful Tips:

Have you ever had a voice coach? Would you recommend it?

I have worked with voice coaches in the past – with the very talented David Lyerly, Dave Walsh and K3 (Kelly Kelly Kelly). Coaching is absolutely something I want to pursue more of as I explore more niches of the voice over industry.

How do you schedule/prioritize your work? How much time do you spend auditioning for new work?

I watch for anything that comes in as ASAP, but otherwise, first that comes in is first up! Depending on how many auditions come in throughout the day, could be an hour to several auditioning for new work. I try to get up early enough that I can take care of other things on my to-do list before imaging starts rolling in.

How do you market your services to potential clients?

Along with my amazing agents at Atlas Talent who hustle like crazy on my behalf, I reach out to program directors across the US and Canada with my demos, introducing myself and my product to them! I’m a huge fan of conferences too. Getting that face to face is invaluable to me.

What is the best voice processing trick or voice-over technique everyone should know?

In terms of technique, what I’ve done in the past to be more conversational is to pretend like I’m talking to my friends. I’ll sometimes drop names or specifically the word “dude” (I don’t know why) before lines to try to get more into a natural feel.

Check out another one of Lisa’s demos below!

 

Can you offer 3 helpful tips for newbies trying to make it in the voice-over industry?

  • If you want this, you have to work hard at it! Voice over is crazy competitive.
  • Don’t compare your level of success to anyone else’s. You’re on your own adventure. Everyone’s path is different.
  • Be humble, grateful and kind! Be someone who people want to work with!

 

For Fun:

Favorite 2 pizza toppings?

Mushrooms and more MUSHROOMS

If you could invite one person to dinner, living or dead, who would it be?

Jonah Hill or Seth Rogen. I love those guys. They’re HILARIOUS.

 

Check out Lisa’s website: https://www.lisakeysvoiceover.com/
FB: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100009476790826
-Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/keys.lisa/
-Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/lisakeys

Behind the Mic: Josh Goodman

Posted: 7th February 2019 by benztownvoiceover in Voice of the Week

Josh Goodman is a long-time radio vet, who started in the business at age 12. After almost 25 years in the business as an air talent, music director, and production director, he now enjoys the full-time life of a v/o talent. He lives in Denver, CO with his wife and two daughters.

goodman-0308 copy 6web

What radio VO work have you done in the past (stations/markets)?

On the radio side, you can hear me on WTMX/Chicago, KFMB/San Diego, KAMX/Austin, KODJ/Salt Lake City, KRFX/Denver, KRQQ/Tucson, WTTS/Indianapolis, WTVR/Richmond, and WQMX/Akron to name a few. For TV, I’m on WNYW-Fox5/New York, WBNS/Columbus, WTVF/Nashville, KCTS/Seattle, and KLAS/Las Vegas. I voice a decent amount of commercials both regionally and nationally, and have narrated shows airing on National Geographic Channel, Nat Geo Wild, Science Channel, History Channel, and Smithsonian Channel.

What are you up to presently (freelance/on-staff at a station)?

Currently, I’m a full-time v/o talent after almost 25 years in the radio biz (I left radio in 2014). I spent time on-air in Denver, Philadelphia, Seattle, Charlotte, Albany, NY, and Burlington, VT.

What do you love about your job?

As strange as it sounds, I love being a client’s problem solver. As a voice-talent, that means helping to deliver a message in a unique and authentic way. Maybe offering a read or point-of-view that the writer didn’t think of. Or, better yet, telling a story or delivering a read exactly how the writer had it in their own head. And in today’s world, that also means turning that read around FAST!

How did you get started as a VO actor?

In the early 2000s, I had the opportunity to be the Production Director of the Entercom cluster in Denver, which after being solely on-air for so many years, allowed me to work some different muscles. I really enjoyed the assembly of commercials – everything from the writing to the narration to the production, and that sort of lit the spark for me to start exploring voice-over.

What was your first gig? Any memorable ones since then?

My first radio gig? Well, my first PAID radio gig was when I was 14 years old at WQQY/WKAJ in Saratoga Springs, NY. I got to run the board on the FM for a syndicated countdown show (Dave Sholin’s Countdown USA I believe). On the AM, I would run the board for NYMets games. I got paid a whopping $3.35/hour, and got to crack the mic 2x/hour for the weather – I LOVED it.

My first big v/o gig (the one that allowed me to go out and make my v/o biz a full-time endeavor) was when I became the voice of HBO Sports. I did all their boxing, 24/7, and Hard Knocks promos for almost 3 years. It was a GREAT gig – I learned a ton, and it really gave me a lot of confidence to say, “yeah, I can do this”.

Who are your VO idols/mentors?

Past VO Idols are, of course, Don LaFontaine (the original Movie Trailer guy), Edward Hermann (world class narrator and actor), and Peter Thomas (Forensic Files). All have passed away unfortunately. Current v/o mentors include Leiv Schreiber (HBO 24/7), Stacey Keach (American Greed), Will Lyman (Frontline), Brian Lee, Steve Stone, Chris Corley, John Willyard, Ann Dewig, and Thom Pinto to name a few.

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

Good question. I happen to love the “business” of the business, so I would dive into something in the business world – starting another business of my own, or being involved in something that “creates” something.

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

Wow. It was amazing. Honestly, it was almost like an out-of-body experience – I couldn’t believe that was actually ME! I still get that feeling honestly. Whether it’s a commercial that I hear or a show that I’ve voiced, or if I’m streaming a new radio station that I work with. It’s a real thrill to be a part of the creative process and I’m always wanting to improve.

 

Gear/Technology

How has new technology changed the way you work?

JoshGoodman_Studio_Road-Setup-150x150

I can now (and am expected to) work wherever I am! I have a great, very comfortable studio at home, but I also have a backpack that I travel with so I can record from the road. Tecnology has been a blessing and a curse in that way – you don’t need to be in NY or LA anymore, but you better be available when your client needs you!

What gear do you use on the road?

On the road, I use a Sennheiser 416 into a Yamaha AG03 into a MacBook.

In your studio?

In my studio I’ve got a Sennheiser 416 (used for most of my radio/tv imaging and tv promo), as well as a JoshGoodman_Studio_IMG_5209-150x150JoshGoodman_Studio_IMG_5214-e1530211845274-150x150Neumann U87. I have an Avalon M5 and Avalon 737 preamp. That’s running into an Audient ID22, into my Imac. I use ProTools (because I’ve used it so long!), and have a great, dead silent booth where I spend most of my days. Technology has gotten SO good that, over the years, my studio and gear have simplified tremendously. Nowadays, devices like the Universal Apollo let you have $10,000 worth of recording gear in a portable and affordable device!

Which production system do you use and why? Any favorite plugins?

Again, I use ProTools, only because it’s what I started editing on all those years ago, and I’m just very

comfortable with it. Izotope is a GREAT plugin that I use frequently, especially when on the road. The

Nectar2 Gate has saved my bacon many times when recording in a hotel and housekeeping is vacuuming outside the room!

Skills and Helpful Tips

Have you ever had a voice coach? Would you recommend it?

Absolutely – it’s mandatory if you want to succeed at a high level. For many years, I worked with David Lyerly, who really helped elevate my skill level. I also have worked (and continue to work) with some other great coaches like Dave Walsh, Maurice Tobias, and Harry Dunn to name a few. Having a good coach makes ALL the difference – not just for coaching you through copy, but also as a confidant and, well, psychologist. So much of our work is done in “isolation” that you need to have someone to confide in and vent to sometimes! Voice coach might not be the right title – it should be more like voice therapist!

How do you schedule/prioritize your work? How much time do you spend auditioning for new work?

Managing workflow is vital, and the more successful you become, the more important it is. After all, we ARE in the “service” business. And these days, the turnaround is incredibly fast, and your clients expect that. The days of 48 hour turnaround while you go golfing are soooo done. With that said, so are the days or ripping and reading. Each script has it’s own story, and deserves your undivided attention, not matter how big or small the project. This includes auditioning – or “planting”. Your garden won’t grow if you don’t plant new seeds! As  Maurice Tobias would say, the audition IS the job. So treat it like one.

How do you market your services to potential clients?

For my commercial and narration clients, I do my damndest to never have just ONE job with them. I turn it into repeat business. By being a professional….by making them want to work with you again…by solving their problems. I develop relationships with copywriters, ad agencies, and production houses. I mail a hand written thank you card after every new job – it’s a lost art and no one does it anymore! For radio stations, I advertise a little on allaccess, and make sure that I’m promoting new stations that I start working with. Getting those first few stations are the toughest – radio stations don’t take risks on v/o talent they’ve never heard of, but once you get 2, turn that into 4, then turn that into 8 and so on. Make the stations want to work with you again!

What is the best voice processing trick or voice-over technique everyone should know?

Honestly, at the top level of commercial and promo and narration – the producers want CLEAN and QUIET. Don’t do their job for them by over compressing and over EQing their audio – because it’s very difficult to “undo” that. However, for TV affiliates, I’ve learned that they appreciate you sending them audio that is “air ready” – that they can just drop into a promo and have it go to air. Clean and quiet is self explanatory. Getting “air ready” may not be (depending on your level of audio expertise). I use George Whittham (audio tech guru) to dial in some “processing stacks” when I need it.

Listen to Josh’s demo below!

 

Do you have a different approach to reading radio imaging copy as opposed to TV/Radio commercial ads?

Yes, but it all depends on the station and the situation. Radio imaging needs to “cut” through and grab you, so there is a different feeling to it than a bank commercial. But I think that’s changing, and v/o talent need to be versatile. After all, a killer commercial from Mercedes Benz with John Hamm or a cutting edge Apple commercial certainly cuts through – but it cuts through with a read that’s not pushed or polished or showy. The “anti” read – or doing “less” is what’s actually able to accomplish “more” in a way.

Can you offer 3 helpful tips for newbies trying to make it in the voice-over industry?

I believe that to be successful in voice-over, there is a 40/40/20 rule. If one of these areas is missing or deficient, then your chances of succeeding are diminished.

40% Business…40% Performance…20% Tech

BUSINESS: V/O is a business, and if you don’t treat it like one, you will fail. That means being a pro, servicing your clients, and delivering on what you promise. I know it sounds stupid, but I know a LOT of very TALENTED people with very poor business skills who ultimately fail at this. Hussle trumps talent.

PERFORMANCE: V/O is a craft, and an artform. It’s creative, and your performance is absolutely part of that. Coaching and training, and practicing and failing and then practicing some more are all part of it. Anyone can read words off a piece of paper, but as a voice-over craftsman (or woman) it’s your job to bring an authentic point-of-view to each and every piece of copy – even if it’s a :10 tag for Free Donuts at a car dealer. The client is hiring you to put some magic into whatever it is you’re reading, and someone who’s a great businessperson but who has very little to offer in performance, will also fail.

And last but not least – TECH: It’s only 20% of the equation, but it’s still important. You have to be comfortable with your editing software, with your equipment, with the sound of your mic and your room. I also know many many talented v/o talent who work hard, coach and train, but can’t figure out how to send an MP3. They too, will ultimately not succeed. Because having a quiet room to deliver quality audio quickly is the bare minimum of what is expected. And there are too many other v/o talent out there who have all 3 of those things going for them that will replace you on a job if you can’t deliver on the last one.

For Fun

If you could go back in time and hang out in any decade which one would you go back to and why?

I’ve always been fascinated by the 1920s. It seemed like an incredibly creative time with music and art and technology. There was a real “energy” to that decade!

Favorite 2 pizza toppings?

Double mushrooms. I’m not a vegetarian, but I LOVE mushrooms (and not the trpping kind – ok, well, maybe)

If you could invite one person to dinner, living or dead, who would it be?

Well, that’s easy. It’d be Chachi and Masa of Benztown! I know that’s two people, but come on!

Behind the Mic: Jamie Frye

Posted: 1st February 2019 by benztownvoiceover in Regular Features, Voice of the Week

Jamie FryeAfter 10 years as an on-air radio talent, I started a career in voiceover. My voice is heard in markets across the U.S. and the world in multiple formats. These days I work primarily in Hot AC, CHR and Rock, but I’ve done almost everything including Country, News, and Sports Talk.

What radio VO work have you done in the past (stations/markets)?

My voice has been all over for the last few years currently on KBFF/Portland, WSTW/Wilmington DE, KRXP/Colorado Springs, KEZR/ San Jose, Sports X/Atlanta, and several others. I’ve previously been a voice on stations in Denver, Sacramento, and Richmond as well as Kenya and Dubai.

What are you up to presently (freelance/on-staff at a station)?

My VO work is all freelance.

What do you love about your job?

I really enjoy working with the creative teams at each station to make sure I’m representing their brand the way they envision it. I think I’m pretty open to direction and easy to work with, and gettin it right for the client feels great.

How did you get started as a VO actor?

I started out as an on-air radio talent and did the required million local spots and promos there. After the second downsize in four years, I stepped up my freelance game.

What was your first gig? Any memorable ones since then?

I don’t remember my first gig through Benztown, but a couple of my longest-term clients have been through them (WSTW and KRXP). I have been able to do some cool stuff over the years including trying my best not to mangle the Portuguese language for a station in Brazil, and some work with a syndicated radio personality.

Who are your VO idols/mentors?

When I started out in radio, I did a lot of production. It was mostly local commercials, but I did some imaging and I remember reaching out to Ann DeWig. She was very kind, and even though I didn’t end up continuing on that path, I love hearing women who rock. There is sometimes a really narrow idea of what female voices are right for, but I think that’s changing. Why can’t we be the “voice of God?” We can!

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

I have done lots of different jobs to pay the bills – I can write a newsletter or a press release, help you figure out your health insurance, and even explain the intricacies of bowling lane conditions (seriously!). I’ve been doing Improv for the last few years, and that has been a blast, if not exactly a career.

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

I don’t remember the first time I heard my voice on air, but I have still have a tape of my first air-shift somewhere. Maybe I’ll work up the courage to listen to it again. I remember being terrified and thrilled at the same time.

How has new technology changed the way you work?

It has really allowed me to pare down and keep it simple.

What gear do you use on the road? In your studio?

I use an AKG Perception 120 mic connected to an M-Audio box into my MacBook Pro. I have a small Port-A-Booth on a sit-stand desk. It’s great because I can work on administrative stuff, then when I’m ready, put the desktop up and stand to record. If I travel, I take my mic and use an iRig pre to record on my iPad.

voice over jamie frye

Have you ever had a voice coach? Would you recommend it?

I haven’t yet, but I’m working on getting one. I think it’s really important to keep working on my skills and keep my voice in good shape.

How do you schedule/prioritize your work? How much time do you spend auditioning for new work?

I do work as it comes in. Most of my work comes from regular clients, so I can usually predict pretty well what I’m going to get in a given day. I don’t spend as much time auditioning as I would like, but increasing auditions is on my to-do list along with coaching.

Do you have a different approach to reading radio imaging copy as opposed to TV/Radio commercial ads?

I’m pretty lucky in that my imaging clients are clear about what they want their stations to sound like, so I have great direction from them. My approach to everything is to try to follow the brief as closely as possible.

Can you offer 3 helpful tips for newbies trying to make it in the voice-over industry?

  • Make friends and connections in the industry and stay in touch. I’ve gotten work through people I worked with years ago who recommended me to their connections.
  • When you get feedback, take it seriously, but don’t let it discourage you.
  • Get the best equipment you can afford, but realize that you don’t need to break the bank to sound great.

If you could go back in time and hang out in any decade which one would you go back to and why?

I would love to wear clothes from the 60’s a la Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, but I’ve seen enough Mad Men to know I would not like living in that time.

Favorite 2 pizza toppings?

I love mushrooms. On everything

If you could invite one person to dinner, living or dead, who would it be?

Lin-Manuel Miranda. He’s a genius, but also spend a lot of time being silly. He’s serious about joy, and I appreciate that.

Connect with Jamie Frye

Website: www.jamiefryevo.com

Twitter:  twitter.com/jfropitz

Demos: https://www.benztown.com/brigade/jamie-frye

 

Behind the Mic: Oscar Vasquez

Posted: 25th January 2019 by benztownvoiceover in Interviews, Voice of the Week

Oscar Vasquez is a 22 year radio veteran and voice over talent that does radio, TV, commercial and audio production.  You can hear his voice on the Benztown Rhythmic Library, and on different radio stations across the globe. For the past 15 years, Oscar has been honing his ninja production skills while perfecting his ability to change as a VO chameleon (Thanks Teddy!) We are ecstatic to have him on the Benztown Brigade as a voiceover artist!

oscar vasquez voiceover

What radio VO work have you done in the past (stations/markets)?

At the moment, I am currently voicing for:

  • KBIU Hot 103.3 – Lake Charles, LA.
  • KHXT Hot 107.9 – Lafayette, LA.
  • KJMG Majic 97.3 – Monroe, LA.
  • KRUZ 106.3 SpinFM – Oxnard/Ventura, CA.
  • KSXY-HD2 Latino 95.5 – Santa Rosa, CA.
  • WPTY Party 105 – Long Island, NY
  • WNUE Salsa 98.1 – Deltona/Orlando, FL.
  • Dash Radio (BakaBoyz, L0UD, Young Money Radio & a few others…)
  • And last but certainly not least, Benztown’s Rhythmic Format Library VO four years running! (Blessed!)

What are you up to presently (freelance/on-staff at a station)?

I was previously a production assistant for a cluster of stations up until December of 2017.  Taking that break allowed me to focus on myself, my family & my clients & associates. Currently, I am a Daily Shift Producer for the Benztown/Yamanair Commercial library sites, an automotive industry (dealership) VO in the region, and will occasionally lend my services to whoever is in need of some VO and/or production (commercials, music demos, etc.)

What do you love about your job?

When I love what I do, I don’t even consider it work.  For me, production is fun, and allows me to be creative in ways I would have never imagined.  When I work from home, I enjoy being able to cook breakfast for my kiddo, drop her off at school, and once my wife leaves for work, the solitude helps me focus on the task(s) at hand.  And…I mean..where else can you wake up and start the day in your PJ’s?

How did you get started as a VO actor?

Back around 2005 I was let go from Clear Channel, and after being an on-air personality since 1997-98, I figured ‘Hey, what the heck, I can voice DJ Drops’ for friends and word of mouth clients, all thanks to Tom & MySpace.  I picked up a couple of clients throughout the years, one which happened to be a rapper out of Dallas by the name of Dorrough. He uses my VO on all his tracks as an “artist tag”. Well one day out of the blue he texts me that some people out of LA wanted some VO.  Lo and behold, it turned out to be Dash Radio, which eventually led to a phone call from Benztown.

What was your first gig? Any memorable ones since then?

My first official VO gig was with a dealership here in town that was looking to replace their VO guy.  A great friend of mine was the Director of Marketing at the time, and as soon as I reached out and mentioned I was available for work, she said “I’m sending you work tomorrow”.  From one day to the next, I was the official voice for the dealership’s brands around the region, and have been so going on 7 years now. As far as radio imaging is concerned, my first gig was with a station out of Indy, WRWM 93.9 The Beat back in December 2015 (which has since flipped) and I am truly thankful to Jay Michaels (PD at the time) for that opportunity.

Who are your VO idols/mentors?

Pretty much every VO talent I have connected with either through social media or in person I consider an idol/mentor.  They have been the kindest and dopest people to work with (and if you’re reading this right now, THANK YOU!)

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

Between ‘station hopping’ (kinda like bar hopping, except they don’t let you walk in drunk) I worked at a university police department as a dispatcher, and also in TV as a news photojournalist “photog”.  I’ve been fortunate enough to experience a little bit of the police side of things. Once, I went on this ride along with a buddy of mine (PD) and it just so happened we got caught up in a high-speed chase.  Talk about adrenaline. So, it’s a toss-up between Law Enforcement and News…although I do watch a lot of LIVE PD so…yeah, that’s a tough one…

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

The very first time I heard my voice on the radio, I thought to myself “that’s me?!”  I must have been about 17 going on air for the first time, and I was a “weekend warrior”.  And back then, well we used to air check ourselves with these small white cassettes. After every shift I’d pop them in my truck stereo and would listen on the way home.  I would always give them to my dad who lived out of town at the time because that’s the only way he could hear me in the 90’s, and I believe he still has some of those cassettes to this day!  On air, I was green as they come. Commercial wise, again, green as they come. But that didn’t stop me. The constructive criticism along the way is what helped me get where I am today, and it still helps me to this day!

How has new technology changed the way you work?

When I started, my budget was $300.  I bought an AT-2020, Alesis 3630 & a Behringer Preamp.  Today everything can be done through the DAW’s preset rack(s).  I’m still a fan of old school knob turnin’ though. What I don’t think I’d be a fan of to this day is the old school splice, tape and reel to reel editing.  I have one sitting in my studio as a paperweight. So, new technology has changed everything for me, with services where you can file share with links and email.

oscar vasquez voiceover

What gear do you use on the road? In your studio?

If I’m on the road, I’ll try and find a studio to voice out of, but when I can’t, I’ll take my laptop & Yamaha board, MOTU Ultralite interface, and either a Shure KSM27 or Blue ‘Baby Bottle’ mic.  OH, and can’t forget my Sony MDR7506 headphones which I’ve used both on-air and in the studio.

Which production system do you use and why? Any favorite plugins?

I will always have Adobe Audition 3.0 as my go to.  I’m not into the whole buying of subscriptions and “cloud” service.  Call me old-fashioned. I learned it when it was Syntrillium’s Cool Edit Pro, then AA1.5 finally landing at 3.0 This year, I made it a point to drop Adobe Audition and go straight Pro Tools.  That’s a huge step out of my comfort zone, but “ain’t nothin’ to it, but to do it!” In my vocal chain, I use plugins by Fab Filter & Waves (big fan of the CLA plugins)

Have you ever had a voice coach? Would you recommend it?

YES!  I was very lucky to be able to attend a workshop with the legendary Marice Tobias.  Although it was short, I learned so much in so little time. I would absolutely recommend it, and I am looking forward to making more trips out west to work with some coaches that I’ve had my eye on for a while now.

How do you schedule/prioritize your work? How much time do you spend auditioning for new work?

I will try and turn it around no later than 24 hours after receiving the email.  When I wake up in the morning, I’ll have a quick “me time” outside to thank God for everything, to gather my thoughts for the day, and as soon as I set foot in the studio, I knock everything out in the morning, so that I can spend time with the kiddo when she gets back from school.  There has to be a life/work balance for me. I audition every chance I can get, and have landed a few good ones since starting.

How do you market your services to potential clients?

Social media is a for sure way of getting potential clients (although sometimes I think a break is needed from that too).  Also, old school cold calling and emails.

When it comes to VO work, studio & gear, what are your most ingenious methods/discoveries for saving time and cash?

When it comes to VO work and production, keyboard shortcuts are key for me.  They’ll cut your production time in half. Especially in Adobe Audition as you can program your own shortcut/command keys (not a plug, nor an endorsement lol) I like to share my keyboard shortcuts with Audition users, so if you’d like a copy, just shoot me an email to ov@oscarvasquezvo.com

What is the best voice processing trick or voice-over technique everyone should know?

I’ll sometimes alternate between a cork and a pencil to help stretch out the muscles in my mouth while reading the script one syllable at a time.

Do you have a different approach to reading radio imaging copy as opposed to TV/Radio commercial ads?

When reading copy, whether it’s radio imaging or a TV/Radio commercial, I learned to look for the billboard.  The main message they are trying to convey. So I’ll read the copy from beginning to end, and end to beginning.  Just a little tip I picked up at the workshop with Marice Tobias ☺

Can you offer 3 helpful tips for newbies trying to make it in the voice-over industry?

Yes.  First, sometimes it isn’t about the money, it’s about doing what you love.  A little pro bono work won’t hurt, and it’ll help get your voice on a platform which can potentially help you land a gig.  I’m amazed what a little giving can get you in return. Second, work with a professional coach in the field that you plan to pursue, whether it is radio, TV, narration, video games, cartoons, etc… And finally, DO NOT GIVE UP.  Learn to accept constructive criticism as positive feedback and not negative. Also, I started adding the word ‘yet’ to everything going on in your career will change the dynamic. “I haven’t voiced for this/that station…YET”, “I am not where I want to be as a VO talent…YET”.  Best of luck in your VO career and hope to connect with some newbies that might need some advice.

If you could go back in time and hang out in any decade which one would you go back to and why?

It would have to be November 5, 1955 when Doc Brown invented time travel.  I’m kidding. (Back to the Future is playing while I type this) I’d have to say the 70’s.  Huge Earth Wind & Fire, James Taylor & WAR fan. Plus I heard they were some great times…and I love funk music.

Favorite 2 pizza toppings?

Pepperoni and Ham or Canadian Bacon…I can never tell them apart.  How about LEAST two favorite? Black Olives and Mushrooms.

via GIPHY

If you could invite one person to dinner, living or dead, who would it be?

I’d have to say, without a doubt, my mother.  Working from home, and with our schedules both pretty tied up, I never really get to have a one-on-one with her, and would just like to show her how much I appreciate all the life lessons she’s taught me and for giving me life and being there when I really needed her.  And it’s because I chose to stay with her when I was faced with that decision that is allowing me to type this out right now. Thank you, Mom. XOXO

Connect with Oscar on Social Media!

Twitter: @oscarvasquezvo
Instagram: @oscarvasquezvo

Behind the Mic: Jules Riley

Posted: 15th January 2019 by benztownvoiceover in Interviews, Voice of the Week

jules

Jules has been on air and programmed stations across the U.S. including 103.3 KLOU and The Arch in St. Louis, T95 in Wichita, BEN in Philly and The Peak in Phoenix. She has worked in multiple formats including: Adult Hits, Classic Hits, Classic Rock, Country and Hot AC.  She is currently Senior Vice President of Programming for iHeartmedia St. Louis. With a radio programming and improv theatre background, Jules knows how important your station voice is to executing your brand vision. She can be heard across the U.S and Canada on radio and television commercials and on stations like 680 News Toronto, WSOC Charlotte, WBAP Dallas, KCKC Kansas City, KLOU St. Louis, WBBB Raleigh and KOLA Riverside-San Bernadino Represented by Nate Zeitz /CESD Talent Agency.

What radio VO work have you done in the past (stations/markets)?

Current: 570 News Kitchner, 660 News Calgary, 680 News Toronto, News 1130 Vancouver, 1310 News Ottawa, KBVB Fargo, KCKC Kansas City, KKTX Tyler, KLOU St. Louis, KOLA Riverside/San Bernadino, KPRF Amarillo, KQSR Yuma, KVDU New Orleans, KYMK Lafayette, News 95-7 Halifax, WBAP Dallas, WBBB Raleigh, WERK Muncie, KSD St. Louis, WSOC Charlotte, The City Fargo
Former:  WARH St. Louis, WFMS Indianapolis, WLWK Milwaukee, CHLG Vancouver KVRV Santa Rosa


What are you up to presently (freelance/on-staff at a station)

Senior Vice President of Programming iHeartmedia St. Louis, VO for above stations, commercial voice work for regional and national platforms.

What do you love about your job?  

That listening to music is a big part of my day!  Also, like the variety of stations I get to voice.  Always fun to move from a News Talk to a snarky adult hits.

How did you get started as a VO actor? 

I was working as a consultant with Folger Media and we developed a format.  We needed to put a demo together so potential clients could get a feel for the brand.  I voiced the demo, the first client that bought the format wanted to use me on the station.  Thanks Popster and Ingstad Broadcasting!

What was your first gig? Any memorable ones since then?  

The first long term one was the on hold voice for a pizza place in Wilkes Barre.  It’s pretty annoying hearing your own voice thanking your for your patients while “we are helping other customers”.

Who are your VO idols/mentors?

Ann DeWig, She was on a few of the stations I programmed over the years.  When I moved to Phoenix, we met and became great friends. She was instrumental in getting me established as a VO talent.

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

Programming radio stations ☺

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

It definitely makes you stop for a second…then it’s like…is that me…I think it is.  No maybe not, oh yea, I remember that read.

Gears/Technology

How has new technology changed the way you work?

RIley Internal StudioIt has allowed me to build a solid studio at home, so I don’t have to head in to the station if I get copy late at night!  Also makes it so much easier to record on the road.

What gear do you use on the road? In your studio?

Rode NTG 3 Shotgun Mic, Sound Devices USB Pre2, a small Mackie board, computer, phone line

Which production system do you use and why? Any favorite plugins?

I use Adobe Audition.  Pro-Tools gives me the sweats, too many choices!  Since I rarely produce, I just need a simple platform to record with.

Riley External Studio

Skills & Helpful Tips

How do you schedule/prioritize your work? How much time do you spend auditioning for new work?  

I work before and after my day job!  I like to turn copy within 24 hours (usually less time).  I’m on both sides of the equation, so I know how awesome it is to get your new production on the air quickly.  I get auditions from my agent, but I’m not doing blind auditions from websites or cattle calls much anymore.

How do you market your services to potential clients?  

CESD, website, bothering friends, word of mouth., Benztown!

When it comes to VO work, studio & gear, what are your most ingenious methods/discoveries for saving time and cash?

A trick I learned from Ann DeWig, have a set of you doing #’s (500-1) on hand with your different reads (Rock, AC, News, etc.) that way when the end of the year hits and everyone is doing countdowns, you already have all the #’s recorded.

If you do a lot of work for one company and they tend to use the same keywords, contest pieces, etc.  Once your record for your first station, send to other stations in that group, then they have what they need without event asking!

If a major event happens in a format you do a lot of work in (Artist passes, unexpected single drops out of the blue) record some generic lines about the event and send to your brands that may be able to use them.  Be out in front to help the PD and Imaging Directors get breaking events on air quicker than their competitor.

Do you have a different approach to reading radio imaging copy as opposed to TV/Radio commercial ads?

Yes, but really a different approach for different formats and brands too.  All want to convey a feeling, you’ve got to find what is going to best sell the brand you are currently reading for.  I probably do more research auditioning for a radio station/audio platform, then a commercial.

Can you offer 3 helpful tips for newbies trying to make it in the voice-over industry?

  1. Find your style/your brand and look for potential clients in that wheelhouse.  Very few people are good at EVERY type of read.
  2. You may need to take some free or low paying jobs at first.   You have to be heard what you can do.
  3. Audition as much as you can.  The more you do, the more comfortable you will get.

For Fun

Favorite 2 Pizza Toppings?

Pepperoni and Mushroom (though jalapeños are moving up)

Keep up to date with Jules at her website julesrileymedia.com

Behind the Mic: Rob Reed

Posted: 10th January 2019 by benztownvoiceover in Regular Features, Voice of the Week

Rob Reed is the David Puddy (think Seinfeld/Rules of Engagement) of radio imaging. He’s the Mr. Big of v/o. Radio is in his DNA;Rob_Reed_Mountains radio owns him and he owns radio (we’re not kidding). Rob’s entire career has been devoted to our media and branding voiceover work is his final frontier. The Right Honorable Mr. Reed is killing it for his affiliates and he will for you too. His voice has an 80 inch chest and 25 inch biceps, all natural, steroid free!

What radio VO work have you done in the past (stations/markets)?

Currently voicing:

  • WWLY Wild Willie 100.1 in Panama City Beach, Fl.
  • WXUS US 102.3 in Gainesville, Fl.
  • KWBT CBS Sports Radio Central Texas, Waco, Tx.
  • KZXM Real Country, Tyler, Tx.
  • WBBN B95 Hattiesburg, Ms.
  • KLDZ KOOL 103 Medford, Or.
  • KSTV Stephenville, Tx.
  • KCCN Kickin Country 103 San Angelo, Tx.
  • KRVL Rev FM Kerrville, Tx.
  • WLQM Real Country 101.7 Franklin, Va.
  • WVNO HD3, 97.3 The Spur Mansfield, Oh.
  • WMKC Big Country 102.9 Indian River, Mi.
  • KSNY AM & FM, & KLYD FM, The Lid Snyder, Tx.
  • KKAJ 95.7 Ardmore, Ok.
  • KFLP Flip FM Lubbock, Tx.
  • And serve as the voice of Benztown’s Horsepower Library

What are you up to presently (freelance/on-staff at a station)?

I retired as a Market Manager for Bicoastal Media in radio in December of 2017, and currently, work full-time from my home studio.  So, I’ve gone from talking to myself on the air, to just talking to myself inside my 4×4 vocal booth, on the edge of the earth in far, northwest California.  The radio imaging work, that I’m able to do, allows me to stay closely tied, though to a career that lasted 30 years. Right now, my time varies between radio imaging, narration, and commercial work, which includes regular casino/resort spots, automotive spots and a handful of law firms around the country.

Additional things about you

What do you love about your job?

Well, it doesn’t really ever seem like a job.  It’s an adventure every day. I meant that as a joke, but honestly, it’s very true.  I love the fact, that even though, I get the chance to be many people during the day, as a voice actor, I still get to be me.  So, whether it’s a promo for Classic Country’s Wild Willie or I’m playing the voice of a block of wood, that will soon be a piece of furniture, or narrating a documentary…  it’s all, really just me. And the other really cool part of it, is…I can do it anywhere, really.

How did you get started as a VO actor?

Getting into VO, for me was kind of a natural progression, now that I think about it.  About 6 or 7 years ago, a friend, that I worked with in radio, Chad Letts called, and said, I should check out some of the ‘Pay 2 Play’ sites on the web.  I did, which led to finding terrific friends, which led to coaching, demos, and low and behold, I’m quite sure that I’m even more passionate about Voiceover, than I was for radio.  And the VO community, is one of the most incredible group of people that I’ve ever been around. So many give back, with knowledge, help and advice – that it just kind of rubs off on you.  I’m very grateful to so many.

What was your first gig?

Any memorable ones since then?  HA, my first paying gig, was a Chicago gangster, for Al’s Italian Beef.  I get called on often, to sound pretty big and tough – or even sarcastic.  This last year, one of my favorite gigs, was as a narrator for a cigar company based in Atlanta, called the Good Cigar Co., and we basically went through the basics of how to smoke a cigar – some great stuff, and that video ended up living on their website.  I also end up narrating a lot of tool-related products, like Edwards Iron Workers, Olympia Tools and outdoors-related media, like a film series for Tackle Direct on the east coast, and their film series called “Saltwater Underground”.

Who are your VO idols/mentors?

Idols for me, have to include some radio imaging legends.  Think the first voice that I remember hearing, and thinking…”that’s what I want to do” was the late, Brian James.  Of course Don Lafontaine, and Earl Mann, too. As far, as mentors go, I mentioned Chad Letts, who is based in Vegas.  Chad continues to hold me accountable – often. Melissa Moats is another part of the Las Vegas VO community that I consider a mentor, as well as Tom Pinto, who I’ve recently worked with and Nancy Wolfson was also a big influence on, helping me change my delivery from an on-air jock to a working voice actor.

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

Honestly, I can’t imagine doing anything else. For as long, as I can remember – it was in a media related field.  As a little kid, all I wanted to do was be on the radio. In the beginning was a sports-caster. But all of the things I ever wanted to do, involved a microphone.

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

I was hooked.  I was 12 years old. My mother owned a fabric store, and she advertised on the local radio station in town, which I would later work for for many years.  And doing her commercials, I just knew, that’s what I wanted to do.

Gear/Technology

How has new technology changed the way you work?  Rob Reed - Studio1

Well, technology is really amazing – think we take it for granted how fast things move and change, compared to the way things were done when I landed my first job in radio in 1987.  Not to mention, how Source Connect has become an intricate part of what I do and where I live. ISDN is not an option for me, as I mentioned ….I truly live on the edge of the earth. So, with just a little bit of bandwidth, I’m still able to connect to studios for directed sessions with no problems.

What gear do you use on the road? In your studio?

On the road, and in my studio at home, I use a Sennheiser 416.  I own several other mics, but the 416 is my go-to for just about everything that I do.  From time to time, depending on the Rob Reed - Booth1gig, I have a Neumann TLM 49 that I also use. On the road, it’s pretty basic – I carry a Focusrite 2i2 with me, as well as a handy little ShureX2u as a back-up.  At home, from my booth, I use a John Hardy M1 preamp, or an Avalon M5, and a Focurite 2i2.

Which production system do you use and why? Any favorite plugins?

I use Adobe Audition, because that’s what I started editing on when computers became the way we work.  In the beginning it was Cool Edit Pro, and then moving on to the upgraded version of Audition. It’s just simple for me, and I know it well.  Plugins, I use a variety of Izotope products. Nectar, Alloy, Neutron and the Rx line is a life-saver for me.

Skills and Helpful Tips

Have you ever had a voice coach? Would you recommend it?

I’ve had a VO coach from Day1, and yes I recommend it. In fact, almost on a daily basis.  I’m asked pretty frequently on social media, how to get started in the industry by others, mostly from a radio background.  The first thing I tell them, is to work with a coach. I still do, on a regular basis. And I soak up other knowledge in podcasts and social media that I can read, watch or listen to.

How do you schedule/prioritize your work?

How much time do you spend auditioning for new work?  Well, that’s quite honestly the toughest part of my day, is prioritizing. I have started working out of a calendar, to keep myself organized instead of a To Do List – for me, it just keeps me, more on-task.  Auditioning, is a little different. I probably spend anywhere from 2-6 hours a day, auditioning for new work. Prioritizing – that’s really the key, right? I guess, being a manager in radio, I learned early on…how to make sure what is on fire, and which fire needs to be put out first.  I do my best, now that it’s just me – to be as proactive as possible. Seriously though, the calendar thing, helps me a lot.

How do you market your services to potential clients?

I use a variety of different ways to reach out to prospects.  I use social media a lot. But, I also do some grass roots, prospecting and email and phone calls.  It’s really just basic relationships though. The people that I work with, or really I call them partners, and not clients… learn that what I do, is solve problems for them, so “they” can worry about their business.

When it comes to VO work, studio & gear, what are your most ingenious methods/discoveries for saving time and cash?

You know what, if you have a great answer for this question, email me info@robreedvo.com and help me, because I truly suck at time management!

What is the best voice processing trick or voice-over technique everyone should know?

You know, for what I do – it doesn’t require a lot of production. I do a lot of straight VO reads, that producers don’t want a bunch of compression and bells and whistles with.  They want clean, raw audio they can alter however they need it. I hired George Whittam to create a plugin rack for me, to use in Audition. He created one for each of my microphones.  So, I record at the proper levels, slap it through that basic rack, and send off my work.

Do you have a different approach to reading radio imaging copy as opposed to TV/Radio commercial ads?

I think each piece of copy has it’s own approach, so yeah. For me, a lot of the radio imaging copy that I do is “big” and announcery (one of my least favorite buzz words, but it’s true, I guess)  And much of my TV/Radio and Narration, Documentary and other, is more drawn back, from a volume aspect… I try to picture who were directing the message to… how old are they, men or women, or both?  What do they do for a living, and so on, so that I can do my best to connect to the copy – I think that’s the real key, is connecting. And being believable.

Can you offer 3 helpful tips for newbies trying to make it in the voice-over industry?  

1- Hire a coach, but do your research. There are a lot of coaches offering their services and insight.  But you need to make sure that their style matches you and your personality, and what you are trying to accomplish in your VO career.

2- Surround yourself with people that will push you to be better, not just as a voice talent, but also as a person. I have a group of friends that I feel like are another level, beyond my talent level and pay-grade.  Another group of friends that I feel like are equal to where I am in my career, and then another group of friends that are just getting started, and I’m able to give back with tips and advice from people that gave me that same help.  Pay it forward!

And 3- Be patient. Let it come to you. There are very few people who start hitting it out of the park immediately after starting.

For Fun

If you could go back in time and hang out in any decade which one would you go back to and why?

From a radio stand-point, I think the 40s would have been a great place for me. Just the connection people had with radio at the time, was amazing.

Favorite 2 pizza toppings?

Pepperoni & Mushrooms

If you could invite one person to dinner, living or dead, who would it be?

Teddy Roosevelt. Think his stories of experiences would be fascinating.

Check out Rob’s website for more demos and the latest updates: https://www.robreedvo.com/

What’s Been Goin’ On with Joe Cipriano?

Posted: 22nd October 2018 by benztownvoiceover in Interviews, What's Been Goin On

It’s always a pleasure to hear from our friend and voiceover legend, Joe Cipriano. Joe has been a part of the Benztown Brigade as a voiceover artist for years and had an extensive career as a voiceover artist for both television and radio imaging.DSC_0031adjRet A lot has been going on with him since the last time we invited him onto the Benztown blog so we’re excited to share all the new dish!

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

It’s been a great year, Susan…thanks for asking. Besides continuing to work on TV shows like America’s Got Talent and Hollywood Game Night, I’ve started working as the promo voice for a couple of new cable networks as well.  Of course, radio imaging is something I love to do. Radio is where I came from and where I was discovered originally by the Fox Network just a few months after they hit on the air.  I was their comedy promo voice for 20 years and also the comedy voice for CBS 15 years. Radio holds a special place for me and I’m honored to work with great stations like Classic Hits, K-Earth 101 in Los Angeles.  In everything I do, radio imaging is the most fun and continues to be the most creative.

Joe Cipriano VO – Video Promo Demo Vers 2 from Joe Cipriano on Vimeo.

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

Voice Over is an ever changing business and in the past 10 years there have been huge disruptors in the industry, like the pay to play casting websites that have changed the way voice over jobs are found and won.  It’s always my goal to remain relevant. It takes constant attention to what’s going on today and have a clear understanding of the business. It’s why I went with Benztown from the beginning of the operation, because the business model was innovative and I knew it was about to change the radio imaging business. So staying relevant and always looking for new opportunites are my professional goals.

Take a listen to a few of Joe’s Demos:

3. Any new gear or upgrades?

Something else that has changed dramatically in 10 years.  When I built my Clubhouse studio 10 years ago it was an absolute must to have a great pre-amp such as my Avalon M5, imperative to have had ISDN capability and so much more.  Today, my studios are drastically different. I have a studio in our apartment in New York and one here in Los Angeles that are built around newer technology, such as the UA Apollo Twin Solo which replaces not only my Avalon pre-amp but every single piece of outboard gear I could ever have in a rack.  Some things stay the same…I still rely on my Sennheiser 416 and my Neumann U87 for different uses, but the way I record now is almost exactly that same in both my studios and my “on-the-road” rig. Same equipment.

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

Just about everything I’ve mentioned up to now underscores how technology has changed the way I work.  Gear like the UA Apollo Twin Solo as my interface in my studios and road gear has been a great advance. And now the utilization of the CEntrance Mixer Face to record at an extremely high level of quality into my iPhone, when needed, has given me even more flexibility.  I’ve always tried to be at the cutting edge of remote recording technology and it’s always exciting to find new ways to be able to work while on the road without disrupting the reason I’m on the road in the first place. The latest addition to my road gear is the Skyroam mobile wifi interface.  I took Skyroam with me to France and Italy this summer and I was able to connect at VERY high speeds on cellular networks wherever I was for an all-inclusive $99 fee for 30 days. The wifi connection was fast enough to connect to buyers via Source Connect and I was able to do virtual ISDN sessions on Skyroam via ipDTL all from my laptop.  Technology rocks! ☺

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

It ain’t about the microphone. It ain’t about the equipment. Those are tools.  They are the shovels you use for digging, the scissors you use for cutting. It IS all about education.  Workshops, coaching, seminars…layering a foundation where upon you can build your voice over career. So don’t fall into the trap where you think a certain microphone will make you a successful voice over artist.  It’s the work you put into your career before speaking into a microphone that counts. Don LaFontaine could interpret a piece of copy and turn it into something remarkable to listen to and then speak it into a two dixie cups connected by a string.  And it would still be magical.

Connect with Joe on Social Media

Twitter:  @joecip

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/joeciprianovo/

Website:  www.joecipriano.com

Facebook:  www.facebook.com/joecipvo