Justin Case and I were recently lucky enough to catch up with Diana Steele backstage before a taping of The Arsenio Hall Show, where she is the live announcer. We can’t thank you enough for the opportunity, Diana!!! Readers…..enjoy! [Woof woof woof woof]

How did you get the opportunity to audition for the Arsenio Hall Show? Arsenio and I met years ago when I worked at KKBT – The Beat, in LA. We remained friends and he approached me to audition for the announcer role on his current talk show. He wanted to do something different than the other late night shows and btw is the first to utilize a female voice in the announcer role! What was the audition process like? I sat in with the band and rolled out the script -very intimidating with the caliber of talent in that room! I got the call a couple months later that we were good to go! When did you find out you got the gig/what was your reaction? Arsenio called me himself and I literally had to let it sink in! I don’t think I honestly believed it was real until that first show on September 9th! What has been your experience on the show so far? I have a daily call time and not only provide announcer audio but am able to use some of my other vo creative for comedic pieces on the show. I’m also the stand-in for Arsenio in rehearsal. What type of VO work do you prefer? I love hi-sell spots, character roles(cartoons and video games), commercial and narrative reads are also challenging.  What do you love about working as a freelance VO talent? I love the creativity it gives me! I can redo and redo to get just the sound I think the client wants and needs to get the most exposure for their product and the best sound for their project. Plus, with technology the way it is today – you don’t have to have an agent and you can do your auditions from home.

Justin-Chris_Arsenio_backstage

How did you get started as a voice actor? I started voicing commercials when I began in radio in my teens. Clients for various stations would request me to voice their spots and I moved forward from there. Breaking out of the “radio announcer” sound was vital, and I was able to really hear what I was doing with coursework at Kalmenson and Kalmenson in Burbank, CA. The direction they provided on all aspects of the voice over world was priceless! What was your first gig? Working as an intern doing traffic reports from the 94th floor of the Hancock Building for Chicago radio stations. VO? In my early 20’s, I did regular reads for housing developments, car dealers, and phone on-hold (IVR) projects. Have you ever had a voice coach? At Kalmenson and Kalmenson I was able to fine tune my voice style. Who are your VO idols/mentors? Because my interest in VO is so vast – from commercial to narrative to character, I haven’t really followed anyone else. However, some talents I truly appreciate and have influenced my style and sound, depending on the project, are Julie Kavner, the late Marcia Wallace, Tim Curry and the late Don Lafontaine. Tell us a bit about the voice-over work you’ve done for radio…past and present. Currently on at Jammin 99.5 in Palm Springs and Jammin 1015 in Denver. Previously On Air at The Sound – LA, V100 – LA, Hot92 Jamz – LA, The BEAT – LA, KMEL- San Francisco, 95.7 – San Francisco, and K-101 – San Francisco. Also, news/traffic/weather for WLS Chicago. Currently I also provide Imaging to WGN-Chicago, KFI-LA, The Avenue – Appleton/Green Bay WI, WHTT – NY. In addition to that! (lol) I do commercial/narrative/character VO work for many clients nationwide. I voice the main character of Auggie for the book, Wonder, by RJ Palacio (a New York Times best seller) in 2013. What is your dream job? I would like to say I am currently doing my dream job! Working with someone I love (Arsenio Hall) and with a staff of people that know the blessing we have been given to be a part of the show. Next up I plan to use my VO talents in an animation or motion picture film project. Where did you work before radio? I went to college with an intent to be an entertainment attorney, and graduated with a double major in Poli Sci and Speech Communications, but got bit by the broadcasting bug at 17 and never looked back! What would be your 3 main tips for a youngster trying to start a VO career? Take classes! Get to know what your vocal talents are – where you would be best suited. Tear out magazine ads and record yourself doing commercials and other types of reads. Be observant, be open to criticism, be a perfectionist about your work as well, and practice. Also, have a good demo and a website. How do you schedule/prioritize your work? I record radio shows either at night or in the mornings and keep my days for the Arsenio show. In between, I make sure to take care of my VO clients –  current and new –  with no more than a 24 hour turnaround time. How much time do you spend auditioning for new work? Minimum an hour a day – more so on days off from the Arsenio show.

How do you market your services to potential clients? I have a website but also utilized voice123.com. Maintaining relationships with past clients is equally important and also making sure your equipment and demos are up to date is vital as well. Which production system do you use and why? For radio shows, I have different remote systems – Scott Studios and Simmeon that we use. For VO work – most is done from my home studio and some with my portable which utilized an Audition editing program and Yeti Blue Microphone. What is the best voice processing trick or voice-over technique anybody should know? Compander! Take your voice and play with it on your editing system. Learn how to bring out the best in your sound. If you’re like me and are somewhat hard of hearing after so many years of blastin audio in my ears, a great sound engineer can be your best friend! When it comes to VO work, studio & gear, what are your most ingenious methods/discoveries for saving time and cash? The fastest, cheapest and most effective way to get going is to download a good editing system (that is easy enough for you to use), a Yeti Blue mic ($120 at guitar center) preamp inside the mic and it’s a USB connect! Soundproofed area (buy sheets of the stuff and cover your recording area), and sign on with a good online company like voice123.com or voices.com – both sites allow you to get feedback from potential clients on your style/sound. And last but not least – HUSTLE! You can never have enough VO work!