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What do you love about working as a freelance VO talent? I get a chance to take a more artistic approach towards voicing. I wasn’t ever terribly satisfied spinning cd’s or doing live talk. Sure, there was a thrill when opening the live mic on air, but to me, being able to shape the sound, create an atmosphere, emote is more of an art. It’s very musical in many ways to me.

How did you get started as a VO actor? What was your first gig? While a creative director at KDKA in Pittsburgh, I was offered an audition at WBEN-AM in Buffalo, NY. Truly my first station that I’m still with today.

Have you ever had a voice coach? Would you recommend it? Absolutely!! I think there is a trap that radio folks get into thinking they could just fall back onto voiceover when all else fails. Not so. I did news and talk on one of the most noteworthy stations on the planet, and that’s not to brag. Quite the opposite, because it in no way meant that I was able to move to the VO world without a great deal of work. I was fortunate enough to have David Lyerly teach me for about 7 months before I was even able to start looking for representation.

 

Who are your VO idols/mentors? Who influenced your work as a VO artist? So many good people out there. I’d have to say Don LaFontaine, who was very kind to me when I first started. I’ve always thought highly of Chris Corley’s work and attitude. But it was Rich Van Slyke who gave me the best sage advice, “don’t try to sound like someone else. Find ‘YOUR’ sound and work it as best you can. If you’re faking it, you won’t fool anyone. Learn to be the best “you” you can be, and the rest will happen on its own.

What is your dream gig? I’m doing it now. I love doing tv promos, which is primarily what I do. So, my dream gig would be to do more!

Can you offer 3 helpful tips for newbies trying to make it in the voice-over industry? 1. Get coaching. 2. Practice the craft, even if you have no gigs currently, practice, practice, practice learning to interpret copy. 3. Realize that hearing “no” is a big part of this business. Most rejection isn’t because someone thinks you’re bad, but instead that they are looking for a different sound. If someone wants a blues master, then Eric Clapton will get the gig over Eddie Van Halen. Certainly doesn’t mean anyone thinks Eddie is a hack, right? We all have our particular sound. It won’t always be what is needed for the particular gig.

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Which production system do you use and why? I use Sony Vegas and ProTools. Vegas is actually really fast and easy for doing straight voice. And it allows me to see and talk over movie files for tv work. I find it far faster to use than ProTools. I like them both. I have a Symmetrix 528E as my outboard processor and talk into a Sennheiser 416

What are your favorite plugins? I use Waves, but only when I produce pieces. I send the stuff flat to most places.

How has new technology changed the way you work? No question. Most of what we do now depends on speed of delivery. That couldn’t happen 10 or 20 years ago.

What is the best voice processing trick or voice-over technique everyone should know? Simple eq. Find the ugly frequencies in your voice and notch them out. DON’T try to boost low frequencies to make your voice sound deep!

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