Behind The Mic: Ashley Cavaliere

Posted: 26th June 2018 by benztownvoiceover in Interviews, Voice of the Week

ASHLEY CAVALIERE PHOTO

Ashley Cavaliere is a Connecticut based voice over artist who can be heard on radio stations all across the country. As an imaging voice she can be heard in St. Louis, San Antonio, New Hampshire, Minneapolis, Indianapolis, Virginia and more. She’s currently on air mid-days as well as a kicking-butt as a production & creative services director.

What do you love about your job? There are many things I love about my job! As far as being on air, I love to connect with people and use the radio as an outlet to spread positivity and bring attention to great causes. I do a lot with animal rescue. When it comes to the production/imaging and voice over part of my job, I love to create. I love to create and know what I put out on air will be heard by many and hopefully make them smile, or get a message across in a way that I heard and visualized in my head. Being an imaging voice over is my favorite part of my job. I love to read fun copy with different inflections that could bring out an emotion of the listener.

How did you get started as a VO actor? What was your first gig? I started as a radio intern in 2007. I’ve been with the same place ever since, and started helping out with production and imaging reads right away. As far as my first ‘official imaging vo’ gig, that was on KISS983 in Winchester VA.

Have you ever had a voice coach? Would you recommend it? I have never actually had a VO voice coach. I had many mentors and people who gave me incredible advice throughout the years but nothing formal. I used to have a singing coach if that counts? Haha unfortunately my aspiration to be the next Britney Spears did not pan out! I would definitely recommend a coach! It’s something I would love to look into myself. I think wherever there is an opportunity to learn more…take it!

Who are your VO idols/mentors? Who influenced your work as a VO artist? As for mentors and idols in the biz, first and foremost is Kelly Doherty (Kelly Kelly Kelly). She gave me the confidence and encouragement that helped me further peruse what I love . She is a huge inspiration to me on a daily basis especially being a woman. Others who have given me advice and are just truly incredibly talented people that I look up to are Rachel McGrath, Chad Erikson, Diego, Drew Hall, Jeff Berlin … so many!

What is your dream gig? My dream gig is to be a cartoon character voice over!

Can you offer 3 helpful tips for newbies trying to make it in the voice-over industry? I can! A few things I would say are:

  1. SMILE! That was the first thing I learned as soon as I turned that mic on for the first time. You can really actually hear the smile through the delivery and I feel that it makes you more relatable, and more like a friend to the person listening.
  2. Network and make as many connections and friends as you can in the industry. You never know when someone will need something or vice versa. Also with this comes ‘be kind to all’!
  3. Practice inflections. Grab a bunch of random scripts, turn on the mic and just read! Read the sentences in as many different ways as you can. You’ll be surprised as to how one sentence can be interpreted in so many ways. It will also help you ‘find your voice’. Your voice is going to change so much the more you read and work. Listening back to when I first started, I think I sounded like a little mouse! So THANK YOU to that one person who thought I sounded decent enough to broadcast all over the state!

If you weren’t doing voiceover, what else do you think you’d be doing for a career?
I think I would probably be a special education teacher for young kids, or something having to do with animals.

What’s it like being a part of the voiceover community (competitive, supportive, etc)?
I have found nothing but positive vibes in the voice over community. You would think there would be a lot of competition, but in my experience I have so much support and encouragement to others. It’s also such a FUN community to be a part of so I think we’re all just glad to be able to get to do what we love! We’re also all super quirky! haha

How do you schedule/prioritize your work? Personally I like to do things as they come. I am not the best at putting things to the side because it’s possible I could get sidetracked! I will make sure to always get the requested VO back that same day. If there is something that is more sensitive (breaking news etc.), I will stop what I’m doing to make sure they back asap so the stations listeners could be best informed and of course make the station sound relevant. I am an imaging director as well and I know how time sensitive things could be!

How much time do you spend auditioning for new work? I don’t have an exact answer to this one. I often search for gigs, network, and try to create the best demo I can on a daily basis.

How do you market your services to potential clients? I have found that making a website is super beneficial so I can direct the client to the website to hear my work instead of sending huge audio files via email. I also enjoy creating station demo reads. Give the client a little taste of what I’d sound like on their station! I also love to use Instagram @ashleyonair.

Which production system do you use and why? Well, when I was in school I used Adobe Audition 1.5. Then when I started working, the Production Director at the time used Sony Vegas. I used Vegas for a while and really liked it because I feel like the set up is very clean, user friendly and I loved to make videos. Plus, there was a filter on there that I loved to put on my voice. Long story short, our IT guy had to switch out my computer with a new one and it no longer had Vegas!!!!  SO, I am now (as of 2012) an avid Adobe Audition Creative Cloud 2015 edition user! I love all the updates and plugins! Oh, and yes, I still believe it or not love using version 1.5 for certain things …

What are your favorite plugins (screenshots, if available)? I use graphic equalizer and dynamics processing. I also love to use the echo effect “pink”. (yes I admit I tried it first because of the name, but it actually did sound cool for promos etc!) Here are some photos … which are screenshots from an older Adobe Audition version.

Ashley Cavaliere - EQ settings

 

Ashley Cavaliere - dynamics processing

 

Ashley Cavaliere - Echo plugin settings

 

What gear do you use (microphone, pre-amp, booth, etc)? For my office studio, I use a Shure mic, Ramsa audio mixer, HP computer with Adobe Audition CC. I also have a dual computer screen which is really helpful!

Ashley Cavaliere - studio 1

 

Home studio I use a Rode NT1 microphone, Scarlett 2i audio interface, Sterling MX5 speaker and my mac book pro with Adobe Audition CC. I also use the Apogee One for travel or voicing any time I am away from a studio.

 

Ashley Cavaliere - studio 3

 

How has new technology changed the way you work? The software updates are always helping me learn new things about filters and processing, giving me new ideas to use in promos, imaging, production etc. It is also AWESOME that I can literally do VO anywhere. If I need to take a trip out-of-state for some reason, I could just bring my Apogee One and laptop and get requested VO back to the client anytime anywhere! I think that’s coolest. There’s even so much you can do on an iPhone or iPad! When I went to broadcasting school, they taught us about reel-to-reel and shortcut. Both I am spoiled in saying I have to had to use for daily work haha! Playing is fun, but props to those who used reel-to-reel everyday … that is talent … and patience!!

What is the best voice processing trick or voice-over technique everyone should know? For VO technique – I know I already mentioned it, but smiling!  You can hear SUCH a difference when you do vs when you don’t. Now don’t get me wrong, there are absolutely instances when you don’t want to smile. If a client is more of a serious/attitude driven station or possibly an am station or sports station, it’s not the best route to go, but in CHR, HAC and CTY I have found it to be super useful! Even when I have interns coming in to shadow me and want to try out voicing a commercial, I will have them try reading with and without a smile. 99% of the time (if it’s a spot that calls for sound) the ‘smiley’ once sounds way better. It’s wild how you can actually hear a smile. You don’t want to sound annoying happy … but just enough that you sound approachable and relatable.
For processing trick … dynamics processing is always my favorite!

When it comes to VO work, studio & gear, what are your most ingenious methods/discoveries for saving time and cash? When I get station copy, I don’t try and make one take sound the absolute best that it can…I give them a bunch of reads with different inflections so they can choose. It would take forever to get every line the exact perfect way you want (especially when it’s possible the client is looking for something other than what you have in your head.) When it comes to production and VO, I often times have to voice produce dozens of spots at a time. I turn on the mic and just let it roll. I’ll go through all my scripts at once and then go back to edit. Then I will send out what needs to go out dry. For the VO that need music, I will open up my already set up session of Audition (which will have a bunch of music beds set up by length) and go from there! It saves time searching for a bed online, downloading and cutting it to length. Plus, by keeping the mic on the whole time and letting it roll through all the vo, saves a lot of time too.

Do you have a different approach to reading radio imaging copy as opposed to TV/Radio commercial ads? I think the biggest difference to me in voicing commercial ads vs imaging is the inflection. When I read a commercial, it’s going to sound a little more “commercial-ey” (unless of course it’s a conversational spot or otherwise directed.)
When I read imaging copy, I want to sound like I’m talking to my best friend… more like a “normal person”, giving the listener that relatable sound and feeling.

What did it feel like the first time you heard your voice on the radio/television? It was so exciting! It’s definitely at first a surreal experience! It’s weird when you go into a store that has the radio on and need to the cashier …then you realize you’re actually talking over yourself! My parents are still in the ‘yeah, that’s my daughter’ phase lol!

You’ve mentioned that you grew up on a farm which is so awesome. Not many people can say that. What was the best part about being raised on a farm and did you have animals (if so what kind)? The best part of growing up on a farm of course was the animals! It’s definitely what sparked my love and admiration for caring for animals. I am like a kid in a candy store anytime I see a goat or a cow or even a chicken! In addition to being a foster mom for animals, I am in the process of becoming a wildlife rehabilitator which I’m super excited about!)

My grandparents built a house on trust land property so we had 50+ acres to play on! My Dad grew up there – and then eventually my family built our house on the property when I was 10. (We first lived on the beach which was also incredible but unfortunately left no room for horseback riding.) My Dad is a Real Estate broker, while my grandpa would run the farm. My Mom & Grandma were both stay at home moms, so It was a really nice balance of learning responsibilities and having experiences in both the business world and farm world at the same time.

How do you think the radio industry has it changed since you first started? I think the biggest way radio has changed since I first started is how digital it has become. There are so many new ways to listen to the radio other than in your car or on your stereo. I love that. Listeners have easier access to their favorite artists, pod casters, speakers etc. It also gives us as radio people an opportunity to reach all corners of the world. Someone in Japan could be listening on a Connecticut radio station. It’s pretty wild to think about!

If you could go back to any decade and hang out which one would you go back to and why? Hmm…I’ve never really thought about it – but I do love the 80’s! I was born in ’87 so I didn’t truly get to experience the decade. I’d totally rock neon jumpsuits, teased hair and would love to see Michael Jackson in his own era! BUT on the other hand, reel to reel sounds exhausting! haha.

If you could invite one person to dinner, living or dead, who would it be (non-family)? Only one?! Maaaan! I would have to go with Seth MacFarlane. He is a genius and I am a huge fan of all his work. Just the fact that he can do over 30 voices and refer back to each in split seconds is incredible! (okay but others? Eminem, Walt Disney, Michael Jackson & Elvis!)

What’s your guilty pleasure? Literally anything with peanut butter.

If you could travel anywhere in the world right now where would you go and why? Why are these questions more difficult that the earlier ones?! haha! Well, my favorite place to go is Amalfi Italy where we visit our relatives , eat lots of pizza and just stare at the gorgeous coast. BUT somewhere I have never been that has always been on my list is Australia.
Yes the koalas and kangaroos are the main selling points for me, but overall it just looks like such a fun experience!

 

Contact:

Benztown: https://www.benztown.com/brigade/ashley-cavaliere

Ashley’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/ashleyonair

Ashley’s Instagram: https://twitter.com/ashleyonairhttps://www.instagram.com/ashleyonair/

 

By Rich Van Slyke

Every day I receive your copy, along with a set of carefully thought out very detailed instructions about voicing your station imaging. Like this:

“Rich – script attached – do your thing”

And I love it. Because Program Directors and Brand Managers are too busy to give me a lot of instructions, and you depend on me to interpret and deliver your copy the right way. It’s my job to make your copy COME ALIVE!

So here’s how I do it. When I get your copy, I quickly apply 7 ways to make it rock.

1. The Message. The first thing I ask is, “what is the main idea you are trying to deliver?” If you want me to remember one thing, and only one thing, after hearing this promo, what is it? Everything I do as a voice talent, from the type of read, to the ad libs, must communicate the main message. So, as I read through the copy, I’m asking myself – how does this line help to re-enforce the message.

2. Your Branding. Whether it’s a country station targeted to females 18-34, or a sports station targeting Men 18-44, or a classic rock station targeting Adults 25-54, a voice talent must always keep in mind the brand. What does this station stand for? What is the overall image? Why do people listen? And then I must ask, “Is the way I’m delivering the copy appropriate for the brand?” Too hard? Too soft? Too friendly? Too badass? I have to keep in mind that when I voice for you, my personality must be the same as the personality of your radio station. I represent the brand and I must deliver the copy accordingly. Every line must be cohesive with your brand.

3. The Emotion. This is the fun part for me. A very smart creative director once told me, it’s not what you say, it’s how you feel when you say it. When we hear the feeling in your voice, it gives us permission to feel the same feeling. It doesn’t matter which emotion you choose to feel, as long as you choose one! It’s my job to find the emotion in your copy and deliver it in a way that makes you FEEL IT! As I read your copy, I make little notes on the page. This part is exciting, this part is funny, this part is unimportant, this part is urgent. I select a feeling for each one. But I also make sure that those feelings align with the Message and the Branding. Very Important. After recording the first take, I go back and listen to the lines that are marked with emotion. Did I evoke the feeling, or was it just plain old boring announcer, like reading a shopping list? If it don’t hear the emotion, I recut the copy. Sometimes, it’s not obvious which emotion should be used, so my default emotion is always confidence. Why? Because confidence makes station imaging sound good. Not fake, but rock-solid impressive. When your voice guy speaks confidently, the station sounds like a winner. Speaking with confidence can get you higher ratings. It can even get you elected president!

4. The Grammar. Part of my job is to correct bad grammar. And to remember that you are busy as hell and you don’t always have time to check for grammar. So I’ll read it as written, but I’ll also give you another take with correct grammar. And maybe even another take with bad grammar on purpose. Why? Because it evokes more emotion.

5. The Ad Libs. Everybody loves ad libs. Because they make you laugh, or chuckle, or feel surprised, or delighted, or make you nod your head in agreement, all of these are emotional responses. So I try to throw in great ad libs. How? By focusing on the emotion of the copy. If the promo is all about winning a trip to the beach in Mexico, I’ll focus on that emotion. What does it feel like to win a trip to Mexico? It feels like – (ad lib). What does it feel like to sit on the beach in Mexico? It feels like (ad lib). Focus on the feeling and the ad libs will come. If it makes me feel something, you will feel it too.

6. The Recording. As a voice guy, it’s my job to record my voice according [to] the above factors. And the way it’s recorded makes a big difference. Once again, I look to the emotion. IF the copy calls for something soft and intimate, I have to get close to the mic. And if it’s loud, I have to back off. Sometimes I’ll add reverb or a filter.

7. Your Feedback. After careful considering the message, the branding, the emotion, the grammar, the ad-libs, and the recording, I filter everything through feedback I’ve receive from you. If you’ve told me not to voice stuff that sounds to “announcery,” then I will change all of the above slightly to reflect your wishes and voice it more naturally. If the last promo I voiced for you resulted in an email that says, “love the edge,” I’ll remember that too. When you incorporate all of these elements into a read, you get great results. And it rocks!

 

Rich Van Slyke does VO for KUFX San Francisco, WWSK Long Island, KSEG Sacramento, KXTG Portland, KZDC San Antonio, KCFX Kansas City, Production Vault Classic Rock, WONE Akron, WXMX Memphis, WGRD Grand Rapids, KKFM Colorado Springs, WZEW Mobile, WKQZ Saginaw, WKZQ Myrtle Beach, WTMM Albany, KZOZ San Luis Obispo, KOZZ Reno, KTUX Shreveport, WXKE Fort Wayne, WIXO Peoria, WRMR Wilmington, XFM Nairobi, The Minnesota Timberwolves Radio Network, and more.  www.richvanslyke.com  770.962.4788  richvs@bellsouth.net

Behind The Mic: Issa Lopez

Posted: 28th February 2018 by benztownvoiceover in Interviews, Regular Features, Uncategorized, Voice of the Week

issa.lopez.2

Issa Lopez is a bilingual voiceover artist with a whole bunch of sass…extra dash of hot sauce sass! Not only is Issa great at what she does, but she does it with passion. We love her and so will you!

What radio VO work have you done in the past? I’m proud to say this will be my 19th year in VO. I mostly do radio imaging with a niche in Spanish Pop and Spanish Urban radio. I also voice in English too! You can hear me on Stations like Kiss FM 107.1 in Cincinnati. I’m also the voice of the Armed Forces Network Urban And Rhythmic station “Gravity” for Westwood One. I am most proud of being one of the top #iHeartLatino female imaging voices. I voicing several syndicated shows in both languages for “Enrique Santos”. These shows are aired in over 130 markets nationwide.

What are you up to presently? What I’m up to presently? Well, first I’m proud to say I have been self employed for two years now and it’s been amazing and so much fun. Also, I’m sooo excited that I’m currently working on a “slap yo momma” amazing new urban radio imaging demo with one of the top urban imaging producers there is and I can’t wait to share the news about it when it’s done.

What do you love about your job? Warren Buffet has always said, “look for the job that you would take if you didn’t need a job” and that is what I am doing, I adore VoiceOver work.

How did you get started as a VO actor? What was your first gig? That’s hard to answer…since I was little my voice has been my best friend but getting paid to do what I mimicked as a kid is priceless. Oh…and being my own boss is truly a dream. I get to be other people: make you smile, cry, laugh, and lure you. It’s kinda superhero like. 😂😂😂 Geeez, now your gonna make me sound old. My first voiceover was in high school. They used to let me do the announcements over the intercom.

My first gig…I was 16 and was paid to do background vocals for a Spanish singer who was really hot at the time. I was flown to Miami from Colorado and stood next to some amazing singers (all twice my age). I had so much fun. I about died when I saw that $5,000 check.

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Have you ever had a voice coach? Would you recommend it? It took me 19 years in the game to schedule one. A good friend of mine, also a big voiceover mentor always has recommended a VO coach. I finally had a session about a year ago and some others this year. I really recommend it, because as amazing as you may think you are, there’s always room for growth.

Who are your VO idols/mentors? I’m proud to say my VO IDOLS are my mentors for over 10 years. Ann Dewig and Jennifer Sweeney are both truly amazing talents and strong forces in my biggest VO passion which is radio imaging. I am also mentored by Josh Goodman who tells me like it is and trust me WE ALL NEED a mentor like that.

What is your dream gig? My dream gig which I have been pretending to do since I was little is to live announce the Latin Grammys or the Latin Billboard Music Awards. I KNOW I CAN DO IT!

Can you offer 3 helpful tips for newbies trying to make it in the voice-over industry? Of course!!! Hmmm…Tip #1, know your interest in VO. There are soooo many forms of voiceover so if you say, “Hey I want to do VOs”…well, what kind of VO? It’s kinda like that one restaurant that serves Italian, Greek, and Mexican food…FOCUS! Don’t be all over the place. Also, there’s what you want to do in voiceovers and what you can do for now. Play on your strengths first to get the ball rolling.

Tip #2, DO NOT OVER SPEND ON GEAR! You’re very lucky because now it doesn’t cost a lot to have a great recording set up. Do your research before you invest in your studio. I had radio people build my studio…BIG MISTAKE! Make sure you consult with voiceover talent for what they like.

Tip #3, If you’re like me and are not good at tech problems, invest in a tech support person and HAVE A BACKUP RECORDING METHOD! Mark my words, things will go wrong sometimes in the middle of a huge day or session. When I first went full-time a few years back let me tell you that I cried like a baby every time things went wrong. Mic not working, something not connecting, PC shutting down and not knowing why. I was such a scaredy cat. With time I got calmer and my tech guy taught me it’s about going through every piece of equipment and finding a clue or a cause but it’s not simple sometimes. Just don’t FREAK OUT like I used too. Stay calm…it will be fine.

If you weren’t doing voiceover, what else do you think you’d be doing for a career? If I wasn’t doing voiceovers I would probably be a makeup artist or a cook. I do both very well.

What’s it like being a part of the voiceover community? I love my voiceover community. To me, it’s how I receive 30% of my gigs and really, because I work alone, they are my co workers! I also hire out a lot because of who I meet online especially since I don’t produce stuff. It’s been a lifesaver! Of course it’s competitive but I don’t look at it that way myself. I believe there is room for everyone! I know my markets and who I appeal to. It’s important to know YOUR STRENGTHS. You will never hear me narrating a book (aww helll naw). I have the attention span of a mosquito!!! 😂😂

How do you schedule/prioritize your work? Hmmm…well, I wish I had a choice but I know what clients are high maintenance so I take care of them first. I definitely warm up my voice with the usual daily telephony first because most of the radio imaging that I do is SUPER HIGH ENERGY IN YO FACE SPANISH style imaging which takes a warm up. 😝

How much time do you spend auditioning for new work? I audition everyday. Even on a day where I am swamped I audition. EVERYDAY! I hate the thought of not doing enough for my career everyday. It pays off too because you WILL LOSE clients. But if you create a constant flow for yourself you won’t notice it financially. Just keep going…those auditions will lead to new clients.

How do you market your services to potential clients? I market in every way you can imagine. Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and YES, even the good ol’ cold calls. They are still very powerful and for me personally they work better than emails. I also attend many voiceover conventions. There’s just something about person to person contact that creates a magic spark that gets me more work. They pay for themselves.

What gear do you use?

Gear:
Travel –
Apogee Mic, an iPad, and lots of pillows..

Studio:
I have a custom-made booth
Neumann TLM 103 Mic
I record on Adobe Audition (I have the new one but I prefer 3.0 🙈😊)
I have a Mackie Board
Grace Pre Amp
Focusrite Interface
Source Connect
Phone Patch
Skype
And my favorite Head Phones AKG K553 MKII (loooove them).

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How has new technology changed the way you work? New technology has been a true blessing for me, I mean take Twisted Wav for instance. Technology scares me because I’m not tech savvy AT ALL but man, a toddler can edit and record on Twisted Wav! 😂

Best voice over technique I have ever received? Take your head phones off if you find a conversational read difficult when you audition. Focus on speaking to one person in your head like it’s someone you know. That has really helped me.

My most life saving method for me? I now can’t live without pre settings on Adobe Audition. I had a specific coaching session with a editing pro and he set my pre sets on the system and truly taught me how to edit. It now saves me HOURS and time is money!

When it comes to radio imaging with time I have come to realize it’s all about what the client “Producer” likes in YOU .. get to know your clients. I have some clients that love it when I throw in extra sass.. sarcasm ect .. and others who want a straight read .. when you know your boundaries with that station.. it’s just a better relationship that way.

What are the advantages to being bilingual in this business? Advantages : EVERYTHING!!!! Being bilingual you get (to me), 80 percent more opportunities and sometimes DOUBLE the funds. I feel so lucky to know two languages..and I know it’s why I am where I am in the VO world..it’s soooo competitive but I have more POWER because I know Spanish.

Have you ever been star struck and if so by who? Bahahaaa YES in my first year covering the GRAMMYS 2007 when Ne-Yo came and sat down I started CRYING right away…the tears would not stop (i’m not CRAY CRAY) let me explain..that year he was on top of his game as an artist and writer he just finished working with WHITNEY and Michael Jackson and it does not get any better than that in my world. The funny thing is he was soooo nice about it. He came around my table, hugged me and then I got my composure.

If you could go back to any decade and hang out which one would you go back to and why? The 80s and if your wondering why…BEST MUSIC HANDS DOWN (I will fight you on this :)). READING RAINBOW and MR ROGERS (they taught me how to speak ENGLISH). MTV after school, WALKMANS, THE ART OF A MIX TAPE…oh and how can we forget waiting patiently by your radio laying in bed for your favorite song to come on. We need more of that now.

If you could invite one person to dinner, living or dead, who would it be? PRINCE. I beat myself up every time I think of this but here in Denver he had 2 night pop up show in 2015…$500 I should of SPENT :(((.

What’s your guilty pleasure? I could live in a Spa…I love it.

If you could travel anywhere in the world right now where would you go and why? Dubai….it looks AMAZING and I can go try out a SPA there ;).

Contact:

Benztown: https://www.benztown.com/brigade/issa-lopez

Issa’s Website: http://www.issavoice.com/

Brian_West

Brian West is our Voice of the Week feature but really…he’s the voice of every week in the voiceover community. This guy is behind the mic, in front of the camera, you name it and he does it. And he does it well. Welcome to the family Brian!

What radio VO work have you done in the past? Currently the image voice for WBLI Long Island, New York; WNFN Nashville, Tennessee; WAJI Fort Wayne, Indiana; WLMI Lansing, Michigan. I was also the national voice for CMT Television in Canada for a few years.

What are you up to presently? I host the afternoon drive home show on rock station Y108 in Hamilton, ON. I’m the narrator for shows on HGTV (Mountain Life, How Close Can I Beach) and on CNBC (Adventure Capitalists). I also voice for national spots in Canada and the US (Degree, Chase, Coke, Esso, Charter Spectrum etc).

What do you love about your job? I love being able to work from home and being in different studios working with different producers and people. Every day is unique and that’s what I love about media.

How did you get started as a VO actor? What was your first gig? I started as an on air host in radio doing local spots. While I was part time I focused on my VO demos and shopped them to agents. My first freelance national VO gig was a television spot for Hyundai. My first ever media gig was the mascot for a radio station called The Bear… I was the Bear and got kicked by many children.

Have you ever had a voice coach? Would you recommend it? Yes I’ve had a voice coach and highly recommend it. It’s always best to have another set of ears hear your work.

Who are your VO idols/mentors? Who influenced your work as a VO artist? Jamie Watson in Canada has been my mentor and friend since the beginning of my professional voice over career. I also love listening to David Kaye, Pat Garrett, and Jeff Berlin. Hearing their radio imaging is what gave me the bug.

What is your dream gig? My dream gig is to be in an animated film and / or a regular animated series. Also to voice movie trailers.

Can you offer 3 helpful tips for newbies trying to make it in the voice-over industry?
1) Practice, Practice, Practice. My wife hates how I’m constantly reading out loud… like billboards when we’re driving lol. Having a voice is one tool, being able to read is a skill.
2) Listen to lots of radio and pay attention to the imaging and commercials. Try mimicking what you hear.
3) Work on different voices so you have a bunch that you can go to. Instead of singing in the shower, I work on coming up with different voices. TMI?

If you weren’t doing voiceover, what else do you think you’d be doing for a career? When I was a kid I wanted to be a school bus driver. Now that I have kids – not so much! If I wasn’t doing VO, I’d still be on air in radio. I used to have a part time job at a bank… but it’s too stiff in there.

What’s it like being a part of the voiceover community? While it’s definitely a super competitive industry, the folks that I’ve met who are successful, have always been willing to give advice and help out where they can. It’s competitive, but a small industry at the same time.

How do you schedule/prioritize your work? I have scheduled sessions that happen at a certain time with a producer, but when I have unsupervised reads I do them based on the order they come in to me (unless something is more time sensitive).

How much time do you spend auditioning for new work? I usually do an average of 3-5 auditions per day for spots.

How do you market your services to potential clients? I advertise my imaging on a radio site called MilkmanUnlimited in Canada and am constantly working on social media as well (Facebook, LinkedIn etc).

Which production system do you use and why? In radio school we learned on Adobe Audition (Cool Edit at the time), so I use that to record on my iMac.

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What gear do you use? I use a Sennheiser 416 mic, Avalon M5 Preamp and Audient ID22 interface. I have a home studio after I converted a cold storage wine cellar in my basement – it’s nice and quiet! (And now has heat). When I’m traveling I use the Apogee One.

What is the best voice processing trick or voice-over technique everyone should know? Getting in close to the mic and speaking quietly can sometimes have some great results.

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When it comes to VO work, studio & gear, what are your most ingenious methods/discoveries for saving time and cash? When I first started I used to voice things from the closet in our space bedroom. It was tight quarters but worked well until I could get my studio up and running. I also still use comforters and pillows when traveling and in a hotel and something needs to be voiced.

Do you have a different approach to reading radio imaging copy as opposed to TV/Radio commercial ads? For sure. Radio & TV commercials all have different direction depending on the spot. Imaging you can often have more fun with.

What did it feel like the first time you heard your voice on the radio/television? For me the coolest feeling was being in a different city when traveling and hearing my voice on a station there.

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Not only are you in the studio but you have also been in front of the camera hosting red carpet events.
1) How do you prepare for a big red carpet event?
Doing as much research before interviews is key. There’s nothing worse than having nothing to say when an artist walks up to you. Also, trying to make sure you know a little bit about everyone is the toughest part.
2) Do you have a different approach to your voice on camera as opposed to the studio?
As much as you always try to be natural when reading, I think more of my ‘normal speaking voice’ comes out when in front of the camera.
3) Do you get star struck?
I’ve had the opportunity to meet a lot of cool people, so I generally don’t get star struck… although growing up watching his movies I’d probably be star struck by Arnold Schwarzenegger or Jim Carey.

Who or what kind of music are you listening to the most right now? The music I listen to is all over the map. Once minute I’m listening to Nirvana, then the next song is Eminem followed by Black Sabbath into The Beach Boys. It would be one hell of a radio station!

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Contact:

Benztown: www.benztown.com/brigade/brian-west

Website: www.BrianWestVO.com

Socials: @MrBrianWest

Agent: Nate Zeitz at CESD Talent

Agent Contact: nzeitz@cesdtalent.com

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Beth Cameron is a force to be reckoned with in the VO world. She has quite the impressive background in the industry and we’re pretttayyy lucky to have her on Team BZ! 

What radio VO work have you done in the past? I started doing imaging VO when I worked at KISS 108 in Boston voicing intros and an occasional promo. From there I voiced WYSP in Philly, KISS in Hartford, Triple X in Vermont, BOB and US 95.7 in San Diego, Star 93.7 and MIKE-FM in Boston, KC-101 in New Haven among of others. I was also on about 80+ stations as the female voice for Dial Global’s HotAC stations.

What are you up to presently? I currently work full time doing VO of all types, but radio imaging is still my favorite. I voice stuff for Beasley Broadcasting in Boston. I’m also the imaging voice for Westwood One’s HotAC stations all over the the country, as well as the voice of the nationally syndicated Zach Sang Show. Most exciting, I’m now working with Benztown! I’m thrilled to be part of this great group of people who haven’t forgotten that radio’s supposed to be fun!

What do you love about your job? I love that every day is different and you never know what any day is going to bring. It’s still exciting to me when I get email out of the blue from a new client who just found me online, because I never know who I might meet (even if it’s virtual) and what new opportunity might come from it.

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How did you get started as a VO actor? What was your first gig? My first VO was as an intern at KISS 108. The infamous Jeff Berlin pulled me aside one day and asked me to say one word, “faces” (the name of a former nightclub) as many ways as I could. Once I heard the spot on air, I was hooked.

What is your dream gig? Anything with good writers behind it. I always like when people write the way I actually talk…and have a great sense of humor. There’s nothing better than writers who make you sound funnier than you really are!

Can you offer 3 helpful tips for newbies trying to make it in the voice-over industry?
1. Take a class in audio editing before you even start to work on VO
2. Take a class in web marketing
3. Don’t read too much about trying to “make it in the industry” because it can be discouraging. All of the people I know who are doing voice-over full time took a different path to get here, so you just have to find the one that works for you…but it takes a LONG time.

If you weren’t doing voiceover, what else do you think you’d be doing for a career? Something in educational media. I actually went back to grad school and got my masters in education when I was just starting to do VO full time…but now I’m having too much fun with VO to actually use it!

How do you market your services to potential clients? I think there’s no better resource than the web. Anyone, anywhere can hear and hire you…as long as you do your homework and figure out how to make sure they find you. Also, giving great customer service to existing clients. Fast turn-around…taking direction…giving them what they want with no drama is great marketing….because then they tell others. The majority of my clients are people I’ve worked with in the past who suggested me to their boss when they landed a new gig. It’s nice to have solid long-term working relationships like that.

What are your favorite plugins? I can’t live without Metric Halo’s Channel Strip.

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How has new technology changed the way you work? In every way possible, but mostly I would say in terms of delivering files to people…which has opened up a whole new pool of clientele. I remember (not too long ago) driving out to FedEx at the airport every night at 10:00 to drop off a CD so it could be overnighted to a client in San Francisco. It’s amazing to think how far things have come…not to mention how many new people I now work with all over the world.

Do you have a different approach to reading radio imaging copy as opposed to TV/Radio commercial ads? It seems like these days everyone wants commercial reads to be super laid back and conversational. I like doing that kind of read, but I really like that with imaging you can still be over-the-top, or edgy if it calls for it. There are just more things to experiment with in imaging.

If you could go back to any decade and hang out which one would you go back to and why? The 70’s. Just seems like it was simpler times…plus, better music.

If you were on a deserted island and could only have one person with you who would it be and why? My 6 year old son…because we crack each other up like nobody’s business (not sure what that says about my maturity…let’s just go with he’s very mature for his age). Plus, that face!

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What’s your guilty pleasure? OK, so it’s not exactly guilty…but my greatest pleasure is listening to re-runs of Casey Kasem’s American Top 40 from the 70’s and 80’s on TuneIn on the weekends. I’m that much of a radio geek…plus, I suppose it’s a nostalgia thing. And Casey…you can’t beat Casey.

Where’s your favorite place in the world to go to and why? You mean travel? My clients don’t let me travel! Honestly, right now my favorite place in the world is my home. A few years ago I bought the house I grew up in, and I’m now in the process of fixing it up. It’s a true labor of love!

Links: 

Benztown: https://www.benztown.com/brigade/beth-cameron

Personal Website: http://bethcameronvo.com/

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Links: 

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

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/_kellymalone

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Links: 

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

Website: http://www.davehoffmann.com/

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

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

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

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

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

3) Any new gear or upgrades? 

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

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

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

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

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

Contact & Social Links: 

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

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

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/petegustin

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

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

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

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

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

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

Looking forward what are you excited about? HOCO NEWS.

Social Links: 

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

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

Twitter: @hcogan

YouTube: http://bit.ly/2wShM1B

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GUINEA PIG GIRLS

Links:

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

Website: www.valeriesmaldone.com

Twitter: @valeriesmaldone

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

LinkedIn:  www.linkedin.com/in/valeriesmaldone