Behind The Mic: Issa Lopez

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

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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/

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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/

pete gustin Headshot2

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.

Pete's new board

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.

pete gustin studio pano

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

Howard_Cogan_Smashing_Trash_can_branded_v2

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

meatmicsvashot

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!

FUN FACTS!

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

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Lucas, we know you’ve got a lot going on so lets get started! So how have you been??

CRAZY! And I mean crazy GOOD! 2016 was such a supernova year, I had no idea how 2017 was gonna top it… but it did! And not only professionally, my wife and I adopted two baby brothers. Our two guys, we just love them to death. So now I’m living the #dadlife. When they start school I’m assuming they’ll be the only ones with a recording studio in their basement.

Professionally I’m hitting places I only dreamed about years ago. And that’s all thanks to my rep team. My agent Nate at CESD and my manager Marc at ACM. Wow. Where to start with them. Having solid representation is key. It’s access to work, access to coaches, access to their knowledge and experience. And they just know what to do with every deal and every challenge that comes up. You get to working as such a team. I hold so much love and admiration for them. And trust. That’s the key. Your team will fight for you, support you, and I know I can bring anything to them and it’s gonna get handled.

And not to mention of course the amazing Benztown people. Some of the most professional people on the planet here. It’s crazy. Do any of you have bad days? I have no idea cause every time I pick up the phone you guys sound on top of the world.

Mic

You are becoming the new sound of Urban radio. Was that a goal of yours? 

We initially fired things up with my imaging in spring of 2015, and my first get out of the gate was Big Boy. Which I know is ridiculous. But there’s the “ten year overnight success” thing. You make friends, and contacts, and you practice, and you’re just there and present and available. There’s a dear dear friend and mentor of mine that is almost solely responsible for my entire career. He’s kinda on the inside so I’m not sure if he wants me to mention him or not. But there’s people like that you just end up being close with. And when they say ok we need this or that, hey Lucas is ready, let’s give him a shot. And hopefully you hit it out of the park when you get that shot.

The Urban thing is definitely one of my areas that I wanted to jump on. Urban radio is one of the most fun formats to listen to. It’s so unapologetic. It’s intense and sometimes over the top and funny and serious and a nonstop party, and just everything. It’s in this big growth mode right now and is everywhere. And it’s so great to read. You can be silly and fun, but then menacing and dangerous all in the same ID. I give it this driving modern sort of sound. Seems to work well!

Any new gear or upgrades?

Yes! Can I talk about this for hours?? My wife is bored to tears hearing about it, hopefully you’re a tad more interested. I’ve upgraded a few things, I added the Audient ID22 to my chain. What a beast. It’s got some serious preamps. I had been using this old gear that wasn’t doing what I needed it to. But this thing picks up stuff on mic I hadn’t heard before. It’s funny I actually had to improve my mic technique. And for some reason I waited until this year to investigate these “plugins” that everyone talks about. I now roll a 1073 EQ on my VO then feed it into an LA-3A plugin.

You don’t just do imaging, you branch out into other VO areas. How’s that going?

It’s challenging but going well. I’m currently in the midst of some in-depth trailer and promo coaching. Every aspect of this is so competitive, you need to be on the absolute top of your game at all times.

For this aspect, the job is auditioning. Competing in it is like being signed to the Red Sox. You’re a draft pick in the majors. Every audition is a pitch. First you need to learn how to hit the ball (return a good audition), then you need to learn how to hit a homerun (nail it). And then once you can hit a homerun, you get compared to all the other homeruns that were hit, and hope they like your homerun the best. It’s here that your demos don’t matter. Your resume doesn’t matter, the sound of your name doesn’t matter. All that matters, is how good that particular read is.

Also, you gotta be available. If they go to you once and you’re difficult “oh sorry I’m out shopping” you can bet they won’t be back. You need to be really flexible. Tuesday at 2? Thursday at 9pm? You got it. Everyone’s got a story about having to leave dinners out with your wife, family vacations etc.

You’ve also gotta step off one type of read and step up to another. I could be cutting liners for my kickin’ San Diego station Jam’n 95.7 SHOUT OUT WHATUP ROB AND FRANKIE AND PABLO AND MELISSA, LOVE YOU GUYS and then an audition comes in. National TV insurance commercial. Or a trailer for an animated movie. Changing gears is something you don’t think about until it hits you and you’re frustrated and straining “why isn’t this sounding good”. Oh right I’m still in that imaging mindset.

Anyone Can Get Car Insurance Easily at Kanetix.ca from Lucas Nugent on Vimeo.

Looking back, what do you think about?

I think about how I’m glad I worked at it as much as I did. I have no idea if I’ve hit my 10,000 hours yet (probably not), but the fierce intensity and laser focus of this is something I am truly thankful of my past self. We were talking about this last time. Like how I used to do morning radio, work at it during my shift, go home and sleep, then go back to the studio after dinner and train more, etc. I also think about what everyone looking back thinks about: what was I so worried about. It would keep me up at nights. I gotta do this, gotta do that. What if, what if. But of course that is what drives you. If I got into coding I’d be up all night practicing until I could make an app as good as Angry Birds.

Looking forward what are you excited about?

Honestly I get excited about all of it. Every aspect of this has something that gets me pumped. I gotta say there’s something magical about finding a passion where I actually get a little bummed out when the weekend comes!

Snatched (2017) TRAILER – Amy Schumer / Goldie Hawn from Lucas Nugent on Vimeo.

For Booking: 

Nate Zeitz, CESDnzeitz@cesdtalent.com or 212-477-1666

Social Links: 

Benztownhttps://www.benztown.com/brigade/lucas-nugent

Soundcloudhttp://soundcloud.com/lucasnugent

Vimeohttps://vimeo.com/user54351982

rob-publicity 2

Hey Rob! We’re glad you’re so busy these days but we miss ya. Fill us in on what’s new! Besides my day to day voice over work, I have been working with an old friend, Brian Vollmer lead singer of Canadian rock band “Helix”. We’re creating a documentary on the band. We’ve completed one day of shooting and are currently going through hours and hours of vintage footage from years gone by. Helix originally formed in 1974….so just imagine the fun we’ve had reviewing the old videos. Haven’t had this much fun since the days I used to party with the band while in radio!

That sounds awesome, we can’t wait to see that. What else has been up? I signed on for another year with Sirius XM radio! I’m the official voice of Channel 167 / “Canada Talks” – Keeping Canadians connected!

Congrats on your year renewal. How are you celebrating?! Carmela (my better half) and I purchased a new vehicle this year. The Ford Escape. I’m really enjoying the technology that new vehicles provide these days. If I’m not in my home studio voicing stuff, I’m probably out this summer cruising the streets of Stratford, Ontario Canada! (Carmela is already hinting that, I should set up my mobile audio gear in the car…..and I’m ok with that!)

Looking back, what comes to mind? On a personal note, the radio station where I cut my teeth at a young age goes off the air this August. 1240 CJCS is our local station in Stratford. After 87 years on the air, CJCS AM will go dark and the new “Juice FM” hit’s the airwaves at 107.1FM on August 3rd, 2017. I have many good memories as a kid at 1240 CJCS!

Looking forward, what are you excited about? This year I’ve welcomed many new clients to my voice over services and I hope to get added on more before the end of 2017. Rock radio is my specialty! Give my demos a listen!

Links:

Website: http://robwreford.com/

Benztown: https://www.benztown.com/brigade/rob-wreford