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I’m “Psych”-ed Again.

26 Apr

     I LOVE writers and producers who make me look and sound so much smarter than I really am!

     That’s why I don’t mind being the last in line of these claymation-style characters explaining the Social Sciences in a recently released video.  (That is my character in the screen grab above, tho.)

     Being the last character to chime in is also compensated for by the fact that they let me have the voice that’s the most fun!  …at least, I think so.

     So instead of the usual psychologist’s “Lie back und tell me all about it”, why not sit back…and let us tell you all about it.

— over and out —

It Ain’t About Me…(Well, Maybe a Little…)

10 Apr

     No, I don’t think anyone’s ever accused me of having Adonis DNA, and I can’t even handle Dr. Pepper, let alone TigerBlood.  But I knew early on that the relative anonymity of being a Voice Talent and Actor could still have its rewards.

Cast, It's A Mystery

Fighting Crime and Craziness with "It's A Mystery"

     Sometimes there’s a tangible, immediate benefit:  like the talent fee and the wonderful dinner our It’s A Mystery group received from the Fayetteville Shriners after a recent performance.  But the good feeling that has lasted even longer was the news that we had a small part in helping them raise around $8,000  for a kids’ burn center.

RG with son Ricky (when he was a LITTLE boy)

Reading with my young son, Ricky, back when he was a LITTLE boy.

 More of my time has been devoted to volunteer reading lately for an outfit called Gatewave, which provides free audio content for the blind and visually impaired.  I’ve always loved to read, and used to get scolded by my kids when I didn’t “do the voices” as we went through the stories.  I agreed to do regular reads for Gatewave  at the behest of friend Melissa Exelberth, and the group’s director asked if I’d like to read old Science Fiction short stories from the pulps instead of news stories from current publications.

     I jumped at the chance for the more creative outlet, and of course immediately found out I’d been away from long-form reading longer than I’d realized.  Also, of course, I picked a story with lots of characters and a long runtime.  Still, thanks to my editing skills it all worked out fine.  And each successive story block I’ve read for them has become a little easier.

     The payoff…other than feeling good about doing something good for someone I’ll probably never meet?  I’ve noticed in the last few e-learning narrations I’ve been paid to do, that I’m doing them better.  I can handle the long-form without getting tired so soon.  And, I’m a better “teller of the corporate story”.  My friend Bob Souer is even encouraging me to add audiobooks to my demo list, based on what he’s enjoyed of my Sci-Fi tales.

     In some ways, things like these are instances where it appears you really CAN have it both ways.  So don’t diminish things you’re tempted to try just because of the pricetag or the amount of work for the fee.

     While I know a guy’s gotta make a living, and I fully subscribe to my radio friend Bob Inskeep’s motto “Ya can’t eat ‘Famous’…”, there sometimes CAN be something in it for you.   …even if it isn’t all about you.

— over and out —

My First YouTube Video…Is a Viral Audio.

25 Mar

     With all the buzz about Aflac throwing open auditions for anyone to become rich and famous replacing Gilbert Gottfried as the annoying voice of the TV Commercial Duck, I’m probably the only voice talent in America that isn’t submitting an audition.

     Why not?

     Because if I did, it would probably go something like this.

    (Don’t expect any flashy pictures…except whatever pops into your mind as you listen in.)

— over and out —

“Phoning” In A Performance

12 Feb

     As I’ve gotten more training in voiceovers, I’ve been conflicted by those like Marice Tobias who profer…yea, insist…that wearing headphones during performance limits what the voice actor can do. 

     To someone who entered this field via Radio (back when it was Radio, not just a satellite relay service), this has always been hard to grasp.  I mean, aside from the fact that in Radio we usually had to have the headphones to hear the other elements we were mixing together…how can you tell if you’re giving the performance you intended to if you aren’t able to properly listen to yourself?  Well, the idea is:  listening is both a blessing and a curse.

     Having tried it both ways (and now work with only one side of the ‘phones on), i have to admit I can sometimes hear a positive difference when I’m brave enough to go without the headphones in the booth, but have never really come close to understanding the reasoning behind the concept…until now.

     In a recent story online at about a singer who had suffered the loss of her voice from overuse and her slow recovery, there was this quote from a noted vocal trainer.  Even though it’s aimed at singers, it makes a certain amount of sense to this voice actor as well:    

…John Deaver, voice coach to Grammy nominee Sara Bareilles since 2005, who has also worked with Cher and other celebrities.  Deaver’s advice is: You can’t be a singer and a listener at the same time. Some people critique everything that comes out of their mouth, but listening to your voice too much is a form of hesitation, he said.

“Singing is aggressive,” he said. “It’s gotta be: ‘This is me, take it or leave it.’ “

     I suppose it’s akin to the feeling of not giving a full on-stage performance when part of your mind is concentrating on your blocking.

     Knowing how inept I can be at muti-tasking, it’s not much of a stretch to admit I could possibly be putting myself more into a performance…if part of my mind wasn’t split off and distracted somewhere, “running the mixing board” at the same time.

     ‘make any more sense to you?

— over and out —

The Art of the Pause

11 Jan

     Sometimes ya just gotta know when to use a pause to its best effect.

     Radio/TV/Comedy legend Jack Benny knew that better than anyone.  He even let his writers poke fun at it in what turned out to be a classic exchange on his radio program, when confronted by a holdup man played by Mel Blanc.

Jack Benny and Mel Blanc on the Christmas Show. Different Script. Different Pauses.

Mel:     Okay, buddy, this is a stick up.  Now come on:  yer money or yer life!


Mel:     (Yelling)  LOOK, BUD!  I SAID ‘YER MONEY OR YER LIFE!’

Jack:    (Yelling Back)  I’M THINKING IT OVER!!!!


     Most pauses aren’t that funny.  Like the one I finally gave into today.  After an insane workload leading up to the end of last calendar year, January has been calm to say the least.  And what I have done, I notice doesn’t have the level of sharpness and energy I’d like it to have.  Today, with the community iced-in, and even the phones silent, I should have used the pause to finally work on my studio clean-up…or begin tax prep…or get on the phone and start trying to make new contacts.

     Instead, I gave in, and spent the most productive hours of my day on the recliner, under a blanket, with sinus medicine, the ever-present diet coke, and one cat sleeping on my legs and another cat sleeping next to my head.

     Sometimes a voice talent just needs to know when to be quiet, and use the pause.

     …a status which I’m going to return to right now.

— over and out —


24 Dec

T’is the day before Christmas and sadly, I fear
my friends may conclude I forgot them this year.
The workload I’m handling has gotten so huge,
it’s caused me to seem like a Grinch or a Scrooge.

The house has no tinsel, no cards were created,
all due to the work with which I’m inundated.
Though I managed to fly out and visit my Mom,
my main Christmas shopping was amazon-dot-com.

But I shouldn’t complain, and I shouldn’t be stressing.
This fourth-quarter bounty has been a real blessing.
With so many others hard-pressed to find work,
to whine about business would make me a jerk.

So as one more deadline gets shoved out the door,
(…and knowing, come Monday, there’ll be several more…)
I wish Merry Christmas to friends I hold dear,
though I can’t do it justice till the end of the year.

Coming Up For Air…Then Back On The Air

22 Oct

It’s been busy…for which I’m thankful. It’s been insane…for which I’m realistic.

There have been so many doors opening and closing around here lately I feel like I’m in one of those cartoon haunted house chase scenes.

But in a few weeks I’ll be making another transition which will have me evaluating how best to use my time. To that end, I’m going to attach this quote from the lovely and talented Claire Dodin on my computer monitor:

” That’s the problem with open auditions: they don’t want You; they want A voice, and usually the cheapest one.”

The comment was part of a fascinating interview Paul Strikwerda did with Claire Dodin, which you can read here in its entirety. But it ties in with what I had already planned to do in wrapping up my fourth-quarter goals: concentrating more on finding people who need what I sound like…rather than knock myself out trying to be the online audition equivalent of “Caller Number 10” on those radio station giveaways we used to have to do.

More on the transition later.  Too much work to do now (thank goodness).  I’ve got at least two sets of spots and another half-hour program to get ready for air tomorrow.

Meanwhile…grab onto Miss Claire’s quote and use it to boost your own confidence in your own future and in your own career.  …and start considering how much time would be better spent working for people who want YOU…not just another blind audition.

— over and out —

It’s Official! I’m A Warm, Friendly Voiceover.

16 Sep

     Okay, I’ve always suspected it.  That’s why I asked my webmaster/designer Lou Dalmaso to include those keywords in my website,    And he must’ve done a great job with it.  Now Google confirms it!

     I’m only just now getting some of my sleep-deprived grey matter working after a flight out to Portland, Oregon for the first-ever “Faffcon”.  It’s an “un-convention”, where like-minded professionals gather to share ideas and techniques without the usual lecture/audience structure.  Far more than just what we used to call Bull Sessions, there were many helpful one-hour mini-meetings where we all taught and shared.

     I went primarily to learn more about self-marketing.  And Steve Cunningham’s hour on search engines and websites was a highlight for me.  There were many reasons:  not the least of which was the surprise of seeing him flash this image on the screen:

     I’ll be taking Steve up on his generous invitation to call and find out how to further capitalize on what I must be doing right.  And there are other friends, new and established, I’ll now be able to add to my “who ya gonna call?” list for other things.  Who knows?  I may have wound up on one or two lists myself.

     Faffcon takes its name from a British slang term for “goofing off”…faffing about.  But the activity of the past weekend with those of us now being called the Founding Faffers was anything but a waste of time!  And there will be more in the future.  You can find out about it at

— over and out —

Dress (down) For Success

8 Sep

     Friend Caryn Clark (the hip chick) commented on Facebook about leaving her usual home-studio setting for a session at another recording facility.  Her note of joy about the fact she wouldn’t have to “dress corporate” for the appointment reminded me of some early advice I got from an old agency pro.

     Mike Silver was one of the founders of McKinney Silver (and at that time, Rockett), a major ad agency with headquarters in my town.  I knew him through my friend Paul Montgomery (see previous posts about “Uncle Paul”).  Mike was nearing the end of his career, and a life hit by cancer, but met with me to share what advice he could with a new freelance voice guy.

     While we never worked together, he immediately put my mind at ease on  one point, which Caryn made me think of in her post today.

     “Am I going to be expected to show up in jacket-and-tie, toting a briefcase?”, I remember asking him.

     “Oh, no,” he chuckled.  “In fact, as a voice talent, you’d probably be viewed with suspicion if you did!  A certain ‘bohemian element’ is almost expected.”

     I’ve taken full advantage of that every day since, and loved it.

— over and out —

Why You Don’t Want To Break Into VoiceOvers

4 Sep

     If you’ve been at this sort of work any time at all, you’ve probably heard  those dreaded words: “How Can I Break Into Voiceovers?

     First, let me post a disclaimer.  I’m probably not qualified to answer this question anyway.  I didn’t really Break Into Voiceovers. I sort of sneaked in the side entrance. (*see previous post about my transition from radio, and years in a basement playing with tape recorders. rg)

     But think about it.  Isn’t that what you’d rather do anyway? 

     I mean, consider the  burglar. 

     He (or she), by “breaking in”, is obviously in a place he doesn’t belong.  He really won’t benefit from any sort of attention…nor, if he’s a smart burglar, will he want to keep coming back to the same place to do his thing.  There’ll be too great a risk of being “found out”!

     Mind you, I’m not trying to paint new talent as interlopers, looking to “steal” work that was meant only for established Voice Actors.  That’s another rant for another writer.

      No, my point is simply this.  In my experience, it’s been better not to “Break In”…but to “BE”…to just sort of “Appear”.  We show up in the places a VoiceOver Artist is expected to be.  We already know enough to blend in…we appear to be just what we’re supposed to be.  In fact, we give every impression we’ve always been there.  We’ve learned how to interact…gain confidence…make contacts.  And if we do our job right, eventually, we can return again and again to the “scene of the crime”.   …by invitation!

      Besides, which is better: being noticed as a “Burglar”- found out in a place you don’t belong? …or being noticed as someone who’s precisely where he/she should be, and able to “Deliver The Goods”?  (Burglars, by their very nature, never Deliver.)

     So while I appreciate the enthusiasm, directness, and thirst for learning which many new or aspiring Voice Talent display…I think the question might need to be re-thought.

      “Breaking In” is probably the least helpful thing you can do.

— over and out —