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March 31, 2011

That's Easy For *You* To Say.

This segment from Wednesday's The Rachel Maddow Show serves to remind that, even (especially?) for those of us who talk for a living, some words and names are more problematic than others:


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I have to say, it's oddly comforting to know that I'm not alone in my regionally-specific social requirement to willfully mispronounce certain names and places: In Austin alone, "Manchaca" is "man-shack" and "Guadalupe" is "gwad-a-loop" (yes, even those who speak Spanish properly are compelled to use the "incorrect" but more common forms). I have fond memories of a novice newsman at a radio station getting his hand figuratively slapped over saying "Bexar County" just as it appears --- which is incorrect, as Bexar is properly said "Bay-er".

Rachel, I thoroughly and completely feel your pain regarding "procurement". I can say it easily and quickly now, but that's because it once gave me the same fits, prompting me to practice it over and over again until it sounded natural. (Yes, folks, this is what voiceover performers do. All of us have the occupational hazard of our own collection of a few relatively basic English words that mangle our tongues and make us sound like we're still learning the language.)

I use the Merriam-Webster pronunciation guide myself quite a bit; it's not only a lifesaver for tricky "everyday" words, but the handy "Medical" tab seems tailor-made for those of us who do a lot of medical narration.

(Voice talents --- and anyone else interested --- here's the link to the Voice of America pronunciation guide.)

RELATED POST: Y'all are Fixin' to Git an Education.

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February 19, 2011

Dudley & Bob



Earlier this week, I decided on a whim to slap together an intro for Dale Dudley's upcoming off-air podcast. This one won't be the "official" intro; however, Dale liked it enough to not only play it on the morning show, but to give my site a plug at the same time. This was really nice to hear, not just as a VO artist grateful for the publicity, but also as a longtime fan of the Dudley & Bob show. Here's a clip of that show segment:


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February 14, 2011

VO Scam Alert: Update

Voice talent Dave Courvoisier recently alerted the voiceover community about a scam artist, one who's been reportedly soliciting radio imaging liners and not paying for the work. Here's an update on the matter.

I had a minor exchange with this person last year. Ultimately, he didn't actually scam me out of anything (except the time taken to respond to his e-mail inquiries and provide a rate quote), but his behavior was suspicious to say the least. He contacted me requesting a quote for fully-produced liners to be used on his radio program; I gave him the quote and made it clear that partial payment up front would be required before any work was done. No reply. I followed up a month later asking if he was still interested. He replied saying he'd sent payment, which I knew was false (if for no other reason than a month had passed with no word from him). The reply was complete silence when I asked him to provide some kind of confirmation of the payment.

Dave's report seems to confirm that this guy is not to be trusted. This sort of thing is precisely the reason why, with some exceptions, several voice artists (myself included) request at least a partial payment up front for new clients.

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January 08, 2011

Publicity, Pipes, and Perilous Thinking

So much has been written about Ted Williams in the last few days that this entry certainly appears late to the party. But, hey, this is still a voiceover blog, and the formerly-homeless baritone's story continues to unfold and gain steam.

Paul Strikwerda has written a piece on Williams sufficiently insightful and thought-provoking (and ultimately about far more than the man himself) to warrant a more dignified label than “blog post”, and I won't be attempting to top his efforts here. Nevertheless, here are a few thoughts.

After the story broke --- even before the subsequent media reports detailing Williams' less-than-angelic past emerged --- VO artists filled up boatloads of bandwidth with reactions ranging from effusive praise to grapes oh-so-sour. To that latter group, I say: debate over the various aspects of his story is fine. However, regardless of how one feels about his talent or whether he deserves the announcing jobs he's been offered, spending even a moment worrying about any voiceover career other than your own is to get on a speedy treadmill to nowhere.

After Williams was offered an announcing job by the Cleveland Cavaliers, it was supposed by some that he'd taken the place of an existing employee, who was probably cast aside callously so that the franchise could garner a share of the growing publicity. I'm confident that, were this the case, ESPN and other sports media outlets would be all over it like the fatigues sported by Williams in that first viral video. So far, I haven't seen any such reports.

For any still concerned that Williams may have unjustly taken (or, if you prefer, been granted) any jobs that might have gone to a “more deserving” VO artist --- ones equipped with an agent, a home studio, lots of C-notes spent on training and coaching --- consider something for a moment. It's already happening. It's been happening. It's going to continue to happen. “It”, of course, is the hiring of voice talents who might just not necessarily be ideal for the job. “It” occurs at all levels of the industry, from small-market radio to multimillion-dollar TV campaigns. These jobs were already being “taken” by others, and not for a moment did it ever mean that there wasn't still work to be had.

I say, hate neither the game nor the player. Embrace both and see what happens.

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October 28, 2010

FaffCon2: Atlanta 2011!

The success of the first FaffCon event in Portland has led to FaffCon 2, coming to Atlanta in 2011. Early registration begins November 1st!

FaffCon is a voiceover "unconference"; instead of being locked in to seminar or workshop content dictated by others, you get to choose what aspect of voiceover work gets discussed/worked on/et cetera. Congrats to FaffCon's organizer, Amy Snively, on the success of the (un)conference!

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August 28, 2010

New Client - Univision

Thanks and welcome to new client Univision!

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January 14, 2010

A Pioneer Passes

"Sunday, Sunday, SUNDAY!!!"

The style may be passé, but it set the standard for announcing car shows, monster truck events, and even concert promos for decades. Jan C. Gabriel, the originator of the high-energy voice delivery for those formats, passed away this past Sunday.

He couldn't have timed it better.

Story (Chicago Tribune)

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January 11, 2010

Jeffrey Kafer Talks VO on TV

My friend and VO colleague Jeffrey Kafer appeared on Mike Huckabee's cable show this past weekend, to talk about making the transition from day-job exile to full-time voiceover artist. He shares the segment with another guest, but Jeff is the far more telegenic and compelling of the two.

It's a great bit of self-promotion for Jeff, and it underscores the fact that working to market your VO business can pay off. Jeff had issued a press release on his blog about his jump from layoff-world to an audiobook career, and it caught the eye of the show's producers. Here's hoping it leads to more gigs for this talented voice-talker.

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April 13, 2009

Harry Kalas: 1936 - 2009

Harry Kalas 

 

Much of today's news coverage on the passing of Harry Kalas focuses on his longtime announcer gig with the Philadelphia Phillies. For this football fan, however, it's the NFL Films productions that will never quite be the same again. He turned the narratives of week-in week-out games into grand epics, all in that signature baritone that seemed as old as the game itself (but never lost its love of the sport).

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April 07, 2009

Press Release: Voiceover Artist David Houston Chosen for New Callaway Golf TV Spots

 

NewswireToday - /newswire/ - Austin, TX, United States, 04/07/2009 - Professional voice actor and audio producer David Houston provides voice in new TV spots for Callaway Golf's "Comparison" campaign.


   
 

Professional voice actor and audio producer David Houston was chosen to voice new TV spots for Callaway Golf's "Comparison" campaign.

Callaway Golf (NYSE: ELY), a global manufacturer of professional-grade golf equipment, worked with Austin, TX-based multimedia company FG Squared to produce the spots. Voice actor David Houston was chosen to provide the voice for the campaign.

In the spots (which include a series of :15 and :30 second TV commercials), Houston's voiceover advises customers on Callaway's Buy-Back Guarantee and 12-month warranty when purchasing pre-owned Callaway clubs. The commercials will run on The Golf Channel™ and various outlets during the Masters Golf Tournament 2009.

Callaway Golf Company manufactures and sells golf clubs and golf balls, and sells golf accessories, under the Callaway Golf®, Odyssey®, Top-Flite®, Ben Hogan® and uPro™ brands in more than 110 countries worldwide.

David Houston (davidhoustonvoice.com) is a voiceover artist, actor, and audio producer based in Austin, TX. He has been heard on numerous national TV and radio commercials, and also performs voiceovers for animation, corporate narrations, documentaries, broadcast voice imaging, audio books, podcasts and messaging on-hold (MOH). Houston was originally cast as the voice of James Bond in Activision's "Quantum of Solace" videogame. Also an on-camera actor, David Houston has appeared in episodes of TV's "Friday Night Lights", and will also appear in the upcoming films "Ex-Terminators" and "Temple Grandin".



Link: http://www.newswiretoday.com/news/49102/
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December 02, 2008

Where It All Began

I fired up the scanner recently to get more of my old photos in digital format. A couple of them stood out; these are the production and on-air studios at KELI-FM radio in San Angelo, where I got my broadcasting feet wet:

 

 

KELI production studio, 1987

 

 

 

KELI on-air studio, 1987

 

 

Both are from 1987. (There! I dated myself.) It turned out to be an ideal place to learn about radio, from broadcasting to production and everything in between. I started out babysitting the semi-automated reel-to-reel machine, moved to doing top-of-the-hour news and weather, and got on the mic as much as possible without skewering the station's easy-listening format. I eventually took on production duties, and wrote ad copy as the Creative Services Director.

I went on to other air talent and production gigs at Top 40 and Country stations, but the above studios hold my fondest radio memories.

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December 01, 2008

Bill Drake: R.I.P.

 

 

 

 

Bill Drake, who helped revolutionize Top 40 radio and co-founded the radio syndication company Drake-Chenault, passed away on Saturday at the age of 71 from lung cancer. Drake (real name: Phillip Yarbrough) started in radio in the late '50's at WAKE/Atlanta, and ended up on the West Coast a few years later.

At KYNO/Fresno, Drake met Gene Chenault, and the pair helped create a tighter, more streamlined Top 40/CHR format, as well as the "Boss Jocks" and "Boss Radio" at KHJ/Los Angeles in the '60's. The programming pair brought more organization to on-air formatting, including tighter playlists of the current hits, less talk from jocks and musical production elements sung by the Johnny Mann Singers. Drake is credited as the first programmer to use market research as well. Drake and Chenault formed their own syndication company in the late '60's, which specialized in jingles and automated FM formats.

Drake also spent time in his career programming in San Francisco, New York, San Diego, Detroit Tulsa, Boston, Memphis and other markets.

 

(from FMBQ)

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November 25, 2008

Satellite Radio on Life-Support?

 

 

 

 

According to columnist Mike Elgan, it hasn't got long. It'll be interesting to see how this plays out, and how that outcome will affect voiceover artists.

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