interviewing the Bishop of Raleigh on the radio

Catholic 540-AM Divine Mercy Radio Volunteer Host and Voice Talent Peter K. O'Connell and Chief Engineer Keith Flannary July 2019

Volunteer radio host and station voice Peter K. O’Connell with Chief Engineer Keith Flanary broadcasting Diocese of Raleigh Bishop Zarama’s blessing of Catholic 540-AM Divine Mercy Radio on July 9, 2019

So here’s another cool thing I got to do on the radio.

As I’ve mentioned, I volunteer at a Catholic radio station (WETC-AM) in Raleigh Durham, NC (the whole station is run by volunteers). I do their production and programming stuff – which isn’t too heavy a lift because the station carries mostly network programming and the Chief Engineer programs all the spots into the computer. I just voice and write stuff and produce it as well as producing voice work from other volunteers.

Catholic Diocese of Raleigh North CarolinaThe Executive Director of Divine Mercy Radio, Cecelia Flanary, invited the Bishop of the Diocese of Raleigh, the Most Reverend Luis Rafael Zarama, to come to the station and bless the studios, equipment and volunteers. Pretty cool for a Catholic radio station only on-the-air for 5 months to get a visit from the Bishop. Remember, the Catholic 540-AM radio ministry is a lay apostolate, not owned or operated by the Diocese. This was a great kindness for the Bishop to share time from his crazy-busy schedule.

Naturally when I heard about this, I opened my big mouth and said we should broadcast the event live on the radio.

So we did.

Blessing of Catholic 540-AM Divine Mercy Radio_Peter K. O'Connell Interviews Bishop Luis R. Zarama of the Diocese of Raleigh July 2019

Radio station volunteer Peter K. O’Connell interviews Bishop Luis R. Zarama of the Diocese of Raleigh as the Bishop offers his blessing on the station and volunteers of Catholic 540-AM Divine Mercy Radio, WETC Wendell Zebulon, North Carolina on July 9, 2019.

The reception began at 6:00pm with the Bishop scheduled to do his formal blessing at 6:30pm. I estimated we would be on the air for about 45 minutes if we started at 6:00 and my timing worked out about right. From the many folks attending the reception, I pulled out from the party some of the Board of Directors who have been with the station almost since the beginning…or since the beginning, to talk about the history of the station.

These were among the many folks who deserved to take a bow for their tireless efforts (which are on-going) on behalf of this station.

Then at around 6:25, Bishop Zarama arrived and I asked the station organizers to please bring him over to our broadcast spot so we could have an brief on-air chat. He was great…smart, thoughtful and very kind. Many thanks to the Bishop for sharing some time with us. His comments during the blessing were terrific and it ended up being a great broadcast (not because of me) that was part of a very special evening.

Plus there was free food, which is how most people in radio get paid anyway!

atlanta voiceover recording (trevor johns edition)

Voice Talents Peter K O'Connell Trevor Johns

Voice Talents Peter K O’Connell and Trevor Johns in her Atlanta voiceover studio, July 2019.

The audition had to be delivered quickly.

I was in Atlanta, Georgia and knew many voiceover friends who were relatively nearby (nothing really is nearby anything in Atlanta, it seems).

I called my friend Lance Blair….he kindly offered studio time but it was in the afternoon. Grateful, but the audition needed to be in by noon.

Called my pal Jill Perry but she was also booked in the morning.

However, she’s Jill Perry…she just gets stuff done.

Male Voice Talent Peter K. O'Connell At Trevor John Studio In Atlanta Georgia

Male Voice Talent Peter K. O’Connell at Trevor Johns Voiceover Studio In Atlanta Georgia, July 2019

She said, “I cannot help you but you are going to call Trevor Johns at this number and she if she’s available, she will help you because she is awesome. Here’s the number, call her now.”

Trevor Johns, as you may recall if you’ve been to FaffCon, is a terrific, positive ball of happy, voiceover gladness.

Trevor Johns is awesome. Jill Perry said that and it is so.

Trevor had time and said for me to come on over.

Trevor works with Twisted Wave on an Apple computer…just like home.

Session was recorded and edited in record time. We even changed microphones…awesome!

So grateful for Trevor, Jill and Lance. Thanks for helping me out. You all know you have voiceover studio coverage in Raleigh when you need it.

get your voiceover auditions reviewed at vo review

Some may think July 1st is strictly an approved day for Canadians to buy an extra case of Molson’s.

Sheppard AgencyWhile you are not wrong in that thinking (it may even be written in the Canadian constitution), today marks another birthday (of sorts) in voiceover land.

Today my friends and agents from The Sheppard Agency unveiled a very unique website that will allow voice talents to submit their auditions for a critique before the voice actor submits the audition – allowing the talent to get audition feedback from professional agents. While other people and groups have offered this sort of service on more of a one-off submission, this new venture feels more organized for handling more submissions, faster.

VO Review voreview.comThe service is called VO Review (at voreview.com). For $10 per submission, your audition will be vetted and reviewed in about 30-40 categories mainly focusing on technical sound, performance and following the directions of the auditions. The feedback is valuable because voiceover agents hear scores of auditions daily and they get attuned to what performance styles have the best chance of booking.

This service doesn’t mean you’ll get the job but on those auditions that might be or feel more important, now you can get some valuable feedback from smart industry veterans.

favor for a voiceover friend (celia siegel edition)

I Stand Up For Celia SiegelI’m going to ask you for a favor and it’s not for me.

For as many decades as I have written this blog, or have just been writing – before blogs were a thing, I’ve been very blessed with people who would read what I wrote. I greatly appreciate that.

Celia SiegelMost of my blog readers are in the voiceover industry either as voiceover talent, recording studio engineers, creative service directors, advertising agency pros, voiceover agents, business owners and the like. To all you folks, I’d like to take a minute to share someone ELSE’S blessings.

Her name is Celia Siegel.

If you’ve been in the voiceover industry for more than five minutes, you either know or at least have heard of Celia Siegel. You’ve likely heard about her company, Celia Siegel Management. Her company is known for creating strong personal brands for voice talent and marketing those brands to the max-in a way that’s authentic to each voice actor.

Now if you’ve met Celia, you know she actually more than a company or an accomplished author or even Mom…all challenging jobs in themselves and blessings, all. She is also a Cancer survivor. She has achieved a lot. She’s a strong broad.

Yet into each life, a little rain must fall.

Among the most unpleasant of all unwanted surprises, in mid-June of this year Celia was diagnosed with a completely different and advanced form of Cancer that she now must battle. We all know how stupid Cancer is but thinking it could successfully mess with Celia a 2nd time is super stupid. Cancer will fail.

It will, of course, be a fight for Celia…mentally, physically, spiritually, emotionally and financially.

On our road trip this weekend, my family prayed the rosary as we were driving for Celia. We prayed that Celia gain all the stamina and blessings she needs to beat this latest Cancer battle. We also made a donation to Celia’s GoFund Me page.

I’m asking you also to offer prayers of healing and strength for Celia’s battle…and also to please DONATE to her GoFund Me page.

Bills do not stop just because someone gets Cancer. They actually can get a lot worse.

We all want to give more for something like this and maybe we’re embarrassed because we think the donation we can afford right now is too small. But giving SOMETHING is best if it’s from the heart. Please do what you can to help my friend and one of our industry’s biggest advocates.

Thanks for your consideration and thanks for reading.

the voiceover agent series: how I partnered with Ta-Da Voiceworks in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Editor’s note: Often times I get asked by both new and experienced voiceover talent “how do you get a voiceover agent?” Or “how did you get signed with a specific voice talent agency?” It occurred to me recently that there are some interesting and fun stories about how I have partnered with my voiceover agents. Everybody likes a good story so I thought I would share a few of them in something I’ve entitled “the voiceover agent series”.

Voice Talent Peter K O'Connell Ta-Da Voiceworks 19

I had to go all the way to Los Angeles to get an agent in Toronto, even though I lived in Buffalo, NY at the time.

Confused? Well, that’s just good story telling!

When I first met Tanya Buchanan, the owner and head agent at Ta-Da Voiceworks….she wasn’t the owner of an agency. She wasn’t even an agent. She was (and still is) a voice talent.

From my records, it looks like I first met Tanya in person on June 1, 2008 as a Toronto voiceover seminar hosted by Debbie Munroe. I believe Jodi Krangle was at the seminar and possibly also Elaine Singer. I knew Elaine and Jody virtually via VO-BB.com and I think I knew Tanya via there too.

But Tanya was a pistol right out of the gate and she was a presence in the room…in a good way.

Fast forward 4 years later in Ventura, CA, about an hour northeast of LA where Amy Snively was hosting FaffCon 4. Amy had brought some agents into the event and one of them was…Tanya Buchanan?!

Clearly I was Captain Oblivious (yet again) because I had no idea Tanya had started a boutique voiceover agency in Toronto. I was flummoxed mostly because I had no idea she harbored such aspirations (when we first met, she might not have…but we all evolve).

Starting a creative…anything in Toronto is NOT for the faint of heart because that’s akin to an American business person trying to start a boutique voiceover agency in New York or LA. But Tanya is a doer and she was making it happen in the biggest city in Canada. That impressed me.

During FaffCon, I wanted to talk with Tanya about her voiceover agency and whether it would be a fit for us to work together. I had spoken previously with the only other reputable non-union agency in Toronto and he wanted nothing to do with me…the American thing threw him.

Back in Ventura, Tanya and I were both kinda surrounded by VO’s and it wasn’t the perfect space for that kind of one on one business discussion. But my dislike of vegetables offered a solution.

One day during FaffCon, Amy had scheduled a salad lunch…salad….no sandwiches, no soups….just vegetables. In the Peoples Republic of California, a visitor sometimes feel like they are encountering the Borg (think like we, think, act like we act, eat what we eat, join the collective…assimilate!) ?

I knew I would need to find something else to eat. Fortunately, right across the street from the hotel was the west coast’s iconic In & Out Burger restaurant. So I asked Tanya if I could buy her lunch. She agreed. Some how Graeme Spicer ended up joining us for lunch too because I think he wanted to try this burger that was so famous.

Ta-Da Voiceworks 2014 Holiday Party (l-r) Tanya Buchanan, Darryl Hogan, Peter K. O’Connell, Bill Hunt, Graeme Spicer and Debra Scott

Ta-Da Voiceworks 2014 Holiday Party (l-r) Tanya Buchanan, Ta-Da Owner/Senior Agent, Darryl Hogan former Agent and Ta-Da Voiceworks Roster Voice Talents Peter K. O’Connell, Bill Hunt, Graeme Spicer and Debra Scott

Well good news, bad news. Bad news was the food was passable at best. I’ve no idea what all the fuss was about In & Out Burgers. McDonalds is a thousand times better. And yet anything was better to me than a salad bar lunch. Note to Amy: do not pull that again! ?

Good news was between the milkshakes and fries, Tanya figured we should be able to work together, especially since I was in Buffalo and that’s all of two hours away from Toronto. In TO, they still like VO’s to record in person there so if I had to go up, I could make that work.

So I guess 7 years, some voiceover jobs, some FaffCons and even some voiceover conference panels later, Tanya must have forgiven me for subjecting her to a greasy fast-food lunch by the ocean. We’re still working together and I’m glad for that.

the voiceover agent series: how I partnered with the Sheppard Agency in Austin, TX

Editor’s note: Often times I get asked by both new and experienced voiceover talent “how do you get a voiceover agent?” Or “how did you get signed with a specific voice talent agency?” It occurred to me recently that there are some interesting and fun stories about how I have partnered with my voiceover agents. Everybody likes a good story so I thought I would share a few of them in something I’ve entitled “the voiceover agent series”.

Voice Talent Peter K O'Connell Sheppard Agency 19It is my personal opinion that Erik Sheppard of The Sheppard Agency (formerly Voice Talent Productions) was a grumpy old man by his early teens. Young as he is today, he still has that hilarious grumpy old man persona.

VO Agent Alliance_tall_audioconnellHe, of course, is a perfectly nice, smart guy, a family man (lovely wife -also a voice talent– , son and now a toddler daughter), a business owner (Sheppard Agency) and an advocate for the voiceover industry (VO Agent Alliance).

In my professional voiceover career, Erik is one of those people who seem like they have always been a part of it. I was trying to figure out exactly what year he called (or maybe emailed, I really can’t remember) to ask me to be a voice talent on Voice Talent Productions. I do recall him saying something about it just getting started and would I join etc. That maybe 2006 or 2007. The first email I could find from him (of easily over 600 emails) was 2008.

Point being, we’ve been together in this business a long time. I also believe him to be one of the hardest working agents I know of…auditions coming through to me constantly…on top of bookings and all over payments. The total package you want in a voiceover agent.

His Voice Talent Productions holiday parties were the stuff of legend…so much fun. All the VO talent from around the country would fly into New York City for the weekend and the parties were a blast. Seeing old friends and meeting new ones…all voice talents. Erik and Lindsay even got engaged at one of the parties.

I remember at the after-party for one VTP Holiday Party — it was a cold December night. Erik and I were talking outside because he was having another cigarette. We were talking about the voice acting talent at the party and I said that he really needed to take a listen to a somewhat (at that time) known female voice talent named Mara Junot. I think I had met Mara previously at a FaffCon – but her voice then as now was uh-mazing.

I said Erik, ‘you’ve got to sign her’. He said ‘you’re like the fifth person who has said that to me tonight’. I said ‘that’s part of the point of this party…discovering new voice actors…they show up, the other talents know them, hear them and make an introduction for them.’ Not because of me, but Erik did sign her and I think the Sheppards bought a boat, three cars and a summer home in Nantucket off commissions from the work Mara has booked.

From my commissions, the Sheppards’ were able to buy not one but two boxes of Girl Scout Cookies. Thin Mints, no less. So there’s that.

However, the greatest part of working with Erik are his audition notes…specifically when the rates or usage were ridiculously stupid. None of these note are printable (expletives deleted..and then there’s not much else to read) but trust me they are laugh out loud hysterical… day makers, when you read them.

He is iconic in his VO persona and legendary in his work ethic on behalf of his voice actors. Erik Sheppard is the guy you want in your corner when the VO battles rage.