audio’connell in harrisburg, pa

Voice Talents Scott Fortney and Peter K. O'Connell in Harrisburg, PA 2016

I’ve not been to Harrisburg since FaffCon was in the area many years ago. I’ve been about an hour away but not here.

So naturally when I checked my voice-over rolodex, I looked up Scott Fortney to see if he was available to get together.

This afternoon we grabbed lunch at the Harrisburg International Airport. Scooter (as he’s known) was working on a bunch of cool voiceover projects including a series of very interesting audiobooks about World War II. And mostly we talked about our families, as proud Fathers are prone to do.

We earned the right! 🙂

Thanks Scott for coming out to meet me. It was great seeing you.

giving newbies a chance in broadcasting and voiceover

Susan Hunt Buffalo Broadcasters Hall of Fame 2016This poor woman. She had no idea what she was about to unleash onto the world of broadcasting over 35 years ago.

This woman’s name is Susan Hunt. Yesterday it was announced that she is being inducted next month into the Buffalo Broadcaster’s Hall of Fame.

It is a deserving honor. Not because of the television work she has done for HGTV, PBS, Discovery, The Travel Channel, ESPN, HBO and the Golf Channel among others. That work is terrific and worthy of recognition.

However, Susan Hunt deserves to be in the Hall of Fame because she gave me Buffalo Broadcasters Hall of Fame Class of 2016my first job in broadcasting. It was an internship but for me it was a start. Given what she had to work with when this high school junior walked through the radio station door back then, though, she should receive something more like a medal. With any luck and maybe some therapy, she’s long forgotten the experience.

The year was 1980 and my brother Michael knew Susan and her family. He also knew of my budding interest in broadcasting and he knew that she was making her own way in broadcasting, at that time as the morning radio news anchor at WFXZ-FM (Foxy 93….I know, it was the 80’s).

Anyway, one night my brother and Susan got to talking. He told her about me, his younger brother still in high school, who wanted to get into broadcasting. She needed an intern in the morning. A contact was made, a deal was struck: I’d intern at the station, the station wouldn’t pay me and that’s broadcasting in a nutshell.

I knew nothing about journalism, radio news or even broadcasting. If there was a way to measure “less than nothing”, that’s where my media knowledge at the time would’ve really ranked.

And my high school was barely any help in this internship matter. The media teacher there, who would go on to be my business partner for a time and a groomsman at my wedding, tried to put something together resembling an internship but the high school guidance office was used to “forming” doctors and lawyers, not broadcasters. At the time, school alumnus Tim Russert wasn’t “NBC’s Tim Russert” yet (and he was a lawyer by trade anyway).

But in I jumped, with both my inexperienced feet, getting up at 4:00 am to get dressed and get the bus and be at the station by 5:45 for 2 or 3 times a week (I think). It was my first time listening to the farm reports on the radio (that’s how early in the morning it was – only me, farmers and chickens were awake). To give you a sense of when all this took place, the night before my first day in the Foxy 93 newsroom was the night John Lennon was assassinated.

Newsroom is a rough term, almost as rough as the term “radio station”. This place was a run down 2 story house at Main and Summer streets in what was, at the time, not the nicest of neighborhoods.

I could not have cared less about the building or the high school course credits. I was working at a radio station – learning the hard way – from somebody willing to give a newbie a chance. And that made all the difference.

The chance that Susan Hunt gave an ignorant. 17-year-old kid in 1980 helped clarify for him what he wanted to do with his life. That’s a pretty cool gift.

A communicator, a broadcaster, a voice over talent – it would take time, trial and error. But the success I’ve enjoyed might not have come as quickly or at all without that chance.

We all need that chance in our careers.

Likewise, for every chance we are given, we each should remember to offer that chance to someone in return.

Thank you, Susan, for my chance.

giving the announcer his due

announcerOften times, I feel like a was born in the wrong era. When I think of the birth of radio and consequently, the birth of the announcer, well, that’s one of those times.

In 2016, most people don’t have a sincere understanding of what radio meant to their forefathers in the 1920’s. It would be unfathomable to a teen or twenty-something today to accept almost 100 years ago radio immediately became an indispensable necessity to every American (possibly every person in the then modern world – but I don’t know the rest of the world’s broadcast history as well as I know America’s).

At a given time back then, maybe 60% or more of the U.S. population would be tuned into a single radio broadcast or network. No broadcast or network enjoys that kind of broadcast influence today. Radio, the medium, and its performers were true and enormous stars of the first magnitude

At the center of it all was the radio announcer. The unique, often calming voice that offered direction, news, commercials and so much more to listeners throughout the radio broadcast day.

That must have been so cool to work in radio back then.

Folks today know about Don Pardo because of Saturday Night Live. But he wasn’t even among the most famous of the early days of radio. People in Pittsburgh know of KDKA radio and some folks in our country might know that station was America’s first commercial broadcast station. But Harold Arlin of KDKA was the first nationally recognized announcer in America. He was a really big deal!

What about Milton Cross who was the voice of the Metropolitan Opera, hosting its Saturday afternoon radio broadcasts for 43 years, from the time of their inception on December 25, 1931 until his death in 1975. That was a national program. Oh, and Cross actually started his radio announcing career in 1921! That’s AMAZING!

And then Fred Foy. Not sure who he was? He was the announcer for the Lone Ranger radio series. Yup, a bunch of you just experienced that light bulb: “Ahhhhhh!”

Nobody like that exists today. No one even close.

Since Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show left the air (his announcer Ed McMahon went with him), the closest thing modern media has is Conan O’Brien’s sidekick/announcer Andy Richter. Andy’s great (truly) but he doesn’t have the sway that guys like Arlin had in his day.

Change is a constant. Life and media evolve.

Though I still think it would be fun to “Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear…”

an old voice-over friend has passed

VO-BB Microphone IconMaybe you feel the same way, but I can only tolerate so much of Facebook recently, with full-blown idiots of every political persuasion hell bent on proving their idiocy to the world. Ponderous. “Hide” is a useful FB tool. Yet I still check in occasionally on FB to check on the world.

Aside from the above silliness, some sad and unexpected news made it in to my Facebook feed last week.

VO-BB_logo_VoiceoverBulletinBoardThe Voiceover Bulletin Board (the VO-BB) closed up last week. You can still read it, but you cannot post anything new. Foundress of the board and one of my absolute favorite female voice talents, DB Cooper, got frustrated at some feedback she got from a post of hers and turned over the closed sign on one of the most important internet sites for aspiring and professional voice talents.

I don’t begrudge her the right to shut the place down whenever she wanted and for whatever reason she chose. She can’t begrudge me, though, the right to be sad it’s gone.

When my friend (and another killer female voice talent, Connie Terwilliger), directed me and others to the VO-BB so many years ago, I didn’t realize how this new place would change my professional and personal life with industry news and insights, new friendships and a place to be silly (well, and plain stupid…sometimes I was stupid in my posts but an apology usually fixed that).

Thinking about the board and its members and the discussions (and jokes and rants and drama….we’re talking voice actors here…always drama), I started to piece together how so many of my current professional and personal relationships started on this board.

How?

Fellow voice talents who’s comments I read on the board; those who read my comments on the board; voice-over talents who started a business relationship with me because of the board; voice actors who I met at an industry function who knew of me through or because of the board; FaffCon (always FaffCon, which began through the VO-BB); Bob Souer inviting me out to lunch, which beget multiple meetings among VO-BB’ers for years (with more always to come).

So I’ve just made a quick list of voiceover folks I’ve met via all the above permutations that came about because of the VO-BB. Each of these folks have truly made my voice-over journey so much richer because they have been some part of it.

The list has left me a bit gob smacked (and guilty, for fear of those I have no doubt and inexplicably left off, with no malice intended). But I list it as a tribute to what DB created and nurtured over all these years, on her little plot of land on the interwebs.

In NO order of priority:

1. DB Cooper
2. Bob Souer
3. Doug Turkel
4. Connie Terwilliger
5. Liz deNesnera
6. Bruce Miles
7. Philip Banks
8. Lee Gordon
9. Peter Bishop
10. Rowell Gormon
11. Amy Snively
12. Diane Maggipinto
13. Todd Ellis
14. Mandy Nelson
15. Frank Frederick
16. Mary McKitrick
17. Elaine Singer
18. Chuck Davis
19. Anthony Mendez
20. Dave Courvoisier
21. Dan Friedman
22. Tom Dheere
23. Ben Wilson
24. Pam Tierney
25. September Day Carter
26. Moe Egan
27. Jeffrey Kafer
28. Donovan Corneetz
29. Tom Test
30. Vance Elderkin
31. Kara Edwards
32. Caryn Clark
33. Bobbin Beam
34. Terry Daniel
35. Roger Tremaine
36. Lance Blair
37. George Washington, III
38. Erik Sheppard
39. John Florian
40. CC Petersen
41. Melissa Exelberth
42. Jodi Krangle
43. Chris Mezzolesta
44. Dave DeAndrea
45. Craig Crumpton
46. Bob Bergen
47. Michael Schoen
48. JS Gilbert
49. Diane Havens
50. James Clamp
51. Trish Basanyi
52. Monk Schane-Lydon
53. Jane Ingalls
54. Paul Strikwerda
55. Bruce Jacobson
56. Darren Altman
57. Mara Junot
58. Fran McClellan
59. Dale Leopold
60. Lori Berman
61. Talmadge Ragan
62. Scott Pollak
63. Lauren McCullough
64. Randye Kaye
65. Melanie Haynes
66. Larissa Gallagher
67. CC Heim
68. Jordan Reynolds
69. Kristin Lennox
70. Martha Mellinger
71. Rosi & Brian Amador

I am at once heartened and heartbroken when I look at the list, the members of this always-welcoming club. While I expect we will continue our friendships, it seems we shall not have this special place to visit and update.

Maybe it will come back again and maybe we will appreciate it more and treat it better if it does rise again. If not, at least we had it for a time.

“And”, to quote Robert Frost, “that has made all the difference.”

faffcon 8 is coming! oh no!

faffcon8_audioconnellvoiceovertalent

As you may have heard, FaffCon 8 – presented by Edge Studios – is happening in Minneapolis, Minnesota on August 26-28th. It’s a big deal for me because I had to miss FaffCon 7 because of one of my children’s birthdays. I never am away from home on my children’s birthdays. We had an awesome time at his birthday.

However, because of that experience (and having missed the first FaffCon because a similar reason) I know the frustration and sadness some of my voice-over friends are experiencing because they have either a conflict with the FaffCon 8 date, have different financial priorities at the moment and can’t attend or they didn’t get in via the FaffCon 8 registration queue.

All perfectly understandable reasons. Some folks aren’t going and some got wait-listed.

Voice Talents Peter K. O'Connell, Pam Tierney, Christian Johnson Taylor at FaffCon4 in Ventura, CAIn either case, it’s a tough feeling because of what an awesome professional and personal voice-over experience FaffCon has evolved into. In most cases, when people have attended FaffCon, they really want to go back. And when I’ve attended FaffCon, I’ve really missed seeing and learning from those folks who could not attend. The new people are terrific…but I’m greedy, I want all my smart (new and old) friends there. But the limit is there for a good reason.

When I’ve not been to a FaffCon, I find myself wondering what all the Faffers were doing at that very moment and what they were learning. While I only missed any FaffCon for family issues and never regretted my decision to stay home, at the same time I did so very often pine to be with my tribe. There’s no way they needed to be around me as much as I needed to be around them.

Life’s decisions aren’t easy ones all the time nor are the realities we are often presented with (like not getting in to FaffCon). It’s not the end of the world to miss a FaffCon but it’s also really no fun either – especially if you’ve attended previously.

I will only offer that at each FaffCon I HAVE attended, I find myself stopping to think about those folks who are not in attendance (and who I wish were in attendance) and try and keep a positive thought for them. For them, it’s not the same as being at FaffCon. For us, it’s not the same without them.

They are always missed.

peter k. o’connell new hot ac radio imaging data

Peter K. O'Connell Hot AC Radio Imaging Demo

As a guy who started (and pretty much finished) my radio career working in a Hot AC format, it was probably about time that I fired up the microphone and recorded my new Hot AC radio imaging demo.

LISTEN TO PETER K. O’CONNELL’S HOT AC RADIO IMAGING DEMO BY CLICKING HERE

Peter K. O'Connell Hot AC Radio ImagingPeople in radio are familiar with the term Hot AC (AC being Adult Contemporary). For those not so sure what the format includes, HOT AC plays most popular mix of music from the 90’s through today. The Hot AC format is most often music-intensive, Top 40 radio for adults, without so much rap or heavy metal/hard rock. And of course, it features a great station voice…ahem.

There are a ton of popular musicians featured in this format which includes but not limited to Adele, Coldplay, Kelly Clarkson, Rihanna, Katy Perry, Pink and of course Taylor Swift.

The big names in Hot AC when I worked in radio included Michael Jackson, Hall & Oates, Kenny Loggins and Sade. Man, have things changed since the 80’s. But that’s as it should be.

Let me know if you’re a radio station General Manager, Program Director or Production Manager in need of a new station voice for a Hot AC station or any radio format. Cause I know a guy….

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