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a friend who looks out for you


If you ever hired for or been trained by a professional in presentation skills, sales or call center ops, chances are you have heard of Mike Aoki of Toronto. He also does some great motivational talks as well.

I first met Mike up in the T dot when we were both active in Ryze (I dropped my membership but still have friends from the group, Mike included). He’s a talented guy and good people.

Well out of nowhere, Mike drops me an email today about an online Newsweek article about political voice overs and how campaigns choose their political voice over talent. He came across it in his reading, I might not have ever seen it without his ping and I thought the article and video was great.

Even more impressive was Mike’s selflessness on my behalf. Thanks Mike!

a sound yankee stadium memory

bob-sheppard_courtesy_usa_today (Bill Kostroun, AP)

I am not what you would call a baseball fanatic. The Buffalo Bisons (for whom I have voiced commercials) counted me among their season ticket holders until it became clear they were not going to be able to secure a major league franchise.

Now that the New York Mets will have the Bisons as their Triple A Baseball affiliate, Mrs. audio’connell, who is a die-hard Mets fan, will likely drag me and the audio’connellettes to a game or two next summer. It will be fun.

But the reason I bring up the topic of baseball today has to do with a wonderful tribute I read, among many, with the closing of the original Yankee Stadium. Nope, I’d never been to a Yankees game and was not really a Yankees fan. But I absolutely get the history and magic of the place.

So I come across the Bronx Banter blog (try saying that three times fast as a VO warm-up exercise) and a post written by a guy named Ed Alstrom who plays the organ at the stadium. He was reminiscing about his most cherish stadium memory, the voice of Yankees Public Address Announcer Bob Sheppard.

Please read the whole tribute here.

Even I, who have never been to a Yankees’ game, know Mr. Sheppard’s voice, which first was heard on April 17, 1951 when the late Yankees greats Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle were in the line up. As the late, former Yankee player then play-by-play man Phil Rizzuto might say “Holy cow!”

I totally can relate to how a public address announcer sets the mood. For me it was at Buffalo Sabres games. Our public address announcer was a gentlemen named Milt Ellis whose vocal timbre was somewhat similar to Mr. Sheppard’s. Goals, penalties (especially after bench-clearing brawls) and even weather updates if the snow got bad during a game…he made it all sound great.

And wouldn’t you know local broadcasting historian and WBEN-AM newsman Steve Cichon has a tribute to the retired Mr. Ellis on Steve’s amazingly informative web site.

So to all you public address announcers out there, remember you do have an impact and people do know you as part of the fabric of the game.

10 years

My dear wife, amazing mother of my two awe-inspiring children and the person whom I frustrate on a daily basis, married me ten years ago today.

I know I am lucky. I know I am unworthy. But I also know she’s still the one I want to grow old with.

My life is a gift, not a guarantee.

She is the gift. She has given me the gifts.

She has allowed me to believe in me.

I am grateful and rather speechless.

Cue the music.

do what you love and work hard – are you doing it?


Likely you’ve not heard of Gary Vaynerchuk or Wine TV. Go to his website if you’d like to learn more. He is a passionate and successful guy. Those who have met him in person truly enjoy his company.

The reason I am posting this video is to provide you with a pep talk. You may need one or you may not need one which I think is a pretty good time for a pep talk as you’re not combating negative feelings and can more easily build on the positive vibe you’re working off of at present.

Gary’s message is about passion and people and how we all need to do what we love. Easily said, right?

But sometimes we need a kick in the pants to remember it’s not a “slogan”, it is an action but for it to be an “action” we need to take action! This video from Web Expo 2.0 (which contain some HBO-like NSFW language) is a hyper reminder that passion, hard work and caring for people will result in success. There are no quick solutions. Social media has tools we can all use to build our brands but we have to make it work. It takes time.

However if you love what you do…time goes by pretty fast.

I hope this helps you. Go kill it!

this is what customer service is all about, charlie brown

So this evening I attend this season’s first member meeting of the Buffalo Niagara Sales and Marketing Executives. This professional association has been around since 1942 and is chalk full of great folks. Full disclosure in that I am a proud past president of BNSME, having originally joined in 1989.

I get to the Millennium Airport Hotel for the meeting about 10 minutes after the networking begins and I check in. The Vice President for Programs this year, Todd Salansky who owns online thymes, llc, says to me out of the blue “You do the invocation.”

“Huh, what?” I so eloquently reply.

“We don’t have an invocator for tonight, can you do it?”

Well when you’re a past president, you know exactly how crazed the first meeting of the year is for new board members so you know that you gotta say yes, which I did.

For some reason, though, I just trotted my way up to the bar and started chatting with friends and guests. While talking with one of the night’s featured speakers, it dawned on me that I had just agreed to give an invocation and hadn’t written a damn word!

People seem to like my invocations because I usually spend some time on them but holy crap…I’d now given myself about 15-20 minutes to come up with something that usually takes about 30-40 to write.

Oh and about the computer that I didn’t have on me to write that invocation….

So I did what any self-respecting A-Type personality would do…I marched into the office of the Millennium Airport Hotel’s Director of Sales and Marketing and my friend Russ Papia and said “I need to use a computer…right now.”

Now if you ever looked up the term gracious in the dictionary you’d see Russ’ picture. He’s says without missing a beat “no problem” but instead of putting me at someone else’s desk, he gets up off his seat and gives me his computer.

Let’s review….this is the man responsible for all the revenue collected at his hotel, fielding much of the food and beverage issues at the Millennium ….which is neither a small nor quiet hotel. And yet he pops up like a jack rabbit for me and says “here you go.” I wrote my invocation, it was applauded (which is not normal for invocations) and it was all because Russ Papia said “here you go.” He served the customer.

There’s a reason Russ has been successful in that position for over 100 years (give or take) and it’s because he delivers not only the revenues but more importantly the kind of memorable customer service that is sadly unique in today’s world.

If you come to Buffalo, please stay at the Millennium Airport Hotel and make a special effort to say hi to my friend, Russ Papia.

“what people say they want, and what they are actually looking for.” – dick tufeld


There is occasionally downtime in the voice over world of audio’connell Voice Over Talent. While I should say that I am always marketing or developing new business when the mic isn’t on, well, that’s not always true.

Sometimes I surf. And not on water.

But a recent surfing expedition (which really was a key word search on Google) led me to a 1997 interview on a “Lost In Space” website with a fairly well known announcer by the name of Dick Tufeld. Dick was the voice of “The Robot” in the series “Lost In Space” and reprised his role when the movie came out. (And, if you like, there seems to be another interview with Dick here).

Dick’s career has spanned a great deal more than just “Lost In Space”. I remember him as a long time announcer of the Grammy’s among other shows (his signoff that I remember was “This is Dick Tufeld speaking”). I can’t find too much present day information on him to know if at 82 he’s still working, other than some somewhat suspect web sites that I cannot confirm as credible.

But what I loved though, from the 1997 interview, was this quote, telling a story that almost every professional voice talent can relate to and laaaughh!

Q: How did you get the voice job of the Robot?
Dick Tufeld: When I was 18 years old, I was working one summer at KLCA-LA radio, and I used to announce shows and do station breaks, etc. There was a literary agent named Irwin Allen, who must have been, I’m guessing, 35 years old at the time, who would walk in and nod to me, and I’d nod to him — I was just a kid at the time. He had a Hollywood gossip show, and I’d spin the theme music for it and announce him, for 15 minutes once a week. Then he’d leave and nod to me, and I’d nod to him. That was the extent of our conversation.

Twenty years go by, and he was walking out of the commissary at 20th Century Fox and there was a guy named Emmett Labry, Jr. who was in the business affairs department. Irwin ran into Emmett and said that he had a new series going on air in a few weeks. “We need a narrator and is there anybody you can think of?’ Emmett was a friend of mine, and said “How about Dick Tufeld?”

In one of the most astonishing statements I’ve heard repeated to me, Irwin turned to Emmett and said “Dick Tufeld, my oldest and dearest friend — great idea!” Which I think is pretty funny. Irwin contacted my agent, and they got an audio tape of my voice doing some narration. Irwin liked it and I became the narrator of the show.

About two weeks later I got a call from Irwin’s office asking me to read for a robot character. So I go in there, and think this is good. He hands me some copy, and I say “Irwin, I presume what you are looking for a mechanical, robot-ian kind of robot sound.” He looks at me and says “My dear boy, that is precisely what I do not want. This is a very highly advanced culture in the year 1997.” Of course that seemed to be very far away to everybody [chuckle]. “I want a cultured low- key voice, (I would equate this with the voice of computer Hal in “2001”), an Alexander Scourby” — the wonderful NY actor and narrator voice who has passed on – and he said “that’s what I’m looking for.”

So I started reading for Irwin with my best Scourby imitation, and I’m not coloring the words and I’m doing an unemotional read and I’m saying “Warning that does not compute.” He says no, that’s not it, and I do it again, and then he says no, that’s not it, and I try something else and that’s not it. All this time I’m trying to do my best Alexander Scourby imitation. And he finally says to me, after about 10 minutes, “Well Dick, I appreciate you coming in. To be honest with you, you’re not getting this, so I have to look further for this. But you’re still the narrator on this show.” And I say to Irwin, “Thank you very much.”

I take my reading glasses off and start packing up my attaché case. And God knows why I even did this. I say to Irwin, “Let me try one more thing for you just before I go.” And now I read the line in my best mechanical, robot-ian kind of way and I say “Warning that does not compute.”

And he says “Jesus Christ, that’s the Alexander Scourby approach I was looking for, what the hell took you so long?” Honestly, I had to literally turn away from him, so as not to laugh in his face, because I was so convulsed.

It was the classic example of what people say they want, and what they are actually looking for. They are two different things. In a sense I was *very* fortunate to become the voice of the Robot, because if I had not said “let me try one more thing” as I was walking out obviously I would never have been the voice of the Robot. It was a kind of a fluke the way it happened.

That IS a classic and oddly timeless truth that makes me smile, knowing the challenges of today in voice over aren’t actually that different from those great talents who paved the way for us.

Thanks Dick. Love your voice, love your humor!