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the fun is gone

Political Discussion on Social Media

I didn’t like the cat videos.

But now I miss them a little.

Righteous indignation and straight out hate abounds on Facebook now, a result of a bitter election between less than stellar choices (OK, that’s my opinion, your mileage may vary).

But here is a universal truth, no matter who won the 2016 Presidential Election, based on the results, about 50% of the country would be complaining and protesting and causing a stink. And now we’re divided.

And we are ugly.

Every single one of us.

Pick your party, pick your platform, pick your nose. Ugly. All of it.

We are NOT talking about a healthy debate among mature people. On social media, that just does not happen any more…if it ever did.

If we looked at ourselves on Facebook as we do our children, if we saw the kind of rants and vulgarity….really foul stuff…we would send ourselves to our rooms without dinner and all our Christmas toy would be taken away for a month.

The prevailing attitude: if you’re not FOR me, you’re AGAINST me.

Can’t we see this about our own behavior? Can’t we stop ourselves?

While it isn’t the only battle ground for this hate speech that we seem to be getting so good at, but the stump speech convenience of Facebook allows it’s participants to tee off on their rant of the day (or hour). Vitriol abounds and if you’re not spewing it, you’re receiving it…or at least reading it.

Those who spew the vitriol will claim that they are defending their right to free speech, to defend (their version) of America from the bad guys (i.e. anyone who disagrees with them…again, which ever side you want to take). And if someone recommends curbing bad behavior, the recommender doesn’t ‘understand the seriousness of what’s at stake.’

Um, yes we do.

But we also see the absolute useless of changing people’s opinions on a life or death matter via social networking. The shared information on social media…and often mis-information…is not creating awareness but it is creating wariness.

We see people treating politicians (of course, only the politicians that they like) as if they are trustworthy fighters of truth, justice and the American way. The shortest answer I can give here is they are so not. Some of the ARE trying. Some of them are just trying.

We see that to make change you must get involved in the actual process (i.e. real life, not social media). Because of the pathetic pool of talent from which to pick leadership of any kind, we ended up with the choices we did. The worse news is that anyone with ANY common sense doesn’t want to swim in political waters.

People like me do not turn a blind eye to the evolving truths of the world. We are not uniformed. We just work to effect change in less obnoxious, divisive, dismissive and hurtful ways.

facebook iconI cannot decide how this plays out for Facebook. My theory is that usage may be up on the service because some people believe they are furthering their agenda/cause (and I think serving their egos) by posting as many rants and rant-like links as they can find …often without vetting the link’s accuracy (again, on either side).

However, I think Facebook may see (and likely not report) that said usage is up because of active use by a smaller total number of people. I believe folks like me are standing further away from Facebook.

We don’t sign in as much or at all. It’s not social, it’s not fun, it’s not relaxing. No idea how many people are doing this besides me…it’s just a gut feeling.

And to be clear, that withdrawal is not Facebook’s fault. It’s because of the content of the social media service’s users. And as you may have noticed, ‘users’ begins with ‘us’.

I pulled the Facebook app off my phone weeks ago. I have spent significantly less time on the service. I’ve tried ignoring and unfriending and unfollowing but the poison still permeates.

So I stay away more. In the end, that’s probably best anyway. Maybe I’ll connect more in real life. That’s what matters anyway.

peter’s handy dandy new voiceover demo checklist!

Peter's Handy Dandy ChecklistHaving completed my new commercial voiceover demo, I say with modesty, not bravado, that I am pleased with the results. I hope clients and prospects will like it as well because they are every demo’s intended audience.

However, I intentionally reminded myself recently to keep all the hard work of these past few months of demo pre-production, production and post-production in the proper perspective.

Here, now, is that perspective: it may crush the souls of many professional voiceover talents but the truth must come out: nobody – not one single person among your clients, agents or prospects – is AS excited about your new release voiceover demo as you are.

Yes, that demo…that creatively grew inside you and was meticulously birthed from inside an acoustically perfect studio and lovingly mastered by the finest audio doctors and nurses and is now ready to proudly be shared with the world…is mostly seen by that world as just another voiceover demo.

“But…”, you scream inside your head, “doesn’t everyone hear how much BETTER this demo is compared to the last one which now sounds to me now like a scratchy Al Jolson record played on a Victrola? I’ve improved so much!!! Love me! Love my voice!!!!!”

Gentle voice talent, no, the world generally doesn’t share your enthusiasm for this hard fought piece of audio. It’s not that the demo is bad (unless it is, yet probably really isn’t) but to them it is just ‘another demo’.

“Aw, what’s the use? What’s the point?! Why did I make a new voiceover demo then, if nobody cares?”

Aw pal, don’t be bummed. You just have to look at your demo differently.
The trick is, my friend, if you cannot make the world care about your new demo, then you must focus on making the world aware of your new demo.

What I’m going to start for you here is Peter’s Handy Dandy New Voiceover Demo Checklist! This list will help you organize WHO should be made aware of (and/or actually receive) your new voiceover demo and also (in my opinion) in what approximate order they should be made aware/receive. Your mileage may vary so use this as a helpful starting point and feel free to add stuff:

  1. All Personal Web Accounts
    1. Your personal web sites (maybe include some text about the demo being new)
    2. Sound Cloud
    3. Pay To Play accounts
    4. LinkedIn (your profile accepts media)
  1. Your Agents
    1. Send a personal email with the demo
    2. Make a follow up call to make sure they got it and post it to their web site (great –and reasonable – opportunity to get meaningful phone time with them)
    3. Make sure they post it to VOICEBANK if they have that account
    4. Include them in a mass email blast (more on that in a moment)
    5. Send a thank you follow up
  1. Recording Studios Where Your Are On A VO Roster
    1. Send a personal email with the demo
    2. Make a follow up call to make sure they got it and post it to their web site (great –and reasonable – opportunity to get meaningful phone time with them)
    3. Take good notes from your conversation if there is any new studio news (new people, new equipment, new location etc.)
    4. Send a thank you follow up
  1. Media/Video Studios Where Your Are On A VO Roster
    1. Send a personal email with the demo
    2. Make a follow up call to make sure they got it and post it to their web site (great –and reasonable – opportunity to get meaningful phone time with them)
    3. Take good notes from your conversation if there is any new studio news (new people, new equipment, new location etc.)
    4. Send a thank you follow up
  1. Prospect/Client Email Blast
    1. This should be a one topic email blast
    2. Keep the text short (under 100 words and even under 50 if you can)
    3. Add some nice graphics, pictures are even better
    4. Links to the demo in the email are vital (obviously)
    5. Pick key clients and do some phone follow-up to seek their opinion of the demo, discuss new opportunities
  1. Hot Prospects and Agents
    1. Email and call prospects that you really want to connect with about the demo
    2. Pick those few agents whose roster you’d really like to be on and contact them about your new demo
  1. Other Social Media
    1. Blog Posts about new Demo
    2. Facebook
    3. Twitter et al

So now, even though most of these folks might not care you have a new demo, they will be aware of it. Using any or all of the above tools to create that awareness (and maybe even subliminally some sense of excitement or urgency) might make some of your audience care about the your new demo. At least it should bring you to top of mind awareness in casting for a while.

Just remember that although you are justifiable proud of your new demo, sometimes the new demo isn’t the MOST important part. The valuable part of a new demo could just be opportunity to use the demo as a respectful and professional tool to communicate new and “interesting” news to prospects and clients to create awareness about YOU. The demo is your sound (and vital to your VO business) but you are the brand.

And just between us kids, I know how much better you sound on the new demo. You’re great! Nice job on the new demo!

 

yes, we all experience professional doubts

8 is great commercial demo audioconnellNewbie or old pro.

Voice talent or accountant.

Everybody goes through a period (or even periods) of professional doubt. If you’re dealing with voiceover doubts, maybe it will be helpful if I tell you how I solved my issue. As always, your mileage may vary.

For me, my professional doubts these past 18 months surrounded one very specific topic: my commercial voiceover demo.

I’d sailed through updates to my narration demo, my political demo, two (count ‘em, two!) television promo demos and two radio imaging demos.

But commercials are my bread and butter (narrations a close second). And I hadn’t updated my commercial demo in 8 years (I was booking off of it, so why should I change it? But I came to the realization that such thinking is just sloppy. 8 years without updating a demo is too long.
COMMERCIAL VOICEOVER DEMO audioconnell

In the past 18 months, that one demo has been something that been bugging me, to various degrees, specifically because I didn’t have a direction for the demo. I didn’t know what I wanted it to sound like. I didn’t have a handle on what I needed to have on the demo to sound current. Doubt.

Sure, voice-over trends come and go…’everyman’ begets ‘announcer’ begets ‘everyman’ on regular cycles and I can do each of those successfully in my sleep. But was I missing direction, content and answers. I didn’t know what the answers were nor did I know where to find them. Doubt.

I had doubts…about my abilities. So if you’d been hit by your own professional doubt too, just know you’re not alone.

I kept the ball moving by doing those other demos and by listening to a bunch of people’s commercial demos on Voicebank. My listening tour told me I was on my own…VO demos remain as individual as the people that voice them. Some were great. Some were truly crap. And these were people I know are booking.

Now I was doubt-filled AND confused.

During this indecisive period, in addition to doing other professional tasks (like those other demos), I relied on another tactic I’ve used in my life when faced with these kinds of situations: do nothing and wait.

While that sounds like a life plan that might make Tony Robbins’ giant head explode, it has actually worked pretty well for me.

I believe that in many instances, God or the universe or time will present me with an answer, a direction or a solution. I just have to be aware, pay attention and go where I need to go. I don’t know if I can explain it better than that.

For my commercial demo, that solution began to reveal itself during some voice-over meetings: VO Atlanta and Faffcon. There I found the answers to my doubt and lack of direction regarding the production of my commercial voice demo.

voices voicecasting mary lynn wissnerI happened upon my friend Melissa Exelberth at VO Atlanta who was having dinner with Mary Lynn Wissner, of Voices Voicecasting in LA. While I knew of her, I hadn’t until that time spent much time with Mary Lynn until that dinner and hallway conversations as the event went on. Mary Lynn had a real handle on what voice styles were being booked (she’s casting voice talent all the time). When she presented again at FaffCon and spoke with her further, I felt Mary Lynn was someone I absolutely needed to train with. Confidence was replacing doubt. With this solid professional connection, I had my direction.

So I began voiceover classes with Mary Lynn and I did so with some very specific goals in mind. I needed to see if I could harness the styles, execute the performances that were booking today. As an LA Casting Director who knows all the top agents, she was going to know whether I could do it. Certainly I felt I WAS doing that but I also know how much I sometimes don’t know. What I found out was that with what she described as minor tweaks, I was off to the races — the training went very well, and she is a great communicator.

Sound4VONext, I organized the scripts I believed would work well for the demo, providing lots of room for the styles I wanted to convey. Then we scheduled some times to record with Mary Lynn directing me and again, those session went exceedingly well. I reviewed some client spots I had done that I felt also work well on the demo, based on what Mary Lynn and I had worked on. I mixed new stuff with the existing stuff, with the help of the great audio engineer and voice talent Dan Friedman.

I am extremely pleased with our results.

I am doubtful no more.

Your solution is out there too. It will come to you. Be ready for it.

the new los angeles chargers seem graphically challenged

SanDiegoLosAngelesFootballLet me be clear, I really like the city of San Diego. I would consider living there if only the city was not in the state of California.

As far as football, this week they announced they are leaving San Diego and going to live in Los Angeles. Oh well, that’s sports.

But with a new city comes a new logo and that’s where I become interested. Don’t get me wrong, I like sports. But logos, I really like.

As I have noted here before, team like the Los Angeles Rams can really botch a logo opportunity. Badly.

Well in just a few days, the Chargers of Los Angeles have quickly botched their new logo opportunity as well.

The logo roll out gives you a pretty fair indication of what kind of operational chaos the Chargers of (pick any city in California, I guess) are in.

sandiegochargersNow, to begin with, the Chargers, late of San Diego, seem to me to have lost a bet when it came to logos and colors. Certainly, they didn’t have as bad a situation of it as the Cleveland Browns, but logo and word mark wise, the Chargers could certainly do better with the move to LA and a new icon.

The logo roll out (such as it was) gives you a pretty fair indication of what kind of operational chaos the Chargers of (pick any city in California, I guess) are in.

The first logo (LA on the left) was, I’m pretty sure, designed on Fiver as it looked like an amateurish mating of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Tampa Bay Lightning.

I wasn’t the only one who caught that (the internet had a blast with it).

Then, for reasons that I perceive as panic driven because of the poor reception given the Los Angeles Chargers “Fiver Logo”, the team went back to their horrible word mark with yellow/goldish lettering on a light blue background about 24 hours later. They must have called the “braintrust” at the Los Angeles Rams for advice and were told, go back to your old imagery and just change the city name.

Then to add insult to injury, the LA Chargers went and hired a coach from the Buffalo Bills to be their new head coach. Who hires anybody from the recent Bills staff and hopes to win anything? Oh yeah, Jacksonville. Oy!

So between this logo fiasco (and I expect it to continue) and the coaching choice, don’t expect season ticket sales to go through the roof next season for the Chargers.

In other sports news, the Oakland Raiders (it seems) will be moving to Las Vegas in a few years. Hope their new logo is better than the horribleness that is the name, branding and worst of all colors for the Las Vegas Golden Knights. Ick!

why you should consider my voiceover advice on public relations and publicity

UD Magazine Winter 2016-17 (not the real cover)

No this is not the REAL cover of University of Dayton Magazine. The guy in the pink shirt just pasted himself on there. What a goof!

Maybe it was because the new President of the University of Dayton is, like me, a native of Buffalo, NY and a fellow graduate of Canisius High School.

Maybe the University of Dayton Magazine wanted to profile someone who graduated 30 years ago.

Maybe it was because I finally paid the fines on all those overdue Roesch Library books from 1986.

Those are some of the answers I’ve given people who asked me how I got a profile article about my business in my university’s alumni magazine University of Dayton Magazine.

“How did you get THAT?” seems to be the question. They should be asking: “How did YOU (of all people) get that?”

My best guess reasons for getting the placement was a splash of creativity, timing and luck.

Let’s flash back to late summer or early fall 2016. The O’Connells had made like the Clampetts and moved, but instead of moving to Beverly (Hills, that is, swimming pools, movie stars) we moved to Raleigh, NC (more accurately, Cary, NC but everybody knows Raleigh, so there).

What one forgets, when one hasn’t moved in decades, is how many people need to be notified about ones change of address and what a pain that is to do. Oy!

While doing all the mandatory address changes, I remembered the secondary groups I needed to convey information to about our move, one being my school alumni associations, which included the University of Dayton (Go Flyers!).

In addition to wanting to know where to send their donation requests (as all private high school and colleges do) schools also update the alumni notes section of their newsletters. I didn’t remember the last time I updated UD about me (not so very often)  so the move seemed worthy of a note.

I sat at the computer and composed a note. The initial drafts of what I wrote bothered me because they were plain and dull. “I moved from Buffalo, NY to Cary, NC just outside of Raleigh.” Really? That was the best I could do? Nah, I could do better. I could make it more fun and interesting than that.

So this is what I sent:

“Former radio broadcaster (WVUD-FM ) turned voice-over talent Peter K. O’Connell (RTV, ’86) has moved from the 53rd largest broadcast market (Buffalo, NY) to the 24th largest broadcast market (Raleigh, NC)…mostly because it’s warmer. In August, O’Connell, his wife Andrea and their 3 children moved the clan to Cary, NC. Peter owns a popular voice-over company, audio’connell Voice-Over Talent, producing audio for commercial and narrations for clients around the world. He can be reached at peter @ audioconnell.com.”

Editor’s note: WVUD-FM was a 50,000 watt commercial FM radio station owned by the University of Dayton until they sold it some years ago.

My thinking was this new version was unique, fun and maybe interesting and informative…to somebody. At the very least it wasn’t boring. I sent it and promptly forgot about it.

Some days later, I received a nice email from Gita Balakrishnan, who writes for University of Dayton Magazine, where the alumni notes are published.

It said:

“I would like to know more about the Class Note you submitted to the UD Magazine for a possible Anatomy of a Class Note. If you are interested, please let me know so I can send over some questions to know a little bit more about you.”

Hmmm. Seems they were plotting their next edition of the alumni magazine and my timing was pretty fortunate (lucky). Were I a public relations specialist (and I am not) I believe I would have heard in my head the voice of a hockey announcer screaming ‘He shoots, he SCORES!’

What’s the point of sharing all this with my fellow voice talent? I just want to present some thoughts for you to consider as you draft your 2017 marketing plan or while you just play tiddlywinks at your desk waiting for the phone to maybe ring with a new VO job.

I don’t know what the publication numbers are for University of Dayton Magazine but simple math estimates easily assume there are certainly 100,000+ active living alumni to whom the University sends this publication. I really want to say there are more but let’s just use 100,000 as the number.

If even .5% of those 100K UD alumni (@500) are somehow involved in media production, isn’t it worth a few minutes time to write a creative, 4-sentence promotional blurb, send it in for free and see what happens? (Hint: the answer is yes).

My experience in interacting and advising a great many professional voice talents tells me they are generally deathly afraid of marketing and it’s tools, like public relations and publicity. The reasons range from lack of understanding about how to do it and what’s involved to the fact that marketing is too much like work (seriously).

Universally, ALL of that same group are concerned about the expense of marketing. Public relations and publicity may cost you some time, but usually very little (if any) money.

There was no guarantee that my 4-sentence email would turn into such a nice profile or that they would even print a sentence of it. There was a 100% guarantee NOTHING would be published if I didn’t send it.

audio'connell_logo_blue_raleigh, NCSome voice talents look at writing press releases about their business as embarrassing, because as a voice talent you are the business. So, in essence, you are just writing about ‘how great thou are’ when you’re writing something about your own business and it’s awkward. That’s very true. But remember, readers (press or the public) either don’t know or mostly don’t care who wrote the release – they are just reading it. They’ll discover the facts as they need them.

Here’s my trick and maybe it will work for you too: when writing a press release or presenting a story idea about your “business” (which, again, is you), think about yourself as. a. business.

When you write your personal name in the release or pitch, you write “John Smith” but you should perceive it in your head as writing “The John Smith Company”. There, now you’re not an individual, you are an entity. People write releases about entities all the time!

I respect humility more than you could possibly know and I too feel extremely awkward about writing about myself in releases. But the bank respects my monthly mortgage payment more than my humility. So if publicity helps me make more money to pay that mortgage, then I will use my little trick to get past my internal awkwardness and just cash the checks from any business my small PR efforts get for me.

My hope for you is you take a day, or a ½ day and think creatively about your business, your services and the institutions/groups you are involved with in your life. I just know there are public relations and publicity opportunities for your business within some of those groups. Think! 🙂

Alumni groups are one such group, churches are another, charities you work with are another. Of course there are more if you just think about it, it’s your life. Make a list!

You read newspapers, listen to the radio, watch local TV….they need content to fill their paper and airwaves. Is there a story idea or an angle you could offer them with some service you offer or some project you’ve worked on or a client you’ve secured that the public might find interesting and unique?

Still not sure?

Is what you do, the services you offer and the projects & clients you’ve worked with/on more interesting than an 800lb pumpkin? Because I see TV crews and radio stations covering pumpkin weigh-offs like the darn Super Bowl at Halloween. So I think you might have some angle on your business that someone in the media might want to cover too. I think at least SOME of what we do is more interesting than an 800lb pumpkin.

But you have to do the research and the legwork.

You have to look up the contact information for all the media outlets in your area.

You have to make those editor or reporter calls to pitch your idea or write that email.

You have to learn how to write a professional press release (it’s NOT hard).

You have to think about what you do and how to translate that into an interesting pitch for an article in the business section of your newspaper or even the lifestyle or sports section.

You may perform as a voice talent but you’re really a business owner. Instead of fretting about where your next job is coming from, how about focusing on expanding your audience now…without much if any expense and see what that leads to. It will be more productive than fretting. I hope this helps.

Oh, and that 4-sentence blurb I sent to UD Magazine evolved into this….

Peter K. O'Connell University of Dayton Anatomy of a Class NoteFormer radio broadcaster (WVUD-FM) turned voice-over talent Peter K. O’Connell (RTV, ’86) has moved from the 53rd largest broadcast market (Buffalo, NY) to the 24th largest broadcast market (Raleigh, N.C)—mostly because it’s warmer. In August 2016, O’Connell, his wife Andrea and their 3 children moved the clan to Cary, N.C. Peter owns his popular voice-over company, audio’connell Voice-Over Talent producing audio for commercial and narrations for clients around the world.

WVUD-FM—Peter started working at WVUD in 1982 after the station’s program director heard him on the University’s carrier-current station, WDCR. He started at “Hitradio 100” doing afternoon drives news before later coming the evening disk-jockey.

Broadcaster, Voice Actor and Teacher Jack Rang

Jack C. Rang, September 27, 1923 – February 7, 2011

RTV— A radio television major, O’Connell credits a former General Manager for WVUD, professor and great voice talent, Jack Rang, with teaching him commercial performance at UD. As he recalls, “Jack had an awesome voice.” Most of Peter’s early training came via imitation of others, listening to local and network broadcasts to analyze how they did it. Since then, he has had professional training from talented industry veterans in New York, Chicago and LA.

24th largest broadcast market—Peter’s move opens up his work to a larger and more media centric market. And Peter notes that “the weather is a bit more forgiving here than in Buffalo from December to March.”

audio’connell Voice Over Talent—Peter started his company right after graduation, where he started doing spots for local companies. When Peter works with students who want to become talents in the business, the one thing he tells them is that “You have to want to perform voiceover like you want to breathe—because it takes a lot of work to be noticed in this industry, to stand out, it’s not just about a cool voice.”

World—Peter’s voice-over recordings have been heard globally including London, England; Seoul, Korea; the Caribbean; Sydney, Australia; Toronto, Canada; Delhi, India and Buenos Aires, Argentina. Nationally across the United States, Peter’s voice has been heard in all major markets including New York City; Los Angeles, California; Chicago, Illinois, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Dallas, Texas; Dayton, Ohio and Buffalo, New York.

MEDIA RELEASE – O’Connell Profiled In University of Dayton Magazine

University of DaytonDAYTON, OH, January 2, 2017 – – There was one reason Peter K. O’Connell wanted to attend the University of Dayton when he enrolled in 1982. The school owned a 50,000-watt FM commercial radio station and a select few students filled the on-air disc jockeys slots. O’Connell found himself working a regular on-air shift at WVUD-FM in only his freshman year; a voice talent was born.

Thirty years later, having voiced hundreds of commercials and narrations since graduating from UD, O’Connell got to share his gratitude for the University when he was profiled recently in the school’s award winning University of Dayton Magazine. As well as featuring his professional accomplishments, the article noted his family’s recent move from Buffalo, NY to Raleigh, NC.

About The University of Dayton

The University of Dayton is a top-tier Catholic research-university with academic offerings from the undergraduate to the doctoral levels. The University of Dayton includes a diverse community committed, in the Marianist tradition, to educating the whole person and linking learning and scholarship with leadership and service.

About Peter K. O’Connell

From Fortune 500 companies to companies that think $500 is a fortune, multi-award winning male voiceover talent Peter K. O’Connell has shared his voiceover skills with a wide variety of companies globally. Some of Peter’s clients include Duracell Batteries, General Electric, Kraft Foods, PBS Television Network, Shell Oil, Deloitte Canada, U.S. Army, Starz Cable Television Network, BlueCross BlueShield and SunSetter Awnings.

Known as America’s Friendly, Neighborhood Voiceover Talent, Peter is a natural born storyteller whose voice-over work has been featured in radio and TV commercials, corporate narrations, political commercial voice-overs, TV network promos, e-learning narration projects and other media productions. Originally from Buffalo, NY, now living in Raleigh, NC, Peter owns audio’connell Voiceover Talent, a division of O’Connell Communications, LLC. Peter can be reached via audioconnell.com.

He is also a proud graduate of the University of Dayton.

– 30 –

NOTES FOR EDITORS

CONTACT

Peter K. O’Connell

Your Friendly, Neighborhood Voiceover Talent

audio’connell Voiceover Talent

P.O. Box 5493 | Raleigh, NC 27512-5493

PH. +01 716-572-1800

EM. peter@audioconnell.com W. audioconnell.com

COMPANY MEDIA CENTER

http://www.audioconnell.com/media

PETER K. O’CONNELL VO CREDITS

http://www.audioconnell.com/clientuploads/pdf/PDF%202016/OConnell_Peter_Voice_Over_Resume_160926.pdf

COMPANY NAME SPELLING

Use lower case letters- audio’connell or audio’connell Voiceover Talent

COMPANY NAME PRONUNCIATION

au·dio·o’·con·nell (awe-de-oh-oh-kah-nel) or au·di-o’·con·nell (awe-de-oh-kah-nel)