Entries Tagged as 'buffalo'

Requiescat in pace Patrick Sweeney

Requiescat in pace Pat SweeneyOh Canada. Today you lost a great one.

In the 8+ years that I have been friends with Pat Sweeney, he had become one of those rare fellows of whom I only heard positive, kind words said.

Marking his passing from Cancer this morning, those kind words are being reiterated and certainly shouted from the roof tops. As they should.

Family was first and foremost to Pat, as he would often speak of his wife and sons. They were his everything.

But second, I think, was his love of the voiceover industry and of the community that Patrick Sweeney helped foster in Toronto and pretty much everywhere else he went.

Before I moved to Raleigh, NC, I lived most of my life in Buffalo, NY, nearby to Toronto, Ontario, Canada, where Pat and his family live. My affinity for Canada is well known (my Grandmother was born there and I spent my summers in Fort Erie, Ontario for decades). So I was especially happy to hear many years ago that a pair of my voiceover friends had gotten together in Toronto to create a local Voiceover Meetup Group called VO in TO.

One of the group’s founders was female voice talent Jodi Krangle. The other (and to hear Jodi tell it, a driving force behind the group) was Pat Sweeney.

To watch Pat navigate the room at a VO in TO meetup was a thing of beauty. If you didn’t know Pat before you walked through the door, you would know him by the time you left. And he would introduce you to one or two other people there who he thought you should know, so you could have someone to say hi to at the next meeting. Pat was a wonderful community builder.

Another voiceover group where we shared many happy times together was at an annual event called FaffCon. This is a wonderful group of talents from all over the world who would come together to share best practices in a very inclusive and welcoming format. It was an event tailor made for Pat, who certainly learned a great deal from his fellow voice talents but possibly shared even more, especially in one on one conversations. Pat’s supportive and encouraging spirit, attitude and actions positively impacted more people than he may have ever realized.

All of this ignores when Pat and I would chat about his visits to Buffalo or mine to TO. Or when we worked together as part of a voiceover marketing collective called MVO: The Voice-Over Guys. Or when he would commiserate with me on the phone about my (usually losing) Buffalo sports teams.

You always left a conversation with Pat feeling better.

All of this kindness and help from Pat made it so challenging for us (his VO pals) when Pat got sick and we couldn’t help the guy who had always helped us. There wasn’t much we could do but support and pray for Pat and his family.

Hard as we’d pray, it never felt like enough of a repayment for a gentleman who so positively impacted so many people. We are deeply sorry for his family’s loss but are grateful for their many family memories and for Pat’s final peace.

Me? I’m selfish. I will miss my friend.

Eternal rest grant to your servant Patrick, O Lord; and let perpetual light shine upon him. May his soul, and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

past presidents gather in raleigh, nc

Peter K. O'Connell and Timothy O'Shea Raleigh, NC 2017

Tim O’Shea of Timothy O’Shea Photography was visiting Raleigh Thursday which gave me a chance to visit with my old friend.

Tim and I were both past presidents of the Buffalo Niagara Sales and Marketing Executives, a professional sales association for top marketing and sales folks in Western New York.

This is the first BNSME Past Presidents meeting in Raleigh but hopefully it will not be the last.

There is now an open invitation to all BNSME Past Presidents to call me if they will be in Raleigh and I will let you buy me lunch or dinner or both. Because I am just that generous! 😉

 

hurricanes are not blizzards and other lessons from hurricane matthew

hurricane flags

People are nice. Mother Nature, sometimes not so much.

People have been calling and texting us during the weekend and in these past few days making sure we are OK in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew, which started last Friday and moved up the east coast over the weekend. Many states were hit but it seems North Carolina got more than it’s fair share of damage. Worse, fatalities here are in the teens and may still rise.

Our experience was misty rain all day Friday. Significant and steady rain ALL day Saturday (around 5″ in Cary to a high of about 9″ in Wake County, where we live). Sunday was sunny, cool and breezy, like nothing ever happened — Mother Nature’s way of clearing up the atmosphere.

We did not see much TV over the weekend so we didn’t see how the national news was portraying the storm in our area. It seems much of the talk was about eastern North Carolina so I can understand people’s concerns about us. We are in Cary, NC, just outside of Raleigh.

Hurricane Matthew 2016

As you can see by the amateurish graphic (made by this amateur) we were on what turned out to be the safer side of the storm. But as you can see, safe by not much. People nearer to I-95 and east were hit much harder and some rivers have yet to crest but will almost assuredly to do so, causing still more damage in those areas.

Knowing that hurricanes are much more damaging than Blizzards (especially in areas built to combat and recover from blizzards like Buffalo) doesn’t prepare you for the uncertainty that hurricanes bring. Indeed, the weather folks were often citing the hurricane’s ‘cone of uncertainty’ — which follows not only the expected track of the storm but also a significant area around the track where the storm could unexpectedly alter its course.

We are fine and we are glad. But we are also thought-filled about the folks to the east, STILL dealing with mess, destruction and even death. It’s just another day for us.

Not for them. Not for a while.

Here’s one place you might be able to offer some help to those folks who need it in eastern North Carolina.

Thanks for checking in.

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.

our meetup group can beat up your meetup group

Heard Around Buffalo is a monthly meetup group of Western New York-based professional voice-over talents

Heard Around Buffalo is a monthly meetup group of Western New York-based professional voice-over talents

In the spring of 2013, I made some phone calls that voice-over talents Dan Lenard and Leslie Diamond probably wished they wouldn’t have answered or at least would have let go to voice-mail. But they answered the call. They always do.

I wanted to put together a group of truly professional voice-over talents who were running voice-over businesses. There are some great performance-based voice-over classes in Western New York and I have attended them and learned plenty. But mixed with some pros in those fine groups are people who are honestly not working in the voice-over industry…they’re thinking about it, they’re toying with the idea or they’ve got a voice-over gig…once.

For me, I needed to get together with fellow professionals who not only faced voice-over performance challenges and were great to run scripts with but who ALSO could also focus on the other NINETY PERCENT of being a voice talent – the BUSINESS of voice-over.

With Leslie and Dan, I knew they would understand. They are past attendees of FaffCon, an unconference for professional voice talents who get together once or twice a year to talk about and share best practices on the complete spectrum of being a voice talent — normally a very individualistic business practice. They’ve each directly experienced the professional benefits of the FaffCon experience and could easily see the benefits of doing something somewhat similar (but not exactly the same) on a local level.

Leslie named us Heard Around Buffalo. Nobody owns it, nobody profits from it. It’s just a bunch of voice-over folks sharing the wealth together.

Well in a year, we’ve grown nicely with many great Western New York voice talents participating and we have welcomed to our group visiting voice talents from as far away as California, South Carolina, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and even Canada (or maybe especially Canada, since we all have so many friends there and they let us come up to their Meetup groups in Toronto as well).

In addition to myself, the other regulars include Dan, Leslie, Chris Nichter, Fred Filbrich, Alexis Williams, Glad Faith Klassen and Jen Deyo.

If you are a professional voice-over talent in Western New York and you want to check us out, look here.

why voice-over meet-up groups are so valuable

A meeting on the Buffalo, NY Voice-Over Meetup group (from l-r) Robert W. Taylor, Leslie Diamond, Dan Lenard, Chris Nichter, Peter K. O'Connell, Jen Deyo, Fred Filbrich, Randye Kaye amd Glad Faith Klassen

A meeting on the Buffalo, NY Voice-Over Meetup group (from l-r) Robert W. Taylor, Leslie Diamond, Dan Lenard, Chris Nichter, Peter K. O’Connell, Jen Deyo, Fred Filbrich, Randye Kaye and Glad Faith Klassen

Voice-over talents are a closeted bunch.

Meaning whether in our homes or studios, we spend a lot of time in booths (closets) churning out voice stuff.

It’s great but who do you bounce business, technical or performance ideas off of if you work by yourself? Where are your checks and balances coming from?

It was 2009 when my friend and fellow voice-talent (the lovely and talented) Doug Turkel invited me out to his Voice-Over Mastermind Group in Miami, FL. So I hoped in my private jet that afternoon and join Doug and his pals for what was my first official meet-up group. As with most things Doug, it was terrific.

From that moment forward, I wanted to start some kind of group like that in Buffalo, NY.

But Mrs. audio’connell and I had a child. And another. And another. A bunch of FaffCons later, I still didn’t start my meet-up group. Then finally, after attending a voice-over class that just wasn’t filling my needs, I did what all good leaders do to get things done.

I delegated.

See, I was not going to be able to organize a meet-up group with my family and professional commitments. I’m the guy that had always put this stuff together but this time it wasn’t going to happen and I knew it. But it didn’t mean stuff couldn’t happen. With the advent of FaffCon, more Buffalo voice talents attended together, we realized the power of what we could do and we all wanted to do it.

So I contacted local voice talents and fellow Faffers Dan Lenard and Leslie Diamond and said “help”.

Leslie offered up her house, Dan made some calls, we shared notes on who to invite (lots of people) and in August 2013, we held our first meet-up. I think 5 people showed up. I was stunned there weren’t more with so many talents around.

What I came to understand was that these were the committed ones, the ones who wanted to try. And our monthly meetings have been going on since. And growing!

Our troupe now includes: Robert W. Taylor, >Leslie Diamond, Dan Lenard, Chris Nichter, Jen Deyo, Fred Filbrich and Glad Faith Klassen.

To be clear, this meet-up is not like my traveling lunch dinner tours that Bob Souer and I have made famous over the years.

The Buffalo Voice-Over Meetup Group created our own agenda: reviewing successes, talking about challenges, picking a specific industry related topic and everyone just sharing info. Sometimes one of us volunteers to talk about a subject we know a little more about. We take notes….and we work on scripts. We group direct and one on one direct.

And we remember that we are not alone. Our families may sometimes question our career choices but in a meet-up, we are among those who get it. Meet-up members understand the incurable disease of voice-over performance. And for just those few hours every month, you get to talk shop where nobody looks at you funny. Usually.

They are fragile eco-systems, these voice-over meet-up groups, because they live and die by the quality of the talent (performance and business-wise) in the group. It should be a group, not something led by one individual. Plus people come and go…the success of every meeting is not guaranteed. Which is why everyone who is in an on-going, effective and most importantly interactive meetup group should be very thankful. I know I am.