Entries Tagged as 'commentary'

recording with robin hood

Robin Hood Studios Tyler Tx audioconnell voiceover talentAs I have mentioned in the past, I am a big proponent of finding local studios to record in when you are traveling. You meet new people and your recording environment is likely a thousand times better.

Well this week while in Tyler, Texas, I had some recording to do. I have been to Tyler before but hadn’t actually needed to record. This time, there was voiceover work to be done.

Off I went to Google. Immediately, I was drawn to one of the studios on the list. Robin Hood Studios. Great name, right?

Well more than a name, a cool history.

ZZ Top Platinum Album Robin Hood Studios audioconnell Voiceover Talent May 19

One of the platinum ZZ Top Albums at Robin Hood Studios in Tyler, TX

So Robin Hood Brians is the owner and chief engineer at the studio – which you wouldn’t know was a full recording studio just by looking at the building. The building WAS his parent’s house but since 1963 (and with additions built on) it is home to his historic, full service recording studio. For example, do you remember those platinum Z.Z. Top albums in the 70’s and 80’s? Several of them were recorded in the same studio I recorded in…I even had to wear a super long clip-on beard to record there (just kidding).

Voice Over Talent Peter K. O’Connell recording at the historic Robin Hood Studios in Tyler, TX, May 2019

The sound was great and studio was perfect in it’s eclectic-ness.

Robin himself is, as you might imagine, a font of rock and roll and broadcast commercial factoids and stories. He’s been doing this since the 60’s for goodness sakes! I think I was there longer talking to him than I was recording…which was fine with me as we shared great stories.

So if you are anywhere near Tyler and need to do some VO recording (or certainly music recording) I’ve got a place for you! Thanks Robin.

gone but not forgotten – hockey (not voiceover) edition

Peter K. O'Connell Voiceover Buffalo Sabres Carolina Hurricanes hockeyNo, despite their annual, horrible, embarrassing losing record, this professional voiceover talent is NOT giving up his primary allegiance to his boyhood team, the Buffalo Sabres. Evidently he IS talking about himself in the 3rd person (what a diva).

But my Buffalo Sabres are gone for this hockey season. Long gone. Like mathematically eliminated sometime last February gone.

However, in my new hometown of Raleigh, NC, the Carolina Hurricanes are playing the Boston Bruins in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals tonight. And I am supporting the #Canes quite fervently for two reasons.

  1. Boston…almost anything Boston
  2. Don Cherry

Boston I think is pretty obvious…Bruins are a Sabres rival. Patriots are a Bills rival. And the Red Sox…well just never mind, point made.

Don Cherry may not be as clear to everyone but it’s not because he was, at one time, the Bruins Coach.

See old Don…and I mean old and foggy Don…took umbrage (which I guess he does professionally…he’s a professional umbrager) at the Carolina Hurricanes creating an on-ice celebration after their many wins this season AND after the other team has left the ice. Fans love it but old Don says teams can’t entertain after the hockey game is over. It’s a professional sport, he claims…did he not hear about the hockey shoot-out rules?

Don went on Hockey Night in Canada (a show I grew up watching in Buffalo, NY and part of where I got my love of hockey) and called the Carolina Hurricanes a bunch of jerks. Here’s the video.

So as soon as I saw THAT…this life -long, Sabres only and always fan, made the decision to support the Canes by buying the BRILLIANTLY created “Bunch of Jerks” t-shirt produced by the Hurricanes. The Carolina Hurricanes have sold THOUSANDS of these shirts (3 of them to the O’Connells –  we will be wearing them tonight).

Much to his disappointment and likely painfully humbling to Cherry (which he of course would never admit), his comments inadvertently totally rallied the Carolina Hurricanes hockey troops worldwide. The Canes now have my support…unless they play the Sabres and then screw the Canes…it’s all about my Sabres then.

So YES, I want Don Cherry and Hockey Night in Canada to come to Raleigh for a Conference or Finals game…we will wear our shirts and scare the paisley out of old Don Cherry.

33 years between radio gigs

Before last week, the last time I hosted a live on-air radio show was 1986.

Peter K. O'Connell Catholic 540-AM Divine Mercy Radio April 2019

Voice Over Talent Peter K. O’Connell hosting the first live broadcast and first on-air pledge drive for Catholic 540-AM Divine Mercy Radio in Raleigh, NC, April 2019

I was thinking about that in 2019 on April 29th at 0 Dark Thirty in the morning as I was driving from my house to WETC-AM in Raleigh, NC to be on the radio for the next 3 days – a shift of about 12 hours each day.

Maybe I should back up a bit in the story.

About 6 years ago, when I lived in Buffalo, NY, there was a Catholic radio station network there that had asked people to help voice some of their promos. So I did that for the Stations of The Cross radio network to help them out…I’m a professional voiceover talent so, I decided, this would not be a heavy lift! 😉 Glad to help.

This was a volunteer effort because Catholic radio stations generally don’t make much money and often barely break even. They are usually completely listener supported. I hadn’t done much community service work at that time (I did all that in the decades before…and those were some heavy lifts!).

Some voice talents like to read for the blind, some like to donate their voices on spots for charities they support and I decided helping a couple of Catholic radio stations would be my volunteer work.

So 3 years ago, when the Mrs. and I were considering moving to Raleigh, NC, we were actually in RDU, looking at schools for the kids. If we found one we liked, we agreed we would move here (we did and…we did). But during that visit, I also checked to see if there was Catholic radio in the Triangle (RTP).

Turns out there was Catholic radio in Raleigh & Durham although it was a pair of low power FMs (LP); the ownership of Divine Mercy Radio, Inc., was trying to buy an area AM station but that sale hadn’t gone through at the time. When I called and volunteered my VO services to them…they were pretty happy that I called.

I have been voicing and producing promos for Divine Mercy Radio since then. Then this past February when the sale of the AM station they bought finally closed (and that closing happened pretty fast) they were suddenly on the air across Eastern and Central North Carolina. LOTS of work lay ahead for everyone volunteering.

WETC-AM RALEIGH, NC CATHOLIC 540-AM DIVINE MERCY RADIORunning a non-commercial, listener supported radio station like WETC-AM is pretty much a non-stop fundraising effort. The station can not operate without money so, without commercials, they need to fundraise. And if you’re a radio station, part of that fundraising means you need to go on-air and ask for money. If you have a 10,000 watt fundraising stick, you better wield it.

Which brings me to last week.

The station didn’t really have anybody else besides me with on-air radio experience. Or radio experience period. So when we talked about what an on-air pledge drive was going to sound like on the radio station, I was nominated…recruited…incarcerated…whatever you call it, I was hosting.

Well, I thought to myself: in for a penny, in for a pound.

That’s where I found myself, that Monday morning, sitting down in front of a microphone, one on-air switch away from broadcasting on a 10,000 watt AM radio station to 3 million people across Eastern and Central North Carolina with nothing more than a binder with some notes in it and my wits.

So really all I had was a binder.

But at 6:55 AM on Monday, April 29, 2019, I got to be the first live voice on Catholic 540-AM since the station went on the air in February (it carries network programming from EWTN, Ave Maria Radio & Relevant Radio). And it felt like only 33 seconds versus 33 years since I last hosted a radio show. Mind you, I had never hosted an on-air pledge drive…ever! My experience was with music radio and live request shows.

Peter K. O'Connell, John Dornan Catholic 540 AM Spring 2019 Pledge Drive

Voice Over Talent Peter K. O’Connell and John Dornan, Director Of Communications for the Diocese of Raleigh co-hosting the first on-air pledge drive for Catholic 540-AM Divine Mercy Radio in Raleigh, NC, April 2019

I was anxious as I went on the air that morning…but I wasn’t nervous. That surprised me a little. I wanted everything to go well yet I was in control…my pacing was a bit fast out of the gate, but I adjusted and it just flowed. The format was about 15-20 minutes of the pledge drive every hour. Sometimes I was solo and sometimes I had visitors / co-hosts. The co-hosts really made the breaks sound better than just me alone.

Three days later, it was over.

After barely 3 months on the air, in our first live broadcast ever and our first on-air pledge drive ever, Catholic 540-AM • Divine Mercy Radio raised almost $30,000. Early budget numbers had us only making $10,000.

Divine Mercy Radio Board Members Keith Flanary and Betty Rogosich with Volunteer Peter K. O'Connell during the first on-air pledge drive for Catholic 540 AM Divine Mercy Radio in Raleigh, NC, April 2019

Divine Mercy Radio Board Members Keith Flanary and Betty Rogosich with station volunteer & host Peter K. O’Connell during the first on-air pledge drive for Catholic 540 AM Divine Mercy Radio in Raleigh, NC, April 2019

While I am sharing my perspective on the event, it was in no way at all a one man show. It was, in fact, a TOTAL team effort of dedicated, loyal and kind volunteers. I was only a very small part of it.

It was an honor to get to work with such a fine group of people. I was pleased to be able to donate my services, doing something I have experience with, that helped the team succeed.

And yes, I was a little amazed that after all that time, one doesn’t forget how to radio. 🙂

doing SOMETHING is better than feeling helpless – radio edition

It was interesting to be at a Starbucks yesterday, doing some work on my computer, when word came out about the horrendous fire at Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris (Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris).

People talking about it were very shaken. Like, amazingly so. Various people noted how tragic it was…then the spire fell. That shook folks. Was it a terrorist attack (seems not, as of this writing) or accident (at this time, it seems so).

It went beyond Catholicism for these folks – who in fact, in my overhearing, didn’t even bring that up – it was about the art and the history…that was more the impact on their spirit than religion. Perfectly valid perspectives on such a religious AND historic place, especially if you practice a different faith or don’t believe in any religion.

Suffice it to say, listening to conversations and reading social media, many people were sucker punched by this terrible incident and felt pretty helpless.

I felt the same way…then I realized there WAS something I could do. It wasn’t much but it WAS something.

Catholic 540-AM Divine Mercy Radio Raleigh Durham NCI have, for some time now, volunteered my voice work for a few Catholic radio stations. Most Catholic radio stations are 501(c)(3) non-profits and most are run completely by volunteers. When I lived in Buffalo, I donated voice work to The Station of The Cross Catholic Radio Network. When I moved to Raleigh, I began helping with production and programming at Catholic 540-AM • Divine Mercy Radio.

Late Monday afternoon, as this was all unfolding in Paris, I was in the parking lot of my son’s school waiting to pick him up.  There, I was struck with an idea. What if Catholic 540-AM put together just a brief prayer for Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris, it’s parishioners, staff and friends. No big production, just something simple we could play on air for the next few days so listeners could, if they wanted, offer up their private prayers too while they listened.

This type of community remembrance is something radio (no matter the format) has always done exceptionally well.

OK…but then I had to figure out what we’d do.

Well, Notre Dame is French for Our Lady, referencing Mary, the Mother of God, someone incredibly important to Catholics. So the prayer needed to be the Hail Mary. Then I decided we’d need to do that prayer in French for it to be both respectful and impactful. So I called a Frenchman.

Liz de Nesnera Voiceover Talent

Bilingual female voiceover talent Liz de Nesnera

Well, actually a French Lady…and while she is French through heritage, she hails from New Jorseey. But she’s awesome and Liz de Nesnera did not hesitate when I asked her to voice the Hail Mary in French. She carries the whole piece and it worked out so nicely because of HER. She even offered to share her prayer with all the EWTN affiliates for them to create their own prayer.


It’s very simple. Heartfelt. Not fancy. But not nothing. And that’s something.

the voiceover agent series: how I partnered with Umberger Agency in Atlanta, GA

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 Umberger 19 Because of a voiceover car trip from Ventura Beach, California to Los Angeles, I joined the voiceover talent agency roster of Umberger Agency in Atlanta, GA.

Yes, I would agree, that is some wacked out geographic math on the way to securing voiceover representation but my voiceover journey has never included a lot of straight lines. In fact, if my heritage were Indian instead of Irish, I feel strongly my Indian voiceover name would have been Circuitous.

I had a rental car that I had driven from LAX to the Marriott in Ventura where Amy Snively was hosting FaffCon 4. This was the infamous FaffCon where we all went out on a three-hour whale watching expedition — where people saw ZERO whales but did see dozens of people from the conference throwing up over the side of the boat.

‘Oh, you’re prone to sea sickness? You should definetly go on a three hour ocean cruise. What could possibly go wrong??’ 🙂

The event itself was awesome (I had a great time on the boat but I don’t get sea sick. And I met Lauren McCullough (winning!)!!!).

As I was leaving at the end of FaffCon 4, I asked if anybody else needed a lift to LAX as it was just me in the car. I was leaving the next day and was staying overnight at LAX to catch an early morning flight.

Why, yes, there were some folks who needed a ride. If memory serves, it was Doug Turkel, Sean Caldwell (who I met for the first time –I think– at this FaffCon), Amanda Fellows and Kelley Buttrick.

Now normally, you might think a car ride from Ventura to LAX with these fine folks would be a plenty good story in and of itself. Or you might say that a highway trip that involved these folks and then also driving behind a trailer filled with port-a-potties with yards of toilet paper spewing out from inside them and unspooling across the highway — for miles —- would be story enough!

But no, there was more to this 2012 story.

As happens when you get 5 voice talents in a car for an hour coming from a terrific voiceover conference — voiceover will be discussed. Often multiple conversations as once.

During the discussion, we were speaking about our agents and Atlanta’s Jeffrey Umberger came up. I believe Doug and Kelley were on his agency roster already.

I was on the roster of another voiceover agent in Atlanta – who I’ve long since fired – and who I believe may be a voiceover agent part time between selling Mary Kay Cosmetics, Amway and picking up children from school. This guy was not terribly focused on the voiceover agency business, which not surprisingly, there wasn’t much of for him.

Peter K. O'Connell and Jeffrey Umberger

Voice Talent Peter K. O’Connell and Voiceover Agent Jeffrey Umberger in Atlanta, 2016

As Kelley and Doug were singing Jeffrey’s praises, I said I would have to introduce myself to him. To which Kelley responded “Oh you HAVE to be on Jeffrey’s roster! I will call him this week!” Which I thought was very kind of her, yet I remember thinking ‘well…people get busy and forget’.

Not Buttrick!

BOOM! She’s on the phone to Umberger. BOOM! (well a little later Boom, but still a Boom) Umberger calls me and says ‘If you don’t join my voiceover agency’s roster, Kelley Buttrick has threatened to slash my tires and I just bought a whole new set of really expensive tires!!’

No she never really made that threat (it’s a joke!).

But Jeffrey did ask me to join his VO roster and we have been partners in voiceover…and friends…ever since.


the voiceover agent series: how I partnered with Big Mouth Talent in Chicago, IL

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 Big Mouth 19 350As of this writing, Big Mouth Talent is actually my newest agent. And it maybe one of my favorite agent stories because getting a new agent wasn’t even on my mind.

I was looking for a recording studio…and some heat.

Back in February of this year, you may recall that Chicago, IL had a cold spell of record breaking proportions. -23 degrees Fahrenheit (not counting the wind – in the “Windy City” – so the “real feel” was waaay colder than that by like double). Really unpleasant weather.

So naturally, I was IN CHICAGO during those exact days…and I needed a recording studio because an overseas voiceover client required some fast turnover.

I did “the Google” to search for a voiceover recording studio. In my search I wasn’t so much concerned with price as I was with distance. I was fortunate enough to be at a hotel in downtown Chicago but I wanted something within walking distance…even though with the cold, no matter where I walked, it was going to be OMG cold even for a Buffalonian.

I found within 3-4 blocks of my hotel there was a voiceover studio called Chicago Recording Company…fairly priced and they had a studio available that evening.

This was not the coldest evening of my stay but it was a pretty miserable evening to be going for a walk in downtown Chicago. Yet I pressed on (doesn’t that sound dramatic…I’m such a baby! I was fine.)

I had no idea just how many studios CRC had but it was a big and bustling place, even late in the day. It was, though, like a very efficient doctor’s office where I completed some paperwork, sat down and was escorted to my studio in short order.

The recording facilities were very nice and I was done with my narration in a half hour. They were very complimentary about my work, which they certainly didn’t have to be. That was a nice plus.

On the way out, I asked the studio manager if they had a voiceover roster. He said they primarily used a Chicago voiceover agency for casting, Big Mouth Talent. He encouraged me to speak with them.

Kelly Wilkening Agent Big Mouth Talent Chicago audioconnellI emailed VO Agent Kelly Wilkening there sometime later about the advice I was given by CRC and she asked for some of my voiceover demos. About a week later, we were working together and it’s been pretty terrific.

All because I was willing (and needed) to take a short but very cold walk in downtown Chicago.

So you can keep your portable rigs (there’s value there). But I think you cannot go wrong working with local recording studios folks, making connections and having the opportunity for something unexpectedly good to happen.