Entries Tagged as 'radio'

past radio glory in raleigh, nc

Former WPTF Studios, Raleigh, NCI have a strange habit when I am in a new area of checking out large radio towers to see where they lead.

This has something to do with my continued fascination with radio broadcasting. It’s a disease of sorts.

I am not the only person who suffers from it, though. Scott Fybush is but one radio person who loves radio towers so much, he has a calendar on them.

So as I learn my way around the Raleigh, Durham, Cary area in North Carolina, I was bound to find a radio tower that I had to investigate.

When I first saw the tower, I had other people with me and they wouldn’t go on a radio tower adventure (spoil sports!)

But this week, while at lunch I found it again and I went on the hunt. The hunt is not always as easy as you would think, because sometimes the overgrowth (sometimes intentional, sometimes not) makes getting near the tower tough.

This one was fenced off but to find the remains of the old radio station next to the tower was like Christmas in September! It was literally on the “other side” of a railroad track.

WPTF original radio station Raleigh NCWPTF was once an amazing station in this market. 50,000 watts back in 1941…just think about how far THAT signal travelled.

Programming changes in recent years evidently impacted it ratings in the market…but this building is NOT indicative of the station’s current status…it’s just the old building, which I think is really cool. The station still exists today, with its studios in a different location as part of a cluster of stations.

Now owned by Curtis Media Group, back in 1927 The Durham Life Insurance Company purchased the station (then called WRCO)  from the Wynne Company. They changed the call letters to WPTF for the company’s slogan “We Protect The Family” (oh, I also love radio call letter stories).

You can read about it’s history here

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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bbc greatness with mike cooper

Voice Talent Mike Cooper_BBC Radio

There were many great moments I enjoyed at VO Atlanta but one of the more unexpected moments involved a previously unknown (to me anyway) past life of one of my voice-over friends.

I knew Mike Cooper was from the UK (the accent was a clue) and I knew he worked in voice-over there before immigrating to the states a few years ago and making a home with his family in Asheville, North Carolina.

But up until he and I were speaking at VO Atlanta, I had NOT known that Mike Cooper – voice-over talent HAD BEEN Mike Cooper – news voice for BBC News. What?!!

There will be some reading this who think ‘what’s the big deal?’

bbc newsThose are folks who probably never listened to a short wave radio and listened to BBC News, long before the internet or before NPR started playing BBC World Service broadcasts on the overnight.

Listening to BBC News at that time made the other side of the Atlantic come alive to this young and future broadcaster.

Nothing in the US on TV or radio sounded anything like BBC News – not the stories (always more focused on the world than we are here) not the cadence and certainly not the enunciation. Oy, these people were (are) good.

Listening to the BBC sounded like you were listening to your well-bred cousin who went to the right schools and knew all the right people.

So at VO Atlanta, at one of the after parties, I was speaking with Marci Polzin of Artistic Talent and Mike Cooper when Mike shared this news.

I radio-geeked out a little bit. Kind like Brad Venable at any Comic-Con.

So I immediately made him announce some news, right there in the middle of the party in front of me and Marci. Mike looked at me like I had 6 heads but I said he had to do it. And he did. It was like I was in the booth at Broadcast House. Totally awesome!

So as an added treat, I few weeks later Mike was kind enough to send me a copy of his final BBC News broadcast, a portion of which I will gladly play for you here.

LISTEN TO A SAMPLE HERE

When I grow up, I want to sound that cool.

female voice talents – there may be an opportunity for you

npr_logo

News from All Access today reported that National Public Radio is dropping their current underwriting voice talent. They have one in the interim but it sounds like they may be willing to audition other voices. They seem to want a female voice. Go get ’em, ladies (and no I don’t know where to send you — you have to do SOME work here).

Now while you ladies are practicing saying “This is NPR. National Public Radio” I’d like to address this change of voice talent at NPR.

The long time underwriting voice talent for NPR was a gentleman named Frank Tavares, who had been the underwriting voice talent for a reported 31 years. He was great but a change was made and that’s showbiz.

The network’s idea, it would seem, was to insert a cost-saving move while also vocally changing things up a bit by adding a female voice. OK, no problem there.

Auditions were held and the winning voice talent was an actress named Sabrina Farhi, who started on NPR in October 2013.

Her NPR underwriting reads were awful. Dreadful. Like nails on an angry chalkboard.

And none of the bad NPR reads were her fault. Repeat, NONE of them! I can prove it.

I’d heard Sabrina’s underwriting reads and could not get past the horrible, robotic read she voiced. This was the winner? Didn’t anyone else hear how tone deaf and unlistenable these underwriting reads sounded?

So after a while, during the few times I actually listened to NPR, I just switched away during the underwriting reads. Not what the network wanted, I’m sure. But I assumed it was just my professional ear not being able to grasp what the network was looking for. Maybe I was missing the musicality of it all. Certainly, I’d been wrong before (I told myself) and maybe I’m wrong on this.

Well, given the announced change, I guess not.

However, after reading tonight’s news on the change at NPR, I went to Sabrina Farhi’s web site and listened to her commercial voice-over demo. I couldn’t figure out how this voice got hired!

Upon further investigation, I rule as follows:

Sabrina Farhi has a wonderful voice which offers a clean, thoughtful interpretation of copy. The voice I heard on the TIAA CREF commercial was NOT the read I heard for the NPR underwriting voice-overs.

This woman is a talented voice actress with real chops who, if she was directed to use that TIAA CREF voice on the NPR underwriting reads, would and probably should still be employed today. On a side note, she like me has terrible trouble pronouncing the word “statistically”. And so if she’s anything like me, she’s an amazing voice talent! 😉

So my professional experience leads me to believe that it’s not the voice talent that’s at fault in this case, it’s the producers.

Yup, somebody either in underwriting production or in the underwriting department directed Sabrina to read in a monotone, cold and oblivious way that was evidently unlistenable to more people than just me.

The underwriting voice for NPR has to have a certain authority to it, yes, but NPR (more than any broadcast network) has a kind of humanism attached to it (in my opinion, anyway) that needs to be conveyed in the voice of the radio network. Frank did a great job doing that and Sabrina probably could have too if someone was directing her correctly.

So now it’s been announced that voice talent Jessica Hansen will serve as NPR’s underwriting announcer in a trail run beginning this month. Here’s hoping that she gets a new director who better understands voice-over direction, voice talents in general and the NPR brand.

lamest radio station logos

Lamest Radio Station Logos Logo

There are many things that frustrate me about the current state of radio. But one of the things that drives me the most crazy are some of the absolutely not attractive logos that radio stations come up with for their formats! The stations are probably great but what’s with these logos?!

I want YOU to send ME your least favorite broadcast (not internet or LPFM) radio station logos. I will post them here (for fun only – we’re not trying to cause problems here). Let’s try and keep them modern – these would be active radio station logos – nothing from decades past, in other words. Send your files to peter at audioconnell dot com.

These are logos that it seems somebody created on their PC or had their child create on their Etch-a-Sketch or that somebody pasted together without any professional, graphic sensibility at all. They are unworthy of the great station they represent and should be re-designed. These station very likely sound better than they look — they need better visual branding and maybe this blog post will help encourage the stations to do that – or maybe this post will be as ignored as all the others posts :).

But of course ugly is in the eye of the beholder and since it’s my blog, I will be the beholder and thus the final arbitrator of whether a radio station logo is truly unattractive enough. Maybe with some professional focus, these stations can get a logo that’s a bit more attractive – something nicer to slap on the side of the station van. So in no particular order, here we go…

WYDB/Dayton (2014)

WYDB/Dayton, OH (2014)

WECK/Buffalo, NY

WECK/Buffalo, NY (2014)

KMRN/Cameron, MO (2014)

KMRN/Cameron, MO (2014)

KKVS/Las Cruces, NM (2014)

KKVS/Las Cruces, NM (2014)

WTKG/Grand Rapids, MI (2014)

WTKG/Grand Rapids, MI (2014)

WHMI/Howell, MI (2014)

WHMI/Howell, MI (2014)

WKXW/Trenton, NJ (2014)

WKXW/Trenton, NJ (2014)

two voice-over jobs i never would have gotten if I didn’t go to high school

Canisius High School

My parents were kind enough to send me to a good high school. Canisius High School in Buffalo, NY

But it was high school mostly know for pumping out future lawyers and doctors and CPA’s and other folks who contribute to society. This was not a school that was known for it’s media graduates who went on to be voice-over talents (was that even a job), video producers or radio production directors. The lone notable media exceptions being Tim Russert (but I believe he sort of slipped into media having graduated with a law degree) and comedian Mark Russell (but come on, he’s a comedian for goodness sake 😉

When I went there, the school did have a Media Production Center but the school didn’t really know what to do with it (the excellent teacher of the Media Center went on to join me as co-owner of a media production company after I graduated college and was a groomsman at my wedding)

With so little focus paid to media at the high school, you can imagine the school’s surprise in 1981 when I approached them about getting credits for a radio internship I fell into at a local radio station. No one had ever done that. And I helped put together a school radio station too….that evidently died after I graduated. But no, I did not have a pocket protector or tape holding my glasses together…most days.

For the longest time, I thought I was pretty much the lone media geek out of a class of about 150+ guys. Upon recent reflection, it turns out I was rather myopic in that thinking.

There were other media geeks who graduated in my class (friends then and friends now) and I’ve been now fortunate enough to work professionally with both of them! That realization simply makes me happy and I’m not sure why but who cares why. I need to enjoy happy, not analyze it!

After I came back from college at the University of Dayton (working in radio there while in school), I was surprised to find my friend Matt Young had gotten an on-air job in Buffalo radio. He sounded great and has worked pretty steady in radio ever since…in Buffalo, now as a station production director. In the past couple of years we’ve gotten to work on a radio campaign (I think it was only one series of spots but I can’t even remember who the client was — that happens in the VO business sometimes as the clients roll through).

Then this week, another talented media geek from my class – Phil Wnuk contacted me from the successful communication company he works for in Chicago saying he needed some voice-over work done and could I help him with that. Heck yea, no problem. Here’s how that project turned out:

How Design Phase is “Making Retail Fun” from Roark, Pirsig & Dobie on Vimeo.

All this reflection has just made me appreciate a couple of things. First it’s nice that some non-lawyer types succeeded out of my high school and occassionally get to work together. Second, be aware of all the unique connections you can make in life – or have already made, even in high school – and to try and remember to never (even today) to take any of them for granted.

What a long strange trip it’s been.

Thanks fellas.