Entries Tagged as 'radio'

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.


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….

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.


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

female voice talents – there may be an opportunity for you


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.

going back to the scene of the crime

WVUD-FM, Kettering/Dayton Ohio_1983

WVUD-FM, Kettering/Dayton Ohio_1983

When I left the University of Dayton in Dayton, Ohio in April, 1986 with my Bachelor of Arts degree in Radio and Television, I was just about as clueless as I am now. The only difference being that now I realize how much I don’t know.

Back then, like almost everybody else who graduates at any time in history, you just don’t know. All I knew was that I wanted to make a career for myself in radio. That was not what life had in store for me. So much for plans.

I hadn’t been back to Dayton and UD specifically in at least 20 years, so when I had the opportunity to go back this fall on business, I of course took a few minutes to go back to U.D. Rather than talk about all the amazing things I saw, I will say only this: the school would never accept me as a student today. No way.

Of course, my professional broadcasting career started at the University of Dayton – it’s where I first got a paycheck for talking into a microphone. I started at a little carrier-current radio station (technically it was one step above tying two strings together with tin cans at either end) called WDCR.

WDCR in 1982 FRONT Row Tracy Hurd, Ron Alexander MIDDLE Row Clare Bracken, Gary Sandy, Jim Secunde BACK Row Peter K. O'Connell, Scott Rolle, Mike Savino, Unknown (sorry) and Mark Kraus

WDCR in 1982 FRONT Row Tracy Hurd, Ron Alexander MIDDLE Row Clare Bracken, Gary Sandy, Jim Secunde BACK Row Peter K. O’Connell, Scott Rolle, Mike Savino, Unknown (sorry) and Mark Kraus

It was, as the above picture might indicate, a roomy closet of a radio station but for me it was home. And I thought I was in hog heaven. I was working with people like Tracy Hurd, Scott Rolle, Jim Secunde, Dan Suffoletto, Joe Lombardi, Ginny Judge, Lisa Curie, Liz Benz and Mark Kraus (as well as others I am ignorantly and regretfully omitting). I was extremely fortunate to have joined on with that station when I did…wonderful people.

Peter K. O'Connell, on the air at WDCR in Dayton, OH circa 1982

Peter K. O’Connell, on the air at WDCR in Dayton, OH circa 1982

But then in late fall of ’82, I got called up to “the big show”. WVUD-FM Kettering/Dayton was a 50,000 watt hot AC formatted radio station covering 3 states and they needed an afternoon news announcer. With my extensive news background (uh, none) I was brought on to bring the days news to the Miami Valley. To say I sucked at it was an understatement but I was happy —at least when I forgot to be scared to death about the fraud I was committing daily (pretending to know what I was doing on-air).

Peter K. O'Connell, on the air at WVUD-FM Kettering/Dayton, 1984

Peter K. O’Connell, on the air at WVUD-FM Kettering/Dayton, 1984

Sometime after that I was given a regular disc jockey shift (weeknights from 6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.), then moved into the production manager job (after something blew-up in the production department while I was away on vacation). My passion for voice-over kicked around this time too. Then I was made host of the all-request oldies show on Saturday nights (which was the #1 show in the market and the only decent ratings the station got – just the facts, folks). So by the time I left in ’86, I’d had quite a run. I knew I was happy doing all that but I didn’t realize just how happy….like probably one of the best times of my entire life happy, looking back.

Not too long after I graduated, the University decided to get out of the broadcasting business and sold WVUD to Clear Channel. The station was an AC leader in the market for a lot of years as WLQT (Lite 99.9). But evidently fortunes changed and it switched to country this summer (and a new frequency) as B-94.5 (with one of the crappiest logos in all of radio and that’s saying something).

So going back to U.D. on this trip, I knew I was not going to find a radio station there (the WVUD calls are now owned by the University of Delaware). But I did find the echos of a special time for those of us who worked there. It’s both cool and sad to see it now.

For example, when WVUD left, the school crafted a bigger, better school station named WUDR that they took to the off campus housing area known as “The Ghetto”. U.D. has tried to rename it as something like “The Village” but it’s still The Ghetto – only with nicer houses. I’ll talk about WUDR in a moment.

So for folks who worked at WVUD, these next photos will bring back some memories….

University of Dayton_ Kennedy Center_2013

This, for example, is where WDCR once stood (as well as an ATM). But not any more. And just to the left of this is a Kinkos kind of copy store, right in the union.

University of Dayton_WVUD_ Studio window

This will be a familiar sight for many…this is the window in Kennedy Union that looked into the on-air studio. I remember taking a tour as a high school student and looking through this window and thinking “OK, I think I need to go to school here.” I believe my tour guide was Libbi Richmond (now Keating).

The interesting thing about this area (and maybe logically so) is that it’s all about TV production with the old radio production classroom next to the TV studio…

University of Dayton_Audio Production Lab

(this room) the only audio thing left in the area.

So now back to WVUD-FM and the studio entrance or more accurately, TV Production storage area #1 which looks like this…

University of Dayton_WVUD_ Studio entrance

In this area, the some of the transmitter equipment, processors and satellite receivers and recorders were located…along with the last of its kind teletype from either UPI or AP….I can’t remember. The engineer’s office was out there, the guys who kept us on the air like Bob White. From here it was on to the studio….

University of Dayton_WVUD_ Studio1

What is now home to more storage (including a large purple exercise ball…as TV people – unlike radio people – evidently like to stay in shape) used to be what you saw as you came into the main air studio. That window you see in the back corner is the same one featured in that black and white picture above of me on the air at WVUD. I don’t recall that white post being in the studio but to the right of it would have been the main announcer console and to the left of it was the news announcing locations (with two mics, for that brief time WVUD had Rod Sommer doing morning news and John Condit doing morning sports with Mike McMurray as the morning host).

University of Dayton_WVUD_Studio2

And when you were sitting at the main announcer console, this was the view you had looking out into the entry way. It was at this console where talented on-air people worked including John Luttrell (who I know gave me my first shift at WDCR and who I think helped get me my job at WVUD), Sandy Huff, Ron Alexander, Jeff Wagner, Clare Bracken, Luanne Seethaler, Pat Haverland, Mary Haines, Gordon Smith, Troy Christopher and many others (who I am irresponsibly forgetting) broadcast the sounds of FM-100, Hitradio 100, Today’s Music 99.9 FM and probably a few other monikers I am forgetting.

We can’t go back in time and we shouldn’t but for a little while on this trip, I did anyway.

Would that I had the opportunity, I would tell my 1982-self to just focus on everything that I was experiencing and enjoy it a little more, listen a little more because it certainly was a gift, getting to learn from all those people. As a recipient, I was not nearly humble enough.

But the story doesn’t end here. Remember I mentioned the University does have a radio station, WUDR.


The studio is off campus in a cool area called Artstreet, right in the middle of the UD Ghetto. Compared to WDCR’s studio, their studios are like penthouse suites! The general manager of the station is a student named Carson Smith, a very nice guy who had the misfortune to be in the station when I dropped by asking all kinds of questions. He was very patient. I kept saying weird stuff like “you have no idea how nice the station’s equipment is!” And, “you have computers here?!” It was very nice in there, considering what student radio used to be like at UD. Oy!

University of Dayton_WUDR_2

Like I said, he was very patient, having no idea who I was and whether or not he should call campus security (he didn’t cause he couldn’t find his cell phone).

University of Dayton_WUDR_3

It was nice to see that, in spite of its challenges, there are still people at UD who care about radio, even though students today don’t know very much at all about the University’s impressive radio history (and that’s the Communication Department’s fault – whom I’m guessing really don’t care if said blame lands at their feet).

University of Dayton_WUDR_1

One final note though, in spite of appearances, money is extremely tight for WUDR and they could use all the financial support they can get. There are alot of places at UD asking for money BUT, if you could funnel your regular UD donations directly to WUDR, a little would go a LONG way for them. And this is me making the ask on their behalf, I was not put up to this by Carson or anyone at UD.

University of Dayton_WUDR_4_Peter K. O'Connell

Anyway, that was my trip to Dayton and down memory lane. Sometimes you’ve got to remember where you’ve been to know where you still want to go…even at this age! 🙂