Requiescat in pace Frank Tavares

Frank Tavares NPRUnderwritingVO

Frank Tavares, underwriting voiceover talent of NPR for over 30 years, died in late December 2019.

You and I didn’t know Frank Tavares yet we both knew him.

Tavares, who died this week from complications resulting from ALS, was the underwriting (also known as the funding credits) voice of National Public Radio for about 30 years.  NPR fired Tavares in 2013, likely for the sake of change (just my opinion, I have no inside info).

Tavares’ opening line was usually “Support for NPR comes from…”.

His delivery was clear, attention getting and steady…just what you need in that kind of role.

Seven years later, it seems NPR is still trying to steady it’s underwriting voice ship, as you might expect when someone replaces a 30-year legend. As you may recall from my 2015 post, the first announcer brought into replace Tavares didn’t work out.

Subsequent to that, the then interim voice has become the regular underwriting voice….except I often hear a male voice now doing the support reads. So maybe there are two voices…maybe more?

I think NPR can’t quite decide who the network wants to sound like on these funding credits anymore.

In order to appeal to all their various, likely hyper-sensitive  demographics, I believe they’ll be the first network to hire a computerized voice for promos. A voice that appeals to no one but also offends no one.

Here is a link to NPR’s story about Tavares passing.

movies give out sound awards for a good reason

I was never going to use my Radio and Television degree in college for anything to do with movies. I liked movies but the production process is too slow for me.

But with my production knowledge and awareness, I respect the work that everyone in the film making process performs.

I bring up movies because this week is a bit of a movie production milestone (a real one, not an advertised one). The 9th and final episode completing the original Star Wars story will premiere on December 20th.

Yes there will be future episodes that will no doubt tie in bits of these past 9 stories and some of the past actors but this 9th movie really is a fork in the cinematic road for this franchise.

Huge history, huge budget, huge pressure. Editor’s note: I really enjoy Star Wars and have seen them all (even the bad ones). I am NOT , however, what you would call a Star Wars fanatic. I know some, not all, of the characters and some of the movie’s back stories but hardly all of them. I am not Star Wars obsessed but I enjoy the movie making spectacle that it brings. In other words, I like the movies but I do not live the movies.

I was watching the final The Rise of Skywalker trailer which was masterfully produced in all aspects. I’m thinking as I watched it that even if you are somehow new to Star Wars (maybe based on your age), should you know nothing about the series, you’d probably see this movie just based on this trailer.

Of course the visuals are vital to this trailer, the graphics smartly guide this short story…but the sound and the trailer sound design really actually grabbed me more than the visuals the first time I saw this trailer. And yes, it IS only a trailer but I think THIS is trailer is exceptionally well done.

Certainly there is the iconic Star Wars theme played in the second half of the trailer (the part of the trailer I like the most)…and the orchestral arrangement for this trailer I thought was especially moving.

But the sound mix with scene sound bites, sound effects and music are so good, this trailer could almost be a stand alone radio spot as is.

Listen here to the audio part of the trailer that I think could be a radio spot FIRST.

 

SECOND, watch the full trailer here. Then let me know what you think.

 

peter’s new sports radio imaging demo

SportsRadio Peter K. O'Connell Sports Radio ImagingWHY DID I PRODUCE my new sport radio imaging demo? Well first off, mine needed updating, so there’s that.

But with the traveling I have done recently, listening to so much radio I was reminded how important the sport radio format has become to listeners like me…and you.

LISTEN TO PETER K. O’CONNELL’S SPORTS RADIO IMAGING DEMO:

There are few radio formats where radio imaging is so important. While many cities are fortunate enough to have national AND local sports radio programs in their markets, my travels tell me many more sports radio stations fill up programs only with national programs – with no local, daily sports radio hosts.

So the audio branding that sports radio imaging provides becomes vital to these radio stations because the radio imaging is the ONLY way outside of the radio station web site that listeners know who what they are listening to…the radio imaging IS the brand.

The audio brand needs to sound like knowledgeable but likeable sports-nut driven to bring all the sports news and action to listeners. As an experienced radio imaging voice talent, I am glad to provide that service to sports radio stations. Please listen to the demo and…if you’re hiring, give me a call and let’s talk.

of background singers…and voice actors – same church, different pew

20 Feet From StardomAs you well know – if you know me at all – I am notorious late to seeing, listening or experiencing quality movies or music or events. I’m just busy and I have other priorities.

My feeling is I will see it or hear it or experience it when I am supposed to. I believe I have that kind of fate or guidance…spiritual or instinctive guidance, helping me through life and I appreciate it very much.

So when I tell you that in December of 2019 I have only now seen to 2015 Academy Award winning documentary 20 Feet From Stardom, you won’t be surprised.

Neither will I be surprised that you probably haven’t seen it either, because it’s a documentary and they don’t get the promo that blockbusters do.

Voice actors need to see this movie.

The brief synopsis is that this movie studies (quite movingly) the history and impact that background singers have made on popular music. You hear from rock stars you know (who’s respect for background singers is immeasurable) and from people you might not know but whom you have heard and sang along with.

As you witness the movie unfold, you will be amazed.

But the movie also studies why amazing singers prefer to stay in the back ground…or try to step forward without always resounding success.

Sound much like voiceover to you?

I think it sounds EXACTLY like the voiceover industry and if you are a voice talent, checkout Netflix or another streaming service and revel in 90 minutes of culture, talent, history and…personal reflection.

I hope this helps.

New O’Connell TV Affiliate SHOW Promo Demo

Peter K. O'Connell Television Affiliate Show Demo

Affiliate promo voiceover work is one of the best parts of this business for a voice actor…it’s always new, the evolution of it is fascinating if you ever study it (even over just the past few decades), new shows, new news teams…the change keeps it interesting, I think.

Match that constant change with some really smart Creative Services Directors, who always come up with new promotional ideas for shows and events, and the voiceover work doesn’t feel so much like work.

My new television affiliate show promo voiceover demo includes not just my voiceover work (which I think is pretty good) but it also includes some of those great promo concepts that I mentioned, including shows like Ellen and Family Feud. The concepts and my reads are show-friendly, advertiser-friendly and overall…very brand-friendly for the stations.

The television affiliate news demo that I recently produced has a different feel – still promotional, but news is often times more serious than entertainment programming and so news promos need to have a more serious edge.

Both types of promo are right within my wheelhouse. If you’re a CSD looking for a new show or news promo voice for your television station (no matter the market), listen to the demo BELOW, please get in touch with me and let’s talk. Thanks.

LISTEN TO THE NEW PETER K. O’CONNELL TELEVISION AFFILIATE SHOW PROMO DEMO:

PBS updates their network logo

PBS logo Old vs New 2019There are a few brands that get a lot of attention when they change their logo.

The first one that comes to my mind is Pepsi. You may have other examples.

Some people think that when companies change a logo, it’s meaningless. We marketers call those people soulless. There’s nothing we can do to help them….or their pocket protectors. 😉

When the big TV networks’ logos change, it’s still a big deal. While the big 5 networks (ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC and PBS) themselves seem to be losing the cultural influence they once had, due to the preponderance of programming choices from streaming sources…broadcast TV networks still get a ton of viewers.

So PBS (the Public Broadcasting Service) changing its logo this week on the eve of its 50th anniversary is worth noting from a branding and marketing perspective. PBS’s programming remains unique in many areas because it offers so much content not found on commercial or cable services. It is also a vital brand to over 300 PBS affiliates around the country.

So let’s take a look at what PBS did.

PBS Logo 2019Right off the bat, the new PBS logo is blue. But not just ANY blue. That’s PBS Blue. Corporations, like PBS, love to stroke their corporate egos by creating a unique color and making up words about what that blue signifies.

You know what PBS Blue signifies? BLUE! Sheeesh! Next item.

For perspective purposes, I should let you know that the circles (aka “the shield”) on the old and new logos are pretty much the same size. That might give you some clues to the changes.

Within the circle (or shield) the heads in the new blue logo are bigger…not a bad move in the digital age. And while it may look like PBS didn’t really change the heads on the shield that much…they actually did.

The “neck” is shorter in the new logo, the noses are slightly less pointed and (in a part I find hysterical, given the brand) the noses are slightly raised.

Also bigger (quite obviously) is the PBS wordmark. I think bigger is better for this logo. It’s designed in a sans-serif font that was (here we go again) custom designed for PBS and is know as PBS Sans typeface.

If you’re thinking it looks very similar to about 3 or 4 fonts from your Microsoft Word font catalogue, you’ll get no argument from me. Those are your tax dollars at work, folks.

The final word? It’s a nice redesign and better than the old logo (although I thought the PBS logo of 1984 was pretty classic – see the video link below). I think if I was custom designing a font, I could have crafted something more visually interesting then what they ended up with…but they didn’t ask me now, did they? 🙂

WATCH THIS if you want to see a cool video on the history of the PBS logo.