MEDIA RELEASE – O’Connell Plays Tech Dad for Western Union

Western Union LogoENGLEWOOD, CO October 1, 2017 – – While the reasons for needing to send money around the country or around the world haven’t changed that much, the technology we use to do it has changed. For Western Union, the leader in global payment services, their message for consumers is that, in spite of all the technology that helps make sending money possible, actually sending the money through Western Union is usually pretty easy.

In their recent national broadcast radio commercial to make that point, voice actor Peter K. O’Connell was selected as the voice of a well-meaning but not always so tech-savvy Dad who impresses himself and his college-aged son by easily transferring money via the Western Union app.

About Western Union

The Western Union Company (NYSE: WU) is a leader in global payment services. Together with its Vigo, Orlandi Valuta, Pago Facil and Western Union Business Solutions branded payment services, Western Union provides consumers and businesses with fast, reliable and convenient ways to send and receive money around the world, to send payments and to purchase money orders

About Peter K. O’Connell

From Fortune 500 companies to companies that think $500 is a fortune, multi-award winning male voiceover talent Peter K. O’Connell has shared his voiceover skills with a wide variety of global companies. In addition to Western Union, some of Peter’s clients include Duracell Batteries, General Electric, Kraft Foods, PBS Television Network, Shell Oil, Deloitte Canada, U.S. Army, Starz Cable Television Network, BlueCross BlueShield and SunSetter Awnings.

Known as America’s Friendly, Neighborhood Voiceover Talent, Peter is a natural born storyteller whose voice-over work has been featured in radio and TV commercials, corporate narrations, political commercial voice-overs, TV network promos, e-learning narration projects and other media productions. Originally from Buffalo, NY, now living in Raleigh, NC, Peter owns audio’connell Voiceover Talent, a division of O’Connell Communications, LLC. Peter can be reached via audioconnell.com or peterkoconnell.com.

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NOTES FOR EDITORS

CONTACT

Peter K. O’Connell

Your Friendly, Neighborhood Voiceover Talent

audio’connell Voiceover Talent

P.O. Box 5493 | Raleigh, NC 27512-5493

PH. +01 716-572-1800

EM. peter@audioconnell.com W. audioconnell.com

COMPANY MEDIA CENTER

http://www.audioconnell.com/media

PETER K. O’CONNELL VO CREDITS

http://www.audioconnell.com/clientuploads/pdf/PDF%202017/                    OConnell_Peter_Voice_Over_Resume_171001.pdf

COMPANY NAME SPELLING

Use lower case letters- audio’connell or audio’connell Voiceover Talent

COMPANY NAME PRONUNCIATION

au·dio·o’·con·nell (awe-de-oh-oh-kah-nel) or au·di-o’·con·nell (awe-de-oh-kah-nel)

learning from mistakes – the radio version

Being a voiceover talent AND an old radio person, behind the scenes stuff involving announcers has always fascinated me for no particularly good reason. Social media has taught me I’m not the only VO/Radio Guy who finds this stuff interesting.

So the other day, when I was listening to NPR, I noticed there was a different voice doing the underwriting announcement. It was particularly different to me because it was a man.

What was going on? Was this ANOTHER NPR announcer change?

As you may recall from a blog post a few years ago (2013 to be exact; you do have all these posts memorized, don’t you?), a man named Frank Tavares who had been the NPR underwriting voice for decades ended his run. A change was made.

In deciding to make a change in their underwriting voice, NPR management decided to pick a female voice. An voice and stage actress named Sabrina Farhi was chosen.

While I liked her commercial demo, I am on record as saying I did not like the underwriting reads Farhi gave on NPR…. after about 2 years, neither did NPR. For the bad reads, I blame NPR.

In 2015, Jessica Hansen replaced Farhi as NPR underwriting announcer. Fortunately, Farhi is still doing voiceover and theatre work, according to her web site, as she should.

Hansen gives a better promo read than Farhi did but I always hear a kind of aloofness in Hansen’s underwriting reads as opposed to a more friendly or at least conversational read that I think might sound more engaging to the listener.

Also, it should be assumed and can be safely noted, NPR doesn’t give a rat’s butt about how I think their underwriting scripts should be read…likely nobody does.

Also I’m going to assume that Hansen, like her predecessor, is reading as directed so she can’t be blamed if I don’t like her reads.

So since I’ve heard a male underwriting announcer recently, does that mean he has replaced Hansen at NPR?

Doesn’t seem so. But it does seem like I am late to the party on the addition of this second announcer to the NPR funding credits voice roster.

This article from Virginia Commonwealth University notes that their alumnus, Chioke I’Anson is one of two voices now reading Underwriting Promo scripts for NPR. This change took place around November 2016. Evidently I hadn’t been listening closely enough to NPR.

Dr. I’Anson (Ph.D.) is not a professional voice talent. NPR’s director of promotion and audience development heard I’Anson at an NPR Story Tellers Workshop, liked his voice and offered him the job.

Where was the lesson in all of this? Let’s go back to 2013, when NPR replaced Tavares with Farhi…the change was trumpeted across the media. When Farhi was replaced (fairly or unfairly depending on how you look at it), NPR looked bad.

When L’Anson came on board, it was billed as ‘an addition’ to the announcer roster not ‘a replacement’. Further, there was very little written about it. No big announcement, a behind the scenes change, done and done. That, it would seem, was the lesson learned.

voiceover has changed, fortunately faffcon has not

FaffCon 9 Peter K. O'Connell badgeAt the end of FaffCon 9 this weekend in Charlotte, NC, I again did what I have often found myself doing at the end of a FaffCon…trying to take mental pictures of the people there while trying to harness the positive energy in the room.

The faces and energy of the people in the room fills me with hope for my voiceover industry.

Professional voice talents came from all over the country to FaffCon 9…maybe even further, cause I wasn’t checking passports. They each had all kinds of business challenges and insights to share as fellow voiceover business owners. They asked questions, they shared answers.

Some had been in the business as long or even longer than I have been. Some were only 3-4 years into the journey.

FaffCon 9 was wonderfully populated mostly by first and second time Faffers, including the most first time Faffers at ANY FaffCon event, even FaffCon #1.

FaffCon 9 Lunch, Peter K. O'Connell, Tracy Lindley, Debbie Jackson, Mike Lenz, Melanie Murphy, Christi Robbins Bowen

A pre-FaffCon 9 lunch with (starting on the left and going around the table) voice talents Peter K. O’Connell, Tracy Lindley, Debbie Jackson, Mike Lenz, Melanie Murphy and Christi Robbins Bowen

Even though FaffCon had vetted them long ago, some new participants felt, at the beginning of the unconference, that they didn’t belong at FaffCon 9 and that they would be found out to be voiceover frauds. They belonged, of course…they were just initially overwhelmed.

They were not frauds and to Sunday’s closing circle, each new Faffer brought with them a new confidence in their talent and their ability to run their voiceover business.

That’s one of the many wonderful things FaffCon does for every Faffer.

Of course, there are plenty of frauds in voiceover.

There are people who plug a microphone into a computer and with no professional voiceover or technological training (and certainly little discernable VO talent) call themselves a professional voice talent, usually at a dollar a holler.

There are companies within the voiceover industry who lie in wait for those brand new people who have a true desire and calling to be in voiceover but don’t yet know the pitfalls of running a voiceover business. Those disreputable companies (the number of which grows almost weekly) take the money of the well meaning, new VO people, promising them riches and successes that the disreputable companies never provide these new voice actors.

Inexperienced people passing themselves off as pros as well as disreputable companies making promises to new voice talent, taking their money and delivering nothing in return are both changing and hurting the voiceover industry.

FaffCon, to me anyway, is an island of legitimacy in a sea of voiceover frauds and wannabes.

2018 will bring the final FaffCon, FaffCon 10. I will look forward to that special, final event and, for now, try not to think too much about life in voiceover after that.

faffcon 9 charity

HandInHand_FaffCon9

Most everyone in voiceover knows about FaffCon, which starts this Friday. It’s a participant driven educational and networking event that positively impacts just about everyone who has ever attended a FaffCon.

Faffcon9 ipDTL

But beyond the learning and fun, FaffCon has had a charitable component to it. Often, we focus on an important charity within the host city where FaffCon is taking place. Simply put, we pass the hat, with no expectations and seriously no pressure.

The second nicest man in voiceover, Bob Souer, has been the leader of FaffCon’s fundraising efforts pretty much since the beginning…the beginning of FaffCon, not the beginning of time.

In 8 Faffcons, we have raised nearly $30,000. To me, that is wonderful and amazing and generous and and and and.

I bring this up not as a part of the FaffCon team but rather as an individual who is attending his 7th FaffCon and is gobsmacked by the generosity of people who give what they can, because they can. Not everyone can and that’s absolutely OK.

Give the timing of this year’s FaffCon, we are focusing on providing funds for those folks who are trying to recover from both Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. We will be making our FaffCon donation to Comic Relief USA’s Hand in Hand: A Benefit for Hurricane Relief. Our donation to this fund will benefit the Rebuild Texas Fund, United Way of Greater Houston, Habitat for Humanity, Save The Children, Direct Relief, Feeding Texas as well as The Mayor’s Fund for Hurricane Harvey Relief (administered by the Greater Houston Foundation).

Working together, these groups will ensure those most impacted by these Hurricanes have the help they need.

So if you will be joining us for FaffCon 9, you are not expected or commanded to participate just because you will be at FaffCon. No. If you do not want to or cannot or already gave….you need not be concerned. All is good. If you can support our charity efforts with whatever amount you are comfortable with…that would be OK too.

POST SCRIPT: At the conclusion of FaffCon 9, the voiceover unconference among it’s participants, had raised $10,100.00 for the charity…a new FaffCon Fundraising record.

‘help me for free but first, this insult’

don't burn bridgesFirst impressions, they matter.

Last weekend, another person looking to get into voiceover email me. Yes on a weekend and yes I answered (if I wait until Monday, I’ll forget).

I’d had absolutely no previous interaction with this person before they sent me the following email.

Hello Mr. O’Connell my name is (OMITTED) and I’m trying to figure out where I would start with Voice Over work. Many people have told me I should pursue this but I’m confused if I should talk to someone if I do have the voice or voices for this work, or take some training to hone in on what I want. If you have time to respond to this e-mail thanks and have a good day!

As I do with all these types of inquiries, I directed this individual to read the Voiceover Entrance Exam.

Hi OMITTED,
There is a free ebook on VO that I wrote – see if that helps you.
Best always,
–Peter

He read it and, in his professional opinion, was significantly unimpressed.

Tell you the truth I thought the ebook was lackluster and a warning more than something to guide you. No book can gauge ones drive and talent while seeing what they have over the computer. It wasn’t a waste of time but it was in a way, like how you said you get straight to the point I do too. I appreciate the Ebook warning and how long it took you to write that but if you have serious input to give on the matter pls email me thanks.
-OMITTED

He’s right on one count, the book ain’t Shakespeare. And it is a book with a direct point of view, because people who are going to make a professional and financial impactful change of career need to understand the reality. And it is just my viewpoint, it isn’t the Gospel of voiceover.

Further, I’m OK with criticism. You don’t have like my stuff, you can even dislike my stuff.

But this person, new to our industry, is looking for help. Free help. I didn’t email him/her, she/he contacted ME.

I’m reading this email thinking to myself ‘don’t come looking for help, “appreciate” my effort in writing a boring book and then tell me if I care to get serious about helping, you’ll be awaiting my email’.

It’s not the criticism I find fault with but rather the sophomoric arrogance with which this person communicates to a stranger. A stranger that he/she wants to learn something from.

My book is a warning that voiceover is a business and needs to be treated as such. And business is about building relationships with strangers to the point where strangers gladly give you money.

I’m thinking this person is not a relationship builder so much as a bridge burner. And one I will remember.

I moved on quickly from there.

If my book was lackluster than anything else I would say would probably be heard as the same.

Good luck and seek your help elsewhere.

Best always,
–Peter

No one, especially me, is expecting any kind of reverend deference from someone seeking business help, only professionalism and courtesy.

#voicestrong alliance

VO Agent Alliance_audioconnell

After the announcement a few weeks back regarding the purchase of a Los Angeles-based online casting service by a disreputable Canada-based pay-to-play voiceover service, I had the chance to speak with many of my voiceover talent agents as well as agents from voiceover agencies where I am not on the roster. All of them would be significantly impacted by this online casting service purchase. Those agents that I spoke with and many other used the Los Angeles-based online casting service to feed auditions to voice talents like myself.

#Voicestrong 4If the voice talent agents stayed with the Los Angeles-based online casting service after this sale, they would likely have been subjected to predatory fee reductions by the disreputable Canada-based pay to play voiceover service. But many voiceover agencies did NOT stay with the new owner. Voice talent agencies have been resigning from the Los Angeles-based online casting service in droves, so bad is the reputation of its new owners (the disreputable Canada-based pay to play voiceover service).

Before and during this sale, many voice over agents were not sitting idly by. Before the takeover announcement, some voiceover agents were in very preliminary discussions to see how they could combat the disreputable Canada-based pay to play voiceover service’s negative impact on the voiceover industry. The takeover announcement merely sped up the discussions.

Today, those agents made their announcement and it is an impressive one.

VO Agent Alliance_tall_audioconnellThey have introduced the VO Agent Alliance, a collective of vetted professional voiceover talent agencies committed to the highest standards the voiceover talent business has to offer, which should be viewed in stark contrast to the business practices of the disreputable Canada-based pay to play voiceover service.

The purpose of the VO Agent Alliance is to offer voice seekers (clients who hire voice talents like media producers, commercial producers, advertising agencies, network promo departments, radio production departments etc.) a free audition submission tool. The tool gives voice seekers access to all alliance member agencies at once. Voice seekers will then have access to some of the best voice talents in the industry (horn toot alert: including me) that seekers will not find on the recently purchased online casting site.

Further, all voiceover agents in the alliance have agreed to a strict set of promotional standards having to do with Fairness, Integrity, Confidentiality, Professionalism and Diligence. These are all areas in which the disreputable Canada-based pay to play voiceover service, now operating from a bigger platform, has shown itself to be significantly deficient.

As of this writing, the members of the VO Agent Alliance include In no particular order:

I am proud to recognize my long-term business relationships with Voice Talent Productions, Umberger Agency, Rockstar Entertainment and Ta-Da! Voiceworks – each has been my voiceover agent for many years.

If you are a voice seeker (media producer etc.) I hope you will consider using the VO Agent Alliance web site to book your next voice job. #voicestrong