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the voice over industry has been manifesto’d (and i think we all know how painful that can be)

<em>Voice Talent Doug Turkel, the UNnouncer</em>

My friend Mr. Doug Turkel (who makes me call him Mr. Doug Turkel cause he’s a voice over legend and I’m a voice over groupie and this is how things are done, he tells me) does a number of things well, voice over being one of them.

He also is smart of some stuff, like he got the domain voiceovertalent.com, he branded himself Unnouncer and he knows where all the supermodels walk around in Miami (ahem, not that I saw any, no not me, I kept my head down…which unfortunately led to me walking into a LOT of lamp poles).

Unyway, Mr. Doug Turkel got an idea that we in the voiceover industry who are not so legendary (specifically me, he said) need a kind of hand book or cheat sheet on how this whole thing is supposed to work. So he wrote it.

And as usual, he wrote well:

Words are magical. Respect them.

Move people.

Don’t worry about being discovered, just be discoverable.

Become a mentor. You’ll learn at least as much as you teach, and probably more.

The best kind of marketing is quality work and a stellar reputation.

Fulfill your promises, and your clients’ expectations.

Learn to love technology. It’s gonna be around for a while.

Be generous. And give without expectation.

Be unforgettable.

Recommend other voice talent. When your voice isn’t right for a project, help your client find one that is.

If you can imagine yourself doing any other kind of work, do that.

Expand your world: Read. Live. Be. If you aren’t interesting, your reads won’t be either.

Market yourself. Remember, you can’t work for the people you want to work for any less than you already do.

Clarity is power – know who you are.

Listen at least as much as you talk. No, listen more than you talk.

As stellar as his words are, the reasons behind them are even more thoughtful.

If you perform voiceovers for a living, you should read and learn from Mr. Doug Turkel.

marice tobias in the atl

<em>FRONT ROW: Jill Perry, Pam Tierney, Kara Edwards MIDDLE ROW: Peter K. O'Connell, Caryn Clark, Melissa Exelberth BACK ROW: Mike Stoudt, Bob Souer, Rowell Gorman, Alexander Vishniakoff, Debra Webb, Beth Whistler, Robert John Hughes</em>

Stacey Stahl emailed me to advise that on April 21-22 at Doppler Studios in Atlanta, voice over talents interested in “nailing auditions and booking jobs” (as we all are) are invited to attend Marice Tobias’ weekend workshop -“The Self-Directing Intensive for Working Voiceover Pros” with a focus on commercials and narration.

I went to Marice’s Atlanta workshop in 2009 and it helped focus me on performance in ways I still use today.

To book your spot, contact Stacey via stacey at creative entertainment management dot com and tell her Peter sent you- I don’t get any spiffs for this, I just wanted to make myself sound important.

5 Questions for a Professional Voice Over Talent – Moe Egan

Today’s 5 Questions for a Professional Voice Over Talent are answered by Moe Egan, a professional voice over talent based in New Hampshire (a state with only one area code).

1. The beginning: When did you know you wanted to be a voice over talent; how did your career begin (please include what year it started) and then when did your passion for voice over develop into something professional?

My first VO was at WSPN- the Skidmore College radio station sometime in 1980-81. I was a theater major with a concentration in acting and fell in love with college radio (graduated as General Manager)- I had the luxury of learning how to write and produce spots in a place that was fun and totally creative and mistakes were all part of it. My first paid VO was in 1985, when the production director at WPRO AM in Providence learned I studied acting in college, I’d be called in to voice young female parts in spots occasionally. Those weeks, there was always extra money in my paycheck. I thought that was pretty cool. I continued doing VO sporadically – goes hand in hand with radio but I never thought I could do VO full time. I had moved to NH to raise my family- unless you were in a big city full time VO was not an option. The technology wasn’t available to build home studios. Nor was I interested in schlepping to Boston for VO work- my job as Mom always came first and that meant staying close to home to be there for the returning school bus. I’ve always loved voice over, because it’s the perfect marriage of the two careers I love- acting and broadcasting.

Year pass (sfx: harp gliss) I’ve spent the better part of 25 years behind a radio microphone in NH. My VO client base continues to grow organically and slowly, and the technology makes it possible to think about a home studio…some day. In 2004 I am shown the door from the local Clear Channel station . As I am doing the walk of shame out of the building with all my possessions in a cardboard box -I am thinking “THIS is the right time to try VO for real. Things can’t get any worse, I can only go up from here!” Before I hit the front door of the station, I knew, I was going to be a full time voice over- or give myself three years to get it out of my system then find a real job. As it happened, it took me three years to make a living wage…and by living wage, I mean I earned more than the meager wages one earns in NH Radio. In the following five years, I have tripled that salary.

2. What is the one thing you know now that you wish someone had told you when you first started out in voice over?

Your ‘normal’ voice IS your best voice – don’t try to sugar coat it, or hide it or make it something it’s not. Just sound like you. It’s scary at first, you feel naked behind the mic, but it’s real and it’s that voice that will truly connect with your listener- and ultimately deliver the message you’ve been hired to deliver.

3. What do you see as the biggest professional or personal obstacle you face that impacts your voice over business and how are you working to overcome it?

Oddly, my biggest obstacle to success is also my personal trait that helps me succeed at VO (question #4) . I don’t take it too seriously. I treat it like a very well paying hobby. I grew up as an executive brat, my dad was a workaholic vice president of sales who was always on a sales trip somewhere. Before I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up, I knew what I DIDN”T want to be- tied to and defined by what I did for a living. I never wanted to put my family second behind a job. So – even though I realize I could be making four times what I currently make as a free lance voice over talent with just a little bit of effort (just like all those darned teacher conferences back in the day “She could be getting ‘A’ work with just a little more effort)- I am succeeding- because I am able to balance my children and my work- in a way that very, very few Americans get to. I realize how lucky I (and you) are to wake up every morning and look forward to getting to work- to connect with clients and to do what we love for a living. I don’t ever want to turn this into a job. It’s way too much for for that.
However, the thought of eight straight years of college tuition payments is actually encouraging me to get my marketing plans in order- new website and logo, new demo being produced and cold calls are being made.

4. What personal trait or professional tool has helped you succeed the most in your career so far?

I don’t take things too seriously. I’ve always had a Zen approach to my VO work. I can’t explain it, but I trust that it will happen, and it does. I have stopped counting the times I’ve been asked by cubical dwelling friends “How can you live like you do, not knowing what next week’s pay is going to look like?” A normal, rational human being (who happens to be a single parent) with one kid in college, another heading in that direction and a mortgage to pay every month would probably freak out when days get quiet. I don’t. I know the work will come, and it does. Kind of sounds like the opening to a dime store novel, doesn’t it?

I LOVE and live by the words of Bruce Miles “You either learn to ride the waves or watch from the beach.” I don’t want to sit on the beach. I love this unpredictable, self defined job/lifestyle. VO really is more than a job- it is a lifestyle choice- I can’t imagine doing anything else. Yes, it’s fun and at times scary, and at times exhilarating and at times boring waiting for something to happen. It’s all the best parts of a roller coaster. =)

5. In your development as a voice over performer, who has been the one particular individual or what has been the one piece of performance advice (maybe a key performance trick, etc.) that you felt has had the most impact on your actual voice over performance and why?

My VERY first voice over class was with Will Lebow in Boston. This was prior to my being kicked off the good ship CC. There were maybe a dozen other students at various stages of VO experience in the class which met Saturday mornings for a few months. Toward the end of the class, he told me flat out “You will NEVER make a living doing voice overs. You have a ‘happy, shiny veneer over EVERYTHING you read.” I did. His words popped the ‘it’s good enough’ bubble and made me work very hard at scraping the radio out of my voice, unlearning all the lazy, bad habits one picks up in broadcasting and reacquainting myself with my acting skill set. I knew I was going to make it in VO when I got mad at what he said- not at him, but at myself – because he was right and honest enough to say it to me. I was willing to bust my larynx to prove him wrong. April 2012 marks my 8th year as a full time voice over. Ha! I guess I did it.

5 Questions for a Professional Voice Over Talent – Natalie Stanfield Thomas

Voice Over Talent Natalie Stanfield Thomas

Today’s 5 Questions for a Professional Voice Over Talent are answered by Natalie Stanfield Thomas, a professional voice over talent based near Corning, NY.

1. The beginning: When did you know you wanted to be a voiceover talent; how did your career begin (please include what year it started) and then when did your passion for voiceover develop into something professional?

I remember being captivated at an early age with Disney’s Wonderful World of Color (followed by Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom), nerdlet that I was, the ones I found most fascinating were the documentaries and docu-dramas! I was drawn to the voice of the narrator (yes even Marlin Perkins), and how he breathed emotion into the action before me (poor Jim didn’t know that lion was hungry). It began to occur to me that there was a dearth of female narrators though, except of the PBS stations, where they invariably had clipped British accents; which brings me to the next bridge of sorts in my journey. I loved cartoons, bad puns and comedy, so the Rocky and Bullwinkle Show was a natural draw for me. But there was also a shortage of female characters in these shows. I paid close attention to the few that were there and discovered I was actually good at mimicking accents (yes, even the PBS Narrator Lady). I picked up on Rocky and Natasha Fatale fairly quickly and soon was annoying friends and family with impressions of everyone from Rocky and Lambie Pie to Mae West and Carol Burnett’s Tarzan yell. Always a fan of Broadway, Hollywood and all things showbiz, I fell in love with CBS Radio Mystery Theater, which lead to a desire to do Theater (cue thematic transition music).

I had the great fortune of having a high school theater teacher with a wonderful vision for a radio/TV/Theater department who introduced all of his students to the production side of both radio and TV. I was fascinated with audio production. I followed this through college and into my first radio job. Though I loved commercials, and was an excellent copy writer, being “a girl” in the early 80’s, we were not ‘encouraged’ to pursue the technical end of the business so much as the on-mic/on-camera side, …except in the journalism arena; so I decided to pursue radio news casting! During my first on air gig as a morning news anchor in 1984, while goofing around off-mic one day the show host discovered my talent for character voices. He chose to add me to his repertoire of bits which I got to help produce. This was a game-changer for me. I began to learn the production room, which by the way, engineers always designed for the ‘wingspan’ of a typically tall man – reel to reel over here… turntable over ….there…. control board over…. here… aaaaand GO!

I would later move to another station as a morning radio co-host and honed my copywriting skills and changed my focus to commercial and bit production. I loved the process of creating sound, of making an effective spot! Most people in radio do the commercials so they can get to be on the air. I did the airtime so I could get to do the commercials. I did morning and midday radio “Town to town, up and down the dial” and eventually received my RAB certification as a Certified Professional Commercial Copywriter. (cue time lapse music) I landed in network radio for a Contemporary Christian Radio network in 2003. By this time I had been writing and recording spots and had some outside clients, but primarily identified myself as an audio producer and copywriter. I wanted to ‘be’ a voice actor. But didn’t yet identify myself with the heroes I had in my head. It didn’t occur to me that when people bought my spec spots and said “no we’ll take it like it is” that they were validating me as a professional, even though these spots were playing all over the country. It took another voice actor that I admired greatly, my friend and mentor, Bob Souer, to point out to me they hired me because they wanted ‘me’.

One thing I love about the voiceover community is our ability to encourage one another. Because sometimes we can be so short-sighted, that we can be striving so hard for something, and be very good at it, but not recognize it until someone holds the mirror up to for us to see. And our community is so generous and so gracious to be quick to point those things out to one another. I’m thankful that Bob did that with me. Because it made me realize I had been in a rut of ‘trying’ when I was already ‘doing’!

Once the blinders were off things began to progress rather quickly. I realized I hadn’t been considering myself an entrepreneur. Once I made the mental shift, my business began to grow from more than a sideline to a full-time endeavor. Though still employed by a network as an audio producer, I have my own enterprise and client base in my voice over business, and serve as a copywriting consultant, contract copywriter and audio producer.

2. What is the one thing you know now that you wish someone had told you when you first started out in voiceover?

Wow, there are so many things that I can look and say “If I knew THEN what I know NOW” but I think by and large the most important thing would be to not let fear stop me. I was so intimidated by THEM, these VOICES, these people who were THE voices. But when I stepped into the arena, I found this was not like any other area of the business I have experienced. There was no one waiting to knock me down. No one waiting to sabotage my audition (and those that are don’t last long). What I found was a community of regulars, nerds and nerdlets, band geeks and squares, who are now the Cool Kids Table. I found the most welcoming tribe of gypsies that were willing to share what they knew. Many had the same off-beat humor as I, and all were so willing to foster, mentor and share! So what’s left to fear?

3. What do you see as the biggest professional or personal obstacle you face that impacts your voiceover business and how are you working to overcome it?

My biggest professional obstacle is me. I get in my own way all the time. It’s important to know what you know, but it’s more important to know what you don’t know. I need to know more about what I don’t know so that I can make better management decisions, better marketing plans (I’m not good at marketing), better business models, better purchasing decisions.

4. What personal trait or professional tool has helped you succeed the most in your career so far?

Friendship. I use that word instead of networking because I’m so NOT a networker. Networking makes me think of handshaking and passing business cards, not really connecting. I am a friendly person, and I genuinely LIKE the people for and with whom I work. I think this is why my business has continued to grow consistently by referrals (I told you I’m not good at marketing – yet). I’m also rather good at remembering names and at least something about what a person does and sometimes even something they need. Often I’m able to suggest a connection between friends that can be of help, and that’s one of my most favorite moments! I think People are tied to your Purpose and to your Prosperity, but if you don’t genuinely like people you won’t ever get to the other two. Genuinely liking people, genuinely connecting, and genuinely enjoying helping my client/friends, I think that would be it.

5. In your development as a voice over performer, who has been the one particular individual or what has been the one piece of performance advice (maybe a key performance trick, etc.) that you felt has had the most impact on your actual voice over performance and why?

I can’t pick one. I have had so many wonderful people pour into me from Dan O’Day and his Radio Creative Production Summit. To the three guys who each taught me so much: Bob Souer, Blaine Parker, and Dick Terhune. Then there’s my wonderful voice coach Nancy Wolfson, and Harlan Hogan with his “Starting Your Voiceover Business” class, and my character voice acting teachers Pat Fraley and Richard Horvitz. How do I pick one? Each fit what I needed when I needed at the time. That in itself is part of the key that I learned I think. They each have given something valuable, individual, and not anything the other could give.

I take that to the mic with me when I audition. I can only bring ‘me’. The key is, “I’m not competing against YOU when I audition. Because you can’t do ME and I can’t do YOU. We’re all just auditioning to see if we fit what this guy needs right now!”

5 Questions for a Professional Voice Over Talent – Liz de Nesnera

Liz_de_Nesnera_Voice Over Talent

Today’s 5 Questions for a Professional Voice Over Talent are answered by Liz de Nesnera, a professional voice over talent based in New York.

1. The beginning: When did you know you wanted to be a voiceover talent; how did your career begin (please include what year it started) and then when did your passion for voiceover develop into something professional?

We all get to this crazy VO path from different places, which allow each of us to bring something unique to our reads….so my “beginning” has to go back a bit.

I grew up in a multi lingual family. Languages were always a huge part of my life.

I started my professional career working for the French Government in New York City.

I was that 20-something yuppie commuting to work in the power suit and sneakers, had 5 weeks vacation and I was using both my French and English skills every day. And I hated it. By 25 I was dragging myself to work with more and more difficulty.

So I made a change. I went back to school and learned audio production.

Much to my educated, multi-lingual parents’ horror, I left NYC to take a 50% pay cut as Production Director and Copywriter at a small independent Radio station in the wilds of Northern New Jersey. “You won’t be using your languages!” my mom lamented. But I fell in love with razor blades and tape (yes, the “olden days!”), and the craziness of radio. I soon started voicing some of the commercials that I wrote and produced. It was so fun! And yes, I LOVED hearing my voice on the radio! I was being creative and learning about new businesses every day. (Coming from New York City, I had NO idea what it meant to “detail” a car!)

Then, one day, one of the owners of the station told me that while they loved my writing and production skills, they did not want me to voice spots any more. I was devastated. I continued to write and produce (and still voice every now and then 😉 but realized that I needed another change. So the week after I turned 30 I went out on my own as a freelance copywriter & producer. 4 months later, on November 17th, 1994, my mother had a massive hemorrhagic stroke.

I spent the following 18 months caring full-time for my wheelchair bound mom, and my dad, who by this time had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

By 1996, having run through my savings, I went back to work at a corporate recording studio. For 9 years I sat “behind the glass” listening to and directing some of the best voiceover talent in the NYC-metro area. I learned digital editing, client relations, project management, billing, accounting practices and voiceover talent wrangling. Did I mention I was using my languages again? Because of my English and French bilingualism, my conversational Russian, and my knowledge of German and Hungarian, I was able to direct and edit talent in many different languages, and yes, I was even able to get in front of the mic occasionally. It was great, but I was itching to move on. I just didn’t know how.

Then, in 2005, I got laid off. How wonderful! I was finally free to pursue my freelance dream again. And I did.
I had realized over the years behind the glass that although I loved production, being in front of the mic was even more fun.

My first client was a contact I had made as my corporate recording gig. I was on my way. The business skills that I had learned at the recording studio were a huge help in getting my voiceover business off on the right foot. I started getting clients though the “Pay to Play” sites as well as through referrals and my own research.

I’ve been a full-time voice talent for 7 years, and love it. There are ups and downs, of course, as in any business. But being able to pursue a career that challenges me, which allows me to be creative and work with fun people is a joy.

2. What is the one thing you know now that you wish someone had told you when you first started out in voiceover?

Don’t let the bastards get you down. Just because someone is an “expert” doesn’t mean that what they say is always correct. Trust in yourself, do your own homework. Oh, and yes, there IS math in voiceover.

3. What do you see as the biggest professional or personal obstacle you face that impacts your voiceover business and how are you working to overcome it?

Not letting the bastards get me down! I have a tendency to want to be perfect at whatever I do (Yes, I’m a Virgo) and when someone tells me that I am “less than”, I tend to jump to the conclusion that they are right. Over the years, I have come to realize that although I am not perfect (sigh…) I don’t stink either. I have regular clients who keep hiring me and new ones who regularly come on board. Yet, even today, I sometimes still need to call on good friends (you know who you are!) to remind me that I do have skills. It’s by having a wonderful support network that I am able to be move onward and upward.

4. What personal trait or professional tool has helped you succeed the most in your career so far?

Personal trait: Compartmentalizing. I spent 15 years being a caregiver while working and building a business. Being able to concentrate and build my business even while seeing my parents decline actually kept me sane! Frankly, clients don’t care about your personal problems. Yes, some clients become friends, but they hire you to do a job and they depend on you to do it. Being able to deliver even with “everything else going on” was vital to building my business, and my clients’ trust.

5. In your development as a voice over performer, who has been the one particular individual or what has been the one piece of performance advice (maybe a key performance trick, etc.) that you felt has had the most impact on your actual voice over performance and why?

In terms of my performance, the person who has been the most influential is Nancy Wolfson (http://www.braintracksaudio.com/ ). Working with Nancy has definitely taken my skills to the next level. She was able to hone in on exactly what I needed to work on to improve my performance. She’s tough, no nonsense and has an amazing ear. Having her in my corner has been amazing.

Now, as they say, this is show business. And while yes, of course, performance is key, you also have to embrace the business aspect of your development as a voice performer. Being a great performer with no business skills, leads to no one to perform for. In that regard there are several people who have been vital to my career development (sorry, Peter, I know I’m breaking the rules…I’m such a rebel ;-):

Barbara Winter (http://www.joyfullyjobless.com/ ), whose commitment to entrepreneurial thinking has been an inspiration.
Philip Banks (http://www.philipbanks.com/) & Bob Souer (http://bobsouer.com/ ) whose concrete numbers gave me financial goals to reach for.

Moe Egan (http://www.voiceoversbymoe.com/ ) whose friendship and nuts and bolts advice on the day-to-day realities of life as a full-time VO have been invaluable.

Basically, having a support network of talented people is what keeps me moving ahead and improving every day.

paying for a voice over education


Faffcon, VOICE 2012 or the New York City Voiceover Mixer – these important voice over events cannot enjoy the success they do without sponsorship. There are enrollment fees and tuitions for some but for things like the Mixer, you basically cover your travel and your drinks.

Sponsors are critical to an event like these ever taking place.

So this year, when She who always gets me in Voice Over trouble (aka Connie Terwilliger) asked me a while back to help her with sponsorship with FaffCon 4, I said sure.

First, I knew how important it was. Second, I’ve sold event sponsorship professionally for years.

Therefore, gentle reader, I’d like to make a request of you if you have any interest in supporting FaffCon 4, especially if you are unable to attend this go round.

Below I have provided a list of our great Faffcon 4 sponsors. My request is that you take a look at their links and while purusing their sites, if you see anything you might want to purchase that they offer…please do so and mention you found them through FaffCon. And thanks.


Bob Souer – Professional Story-teller

Edge Studio

Mara Junot – Professional Voice Talent


BSW (Broadcast Supply Worldwide)

Voice Actor Dave Courvoisier

Liz de Nesnera – French and English Voice Over Talent

GA Voiceovers – The Voice of Technology

Get Rich – Rich Owen | Voiceover Talent

JS Gilbert -Professional Voice Talent

Bobbin Beam – ISDN Voice Actress | Female Voice Talent

Voiceovers by Moe

Melissa Exelberth – Bilingual ISDN Voice Talent

Harlan Hogan’s Voiceover Essentials

The VO-BB.com

VoxMan – Corey Snow Voice Actor

Word2Wav An Automated Audio Recording Application

Source Elements

Lynda.com – Online Software Training Videos

D3 Voiceworks – Diane Maggipinto Female Voice Talent

Sound Advice – Voiceover from an Audio Engineer’s Perspective

Voice Over Xtra – The voice-over industry’s online news, education and resource center

The Dallas Voice Acting Meetup Group