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.

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14 Responses to “5 Questions for a Professional Voice Over Talent – Moe Egan”

  1. […] Posted March 21, 2012 by Bob My friend Moe Egan was recently featured at Peter O’Connell’s blog. […]

  2. Great story! Keep on voicing!

  3. Right on Moe!
    We can all learn a lot from YOU!

  4. …wow, Moe. i wish i had your “Zen”. but yes, the love of Acting and Broadcasting…how many, many people starting into a VO career have any experience in either!!!

    and i love that quote from the cubicle section: “How can you live like you do, not knowing what next week’s pay is going to look like?” …with every passing year, i’d say we freelancers could be asking THEM the same THING!

    let me know when you’re ready to start that surfing class. i could use some pointers.

    rg

  5. Hey Moe…

    I need to correct you on one thing: leaving the building is *never, ever* the ‘walk of shame’ after having worked for Clear Channel. It is the ‘Walk of Freedom.’ You have nothing to be shameful for. So put that out of your head right now.

    You successfully used that experience as a springboard, and now you’re sailing high and proud.

    Like Rowell suggested, maybe we can share surfing pointers.

    Keep on rockin’!

  6. Rowell- for you, the surfing class has an open invitation and a rolling admission. Surf’s up baby!

    Moe

  7. Thanks Mike. There’s plenty of room in the class. Hmmm. Maybe I’m seeing a Faffcon 5 session germinating here! VO Surfing USA!

  8. Moe you better reserve the domain!

    Best always,
    –Peter

  9. I thought the rule was you’re not really a true broadcaster until you HAD been fired.

    Thanks Mike.

    Best always,
    — Peter

  10. Rowell, does this mean you’ll be wearing that bathing suit from the 1920’s?

    Hope we get pictures.

    Thanks.

    Best always,
    – Peter

  11. Deb,

    As much fun as is it to read Moe, its even more fun to talk with her.

    Her stories are less, um, delicate. 🙂

    Best always,
    – Peter

  12. I am sure I have no idea what you mean Peter. =)

  13. moe egan – staff sargent in the vo army! love yer stuff lady!

  14. When I read that quickly Todd, I thought it said ‘staff stargent in the vo army of love’ and I thought someone had created yet ANOTHER LinkedIn voiceover group. Glad I reread that!

    Best always,
    –Peter

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