Entries Tagged as 'requiescat in pace'

My Lesson from Brad

Brad Venable and Peter K. O'Connell

Brad Venable and Peter K. O’Connell

I’m going to talk about me here in this post but it’s about a lesson I had today that I pray can help you. I also have a message for you that I hope you’ll see at the end. Here goes…

I fail at peopling sometimes.

Hard.

Some years ago…I had a very minor business disagreement with voice actor Brad Venable who has been my friend for years and to this day. Through both our faults, I think we went to our neutral corners (as men sometimes do) and stayed there.

Time passed, there were some likes and positive social media comments we shared with each other but for no other reason than I thought we’d moved on from it and were probably OK, I did not pick up the phone. I was thoughtless about this because I know better.

Never leave friendship, never leave love, never leave understanding unsaid.

Today, I received my penalty for my thoughtlessness and hundreds of my voiceover friends received the equally crushing news that Brad’s health had quickly failed him and he died.

Today, the would-ofs, should-ofs and could-ofs have poured from my eyes and heart torrentially.

I deprived myself of the interaction with a wonderfully caring, sensitive and joyous soul. If he felt a burden, I neglected to lift it from him. I distanced myself. For what? Why?

My failure to directly initiate forgiveness – clear the air- was and is shameful. Period.

In the Catholic Mass, there is a prayer, the Confiteor, said by the congregation that reads in part:

I confess to almighty God

and to you, my brothers and sisters,

that I have greatly sinned

in my thoughts and in my words,

in what I have done,

and in what I have failed to do;

through my fault, through my fault,

through my most grievous fault;

“My most grievous fault.” Oh boy.

Is there forgiveness? There is always forgiveness…God forgives and I believe Brad forgave. Here’s why.

This morning as I was getting ready for work, without knowing Brad had died, Brad clearly came into my thoughts. I was thinking about him, in my mind I was offering advice because he used to ask me stuff. Why would he come into my thoughts like that…on THIS day?

Why would my feelings and my thoughts about this internal communication with Brad at that moment be positive and great?

I may not know for sure for a while or ever.

Maybe I am kidding myself or trying to make myself feel better…but I think Brad did that. What else explains it? Goodness knows how many hearts Brad reached out to today but he certainly was that kind of guy.

I think his spirit….his wonderful, loving, gifted, sensitive spirit somehow knew he and I needed to communicate our friendship and love. Forgiveness…in life he understood when he needed to ask for it and when it needed to be offered….I talked to him about it many times.

I would feel better if I had done it on this earth but..that is the lesson from Brad.

Likely if you are reading this, you are not a stranger to me and are, in fact, a friend, colleague or family member of mine (my voiceover blog readership isn’t that big).

Here’s the lesson: Know that you, my family and friends, are loved by me.

I need make sure I continue to go through my life, raising my children with Andrea, doing my work…all with love in my heart, expressing that love to those that need to hear it. Less pettiness, less pride and more care. Stumbles to expected, maybe, but I need to do the work.

You and I will do right and wrong by each other, we will have both shared and opposed beliefs and we will hopefully figure that out…but you are loved and appreciated. That’s in writing.

Brad will want us to move forward with our lives and we will…with love in our hearts and our words.  So let it be done

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.

Requiescat in pace Patrick Sweeney

Requiescat in pace Pat SweeneyOh Canada. Today you lost a great one.

In the 8+ years that I have been friends with Pat Sweeney, he had become one of those rare fellows of whom I only heard positive, kind words said.

Marking his passing from Cancer this morning, those kind words are being reiterated and certainly shouted from the roof tops. As they should.

Family was first and foremost to Pat, as he would often speak of his wife and sons. They were his everything.

But second, I think, was his love of the voiceover industry and of the community that Patrick Sweeney helped foster in Toronto and pretty much everywhere else he went.

Before I moved to Raleigh, NC, I lived most of my life in Buffalo, NY, nearby to Toronto, Ontario, Canada, where Pat and his family live. My affinity for Canada is well known (my Grandmother was born there and I spent my summers in Fort Erie, Ontario for decades). So I was especially happy to hear many years ago that a pair of my voiceover friends had gotten together in Toronto to create a local Voiceover Meetup Group called VO in TO.

One of the group’s founders was female voice talent Jodi Krangle. The other (and to hear Jodi tell it, a driving force behind the group) was Pat Sweeney.

To watch Pat navigate the room at a VO in TO meetup was a thing of beauty. If you didn’t know Pat before you walked through the door, you would know him by the time you left. And he would introduce you to one or two other people there who he thought you should know, so you could have someone to say hi to at the next meeting. Pat was a wonderful community builder.

Another voiceover group where we shared many happy times together was at an annual event called FaffCon. This is a wonderful group of talents from all over the world who would come together to share best practices in a very inclusive and welcoming format. It was an event tailor made for Pat, who certainly learned a great deal from his fellow voice talents but possibly shared even more, especially in one on one conversations. Pat’s supportive and encouraging spirit, attitude and actions positively impacted more people than he may have ever realized.

All of this ignores when Pat and I would chat about his visits to Buffalo or mine to TO. Or when we worked together as part of a voiceover marketing collective called MVO: The Voice-Over Guys. Or when he would commiserate with me on the phone about my (usually losing) Buffalo sports teams.

You always left a conversation with Pat feeling better.

All of this kindness and help from Pat made it so challenging for us (his VO pals) when Pat got sick and we couldn’t help the guy who had always helped us. There wasn’t much we could do but support and pray for Pat and his family.

Hard as we’d pray, it never felt like enough of a repayment for a gentleman who so positively impacted so many people. We are deeply sorry for his family’s loss but are grateful for their many family memories and for Pat’s final peace.

Me? I’m selfish. I will miss my friend.

Eternal rest grant to your servant Patrick, O Lord; and let perpetual light shine upon him. May his soul, and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

Requiescat in Pace Arnold Palmer

Arnold Palmer

I still have the autographed golf ball, the staff umbrella pin and a fair number of cashed paychecks.

But that still doesn’t help me to not feel sad tonight.

Internationally famous golfer Arnold Palmer died tonight, he was 87.

He was a respected golfer, businessman and aviator. The sport of golf owes so much of its success to him that they could never repay him. Men like Hogan, Nicklaus and Woods may have arguably been better golfers.

They could never be Palmer. They never were Arnie. He was one of kind.

I only have the audacity to write this, having met the man once in 1972 (no I don’t think he would remember me). Then, some 30 years later, I went to work for him (sort of) as Area Sales and Marketing Director for Arnold Palmer Golf Management.

But that connection (to which he was rightly oblivious) is oddly sincere for me. I can’t explain it better than that and maybe if you were a fan also, I don’t have to.

Many people thought I would have met him them, but circumstances didn’t avail themselves and I was always, truly all right with that.

History has shown he wasn’t a perfect guy and that made him, in an peculiar way, all the more popular.

He was a decent guy, a normal guy, one of us. Well, that’s what we all like to imagine anyway.

He lived a fairly terrific life, I think he would say…actually in all the interviews in the past decade or so, I think he did say that.

But I just feel like I wanted to write this brief note to say how sorry I was that he had died and how much I enjoyed watching him while he was around.

And when you think about that for a minute, coming from me — among the millions he didn’t know — that alone is a sign of a life pretty well lived.

Thanks Arnie, and please give my regards to Winnie.

 

Requiescat in Pace Van Miller

 Buffalo Broadcasting Legend Van Miller Photo Courtesy Buffalo Bills

Buffalo Broadcasting Legend Van Miller Photo Courtesy Buffalo Bills

This weekend it was announced that another Buffalo broadcasting legend had died. Van Miller had worked at WBEN/WIVB-TV for over 4 decades. A local boy from Dunkirk, NY, he was a sportscaster’s sportscaster. Yet, it’s unfair to limit his talents solely to sports for, like many of his peers in the 50’s and 60’s, Van did everything including hosting a game show for area high-schoolers called “It’s Academic”.

It was through sports, though, that Van truly gained his fame. He had done everything in sports broadcasting from bowling shows and college play by play to becoming forever known as the “Voice of the Bills”.

I highlight that quote because some years ago, for no specific reason, I was at a local cemetery and talking with one of the managers there. He told me that when Van Miller died, Van had arranged that his tombstone would read: “Voice of The Bills”.

As it should.

Save for a few years where the Bills changed radio stations (at a time where radio station competition forbade using an announcer from a rival station), Van Miller was the radio voice of the Buffalo Bills. Beginning in 1960 when the Bills became a team, through two AFL Championships and 4 failed Super Bowl attempts, Van was the team’s uncontested radio voice until he retired from the Bills radio booth in 2003 (the longest tenured team radio voice in NFL history). All this is offered with no disrespect to our very fine current radio voice, John Murphy, who seamlessly worked along side Van as a color analyst during Bills games for many years.

As you can imagine with such a storied career, there were accolades and honors for Van Miller by the score, most of which are likely better reported elsewhere. To note just one significant testimonial, none other than the late Steve Sabol of NFL Films recognized Van as one of the best football play-by-play analysts in the history of the game. Here’s quick look (and listen) at Van’s remarkable career.

Van’s passing got me thinking about my one public interaction with him and what a great wit Van was. Van was always part MC, part comedian and part broadcaster – a perfect and winning combination. I’d like to tell you our podium work together on this one night was recorded someplace other than my brain but it wasn’t. It was the early 90’s, the Internet wasn’t quite the Internet yet and cell phone only made phone calls.

Some of you of a younger age are now staring blankly at the screen right now in astonishment but I’ll press on anyway.

I was working as Assistant General Manager of the Buffalo Blizzard of the National Professional Soccer League (NPSL). Our indoor soccer team was very involved in the community and especially youth soccer. So we would often participate in events and I was “the face” of a few of them.

My recollection of this particular event was what I believe was called the “News 4 Scholar Athlete” program, presented by Channel 4 (where Van was Sports Director) and sponsored in part by the Buffalo Blizzard (hence my involvement).

Part of my job that night was to join Van at the podium during a dinner at a local restaurant to honor some of the nominated athletes and present the award to the overall winner (I think that’s right but this is a story, not a deposition).

What you’d want me to tell you here would be the specifics of what I recall was mutually witty repartee between Van and myself at the podium. I’d love to.

As usual, however, when improvising I rarely recall what I said (cause at such a time my brain is intensely focused on immediately listening and coming up with the next line, not so much on retention). Nor do I remember what Van said. What I do remember was the laughs we got.

And by we, if you were scoring at home, it was 60/40 in favor of Van. I’d have been happy if it was 90/10 (Van) just to have had the experience of very briefly working with him.

It was a joyous moment for me working with a fellow broadcaster, albeit a vastly more experienced one who had long ago perfected his comedic timing but was also willing to share the rhythm and fun of the presentation with someone else who could (kinda) keep up. It wasn’t planned but it flowed and for me it felt great. As you can imagine (as least I can) I doubt it left Van with as memorable an impression and I’m OK with that.

Anyone who saw Van perform outside of a studio or a broadcast booth at one of these kinds of functions (especially when he was honored into so many Halls of Fame) enjoyed watching a great performer from an era where you needed to be a performer to make it in radio and TV broadcasting. That versatility is sorely missing from many of today’s up and coming broadcast performers (especially on TV) where a tele-prompter is more of a crutch than a tool.

Van’s been out of the spotlight for many years but this city, his city, has never forgotten him. And with their remembrance comes a smile. And deep appreciation.

Requiescat in Pace Don Pardo

Legendary NBC Announcer Don Pardo

Legendary NBC Announcer Don Pardo

It’s unfortunate that two successive blog posts are remembrances of the dead. First Robin Williams and now legendary NBC announcer Don Pardo.

But the emotions for me surrounding the news regarding these two talented people could not be more different.

Of course when I woke up to the news this morning about Don’s death, I was startled but not shocked. For some reason (maybe I’m a long distance, harmless stalker who is just not that good at this stalking gig) I knew of Don’s age and that he had long been pre-recording his SNL intros. He was 96 years old when he died.

It’s a loss to be sure but that’s a great life run.

And he was STILL WORKING! I remember thinking at the beginning of each recent SNL season “how long can Don keeping doing this?” I got my answer: to the very end.

Awesome.

And kudos to Lorne Michaels for ensuring that as long as Don wanted the job, he had the job.

Yes, I’ve already been asked who I think they’d get to replace Don as the SNL announcer. I don’t know but I’m pretty sure the new person will be shaking in their boots for about a season and a half before feeling comfortable taking over for a voice-over legend.

“Legend”, you say? Oh yes, let me expound.

So let’s go back to early this morning. I learned the news of Don Pardo’s death by listening to an AM news radio station in Buffalo, NY. Not via their network feed, the local announcers read the news of Pardo’s passing.

Digest that for a second.

The local news radio station read a story about the death of an off-camera network announcer.

To be clear, I would not consider today to be a slow news day.

That told me one or two amazing things before I even got out of bed – this was going to be Don Pardo’s national day of respect and possibly a day of respect for the announcing / voice-over industry itself.

I was filled with joy, a much different emotion than I felt last week at this time.

As the day has progressed, I have seen my assumption become fact. I am so happy for Don right now and for everyone in our business. Everybody knows who Don Pardo is – and they should!!!!

He’s been a multi-generational announcer and been an active broadcaster throughout some of the most amazing transitions in broadcasting. Forget SNL for a second, Pardo was the booth announcer at WNBC in New York who broke the news about Kennedy having been shot in Dallas. Wow.

If you’ve never seen the series featuring an interview with Don at emmytvlegends.org (here’s that stalker thing again) there are some great stories from Don about his work in broadcasting. I’m hoping the YouTube views on that puppy skyrocket in the weeks and months ahead.

So today, I will pray for Don’s family and that they experience God’s healing power as they mourn Don’s loss. But I will also smile and enjoy for him (and us) the national tributes Don Pardo is justifiably receiving for his life’s work.

There are two great voice-over Dons in heaven now and I suppose both will have to either audition for the “voice of God” role or just split the week between them.

P.S.

The day after posting this I received notice of the tribute done last night to Don Pardo by NBC Nightly News Anchor and Managing Editor Brian Williams, who went so far to switch studios during the newscast and deliver the final segment of his broadcast from Studio 8H. Just one word to the Anchor and his co-workers: Classy. See for yourself.