the continuing sameness of radio imaging

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In my voice over business, I do more commercial and narration work that radio imaging work (serving as the radio station’s voice for ID’s, promos, contests etc.). Some of the production work I do for radio stations is strictly producing because they have a voice under contract. Usually these are smaller stations that may not have a full time production director or just want to avail themselves of my mad production skillz, yo, yo!

Proving timing is everything in life, I happened to have just updated my radio imaging demos for both voice and production. It had been over a year and a half since I laid hands on the demos and while there was nothing wrong with them, I think it’s good to freshen things up with newer material…after 18 months!!!! My thanks to my anonymous mentor for providing his aural guidance again; he helped make the demos sing!

But I was thinking in the back of my head as I’m doing this updating about the sameness of ALL imaging demos. Certainly there is the uniqueness of each voice talent’s money voice and the value that brings to painting a picture on the set of the theatre of the mind. The additional flavoring and spices that are included with radio imaging, however, (editing, EFX, drops etc) seem to be blending in to a cacophony of sameness.

As this (also timely) article noted from KROQ Production Director Trevor Shand, I’m not the only one who has noticed this.

You can go into almost any radio market in America and be sure to hear 3-4 of the same imaging voices everywhere. Let’s be clear, I do not resent for one minute any of these wonderful voice talents’ right to make a living and ride the wave of success. They have worked hard and more power to them.

Taken from a big picture perspective, almost the art of radio imaging, the same voices, the same effects, the same drops makes it all sound blah. I understand it is all so formulaic because one VP is issuing orders to use a voice talent because we get a corporate discount or because if it worked in Peoria it will work in Des Moines. And hey, if the customer asks me to make their station sound like the Des Moines station, that’s what I will do.

Neither I nor Trevor Shand are trying to bite the hands that feed us, certainly I’m not. I am offering up a request for program directors to try and create for their stations a slightly different sound in their imaging (no matter who they use as their voice). PD’s are the brains of the operation so they have to decide on the palette and texture. But as the hands (and/or vocal chords) of the guy whose putting the right paint colors on the proper numbers, I stand ready to try and craft something unique for the imaging sound of your station.

And I bet there are a few hundred other imaging producers chomping at the bit to do the same.

Am I right or am I way off base here? Please share any thoughts you have on the topic.

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