Most air talents assume that if you’re on the air, you must have a good voice. But in reality, about half the people on the air in every format I hear have taken that for granted, and stunted their growth.
Over the years, I’ve been fortunate enough to work with some pretty impressive voice actors that you hear on national commercials, station Imaging, and movie trailers every day. And universally, the ones who are the most successful have really studied what makes them unique, and how to fully use the vocal tools at hand.
Here’s what I mean…the other day, I was listening to a female air talent who literally said everything in what would be about a 4-note range if I played the pitch of each word on a piano. I also heard a male air talent the same week who talks so fast, you wonder if he just drank 17 cups of coffee before he got on the air. Then there’s the “growler” that does the station imaging on the Classic Rock station here in Shreveport. Every word that ends a sentence is exactly the same pitch, and he always goes DOWN in pitch at the end. He thinks he’s making an impact, and he’s right – I want to hit him in the forehead with a mallet every time he speaks.
The female voice has unique challenges, too. Being generally more limited in range and volume than the male voice, it’s easy to sound whiny or strident.
The male voice – especially if it’s a “big” voice, can easily sound either mad or tired.
KNOW your voice. Learn your dynamics. Hone your skills. Learn what to avoid. Master varied approaches. Become a competent voice actor. It may sound rudimentary, but if your voice isn’t appealing, it won’t matter what you say.
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Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2018 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.
What if I told you that you can increase your ratings 30% overnight? Admit it. You’d probably be curious, just like when Marie Osmond says she’s lost 50 pounds without exercise AND she eats chocolate cake every day!
People are drawn to black and white opinions because they are simple, not because they are true. Truth demands serious effort and thought.”
Actually, you might increase your ratings 30% overnight, but it’s not because of some magic pill or trick. It’s because Nielsen is changing they way they tabulate when you plug the gizmo in the thingamajig.
If you’re having trouble getting into Content, well, don’t feel like the Lone Ranger. Every air talent either struggles with this at some point, or worse, doesn’t know yet that they’re struggling with it. : (
There’s lots of coaching available on this, including my own. We’ve all heard the “Headline first, then tell the rest of the story” thing, for example. And there’s tons of stuff about how to construct a story, how to physically lay out a story in just bullet points, etc., and what a great ending should be.
But here’s the problem: You don’t really know until you know. Human beings may become aware of things and intellectually understand them through reading and talking with people about them, but in the long run, we really only learn through experience – trial and error.
“We’ve been worrying about the wrong things,” said the top dog of a well known broadcast company. His reaction was to their focus on tactics rather than the things I was there to discuss; stuff like the station’s vision and purpose, and identity.
Jim is a Cubs’ fan.
Daniel plays the guitar. A Taylor.
Cindy works hard to support the arts in her community.
Here’s one of my primary tips for show prep – The 3 Questions. If you’ve read my “The 5 Subjects” tip, you already know the five categories of Content that will ALWAYS work (besides the obvious “station things” that will always be in the mix, like promoting events or features, etc.).
But “The 5 Subjects” should be filtered through these three questions before you put them on the air:
“Kindness seems like such a radical idea today.”
As negativity, finger pointing, and spit wad throwing reach new levels in politics, and in traditional and social media, we can sense a growing desire for a breath of fresh air.
Just this week Bloomberg news reported, “Freaked Out Americans Desperately Seek to Escape the News.”
I know people who have turned off certain TV cable news channels (me, included). I know radio stations that have turned off the TV news in their studio due to incessant negativity and turned on HGTV.
The movie “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” is a smash hit, bringing in $4.1 million in just three weeks.
Director Morgan Neville said, “Mr. Rogers tried to teach us how to behave in a community and a society together, and the value of civility and the value of honoring this relationship with each other.
And we live in times that don’t honor that at all.”
If you think your radio station is only about songs and deejays and unfamiliar music, you’ll never understand how to connect with what people are feeling today.
Fred Rogers was a man who believed in inherent goodness and preached the idea that everyone was special, just the way they are.
“Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” is “a much-needed emotional tonic for troubled times.”
Sounds like a good idea for a radio station, too.