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UVT Blog

A Voice Actor and Radio Announcer Walk into a Bar...

I spent about six years in radio back in the 90s. I can tell you from experience that being a radio broadcaster is nothing like being a voice actor. The performances and approaches to a commercial script are entirely different. Many radio broadcasters who have worked with the UVT coaching team found that out in a hurry. I sure did when I transitioned to voice acting several decades ago.

Radio announcers have excellent timing and can master the hard sell or retail spot, but the struggle that gets in the way is that most don't sound genuine. Several radio announcers tend to read commercial scripts like an urgent news bulletin! I spent a year coaching a 50-year veteran news broadcaster who was stuck in that old AM Newstalk station delivery. Every word was articulated to a T and there was a lot of air behind an authoritative delivery. It took a long time but we finally broke him of his announcer-like delivery and he slowly made the transition to voice acting.

Sometimes, when I read a commercial, I fall back into my announcery delivery and catch myself pretty quickly. This is why coaching is so important. You need a second set of ears to help curb any old and bad habits that could get in the way of booking a voiceover job.

So how is voice acting different from radio announcing? When you're a voice actor, you're a salesperson without sounding like a salesperson. A voice actor should genuinely sound like a regular person. When a script is executed perfectly, the listener sometimes won't notice the voice but will visualize the product. A voice actor is more of a storyteller and less of an announcer. Professionally trained voice actors can make themselves vanish in the copy, making the product the star.

Spend time listening to national radio or TV commercials. First, listen to the voice actors. Then, listen to your local radio personalities read commercial copy. You'll notice the performances are usually not even close. This isn't a knock on radio broadcasters. I am merely pointing out the differences between the two art forms. They both have their place but if you've spent several years in radio and are transitioning to voiceovers, you'll need some coaching to help curb your radio announcer-like delivery. It will work for some hard-sell radio ads but if you want to make a career of this, you'll need help with some range and versatility.

I left radio broadcasting late in the 90s and worked with a coach right away when I decided to go into voiceovers, which paid dividends.


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