First Comes Passion and Then...
August 13, 2013
I love the passion for radio I am seeing in the e-mails being sent to me lately. It's nice to see more jocks putting in more time and effort into what they do or say. Passion is the building block for becoming better at whatever you do in this business. Read on:
Jock: While taking a winner's information I accidentally left my microphone on and everyone could hear me. My boss is on vacation and I am worried that when he gets back I will be in trouble. I did not curse or anything, but it shook me up for the rest of my show. One of the other jocks called and told me what I had done. What should I say to the PD when he gets back?
Coach: It really does not sound like a big deal, but when he gets back, make sure he hears about it from you first. PDs like to be in a defensible position; I'll bet you never accidentally leave the mic on again! So stop worrying, there is not a jock alive who has not made a mistake of some sort, including your boss. Believe it or not, I too had my share of mishaps on the air. Listen to this story and you'll see what you did wasn't so bad.
I was working at Country station WUSN in Chicago and one night I got curious during the second hour of my 6-10p air shift. We were doing this "secret combination vault" thing for a ton of cash. Between songs I was screwing around with the vault and the damned thing opened! It made all this noise with sirens, bells, whistles, and flashing lights! I didn't know what to do because I remembered being told turning on the mic would not mute the noise; so going on the air was not possible, listeners would have known the vault was open thanks to a ton of recorded promos with previous winners. It was crazy; I had to segue into commercial breaks for over an hour. With no luck getting hold of the engineers, I finally broke down and called my PD and friend, Lee Logan. He answered his phone, heard the commotion, and laughed so hard he could hardly stop. The first thing he said: "I guess you didn't read the memo about fooling around with the vault." Other than taking a ribbing from the other jocks, I survived and have thoroughly read every memo since then!
You Sound Fine
Some jocks are insecure on how they sound and it's understandably troublesome. A couple of my clients have worried they were losing their voices and another thought the hoarseness of his voice might hurt him in an upcoming job interview via the phone. These concerns are easy to relate to because our vocal chords are our livelihood in radio. So I hope some of you stop worrying whether or not your voice is good enough for the airways. Just follow my train of thought:
Becoming comfortable with the sound of your voice is the initial step to being an announcer. I did not like how I sounded my first few years in this business. It takes time, but you will get accustomed to your actual sound. There is no such thing as a radio voice; all voices are suitable for broadcasting. How you use your voice is what's important; Morgan Freeman, Brian Williams, Donald Sutherland, Bryant Gumbel and Roberta Solomon are all excellent communicators. However, look at their differences; Freeman has a calming bass-like quality, Sutherland quietly authoritative, Williams is smooth with a twinge of sophistication, Gumbel has a high-pitched voice, and Solomon is one of the most versatile voices in radio and television (Google her name).
Your voice is an instrument and a powerful tool; you have to learn how to use it. Ours is a platform for theater-of-the-mind and effective communications. A voice is capable of conveying motivation, energy, humor, hope, affection, worry, passion, desperation, want, terror, fear and happiness. Radio is not television and there are no pictures. The sound of your voice paints the canvass, it provides the periods, question marks, commas, excitement, and transitions from one thought to another.
In the beginning of a career, it is normal to experiment and try to sound like how you hear yourself in your head, rather than how you might actually sound. No worries; the novelty of hearing yourself on a recording will wear off and with some help, you will start to become comfortable with your actual voice. Learn by listening to the voices of other personalities and pay attention to how they say things. It's normal to copy while in search of your true voice and style.
Do whatever it takes to progress; I once worked with a personality who sounded short of breath on the air. We discussed it and I suggested a vocal coach. He took voice lessons and learned breathing techniques to help him project with more power.
Your voice is the key to personal success in this business. Invest the time and effort to maximize the use of your unique sound.