10 Questions with ... Julie Williams
April 26, 2016
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
I started in radio back in high school as the 6:00-6:30pm DJ on an AM daytimer station in Gainesville FL. It was in Gainesville that I started doing voiceover work as well. I moved up quickly and within a couple of years was doing middays at WAPE in Jacksonville, FL, working with the Greaseman. After six months there, I was hired in Houston for a radio job.
So, at 20 years old I made the trek across the country in my old Vega, by myself, to move to Texas. That trip could rival a Chevy Chase Vacation movie! Three batteries later ... after trying to change a blowout with vice grips, and having to hold the exhaust system up with hangars to the driver's side door -- since the exhaust pipes fell out of the manifold and were dragging on the road -- I finally made it to Houston!
I worked in Houston for a few years until I was offered a dream job ... Mornings in San Antonio with the partner of my choice! I chose my friend Ernie Brown as my partner and we moved to take on San Antonio. It was there that I met my former husband. I stayed there for about 17 years and did mornings at three different stations during that time.
Once my divorce was final, K-Love Radio Network moved me to Sacramento, CA to do mornings with Larry Wayne. I stayed at K-Love for 13 years, until I left to pursue VO full-time. I was already doing full-time VO and fulltime radio; I decided to leave the radio gig to have more control over my schedule.
Now, I'm still in Northern California and ready to have fun on the radio again. But not just at any station. I don't care about market size (as long as the pay is reasonable) An empty-nester now, I'm ready to play on the radio, and off. So for the first time in my radio career, I'm not looking to live where I want to work. I'm looking to work where I want to live.
1) How are you occupying your time, besides looking for a job?
I am a full-time VO talent. I've been doing VO and coaching for decades and have taught at the top VO conferences in the world. I'm absolutely loving making my own hours and working for myself ... taking vacations whenever I want to, but I miss the fun of live radio and interacting with the audience. I don't consider myself unemployed. I'm self-employed ... who would enjoy the fun of live radio, again.
2) Some people get discouraged or enlightened with the business when they actually step out of it for a while. Tell us your observations from the outside.
I've seen the pay decline substantially in the past decade(s). I was well compensated at K-Love and have been doing VO exclusively for four year, so when I started looking into getting back into radio I was shocked at the pay. I know of well-established, well-known Dallas jocks working for $12/hr. ?????
I've also noticed the tendency toward hiring voicetrackers. I love tracking weekend shifts to have the weekend off, but I noticed that those who voicetrack all their shifts for stations are also pitifully compensated.
3) What's the best way to get your foot in the door?
I think the best way to get your foot in the door in radio is to have a well-known name, and lots of friends. The latter is probably the most important. When an aircheck is handed to a PD directly by a respected talent, it's much more likely to get heard. I always try -- even when getting VO agents and clients, as well as radio -- to have someone I know approach the key person on my behalf.
4) What has been your best resource for finding out about job openings?
Friends are by far the best resource. I guess I should include consultants in that category, too. They know about openings before they're announced.
5) What is the next job you'd like to obtain?
A fun, personality-oriented, heavy phoner morning or midday shift near the beach.
6) Are you finding salaries/benefits lower than you ever thought, about the same, or have you seen some pleasant surprises?
Absolutely lower than I ever anticipated! Someone really has to love radio to work in this field, these days.
7) What has been your biggest career accomplishment?
Hmmmm ... I'd have to say ... and this is in voiceover... getting cast to do a Pampers commercial with my son. But that's more of a personal best career memory.
I've had some fabulous times on-air. Working for K-Love Radio Network with more than 10-million listeners was incredible. But the greatest achievement there was my ability to help people through the ministry.
Working mornings in San Antonio was fun. I was given the opportunity to drive the Goodyear Blimp, broadcast from a U-Haul truck on a pole 200 feet in the air, etc.
Working with the Greaseman, early on in my career, was a blast. At the time, it was a dream come true.
Teaching at the top voiceover conferences in the world has been an honor.
And becoming an Audie Finalist for my very first audiobook ... that's really an honor. That put me in like the top 96% in my category.
8) Is there anything specific that you regret doing while you were still working?
There were times that I was so "work-focused" and "task-oriented" that I didn't take the time to really get to know and build good relationships with co-workers. And there were times (way way back) that I bought into the prevailing perspective that listeners were stupid. They're not ... and I'm on the air to serve them, not vice versa.
9) If you were offered a similar position to what you were doing for considerably less money, would you seriously consider taking the job just to stay in the biz?
It depends on how much less money. I'm in the position where I can live well on my VO income. I'd need a fair salary to compensate for the freedom I'd be giving up (punching a time clock again) but if I were to be able to VT weekend shifts, that would go a long way toward job satisfaction! I'm looking for the fun, not for the money. That said, I would not accept a $12/hr gig like a lot of Dallas talents are being forced to do.
10) Where do you see yourself in five years? Ten years?
It's funny that this segment is called "on the beach," because that's literally what I'm looking for! I want a gig in a beach town, such as Tampa, or Ft. Myers FL, or San Diego. In five to 10 years, I want to be semi-retired. To me that means FUN...
- Fun on the air
- Fun on the beach
- Fun on the dance floor
- Fun doing and teaching VO
- Fun on my bike
- Fun on my boat
- Fun traveling and taking cruises, etc.
Uh oh ... now you're on your own for getting new music. If applicable, name your three most recent purchases since leaving the biz.
You caught me here! A lot of radio folks will cringe at this one! I'm not interested in the music, and rarely buy any.
Sure, I can connect in music trivia as well as the next person, but I'm more interested in connecting with the audience on a lifestyle level. I like to find common ground -- and localize through both local events, or in the event of network ... the human condition. We radio folks tend to value the music and music industry stuff more than the average listener does. They care more about what they can do with their kids, that the Northern Lights will be seen in Chicago, if their taxes are going up, when the tax-free back-to-school days are, and other things that can enhance their lives. And that's what I like to focus on when I'm on the air.