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Behind the Mic: Saint John

Wed, 08/14/2019 - 13:45

St. John has been the voice of the San Francisco Bay Area (and beyond) for the last 2 decades.

“I got into radio because I love music and I love the art of communication. Early in life I had the good fortune to be able to listen to some of the best in the business… some of the greatest radio stations and biggest personalities of all time. And of course , I fell in love with the theatre of the mind … not just of the on air talent but of the ever present “phantom personality” … the imaging announcer. The voiceover artist conveys more about your station in 3 seconds than many personalities do in an hour. As a station voice, I love working with program directors in helping to create something unique … something that no one else can duplicate. My style can be over the top … it can be intimate … and it is always engaging. And with station imaging that’s the whole point.”

How did you get started as a VO actor?

I began in radio as weekend on air talent and at WZOU/Boston (now WJMN) I was also assigned the task of dubbing music and spots … and then voicing the occasional 60 second commercial. My first station. Imaging voice experience was at Boston’s KISS108 … I was asked to fill in for the station’s creative director for a few weeks and fell in love with both the creative process and hearing my work on the air defining the station. Haven’t looked back since!

What radio VO work have you done in the past?

I’ve been the voice of some pretty exciting stations over the past 2 decades including

  • WXRK New York
  • KBIG Los Angeles
  • KYLD San Francisco
  • CKBE Montreal
  • HOT957 Houston
  • WPOW Miami
  • Z90 San Diego
  • KXJM Portland
  • KIKI Honolulu
  • B97 New Orleans
  • WLOL Minneapolis
  • B95 Fresno
What are you up to presently? I am currently hosting Afternoon Drive and am the station imaging voice for KMVQ FM (997NOW) San Francisco. My voiceover roster also includes:
  • iHeart Radio DANCE NATION 90s
  • KDON Salinas Santa Cruz Monterey
  • DaJam983 Maui
  • 91.4 Studio1FM Dhahran Saudi Arabia
  • 105.7NOWfm Spokane
  • Q97 Fresno
 Additionally, I do weekend fill in on Philadelphia’s TALKRADIO 1210 WPHT and am currently working on creating YouTube channels to compliment my San Francisco and Philadelphia radio shows.

 

Check out Saint’s demo:

http://blog.benztown.com/voiceover/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/ST-JOHN-VO-DEMO.wav

 

What do you love about your job?

I love entertaining and making real connections with people through radio. With 997NOW, having a 2 decade relationship with people in San Francisco is incredibly rare and allows me to have a real place in people’s daily lives. Bonneville encourages our personalities to make a difference in our communities which is incredibly rewarding. On my shows on WPHT I love giving a different perspective and challenging our listeners. Engagement is really what gets me excited. And that’s what I also go for in the voiceover booth. It drives everything I do.

St. John has been on-air at 997Now for twenty years!

What was your on-air first gig?
First radio experience was during high school. I had a free period … and had access to the radio station at the college next door (Virginia Wesleyan College). From there its was Z104/Norfolk … WHTT … WZOU … then KISS108 Boston

What was your first voiceover gig?

First official station voice gig was B97 New Orleans.
First client station B95 Fresno.

Any memorable ones since then?

All (ok MOST) clients are memorable in that their individual situations are unique. That said … any time I have non English language vo … it’s challenging and fun (especially since I’m not fluent in Mandarin Portuguese or Spanish).

Who are your VO idols/mentors?

IDOL … Hands down it has to be the late Chuck Riley. First worked with his VO at X100/San Francisco and was blown away.

MENTORS … Almost everyone else doing voiceover. I’ve learned so much (stolen so many ideas…lol) from so many other incredibly talented vo people. I can’t name a single voice artist that hasn’t made me hear things in a different way than I normally would.

If you weren’t doing voiceover, what else do you think you’d be doing for a career?
If I weren’t in radio or voiceover, I’d be producing electronic dance music full time (which I do in my spare time) and performing at festivals and clubs. And if not in music or entertainment, I’ve always had a fascination with flying.

How do you continue to stay motivated throughout your long career?

I am blessed and grateful to have relationships with people who challenge, motivate and encourage me daily. From my radio fam from 997NOW (Michael Martin and Jazzy Jim) and Greg Lawley at Lawman Promotions to people like Chachi and the Benztown crew, I get perspective and opportunity to brainstorm with some of the absolute best in the business. Working around fresh talent is a also a huuuuuuge benefit and keeps me from getting myopic. And while I don’t really actively think about how to stay motivated, my friend and mentor (Michael Martin) believes that a key for creatives is having other creative outlets … so it IS that music production and doing talk radio that is a pressure valve. Also taking vacations and enjoying the food, fashion, music and theatre scene in San Francisco is energizing.

Building great relationships is key in the radio biz!

How has new technology changed the way you work?

As a voiceover talent, digital technology has been a game changer. Editing is so simple and cleaning up tracks couldn’t be easier. Uploading and emailing has made turnaround time almost instantaneous. And going on vacation is infinitely easier. I used to travel with a full rack kit and now the Neve gear comes with me on a laptop in plug in form.

What gear do you use In your studio? On the road?

The mic for most of my clients voiceover is a Sennheiser 8060 (a little more present for me than a 416 and its smaller so it travels better). Processing in the booth at home is Neve 1073spx pre/eq and Neve 2254R compressor into Sound Devices USBPre2 interface and of course Wheatstone Voxpro. On the road its the Sennheiser into a UAD Arrow (Neve 1073 and 33609 plugins) into Ableton live 10 to record and Wheatstone Voxpro to edit and clean up.

Which production system do you use and why?

For voiceover it’s Wheatstone Voxpro. It’s idiot proof (lol) and since I use it on air every single day I’m lightning fast and it’s second nature. For the very infrequent full promo that I might produce Ableton Live 10 is fantastic … easy … and is incredibly stable. I use it with Waves and UAD plugins (although the stock plug ins it comes with are decent). Of course I can rock with ProTools (started on a system from Pacific Recorders called ADX then on to ProTools) but for me Ableton has made it obsolete.

Have you ever had a voice coach? Would you recommend it?

I’ve just started to work with Marice Tobias and find it valuable. Working with a coach is probably not for everyone but I personally believe that being challenged and encouraged to see things from a different perspective can give you a different edge and a serious advantage.

What is the best voice processing trick everyone should know?

Actually not really a trick but audition EVERY MIC until you find the one (or ones) that works for YOU. Don’t just look at what everybody else uses and assume it’s best for you. Some people sound better on a $100 handheld Shure mic than on a $3500 Neumann U87. DON’T BE AFRAID TO EXPERIMENT.

As for processing … EQ sparingly to sound natural to slightly bright … compress with slow attack time and relatively quick release … then a bit of peak limiting

Can you offer 3 helpful tips for newbies trying to make it in the voice-over industry?

1. FIRST and FOREMOST … MAKE SURE THAT YOU’RE IN LOVE WITH THE PROCESS. Don’t be in love with the idea of being a voiceover artist… love the work. If the satisfaction solely comes from getting the gig and the check … you’ll be disappointed far more than delighted. If the work itself isn’t the turn on you’re doing the wrong thing.
2. Like everything in life … don’t overthink it. Especially in a creative field DO NOT SECOND GUESS. When you’re first starting out, don’t be afraid if you’re not perfect. YOU HAVE TO SHIP! It’s easy to get paralyzed because your early work isn’t all the way there. Do your best … ship your best … and always work toward perfection (if there is such a thing).
3. LISTEN TO EVERYONE ELSE’S WORK and get a feel for why you think it works. Incorporate that essence of what makes their work resonate where it makes sense but DO NOT IMITATE. Make friends … network … and talk to other voiceover artists about THEIR points of view and possibly think about voice work from a different perspective than when you began.

If you could go back in time and hang out in any decade which one would you go back to and why?

I think the 70s were incredible … media and music were exciting and vital. Between Top 40 and rock radio were so dominant. And some of the best (and IMHO most important) albums of all time were recorded in the 70s.

If you could invite one person to dinner, living or dead, who would it be?

I could easily give you a hundred … historic, political, spiritual, music or media people … hard to narrow down to just one…but at this moment I’d love to sit down with Gary Vee. He’s always thought provoking, inspirational and challenging…and cuts through all the BS.

Favorite 2 pizza toppings?

Pepperoni and Jalapeños … I’m pretty basic… lol.

 

Categories: VOIMAGEBLOG

Behind the Mic: Alyson Steel

Wed, 08/07/2019 - 15:25

Alyson Steel is a voice you’ve heard not only the radio waves, but on some of your favorites commericals. She began her career in front of the camera and eventually found her passion behind the mic. 

What radio VO work have you done in the past either in stations or markets?

Tons of Commercials – too numerous to count over the last 20 something years. Including National, Regional and local markets. (and international as well!) Also Imaging around the country in small and mid sized markets as well as Los Angeles.

What are you up to presently?

Tons of TV/Radio Commercials, Infomercials (But wait- there’s more!), Imaging, Promos, telephony, TTS and narrations also keep me busy.

Check out Alyson’s Demos:

http://blog.benztown.com/voiceover/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/Alyson-Steel-Imaging-VO-1.mp3 http://blog.benztown.com/voiceover/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/Alyson-Steel-Commercial.mp3 http://blog.benztown.com/voiceover/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/Alyson-Steel-Promo-Raw.mp3 http://blog.benztown.com/voiceover/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/Alyson-Steel-Trailers-.mp3

 

What do you love about your job?

My clients are very cool. People in this industry understand things like – “I need to go to yoga early in the morning to warm up my voice and that also helps me be a happy VO artist and not a grumpy person if I don’t get to do my practice. As well as understanding things like “Mercury is in retrograde which is why things can get a bit wonky. Clients in VO get those psychological things.

Categories: VOIMAGEBLOG

Behind the Mic: Pete Gustin

Wed, 07/10/2019 - 13:44

Pete Gustin is a current and 3-time winner of the Benztown Top 50 award and also the current title holder of the SOVAS Voice Arts Award for “Outstanding Movie trailer of the Year.”  Pete is the voice of dozens of radio stations worldwide as well as the exclusive voice of Fox News and has been featured on Fox, ABC, CBS, USA, Cartoon Network, Comedy Central, FXX and ESPN.  Pete’s work on movie trailers has grown exponentially in the last couple of years coinciding with his move to San Diego where he actually tries to get out of the booth every once in a while to enjoy his new sport of surfing in the Pacific.

 

What radio VO work have you done in the past (stations/markets)?

I’m on in LA, Boston, Detroit, Tampa Bay, Portland and many many points within that geographical circle along with stations in Africa, the south of France, the Seychelles, Trinidad and Tobago, the British Virgin Islands and … more.

What are you up to presently either freelance or on-staff at a station?

I am full-time freelance VO but still do a little production here and there, including handling all of the imaging needs for WRIF in Detroit. I’m also the sole creator of the Tirade Imaging Library and am presently working on my second novel.

What do you love about your job?

I love competing to “win” gigs.  As kids, we have so many more opportunities to compete in things like youth sports and in school.  Being able to compete on a daily basis with so many other talented VO people around the country and the world for VO jobs adds some excitement to every single day.  After that, I love the opportunity to perform and to bring life to copy.

Pete Gustin received a Voice Arts Award!

How did you get started as a VO actor?

Long story short?  I hit puberty and my voice dropped dramatically.  I used to sound like a little girl. Like … not a young boy … like a little girl. When my big-boy voice came in everyone started telling me I should grow up to be on the radio. I took their advice as soon as possible taking my first internship at WRKO in Boston my freshman year at Boston University.

What was your first gig? Any memorable ones since then?

My first gig on air was actually as a traffic reporter for WBZ in Boston while I was a freshman at Boston University.  First gig making promos was for WRKO in Boston my sophomore year. Junior year I started my first DJ’ing job on WPXC on Cape Cod.  First Production Director job was for WEEI and WRKO right after I graduated. Like, the day after I graduated. First “station” I ever officially voice was Liquid Metal (then called Hard Attack) on Sirius/XM……..which I’m still the voice of today some 19 years later.

Who are your VO idols/mentors?

The first guy I ever wanted to be like was a local Boston celebrity/VO artist by the name of Dana Hersey.  I also got in touch with Don LaFontaine my junior year of college who used to give me acting and VO lessons from the back of his limo on his way home from gigs at the end of his days out in L.A.  It was kind of……..amazing.

If you weren’t doing voiceover, what else do you think you’d be doing for a career?

I studied advertising and psychology at B.U…..so I’d probably be putting both of these degrees to good use in creating ads at some agency somewhere.  VO’s was actually kind of always just the “dream plan”. I thought working in advertising was actually much more likely….but I’m REALLY glad it’s worked out the way it has.

What did it feel like the first time you heard your voice on the radio/television?

The first time I was on air I was a guest on a morning talk show in Boston and I was 10. I was like … “holy crap….I totally sound like a girl!”

How has new technology changed the way you work?

Well…I would not be able to work if it were not for new technology.  I am of course legally blind. I can’t actually “read” anything. Hell…I can’t see much of anything these days.  So, my copy gets red to me via a little computer voice in my left ear and I recite it back in real time as I hear it.  it was hard as all hell to master the skill…but it was completely necessary in order to do what I really wanted to do in life.  Fortunately, the human brain is adaptable and I’m not easily dissuaded by a challenge.

What gear do you use on the road? In your studio?

I pretty much never get to go on the road.  I’m locked in the booth pretty hardcore every day.  I had a soundproof recording studio built by a company called Soundproof San Diego.  The booth is absolutely amazing. It’s soundproof and, well…pretty much bomb proof. I use Pro Tools on a PC with a Prism Lyra 2 fed by a Sennheiser 416 shotgun mic along with 2 mice at the same time with 32 different macros for editing.

Pete Gustin’s recording studio … This is where the magic happens!

Which production system do you use and why? Any favorite plugins?

I use Pro Tools because it’s whatI learned on.  Well…technically I learned on the DSE 7000FX but they don’t make that beast anymore so….Pro Tools it is.  One handy dandy little plug-in I found is the Black Box. It honestly doesn’t do a heck of a lot to the VO….but it does just enough to make it sparkle and cut through.  Juuuuuuuust enough.

Have you ever had a voice coach? Would you recommend it?

Yes.  Oh yes.  Of course.  I’ve worked with Marice Tobias, David Lyerly, Artt Butler and Richard Redfield.  Were it not for them I’d still be growling at a mic thinking my baritone sound was enough to be a voice over guy.  They all worked with me extensively to teach me how to…you know……..act.

How do you schedule or prioritize your work? How much time do you spend auditioning for new work?

I try to do work at the moment it comes in.  I think all of my clients would tell you that they are amazed with my turn-around time.  All scripts are usually done in maybe 5 to 10 minutes and I usually handle between 40 to 60 sessions a day.  I will of course have to put some of the bigger and more demanding clients like Fox News and other TV networks at the head of the line even if something else had come in first…but no one ever waits very long.  Some days I do zero auditions. Others I can do up to maybe five or so. I am however always working on new demos and new ways to market and advertise which I think is just as important as auditioning.

Pete hanging out on the beautiful seaside cliffs of California!

How do you market your services to potential clients?

Like a hooker.  I am a total prostitute.  I show off my goods and try to tempt people into sleeping with me … I mean … hiring me to read copy.

When it comes to VO work, studio & gear, what are your most ingenious methods or discoveries for saving time and cash?

The big time-saver is the left-hand mouse I use called the Contour Shuttle Pro v2.  I don’t even need the keyboard when I use pro Tools. I play the program like a piano; cutting, copying, pasting, moving and everything else with my fingers floating over the keys like a pianist on his ivories.

What is the best voice processing trick or voice-over technique everyone should know?

Don’t over-do it.  Seriously…..the old-school big, forced “radio” sound is dead and has been for a long time.  Let your natural sound shine through. I mean….don’t JUST talk like you normally would…but don’t pop a vain in your neck unless you’re the voice of a death metal station.

Do you have a different approach to reading radio imaging copy as opposed to TV or Radio commercial ads?

Yes…completely.  I also have different processing for different jobs.  Radio is a little bit exaggerated. Above I said don’t push your VO…and you shouldn’t…..but a lot of radio copy does call for a bit of an  exaggeration to what you’d normally do as an actor. It’s just the nature of the type of promotion radio does. TV promos are more natural.  Trailers are far more laid back than people think when they talk about them…and commercials are completely natural and will book based solely on your acting skills.

Can you offer 3 helpful tips for newbies trying to make it in the voice-over industry?

  1. Take acting classes
  2. Read as much copy as you can as often as you can.  Repetition and practice are your best friends
  3. Wear as little clothing as possible when you read copy.  Clothes can restrict your diaphragm so … underpants only when possible.

If you could go back in time and hang out in any decade which one would you go back to and why?

I wanna go back in time to the era of the ancient Greeks and Romans. I know I wouldn’t be able to be a VO guy but I could be like a Town Crier or something and I feel like that time of innovation for thought and technology would be fascinating to see first-hand.

Pete and Superdog!

Favorite 2 pizza toppings?

Ham……..and pineapple!

If you could invite one person to dinner, living or dead, who would it be?

Julias Caesar (and a translator).  I would like to witness first-hand the personality and magnetism that made him who he was.  I’m actually pretty sure he’d be kind of a huge dick and really bossy, but it would still be very interesting to see.  I feel like he’d be kind of like Donald Trump but somehow even MORE arrogant cuz, well…he actually does (or did) rule the world.

Connect with Peter

www.facebook.com/petegustin

www.twitter.com/petegustin

Categories: VOIMAGEBLOG

Behind the Mic: Jude Corbett

Thu, 06/27/2019 - 13:03

2020 will mark Jude Corbett’s 25th anniversary of being behind the mic for Radio and TV. He’s been Creative Director for various stations from St. Louis (KPNT) to Chicago (WLS) to New York (WXRK) all while doing freelance work.

“I’d like to say first, thnk you for having me on “Behind the Mic” and, second, thank you Benztown for including me on “The 50.” It’s an honor to be on the list!”

What radio VO work have you done in the past?

Just naming a few…

  • Chicago – 890 WLS, 94-7 WLS, 97-9 The Loop, Q101
  • New York – 92.3 WXRK, 92-7 WLIR
  • Philadelphia – WDRE, WPLY Y100, 92.5 WXTU
  • Dallas – 96.3 KSCS, Hot 100
  • Houston – 104 KRBE, 96.5 The Mix KHMX
  • San Jose – 106.5 KEZR
  • Seattle – 107.7 The End KNDD
  • Cincinnati – WKRQ Q102 *20th anniversary this year
  • Boston – WKLB Country 102.5
  • Providence – 95.5 WBRU *was on the station for 19 years
  • St. Louis – Y98 KYKY, 101.1 The River WVRV, 104-1 The Mall WMLL
  • Montreal – CHOM 97-7
  • Toronto – Kiss 92-5 CKIS
  • Vancouver – 102-7 The Peak CKPK
  • Denver – 99-5 The Mountain KQMT, Alice 105.9 KALC
  • Indianapolis – 99.5 WZPL
  • Tampa Bay – 99-5 WQYK,
  • Portland – 105-1 The Buzz KRSK
  • Pittsburgh – 105.9 WXDX
  • Milwaukee – 96.5 WKLH

A few television VO work include: ABC, NBC, CBS, HBO, Showtime, Cinemax, ESPN, VH1, CMT, Weather Channel, TLC, Discovery, FS1, CNN and Nickelodeon.

What are you up to presently?

My first 1099 VO gig was back in 1995 while I was working as Creative Director at The Point in St. Louis.  In 2006 the side work became a full-time option and I decided to go fully independent. Then, a couple years ago, I added a client to my roster and to my surprise, the Creative Director was a fellow, successful VO artist.  It got me thinking about going back to work. Radio is what I went to school for and it is what I love to do. So, about a year and half later, after 13 years at home, last September I accepted the Creative Director role at 94.7 WLS-fm and 8-90 WLS-am… in addition to the free-lance clients I have with Atlas Talent Agency.

Here’s a demo from Jude:

http://blog.benztown.com/voiceover/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/Jude-Corbett-Benztown-50-2018.mp3

 

What do you love about your job?

Entertaining people.

How did you get started as a VO actor?

I was asked to impersonate Ronald Reagan in High School for one of our school plays.  My first paid VO radio gig was for WDRE back in ’95.

If you weren’t doing voiceover, what else do you think you’d be doing for a career?

I was a volunteer for our local youth organization and I coached a lot of baseball.  I really enjoyed it! Now my two sons are in high school playing ball and I’m enjoying being a fan on the sidelines.  I think I would have liked being a high school teacher and a coach.

What did it feel like the first time you heard your voice on either on the radio or TV?

Radio – painful.  TV – nervous! Anybody who says they liked their voice the first time they heard it is probably lying is definitely lying.

Jude’s own FMQB CD from 1997

How has new technology changed the way you work?

From reel-to-reel to DAT to CD to thin air.  MP3s are a hell of a lot cheaper than overnighting a DAT.  I’m definitely more efficient and effective for my clients today.  Can you imagine, “oh I had the date wrong on yesterday’s session, could you just read this one line?  And overnight it on a DAT for me? Thanks!”

Which production system do you use and why?

I produce on Pro-Tools because it’s what I learned on and I think it’s the best and most versatile.  I do my VO client recording on Adobe Audition because I can save files immediately in various formats. Plus, I can manage and send files easier on PC.

This is where the magic happens. Jude’s setup doesn’t look too shabby!

Have you ever had a voice coach? Would you recommend it?

I have seen coaches and done workshops.  I think it’s good to get honest feedback and learn possible new techniques.

What is the best voice processing trick or voice-over technique everyone should know?

Use your headphones as little as possible. With headphones you’re constantly judging how you sound and that can be prohibitive. If you’re in a live session with a client, just wear them over one ear.  The one ear approach is also a safety tip when you’re being fed audio by someone else. I have had my eardrums rung a few times by producers who’ve inadvertently had the volume cranked up.  One ear destruction is way better than two ear destruction when doing a session.

Do you have a different approach to reading radio imaging copy as opposed to TV/Radio commercial ads?

Shifting gears from promo to commercial is tough.  There is an absolute mental adjustment to be made. From format to format, topic to topic, there are different approaches for radio and tv messages but, they’re all on the same “announcer” spectrum, a spectrum that commercial casting directors do not like, typically speaking.  My “trick” in making a distinction between promo and commercial is the amount of air you start with in your lungs. I breathe in to begin promo and I breathe out to begin commercials.

If you could go back in time and hang out in any decade which one would you go back to and why?

While I’m fascinated with the Knights Templar, dying and defending by the sword doesn’t sound like very much fun. I think I would love to experience Philadelphia in the 1770s to watch the secret societies, the conflicts and the conspiracies.

Favorite 2 pizza toppings?

Spinach and mushroom.

If you could invite one person to dinner, living or dead, who would it be?

Continuing with the Knights Templar, I would seek the truth from the dude who orchestrated the treasure vault on Oak Island.  It’s mysterious and curious and, if this is true, it just might mean that I’ll have to tune in next week for more shiny things and petrified wood.

 

Connect with Jude on his website  www.judecorbettvoice.com

Categories: VOIMAGEBLOG