Hip. Young. Contemporary. That, in a nutshell, is Adam Schneider. A true rockstar at heart, he began his obsession with sound at the age of 10 when he bought his first guitar. After many years of producing for numerous stations, Adam jumped behind the microphone and is now the voice of numerous stations including 93x in Minneapolis, Rock 100.5 in Atlanta, 96 Rock in Cincinnati, and KATT in Oklahoma City.
Behind the Mic: Adam Schneider
What radio VO work have you done in the past (stations/markets)?
I’ve had the honor of being the voice of quite a few stations including Rock 100.5/Atlanta, 93x/Minneapolis, CFOX/Vancouver, 107.7 The End/Seattle, 105.1 The X/Kansas City, and dozens more.
What are you up to presently (freelance/on-staff at a station)?
Where do I begin? Besides voicing for a bunch of radio stations, I am also the Imaging Director for Cumulus/Atlanta (mainly Rock 100.5 and 99x). I also voice/produce a monthly imaging package for all of Cumulus’ ‘rockternative’ stations, voice/produce all of Westwood One’s rock & alternative collective contesting promos, and whatever other random freelance projects that happen to come up!
Check out Adam’s Rock Imaging Demo:
What do you love about your job?
It’s something different everyday and allows me to be my creative weird self. Some of the stuff I get away with saying off the cuff would never fly in almost any other profession. Being able to wear a t-shirt and jeans every day doesn’t hurt either!
How did you get started as a VO actor?
Via radio. After I graduated college, I interned at Kiss 108/Boston under the amazing Jeff Berlin. Getting to watch and absorb his methods and work ethic on a daily basis really struck a chord with me. I then got my first full-time imaging gig in Columbus, OH at 99-7 The Blitz. Soon I found it was much easier to produce my own voice than someone else’s, as I could tweak anything I needed on the fly without having to wait for the VO talent to send the tracks back. Ironically Jeff was (and still is) the voice of The Blitz so it was fun interspersing both of our voices together in the same promo.
What was your first gig? Any memorable ones since then?
The first station where I was the actual station voice was Rock 100.5 in Atlanta. Before he even set foot in the building, Troy Hanson wanted to hire me as the new station voice, as he was our just announced new PD. Little did he know that I was also his Imaging Director and worked literally across the hall. He soon put me on most of Cumulus’ ‘rockternative’ stations. I was/am quite fortunate.
Check out Adam’s Alternative Imaging Demo:
Who are your VO idols/mentors?
Luckily, I’ve become very close with a lot of my idols/mentors: Chris Corley (I still miss him everyday), Jeff Berlin (don’t know where I’d be without him), Jim Cutler (super busy yet always takes the time for you), Keith Eubanks (monster influence), and a bunch more than I’m sure I’m forgetting.
If you weren’t doing voiceover, what else do you think you’d be doing for a career?
My dream job may actually be Anthony Bourdain’s career: combining my love of travel and food in some fashion. My goal is to get to a point where if my wife were to say, “let’s fly to Vienna for the week” I can immediately pack up my travel studio and go.
What did it feel like the first time you heard your voice on the radio/television?
Probably the same as when you see a band’s reaction to first hearing their song on the radio. Too bad I didn’t record a video of my reaction. It’s still cool to this day. When I hear a new piece on a station that I haven’t heard before, I still drive my wife nuts by asking her to be quiet while it plays.
How has new technology changed the way you work?
It’s allowed me to work faster and to consolidate my gear. I now have a bunch of rack equipment that just sits there (see photo). It also allows me to travel and not shut down my studio, which is nice.
What gear do you use on the road? In your studio?
On the road: Sennheiser 416 into Yamaha AG03 into Macbook Pro with sweetening via plugins. In my studio: Sennheiser 416 into Apollo Firewire into MacPro with some sweetening via plugins.
Which production system do you use and why? Any favorite plugins?
I’m 100% Pro Tools. I used to get into the argument of Pro Tools vs Audition. Now I think that the best DAW is the one you are most comfortable with and can work the fastest in. Keyboard shortcuts are key (Jeff Berlin taught me well!). My favorite plugin (another tip from Jeff Berlin) is Metric Halo’s Channelstrip. I have used this plugin on literally every single session for nearly the last 20 years. It’s easily my go-to for voice processing.
Have you ever had a voice coach? Would you recommend it?
I’ve studied with Marice Tobias and Nancy Wolfson. I definitely recommend it and need to do it more myself. It’s like being an athlete. Even Michael Jordan and Tom Brady need coaching.
How do you schedule/prioritize your work? How much time do you spend auditioning for new work?
Whatever comes in first gets voiced first unless a client sends me a rush job. Those will always go to the top of the list. I’ll sometimes group similar sounding stations together to keep me in a certain zone. I used to audition a bunch, but unfortunately I’ve become too busy. However, whenever my agent, Nate Zeitz/CESD, sends me a station audition I’m Johnny-on-the-spot.
How do you market your services to potential clients?
Very lazily? In all seriousness it’s mostly word of mouth and networking. I’ve found that the best marketing is super-serving your current clients and they’ll end up being your biggest supporters and best marketers.
When it comes to VO work, studio, and gear, what are your most ingenious methods/discoveries for saving time and cash?
Keeping my equipment in tiptop shape so I don’t need to replace it unless I want to. I also keep all of my sessions. It’s better to be able to go back to something you’ve already done to work off of rather than reinvent the wheel.
What is the best voice processing trick or voice-over technique everyone should know?
I think processing voices is the single toughest thing to do properly in regards to production. Ultimately, unless you are going for some crazy effect the secret is to not overdo it. Maybe just a touch of EQ and compression may be all it takes. But no trick will ever replace the sound of your room. If your room isn’t properly treated, you’ll be fighting a losing battle.
Do you have a different approach to reading radio imaging copy as opposed to TV/Radio commercial ads?
100%. Both involve acting, but radio imaging would be like Dwayne Johnson whereas commercial ads would be like Tom Hanks. Does that make sense?
Can you offer 3 helpful tips for newbies trying to make it in the voice-over industry?
1. Be a sponge for information. 2. Network and reach out. You’ll be surprised how open and sharing most in this business are. 3. Practice and don’t be afraid to get outside your brain. Overthinking it can both help and hurt.
If you could go back in time and hang out in any decade, which one would you go back to and why?
The roaring 20’s would be fun, as would the 70’s for all of the amazing bands I could see in their heyday. Heck, probably any decade as I love to travel so much!
Favorite 2 pizza toppings?
My all time favorite pizza is a Margherita with fresh basil and minced garlic (hello Santarpio’s in Boston!) Green pepper and onion would be my 2 favorite toppings for a normal run of the mill pizza. Pepperoni is a close third, although recently I’ve really gotten into spicy sopressata.
If you could invite one person to dinner, living or dead, who would it be?
Do I have to pick just one? Freddie Mercury to hear all of the amazing stories. Mark Cuban to learn the art of business. Anthony Bourdain to just hang out and shoot the breeze.