Behind The Mic: Drew Patterson
Drew Patterson’s VO work speaks for itself…but he’s so damn awesome we highly suggest getting to know him as well. He knows what the industry needs and he delivers. And also…how can you resist that perfectly groomed beard?
1) What radio VO work have you done in the past? I just signed WAAF in Boston. KIOI (San Francisco), KNOU (St. Louis,) the now-defunct WKQX (Chicago), WWDC (Washington, D.C.), WYSP (Philly), and others.
2) What are you up to presently? I’m the CSD for KPNT and KNOU in St. Louis. And I’ve been doing promos for the legendary KSHE. My PD Tommy Mattern is an incredible boss that lets me do it all from home while I build my voiceover empire. I also did Q101’s imaging for a few years in a poor attempt to fill Ned Spindle’s shoes, before Emmis sold it off.
3) What do you love about your job? Voiceover is constantly challenging. I’m extremely passionate about it. I love radio, but as an imaging guy you eventually hit a ceiling. And because it’s a background job, I never got the attention the on-air talent get. It’s an underappreciated job. Voiceover fills my need for attention with a strong creative fulfillment.
4) How did you get started as a VO actor? What was your first gig? I was an imaging guy for CBS-owned WKRZ in Pittsburgh (back when some moron executive thought David Lee Roth could replace Howard Stern) and hooked up with the local talent agency. Booked a set of commercials for the Columbus Dispatch and caught the fever.
5) Have you ever had a voice coach? Would you recommend it? Of course! If you want to get better at anything, you should seek out training. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to work with David Lyerly for a long time. His insight and feel for acting as it applies to voiceover is masterful. I’ve also been taking acting lessons for a few years to round out my training. Coming from radio, we’re not exposed to the way actors think. It’s been a huge help in dropping the “announcer” sound, talking like a real person, and focusing on script analysis, emotion, motivation, etc… If I ever reach a point where I feel like I can’t improve, it’s time for me to do something else.
6) Who are your VO idols/mentors? Who influenced your work as a VO artist? Few people can tell a story like Keith David. His work on Ken Burns’ documentaries is so damn good. I love Rino Romano, Bill Ratner. Corey Burton has a really unique approach. And I really enjoy hearing actors like Idris Elba, Oscar Isaac, or Cate Blanchett’s opening monologue from the first Lord of the Rings movie (nerd alert).
7) What is your dream gig? Any one that pays.
8) Can you offer 3 helpful tips for newbies trying to make it in the voice-over industry? Take acting lessons. Be patient. Talk like a normal human being.
9) If you weren’t doing voiceover, what else do you think you’d be doing for a career? Starving.
10) How do you schedule/prioritize your work? Almost every client needs everything yesterday. For my radio stations, I typically turn everything around within a hour or two. Back when I first started doing imaging in college at WPGU/Champaign, WQ, Paul Armbruster would FedEx us a DAT tape. Things sure have changed.
11) How much time do you spend auditioning for new work? A lot.
12) How do you market your services to potential clients? I’m horrible at marketing myself and don’t do it as much as I should.
13) Which production system do you use and why? I record in Adobe Audition. I currently use Sony Vegas for my radio production. No particular reason. I was forced to learn it for a job and stayed with it. But I’m forcing myself to learn Audition CC.
15) What gear do you use? Sennheiser 416 > Avalon 737 > Manley Massive Passive. And I just started using the UA Apollo Twin. I record in the inexpensive Drum Perfect booth. It ain’t fancy but it sounds great.
16) How has new technology changed the way you work? I wasn’t around for the “glory days” of voiceover where guys like Don LaFontaine would roll up to the studio in a limo, record their lines with the director listening and offering feedback, and be on their way to the next job. Now you’re the actor, director, and engineer. You have to direct yourself in the audition phase and then try to get some objectivity on whether or not you achieved your goal. And technology has made it very competitive. If you can’t do what the client wants, there are thousands of other people who want your job. But that’s a #blessing for me. Tech has opened up the market to guys like me in St. Louis. I can compete on a national level and pay a lot less in cost of living.
17) What is the best voice processing trick or voice-over technique everyone should know? Creating honest moments should be your only goal. I’ve tried polishing up my auditions or adding an effect that I hope might give me an edge. It doesn’t. If the acting sucks, no effect is going to make it better. You can’t polish a VO turd (unless you really filter the shit out of it).
18) Do you have a different approach to reading radio imaging copy as opposed to TV/Radio commercial ads? The whole industry is in flux…transitioning away from polished, deep announcers to “real” people. Slowly but surely, radio seems to be moving in that direction. Lots of radio stations still think they need an announcer to get people to pay attention. But it’s changing. I hope that more program directors and creative guys discover that talking at your listeners with a “cool” voice is nowhere near as effective and real as talking to them. And a person with any voice print can do that. Obviously, I’m biased and have deep voice envy.
19) What did it feel like the first time you heard your voice on the radio/television? I get a little giddy every time. And then insecure about what I could have done better.
20) What was your first concert? Probably some shitty ska or punk band. I played trumpet growing up and I’m still a sucker for any song with trumpet.
21) If you could invite one person to dinner, living or dead, who would it be? Howard Stern. I’m a mega-fan. Or Father John Misty.
22) What’s your guilty pleasure? Answering VO blog questions.
23) If you could travel anywhere in the world right now where would you go and why? My agent says I’m not allowed to travel, sorry.