Behind the Mic: Gary McClenaghan
As an imaging producer, Gary started to work with his voice and coached to improve his abilities to start voicing stations. Now, as a full-time voice actor with Atlas Talent, Gary voices 30+ radio stations across the US and Canada as well as actively working in commercial having voiced spots for Burger King, Sony, Samsung, Franks Red Hot, and more, as well as in promo with Nickelodeon, CBS, and ESPN among others.
What radio VO work have you done in the past (stations/markets)?
I am the voice of Indie 88 in Toronto, The Bert Show syndicated out of Q99.7 Atlanta, the Rogers AC Network in Canada, along with many other great radio stations.
What are you up to presently (freelance/on-staff at a station)?
I’m solely voicing now, but do lots of personal funny bits and projects with my family to keep my production skills up to date and have some fun.
Check out Gary’s Imaging Demo:
What do you love about your job?
It brings me absolute joy to perform and I love the freedom I get to be with my family, the ability to follow my dreams and focus all my energy on voice-growth through self-growth.
How did you get started as a VO actor?
I started out as an imaging producer and leveraged my experience with working in sound design and with other talents to spark my own growth. I’ve also had a lot of support from my wife with a few profound leaps of faith, not to mention my good friends Lisa Keys and Amanda Madi. Believing in yourself can be difficult at times, so it’s good to have people that unquestionably share those beliefs in you. Oh…and I’ve emailed like a billion people.
What was your first gig? Any memorable ones since then?
A small station in Arkansas was the 1st to bring me on (though I’m not on it anymore). Working with Kyle Taylor at Indie 88 in Toronto is a lot of fun – Kyle was the 1st person to really take a chance on me on a major level. Kyle, and his writer Sean, really get me as a talent, and Kyle directs our sessions which I find extremely beneficial to nail down their vision for each piece, plus I know he loves our weekly calls as I bring summer sunshine into his life (he’s murmuring expletives reading this right now). Also, landing a network of stations in Canada with Rogers was very exciting and brings many rewards along with continued growth!
Who are your VO idols/mentors?
Jamie Watson, David Kaye, Steve Stone, John Frost, Scott Matthews, Chad Erikson, Scott Fisher, and Damon Oaks. I’ve definitely picked up something from each one of these guys.
If you weren’t doing voiceover, what else do you think you’d be doing for a career?
Inspiring, entertaining, and teaching children somehow. I’m big on supporting kids in developing their emotional intelligence to give them the tools to realize their full potential.
What did it feel like the first time you heard your voice on the radio/television?
Great…with a quick side of self-judgment. Since then, I’ve learned to accept the way I hear myself isn’t always the way others hear me and leave discretion to the ear of the director and listener. I continue to grow my ability for self-direction through coaching.
How has new technology changed the way you work?
Well…the internet is pretty great. Though, I don’t find it’s changed too much since my VO start in 2014. I learned to do some video work and have expanded in that regard – I like to be able to build a project all the way from writing to audio to video. When time allows.
What gear do you use on the road? In your studio?
I use a Senn 416, Scarlett 2i2, and Symetrix 528e both on the road and at home. The 528 doesn’t fit snugly in a suitcase, but I don’t leave home without it. I also have an Apollo Twin, but since Covid came, I haven’t had a chance to get into it full force quite yet.
Which production system do you use and why? Any favorite plugins?
I used Audition since it was called Cool Edit until I switched to Pro Tools a couple years back for imaging. But I tend to use both now…depending on the projects I’m working on. Plugins don’t amuse me much anymore. I’m more into developing my own internal voice plugins.
Have you ever had a voice coach? Would you recommend it?
Yep. A pivotal part of my growth. I’ve coached with Nancy Wolfson, and most recently with Dave Walsh. Both have profoundly changed my life. Many more to come. In my mind, it’s imperative to get out of your own way and listen to how you’re perceived outside your own mind.
How do you schedule/prioritize your work? How much time do you spend auditioning for new work?
I voice everything as it comes in. I may hold off on certain auditions to ensure I’m in the right headspace if it’s not something I consider myself more fluent in. Plus, ya gotta do that prep.
How do you market your services to potential clients?
Emailing updated work. Networking at events. It’s all still very new to me. I’m learning new methods all the time.
When it comes to VO work and studio gear, what are your most ingenious methods/discoveries for saving time and cash?
I’m not opposed to buying used gear. As long as it comes without a hum, click, or fire.
What is the best voice processing trick or voiceover technique everyone should know?
Ask the coaches I mentioned…better yet…schedule with them and pay them for their time and learn them all. I sometimes voice auditions and then come back to them a few hours later, to see where my head was at at that point in time. Then I redo if needed.
Do you have a different approach to reading radio imaging copy as opposed to TV/Radio commercial ads?
Oh, yes. Still figuring this all out. They are all different, but each project is different as well. But it’s my goal to get it all sorted out and fire on all cylinders. Wearing these multiple hats has, without a doubt, been my biggest challenge (and reward when it pays off). Generally speaking, I find radio imaging to be a bit more forceful of a read (call to action) and commercial to be very laid back and conversational with promo snuggly in between.
Check out Gary’s Commercial Demo:
Can you offer 3 helpful tips for newbies trying to make it in the voice-over industry?
1. Patience. If you don’t book something – it’s just not for you…yet – or there’s something better on the way. 2. The only person potentially holding you back is you – eliminate your self-limiting beliefs and you’ll see success in all areas of your life – aka believe in yourself. 3. Be kind to you first, then watch as that kindness spreads to others. 4. Always give one extra helpful tip.
If you could go back in time and hang out in any decade, which one would you go back to and why?
The 60’s. I’d make a great hippie.
Favorite 2 pizza toppings?
Pep ‘n Canadian Bacon
If you could invite one person to dinner, living or dead, who would it be?
Um…living…? Gross, Benz.