Behind the Mic: Josh Goodman
Josh Goodman is a long-time radio vet, who started in the business at age 12. After almost 25 years in the business as an air talent, music director, and production director, he now enjoys the full-time life of a v/o talent. He lives in Denver, CO with his wife and two daughters.
What radio VO work have you done in the past (stations/markets)?
On the radio side, you can hear me on WTMX/Chicago, KFMB/San Diego, KAMX/Austin, KODJ/Salt Lake City, KRFX/Denver, KRQQ/Tucson, WTTS/Indianapolis, WTVR/Richmond, and WQMX/Akron to name a few. For TV, I’m on WNYW-Fox5/New York, WBNS/Columbus, WTVF/Nashville, KCTS/Seattle, and KLAS/Las Vegas. I voice a decent amount of commercials both regionally and nationally, and have narrated shows airing on National Geographic Channel, Nat Geo Wild, Science Channel, History Channel, and Smithsonian Channel.
What are you up to presently (freelance/on-staff at a station)?
Currently, I’m a full-time v/o talent after almost 25 years in the radio biz (I left radio in 2014). I spent time on-air in Denver, Philadelphia, Seattle, Charlotte, Albany, NY, and Burlington, VT.
What do you love about your job?
As strange as it sounds, I love being a client’s problem solver. As a voice-talent, that means helping to deliver a message in a unique and authentic way. Maybe offering a read or point-of-view that the writer didn’t think of. Or, better yet, telling a story or delivering a read exactly how the writer had it in their own head. And in today’s world, that also means turning that read around FAST!
How did you get started as a VO actor?
In the early 2000s, I had the opportunity to be the Production Director of the Entercom cluster in Denver, which after being solely on-air for so many years, allowed me to work some different muscles. I really enjoyed the assembly of commercials – everything from the writing to the narration to the production, and that sort of lit the spark for me to start exploring voice-over.
What was your first gig? Any memorable ones since then?
My first radio gig? Well, my first PAID radio gig was when I was 14 years old at WQQY/WKAJ in Saratoga Springs, NY. I got to run the board on the FM for a syndicated countdown show (Dave Sholin’s Countdown USA I believe). On the AM, I would run the board for NYMets games. I got paid a whopping $3.35/hour, and got to crack the mic 2x/hour for the weather – I LOVED it.
My first big v/o gig (the one that allowed me to go out and make my v/o biz a full-time endeavor) was when I became the voice of HBO Sports. I did all their boxing, 24/7, and Hard Knocks promos for almost 3 years. It was a GREAT gig – I learned a ton, and it really gave me a lot of confidence to say, “yeah, I can do this”.
Who are your VO idols/mentors?
Past VO Idols are, of course, Don LaFontaine (the original Movie Trailer guy), Edward Hermann (world class narrator and actor), and Peter Thomas (Forensic Files). All have passed away unfortunately. Current v/o mentors include Leiv Schreiber (HBO 24/7), Stacey Keach (American Greed), Will Lyman (Frontline), Brian Lee, Steve Stone, Chris Corley, John Willyard, Ann Dewig, and Thom Pinto to name a few.
If you weren’t doing voiceover, what else do you think you’d be doing for a career?
Good question. I happen to love the “business” of the business, so I would dive into something in the business world – starting another business of my own, or being involved in something that “creates” something.
What did it feel like the first time you heard your voice on the radio/television?
Wow. It was amazing. Honestly, it was almost like an out-of-body experience – I couldn’t believe that was actually ME! I still get that feeling honestly. Whether it’s a commercial that I hear or a show that I’ve voiced, or if I’m streaming a new radio station that I work with. It’s a real thrill to be a part of the creative process and I’m always wanting to improve.
How has new technology changed the way you work?
I can now (and am expected to) work wherever I am! I have a great, very comfortable studio at home, but I also have a backpack that I travel with so I can record from the road. Tecnology has been a blessing and a curse in that way – you don’t need to be in NY or LA anymore, but you better be available when your client needs you!
What gear do you use on the road?
On the road, I use a Sennheiser 416 into a Yamaha AG03 into a MacBook.
In your studio?
In my studio I’ve got a Sennheiser 416 (used for most of my radio/tv imaging and tv promo), as well as a Neumann U87. I have an Avalon M5 and Avalon 737 preamp. That’s running into an Audient ID22, into my Imac. I use ProTools (because I’ve used it so long!), and have a great, dead silent booth where I spend most of my days. Technology has gotten SO good that, over the years, my studio and gear have simplified tremendously. Nowadays, devices like the Universal Apollo let you have $10,000 worth of recording gear in a portable and affordable device!
Which production system do you use and why? Any favorite plugins?
Again, I use ProTools, only because it’s what I started editing on all those years ago, and I’m just very
comfortable with it. Izotope is a GREAT plugin that I use frequently, especially when on the road. The
Nectar2 Gate has saved my bacon many times when recording in a hotel and housekeeping is vacuuming outside the room!
Skills and Helpful Tips
Have you ever had a voice coach? Would you recommend it?
Absolutely – it’s mandatory if you want to succeed at a high level. For many years, I worked with David Lyerly, who really helped elevate my skill level. I also have worked (and continue to work) with some other great coaches like Dave Walsh, Maurice Tobias, and Harry Dunn to name a few. Having a good coach makes ALL the difference – not just for coaching you through copy, but also as a confidant and, well, psychologist. So much of our work is done in “isolation” that you need to have someone to confide in and vent to sometimes! Voice coach might not be the right title – it should be more like voice therapist!
How do you schedule/prioritize your work? How much time do you spend auditioning for new work?
Managing workflow is vital, and the more successful you become, the more important it is. After all, we ARE in the “service” business. And these days, the turnaround is incredibly fast, and your clients expect that. The days of 48 hour turnaround while you go golfing are soooo done. With that said, so are the days or ripping and reading. Each script has it’s own story, and deserves your undivided attention, not matter how big or small the project. This includes auditioning – or “planting”. Your garden won’t grow if you don’t plant new seeds! As Maurice Tobias would say, the audition IS the job. So treat it like one.
How do you market your services to potential clients?
For my commercial and narration clients, I do my damndest to never have just ONE job with them. I turn it into repeat business. By being a professional….by making them want to work with you again…by solving their problems. I develop relationships with copywriters, ad agencies, and production houses. I mail a hand written thank you card after every new job – it’s a lost art and no one does it anymore! For radio stations, I advertise a little on allaccess, and make sure that I’m promoting new stations that I start working with. Getting those first few stations are the toughest – radio stations don’t take risks on v/o talent they’ve never heard of, but once you get 2, turn that into 4, then turn that into 8 and so on. Make the stations want to work with you again!
What is the best voice processing trick or voice-over technique everyone should know?
Honestly, at the top level of commercial and promo and narration – the producers want CLEAN and QUIET. Don’t do their job for them by over compressing and over EQing their audio – because it’s very difficult to “undo” that. However, for TV affiliates, I’ve learned that they appreciate you sending them audio that is “air ready” – that they can just drop into a promo and have it go to air. Clean and quiet is self explanatory. Getting “air ready” may not be (depending on your level of audio expertise). I use George Whittham (audio tech guru) to dial in some “processing stacks” when I need it.
Listen to Josh’s demo below!
Do you have a different approach to reading radio imaging copy as opposed to TV/Radio commercial ads?
Yes, but it all depends on the station and the situation. Radio imaging needs to “cut” through and grab you, so there is a different feeling to it than a bank commercial. But I think that’s changing, and v/o talent need to be versatile. After all, a killer commercial from Mercedes Benz with John Hamm or a cutting edge Apple commercial certainly cuts through – but it cuts through with a read that’s not pushed or polished or showy. The “anti” read – or doing “less” is what’s actually able to accomplish “more” in a way.
Can you offer 3 helpful tips for newbies trying to make it in the voice-over industry?
I believe that to be successful in voice-over, there is a 40/40/20 rule. If one of these areas is missing or deficient, then your chances of succeeding are diminished.
40% Business…40% Performance…20% Tech
BUSINESS: V/O is a business, and if you don’t treat it like one, you will fail. That means being a pro, servicing your clients, and delivering on what you promise. I know it sounds stupid, but I know a LOT of very TALENTED people with very poor business skills who ultimately fail at this. Hussle trumps talent.
PERFORMANCE: V/O is a craft, and an artform. It’s creative, and your performance is absolutely part of that. Coaching and training, and practicing and failing and then practicing some more are all part of it. Anyone can read words off a piece of paper, but as a voice-over craftsman (or woman) it’s your job to bring an authentic point-of-view to each and every piece of copy – even if it’s a :10 tag for Free Donuts at a car dealer. The client is hiring you to put some magic into whatever it is you’re reading, and someone who’s a great businessperson but who has very little to offer in performance, will also fail.
And last but not least – TECH: It’s only 20% of the equation, but it’s still important. You have to be comfortable with your editing software, with your equipment, with the sound of your mic and your room. I also know many many talented v/o talent who work hard, coach and train, but can’t figure out how to send an MP3. They too, will ultimately not succeed. Because having a quiet room to deliver quality audio quickly is the bare minimum of what is expected. And there are too many other v/o talent out there who have all 3 of those things going for them that will replace you on a job if you can’t deliver on the last one.
If you could go back in time and hang out in any decade which one would you go back to and why?
I’ve always been fascinated by the 1920s. It seemed like an incredibly creative time with music and art and technology. There was a real “energy” to that decade!
Favorite 2 pizza toppings?
Double mushrooms. I’m not a vegetarian, but I LOVE mushrooms (and not the trpping kind – ok, well, maybe)
If you could invite one person to dinner, living or dead, who would it be?
Well, that’s easy. It’d be Chachi and Masa of Benztown! I know that’s two people, but come on!