Behind the Mic: Melissa Thomas
Currently heard in markets across North America, Melissa Thomas specializes in Hot AC, CHR, Country, Alternative, and Rock Imaging. She would love to take on any new project thrown her way!
What radio VO work have you done in the past (stations/markets)?
I have been very blessed with a lot of opportunities including the syndicated program HardDrive XL with Lou Brutus, 104.3 WZYP, Play 107, Kraze 101.3 and various others.
What are you up to presently (freelance/on-staff at a station)?
I am the Imaging Director of X92.9 and X100.7 in Calgary as well as all the duties of my freelance business.
What do you love about your job?
I love the person it inspires me to be every day – creatively, personally, and professionally. The community is incredible and so uplifting as well, it’s just a blessing to be able to contribute something to radio stations across the world that hopefully make people smile every day.
Check Out Melissa’s Demo:
How did you get started as a VO actor?
I was always interested in it, but the true kickoff was when I was a student at SAIT’s Radio Broadcasting program. My professors were (and still are) extremely invested in helping me see the possibilities of the VO world and the potential I had to become something in it.
What was your first gig? Any memorable ones since then?
My first VO gig was an award ceremony voiceover. Since then they’re all memorable! I’m extremely grateful to every company that I have worked with, but I will say that jumping into the Canadian radio market and signing Hot 107 (which has now become Play 107) in Edmonton was a huge milestone for me.
Who are your VO idols/mentors?
Where do I even begin?! Hoss, Trevor Shand, Erin Setch, Ann DeWig, Lisa Keys, K3, Drew Patterson – the list is endless! There are SO many incredibly talented people that I look up to.
If you weren’t doing voiceover, what else do you think you’d be doing for a career?
I always had a lot of interest in midwifery. I likely would have gone into that or nursing!
What did it feel like the first time you heard your voice on the radio/television?
Surreal. It was a lifelong dream. I still get the same feeling, but it has shifted more from the shock of it to making sure it always sounds good.
How has new technology changed the way you work?
I’m new enough in the game that I have been fortunate enough to use modern tech my entire career, but what I do use makes things pretty efficient!
What gear do you use on the road? In your studio?
I use a Rode mic with my Scarlett 2i2 and ProTools on the road, and my Sennheiser MKH- 416 Mic in the studio with a Mac desktop.
Which production system do you use and why? Any favorite plugins?
I use Protools! For VO alone it may seem like overkill but I am also an Imaging producer and I produce demo’s frequently so I went all out on it!
Have you ever had a voice coach? Would you recommend it?
Before I worked in VO I had 15 years of voice training and that taught me a lot of physical techniques as well as voice control that is invaluable. I haven’t had an official VO coach since I started working professionally, but I plan to this year.
How do you schedule/prioritize your work? How much time do you spend auditioning for new work?
I work on a 24-hour turnaround, but I make a point to get copy to clients as soon as I am able to. As a producer, I like prompt copy, so I do everything I can to deliver exactly that to my clients. The time I spend auditioning varies, but it typically takes 2 hours to write, voice and produce a demo depending on what it is.
How do you market your services to potential clients?
My incredible manager Hoss plays a big part in this and helps tremendously (hit him up at Hoss Management Group online!). Aside from those efforts, I market online.
When it comes to VO work, studio, and gear, what are your most ingenious methods/discoveries for saving time and cash?
I don’t want to claim to make any discoveries because to be honest, everything I do is something I have learned from someone else!
What is the best voice processing trick or voice-over technique everyone should know?
Learn to breathe properly. There are plenty of resources online to learn if you don’t know how!
Do you have a different approach to reading radio imaging copy as opposed to TV/Radio commercial ads?
Oh totally, those are completely different styles. I like to read imaging as naturally as possible or however clients request. Commercials depend entirely on the client, style, and concept.
Can you offer 3 helpful tips for newbies trying to make it in the voice-over industry?
Reach out to those who inspire you, pitch your talent to managers and agencies, remember that everything you do 9-5 is for the man…everything after 5 is for your future.
If you could go back in time and hang out in any decade which one would you go back to and why?
I would LOVE to experience the 1950s and late 1800’s. I’m a huge history nerd and those two eras are super interesting to me for a lot of reasons.
Favorite 2 pizza toppings?
If you could invite one person to dinner, living or dead, who would it be?
Lauren Graham. I would love to meet her! She could adopt me and I wouldn’t be mad lol