Behind the Mic: Oscar Vasquez
Oscar Vasquez is a 22 year radio veteran and voice over talent that does radio, TV, commercial and audio production. You can hear his voice on the Benztown Rhythmic Library, and on different radio stations across the globe. For the past 15 years, Oscar has been honing his ninja production skills while perfecting his ability to change as a VO chameleon (Thanks Teddy!) We are ecstatic to have him on the Benztown Brigade as a voiceover artist!
What radio VO work have you done in the past (stations/markets)?
At the moment, I am currently voicing for:
- KBIU Hot 103.3 – Lake Charles, LA.
- KHXT Hot 107.9 – Lafayette, LA.
- KJMG Majic 97.3 – Monroe, LA.
- KRUZ 106.3 SpinFM – Oxnard/Ventura, CA.
- KSXY-HD2 Latino 95.5 – Santa Rosa, CA.
- WPTY Party 105 – Long Island, NY
- WNUE Salsa 98.1 – Deltona/Orlando, FL.
- Dash Radio (BakaBoyz, L0UD, Young Money Radio & a few others…)
- And last but certainly not least, Benztown’s Rhythmic Format Library VO four years running! (Blessed!)
What are you up to presently (freelance/on-staff at a station)?
I was previously a production assistant for a cluster of stations up until December of 2017. Taking that break allowed me to focus on myself, my family & my clients & associates. Currently, I am a Daily Shift Producer for the Benztown/Yamanair Commercial library sites, an automotive industry (dealership) VO in the region, and will occasionally lend my services to whoever is in need of some VO and/or production (commercials, music demos, etc.)
What do you love about your job?
When I love what I do, I don’t even consider it work. For me, production is fun, and allows me to be creative in ways I would have never imagined. When I work from home, I enjoy being able to cook breakfast for my kiddo, drop her off at school, and once my wife leaves for work, the solitude helps me focus on the task(s) at hand. And…I mean..where else can you wake up and start the day in your PJ’s?
How did you get started as a VO actor?
Back around 2005 I was let go from Clear Channel, and after being an on-air personality since 1997-98, I figured ‘Hey, what the heck, I can voice DJ Drops’ for friends and word of mouth clients, all thanks to Tom & MySpace. I picked up a couple of clients throughout the years, one which happened to be a rapper out of Dallas by the name of Dorrough. He uses my VO on all his tracks as an “artist tag”. Well one day out of the blue he texts me that some people out of LA wanted some VO. Lo and behold, it turned out to be Dash Radio, which eventually led to a phone call from Benztown.
What was your first gig? Any memorable ones since then?
My first official VO gig was with a dealership here in town that was looking to replace their VO guy. A great friend of mine was the Director of Marketing at the time, and as soon as I reached out and mentioned I was available for work, she said “I’m sending you work tomorrow”. From one day to the next, I was the official voice for the dealership’s brands around the region, and have been so going on 7 years now. As far as radio imaging is concerned, my first gig was with a station out of Indy, WRWM 93.9 The Beat back in December 2015 (which has since flipped) and I am truly thankful to Jay Michaels (PD at the time) for that opportunity.
Who are your VO idols/mentors?
Pretty much every VO talent I have connected with either through social media or in person I consider an idol/mentor. They have been the kindest and dopest people to work with (and if you’re reading this right now, THANK YOU!)
If you weren’t doing voiceover, what else do you think you’d be doing for a career?
Between ‘station hopping’ (kinda like bar hopping, except they don’t let you walk in drunk) I worked at a university police department as a dispatcher, and also in TV as a news photojournalist “photog”. I’ve been fortunate enough to experience a little bit of the police side of things. Once, I went on this ride along with a buddy of mine (PD) and it just so happened we got caught up in a high-speed chase. Talk about adrenaline. So, it’s a toss-up between Law Enforcement and News…although I do watch a lot of LIVE PD so…yeah, that’s a tough one…
What did it feel like the first time you heard your voice on the radio/television?
The very first time I heard my voice on the radio, I thought to myself “that’s me?!” I must have been about 17 going on air for the first time, and I was a “weekend warrior”. And back then, well we used to air check ourselves with these small white cassettes. After every shift I’d pop them in my truck stereo and would listen on the way home. I would always give them to my dad who lived out of town at the time because that’s the only way he could hear me in the 90’s, and I believe he still has some of those cassettes to this day! On air, I was green as they come. Commercial wise, again, green as they come. But that didn’t stop me. The constructive criticism along the way is what helped me get where I am today, and it still helps me to this day!
How has new technology changed the way you work?
When I started, my budget was $300. I bought an AT-2020, Alesis 3630 & a Behringer Preamp. Today everything can be done through the DAW’s preset rack(s). I’m still a fan of old school knob turnin’ though. What I don’t think I’d be a fan of to this day is the old school splice, tape and reel to reel editing. I have one sitting in my studio as a paperweight. So, new technology has changed everything for me, with services where you can file share with links and email.
What gear do you use on the road? In your studio?
If I’m on the road, I’ll try and find a studio to voice out of, but when I can’t, I’ll take my laptop & Yamaha board, MOTU Ultralite interface, and either a Shure KSM27 or Blue ‘Baby Bottle’ mic. OH, and can’t forget my Sony MDR7506 headphones which I’ve used both on-air and in the studio.
Which production system do you use and why? Any favorite plugins?
I will always have Adobe Audition 3.0 as my go to. I’m not into the whole buying of subscriptions and “cloud” service. Call me old-fashioned. I learned it when it was Syntrillium’s Cool Edit Pro, then AA1.5 finally landing at 3.0 This year, I made it a point to drop Adobe Audition and go straight Pro Tools. That’s a huge step out of my comfort zone, but “ain’t nothin’ to it, but to do it!” In my vocal chain, I use plugins by Fab Filter & Waves (big fan of the CLA plugins)
Have you ever had a voice coach? Would you recommend it?
YES! I was very lucky to be able to attend a workshop with the legendary Marice Tobias. Although it was short, I learned so much in so little time. I would absolutely recommend it, and I am looking forward to making more trips out west to work with some coaches that I’ve had my eye on for a while now.
How do you schedule/prioritize your work? How much time do you spend auditioning for new work?
I will try and turn it around no later than 24 hours after receiving the email. When I wake up in the morning, I’ll have a quick “me time” outside to thank God for everything, to gather my thoughts for the day, and as soon as I set foot in the studio, I knock everything out in the morning, so that I can spend time with the kiddo when she gets back from school. There has to be a life/work balance for me. I audition every chance I can get, and have landed a few good ones since starting.
How do you market your services to potential clients?
Social media is a for sure way of getting potential clients (although sometimes I think a break is needed from that too). Also, old school cold calling and emails.
When it comes to VO work, studio & gear, what are your most ingenious methods/discoveries for saving time and cash?
When it comes to VO work and production, keyboard shortcuts are key for me. They’ll cut your production time in half. Especially in Adobe Audition as you can program your own shortcut/command keys (not a plug, nor an endorsement lol) I like to share my keyboard shortcuts with Audition users, so if you’d like a copy, just shoot me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
What is the best voice processing trick or voice-over technique everyone should know?
I’ll sometimes alternate between a cork and a pencil to help stretch out the muscles in my mouth while reading the script one syllable at a time.
Do you have a different approach to reading radio imaging copy as opposed to TV/Radio commercial ads?
When reading copy, whether it’s radio imaging or a TV/Radio commercial, I learned to look for the billboard. The main message they are trying to convey. So I’ll read the copy from beginning to end, and end to beginning. Just a little tip I picked up at the workshop with Marice Tobias ☺
Can you offer 3 helpful tips for newbies trying to make it in the voice-over industry?
Yes. First, sometimes it isn’t about the money, it’s about doing what you love. A little pro bono work won’t hurt, and it’ll help get your voice on a platform which can potentially help you land a gig. I’m amazed what a little giving can get you in return. Second, work with a professional coach in the field that you plan to pursue, whether it is radio, TV, narration, video games, cartoons, etc… And finally, DO NOT GIVE UP. Learn to accept constructive criticism as positive feedback and not negative. Also, I started adding the word ‘yet’ to everything going on in your career will change the dynamic. “I haven’t voiced for this/that station…YET”, “I am not where I want to be as a VO talent…YET”. Best of luck in your VO career and hope to connect with some newbies that might need some advice.
If you could go back in time and hang out in any decade which one would you go back to and why?
It would have to be November 5, 1955 when Doc Brown invented time travel. I’m kidding. (Back to the Future is playing while I type this) I’d have to say the 70’s. Huge Earth Wind & Fire, James Taylor & WAR fan. Plus I heard they were some great times…and I love funk music.
Favorite 2 pizza toppings?
Pepperoni and Ham or Canadian Bacon…I can never tell them apart. How about LEAST two favorite? Black Olives and Mushrooms.
If you could invite one person to dinner, living or dead, who would it be?
I’d have to say, without a doubt, my mother. Working from home, and with our schedules both pretty tied up, I never really get to have a one-on-one with her, and would just like to show her how much I appreciate all the life lessons she’s taught me and for giving me life and being there when I really needed her. And it’s because I chose to stay with her when I was faced with that decision that is allowing me to type this out right now. Thank you, Mom. XOXO
Connect with Oscar on Social Media!