Behind the Mic: Paula Tiso
Paula Tiso originally trained in the theater and brings an acting sensibility — and sometimes a little snark 🙂 — to her work. You may have heard Paula on campaigns for McDonalds, Fedex, American Greetings, Domino’s Pizza, CBS, HGTV, The Jewelry Channel, The Weather Channel, UPTV and can be heard on TV affiliate stations across the country. Paula’s long form narration can be heard on shows for Lifetime, The Smithsonian Channel, and Investigation Discovery. For fun, Paula created and produces the Instagram series, My Take, a voiceover studio travelogue. Pop over to Instagram and check it out!
What radio VO work have you done in the past (stations/markets)? I have been voicing radio stations for close to 10 years mainly in the Midwest, markets around New England and Maine, and even a station in Canada.
What are you up to presently (freelance/on-staff at a station)? Currently I am enjoying freelancing! I work in all areas of voiceover. Radio Imaging and Tv Affiliate work are two of my passions.
What do you love about your job? I could say that I love voiceover because every day is different and that’s true, but what I really want to say is I love this job because every day presents a new set of challenges and I love a new challenge. I like to do the best job possible, and give alternate takes to cover all the bases.
I’m not satisfied until my client is satisfied which makes for happy working relationships.
How did you get started as a VO actor? I was working as a booth director at a talent agency at the same time writing and performing sketch comedy around town. I was spotted by a producer from CBS who happened to be having lunch the very next day with my boss, the head agent. I was called into her office. She was kind of surprised hearing about me from this producer but graciously signed me. It was a case of right place, right time and I was prepared to jump right in.
What was your first gig? Any memorable ones since then? My first vo gig was a commercial for Purina Kitten Chow followed by a Wells Fargo campaign that same week. I have been a voiceover talent for two decades, and have worked on some amazing projects in all areas of VO. Most recently I worked on The Incredibles 2, voicing incidental characters. I am also currently finishing up a new long form narration series for Investigation Discovery.
Who are your VO idols/mentors? I admire so many folks who work in the VO industry. The voiceover world is filled with a spectacular array of very talented and supportive people. While I do not have any specific idols I am inspired by my peers every day to be the best that I can be.
If you weren’t doing voiceover, what else do you think you’d be doing for a career? I think I would like to be a talk show host. I love to visit with people I know and to meet new people. It’s fun to take the time and discover unexpected things about people, step outside of my life, and then share that information and experience with others. Not coincidentally, I do this weekly on my new Instagram series, My Take, a voiceover studio travelogue. It has been a lot of work and a lot of fun.
What did it feel like the first time you heard your voice on the radio/television? I have to admit I got a little teary eyed! That’s a thrill that never goes away for me. It is amazing to be the pick for a job from one of my auditions and it’s even better when work comes from a demo! This is something I never take for granted. It is super fun to hear the radio imaging work that I have done produced and on the air. The high energy and edgy stuff that I have done for radio imaging is one of my favorite kinds of work!
How has new technology changed the way you work? I have been doing voiceover for a while and I don’t even remember how we got stuff done before the current technology. LOL. Today, everything is so immediate and I have to say I LOVE that. I like to get the work done and sent out. If any changes have to be made, I can just run out to my studio, make the change and send that out to my producer. It’s the best! One of my jobs last week was a source-connect session to London from my studio. What a thrill and easy to do!
What gear do you use?
- MAC Pro 12 Core Dual 3.46mhz
- ProTools 12
- Mbox 3 Pro
- Adobe CC
- Avalon M5 High Voltage Pre Amp
- Sennheiser 416
- Neumann U87
- ISDN Telos Zephyr Digital Network Audio Transceiver
- JK Audio Innkeeper 1R Digital Hybrid
- Source Connect
On the road:
- Twisted wave
- Apogee 96k,
- Sennheiser 416 with the mic port pro.
- I love using isotope rx6 to clean up any unexpected bar sounds in the background
Which production system do you use and why? Any favorite plugins? I use Protools 12.7. It’s the most comprehensive post production standard. I share a studio with my husband as he does a lot of post production work. A favorite plugin would be the channel strip in Pro Tools ’cause it sounds great!
Have you ever had a voice coach? Would you recommend it? Yep! I have had voice coaches and yep I would recommend it. We all can use some ‘reconfiguring’ and a VO professional can be so helpful with that process. Gets us out of our own heads. That said, I think it is super helpful to set goals and do your own practicing and studying as a way to reach goals as well. This is how I got into long form narration. It was a self study course lead by me.
How do you schedule/prioritize your work? How much time do you spend auditioning for new work? I take each script as they come in and knock ’em out. If I get an emergency session that is needed ASAP, I will move that up in the queue and get that one out first. I spend a lot of time auditioning for new work. Each morning I set aside time for my auditions. Many days I will record auditions the night before they are due, and in the morning listen and finesse the audition a bit. I try to never overwork an audition. Two takes at most and then move on.
How do you market your services to potential clients? I have a VO website. I keep all my demos updated and current. I have a presence on most of the social media platforms. I also attend conventions geared towards the work I want to see more of in my studio. LinkedIn is a helpful tool as well as email blasts.
When it comes to VO work, studio & gear, what are your most ingenious methods/discoveries for saving time and cash? I sure like to save time and that takes quality studio equipment which answers the second part of this question. I have always felt that it is necessary to invest in my studio and make sure it has all the equipment and maintenance required. Sometimes, you have to spend money to make money.
What is the best voice processing trick or voice-over technique everyone should know? I think staying hydrated is the best voiceover trick we should all know… by now.
Do you have a different approach to reading radio imaging copy as opposed to TV/Radio commercial ads? Absolutely! Radio imaging copy is so fun and there is so much room for creativity, and some improv from the VO Talent. There is also a higher energy which I LOVE and do not usually get to use for TV/radio commercial ads. I do get to do some characters for imaging as well as commercial radio and that’s a lot of fun
Can you offer 3 helpful tips for newbies trying to make it in the voice-over industry?
- Get involved in a VO class with a VO coach and also in a VO workout group. Other people can really help ignite your creative thought process.
- Take an improv class. Loosen up, play, have fun build your confidence.
- Join different VO groups on Facebook or other social media platforms, it really is all about connection.
- Do not rush into making a demo. Make sure you are ready, and if you are in a class/ workout group or have a coach they will be able to advise you.
If you could go back in time and hang out in any decade which one would you go back to and why? I love the 1930’s.Times were tough, but radio was free and just about everyone had one. Aside from the Great Depression, and I am not overlooking that, a lot of good things happened in the 1930’s. Jazz and fashion were fantastic, Hollywood was going strong, we got the Wizard of Oz movie! The Empire State building was built, there was the debut of the first Intercontinental airline flight, and let’s not forget the first chocolate chip cookie!
Favorite 2 pizza toppings? Salad.
If you could invite one person to dinner, living or dead, who would it be? This is a tough one. There are so many people I would love to invite but I would have to say my top pick today (because remember, every day is different) would be Stephen King. There would be no lack of conversation, he’s an amazing storyteller with an incredible imagination and that would make for an interesting dinner. However, I don’t think I would serve anything with bones in it.
P.S. Here’s a picture of Journey, Paula’s studio dog. Journey is actually not an ideal studio dog as she is a loud snorer but she’s allowed in when Paula is editing.