Behind the Mic: Rich Boerner
For two decades Rich Boerner has been one of those familiar voices inside your head. Real, self-aware and sometimes self-deprecating, with just enough gravitas to believe that he might actually be right.
What radio VO work have you done in the past (stations/markets)?
I have done voice work for KLSX, the once-proud FM Talk Station, and KRTH 101 in Los Angeles, KLLC in SF, WNEW in NYC The LOOP in Chicago, Real Radio 104.1 in Orlando, Rock101 and 99-7 the FOX in Vancouver BC, Y107 in Hamilton/Toronto, and a handful of smaller markets in North America. In the video and digital world I have done some work in the past for Fox TV and the CW. And in 2016 I was the opening and closing voice for the Rose Bowl Parade.
What are you up to presently (freelance/on-staff at a station)?
I’ve been concentrating on creating great podcast content for the last few years, which has thinned my current roster. I voice many of the commercials for the Broadway Media Radio cluster in Salt Lake City. I handle west coast radio for Amtrak and still do occasional 15 to 30-second ads for Spotify. But this year is about ramping things up again, so thanks for chatting with me.
Check out Rich’s radio demo:
What do you love about your job?
Performing – putting on the skin of a voice that’s trying to convey a new message. VO work isn’t about imitation or “doing voices” it’s about making real human connections.
How did you get started as a VO actor?
Doing voices and skits on my handheld cassette recorder as a kid, then bringing that to the job when I got my first few paying radio gigs.
Who are your VO idols/mentors?
I definitely have a handful. In the Radio/TV it’s Joe Cipriano who admittedly stumbled into the field being discovered while doing weekends in Los Angeles. He is one of the nicest, smartest, and coolest people I’ve had the pleasure of working with. Plus he’s always innovating on the job and appreciates honest feedback. Deserves every accolade he’s received. I have also been fortunate enough to work with Tasia Valenza, who’s warmth and humanity have graced so many eardrums.
As far as mentor/teacher, Leigh Gilbert basically helped me unlearn and relearn from scratch. She was amazing. Then when it came to a necessary boot camp experience, Bill Holmes the VO Doctor was an invaluable resource. I was also fortunate enough to participate in some Animation classes taught by the one and only Bob Bergen.
Check out Rich’s commercial demo:
If you weren’t doing voiceover, what else do you think you’d be doing for a career?
This one’s easy, because VO isn’t my current career – it’s part of the mélange of what I do. My current full-time gig is creating amazing podcasts and audio content, and also speaking to and advising others on how to do so. Wherever I’ve been throughout my career, I’ve always been the in-house therapist/consultant. I enjoy working with people to find out what their passions are and then help them figure out how to pursue them.
What did it feel like the first time you heard your voice on the radio/television?
Blew my mind – it was in NYC and I was 21 years old. Thought, “I’ve made it!” Then, when the spot was changed out a week later, it dawned on me that this is a marathon, not a sprint. Of course, I was also concerned that it might have stood out as being less than what surrounded it.
How has new technology changed the way you work?
Well, high-quality home studios are now easy to build and pretty affordable, feedback on auditions comes much more quickly, and being connected digitally allows you to bond with clients through the creation process.
What gear do you use in your studio?
It’s a pretty simple and effective set-up. I use a Rode K2 fed directly into my Focusrite 18i8 – and as a back-up mic I have a Rode NT1a. All my recording is done in Adobe Audition.
Which production system do you use and why? Any favorite plugins?
I record everything into Adobe Audition. Their plug-in suite is pretty amazing. The DeNoise plugin (used properly) is SO vital for home studio recording.
Have you ever had a voice coach? Would you recommend it?
Absolutely – I’ve had a few amazing voice coaches over the years (Leigh Gilbert, Bill Holmes, Bob Bergen) and they all taught me something unique that helped me perform.
What is the best voice processing trick or voice-over technique everyone should know?
This might sound a bit “out there” – Before you start recording, figure out which version of yourself that you want to be as you deliver this particular message. Then, once you’re in character, laugh out loud and say something angrily. If you can find the emotions behind the character, you’ll be locked in.
Do you have a different approach to reading radio imaging copy as opposed to TV/Radio commercial ads?
Radio/TV is a bit more of an energy read and sometimes voice of authority, based on the character of the station itself. Commercials are generally more emotion based and “real” person reads. For imaging reads it’s generally necessary to lock in the energy level first, then lay down the reads. In commercials, you need to find the emotions behind the read before doing anything.
Can you offer 3 helpful tips for newbies trying to make it in the voice-over industry?
1. Get into a good beginner class that gives you A LOT of mic time in front of the room. 2. Listen carefully to current VO work and rather than imitate, see what emotion they are evoking. 3. Don’t get frustrated by all the “No’s.” Instead try to find out why not and what you can learn from it to improve for the next round.
If you could go back in time and hang out in any decade which one would you go back to and why?
The 90’s, because it was filled with so much opportunity and creativity. It was the last decade where creativity had real power in the boardroom and bottom line was a long-term play. You could take chances and had some time to see if it really worked.
Favorite 2 pizza toppings?
Pepperoni and Sausage – please don’t put green things on my pizza
If you could invite one person to dinner, living or dead, who would it be?
There are so many ways to go with this one. I could take the simpler route and say big names like Abe Lincoln, Ben Franklin, Oprah, or Mike Piazza, but I’m going to say one of the two Carl’s. Either Carl Jung or Carl Sagan. There’s so much we could discuss, the possible connections between his Collective Unconscious theories and the perceived power of thought and how they may be directly related to quantum theory (and the universe itself).