Behind the Mic: Rob Reed
Rob Reed is the David Puddy (think Seinfeld/Rules of Engagement) of radio imaging. He’s the Mr. Big of v/o. Radio is in his DNA; radio owns him and he owns radio (we’re not kidding). Rob’s entire career has been devoted to our media and branding voiceover work is his final frontier. The Right Honorable Mr. Reed is killing it for his affiliates and he will for you too. His voice has an 80 inch chest and 25 inch biceps, all natural, steroid free!
What radio VO work have you done in the past (stations/markets)?
- WWLY Wild Willie 100.1 in Panama City Beach, Fl.
- WXUS US 102.3 in Gainesville, Fl.
- KWBT CBS Sports Radio Central Texas, Waco, Tx.
- KZXM Real Country, Tyler, Tx.
- WBBN B95 Hattiesburg, Ms.
- KLDZ KOOL 103 Medford, Or.
- KSTV Stephenville, Tx.
- KCCN Kickin Country 103 San Angelo, Tx.
- KRVL Rev FM Kerrville, Tx.
- WLQM Real Country 101.7 Franklin, Va.
- WVNO HD3, 97.3 The Spur Mansfield, Oh.
- WMKC Big Country 102.9 Indian River, Mi.
- KSNY AM & FM, & KLYD FM, The Lid Snyder, Tx.
- KKAJ 95.7 Ardmore, Ok.
- KFLP Flip FM Lubbock, Tx.
- And serve as the voice of Benztown’s Horsepower Library
What are you up to presently (freelance/on-staff at a station)?
I retired as a Market Manager for Bicoastal Media in radio in December of 2017, and currently, work full-time from my home studio. So, I’ve gone from talking to myself on the air, to just talking to myself inside my 4×4 vocal booth, on the edge of the earth in far, northwest California. The radio imaging work, that I’m able to do, allows me to stay closely tied, though to a career that lasted 30 years. Right now, my time varies between radio imaging, narration, and commercial work, which includes regular casino/resort spots, automotive spots and a handful of law firms around the country.
Additional things about you
What do you love about your job?
Well, it doesn’t really ever seem like a job. It’s an adventure every day. I meant that as a joke, but honestly, it’s very true. I love the fact, that even though, I get the chance to be many people during the day, as a voice actor, I still get to be me. So, whether it’s a promo for Classic Country’s Wild Willie or I’m playing the voice of a block of wood, that will soon be a piece of furniture, or narrating a documentary… it’s all, really just me. And the other really cool part of it, is…I can do it anywhere, really.
How did you get started as a VO actor?
Getting into VO, for me was kind of a natural progression, now that I think about it. About 6 or 7 years ago, a friend, that I worked with in radio, Chad Letts called, and said, I should check out some of the ‘Pay 2 Play’ sites on the web. I did, which led to finding terrific friends, which led to coaching, demos, and low and behold, I’m quite sure that I’m even more passionate about Voiceover, than I was for radio. And the VO community, is one of the most incredible group of people that I’ve ever been around. So many give back, with knowledge, help and advice – that it just kind of rubs off on you. I’m very grateful to so many.
What was your first gig?
Any memorable ones since then? HA, my first paying gig, was a Chicago gangster, for Al’s Italian Beef. I get called on often, to sound pretty big and tough – or even sarcastic. This last year, one of my favorite gigs, was as a narrator for a cigar company based in Atlanta, called the Good Cigar Co., and we basically went through the basics of how to smoke a cigar – some great stuff, and that video ended up living on their website. I also end up narrating a lot of tool-related products, like Edwards Iron Workers, Olympia Tools and outdoors-related media, like a film series for Tackle Direct on the east coast, and their film series called “Saltwater Underground”.
Who are your VO idols/mentors?
Idols for me, have to include some radio imaging legends. Think the first voice that I remember hearing, and thinking…”that’s what I want to do” was the late, Brian James. Of course Don Lafontaine, and Earl Mann, too. As far, as mentors go, I mentioned Chad Letts, who is based in Vegas. Chad continues to hold me accountable – often. Melissa Moats is another part of the Las Vegas VO community that I consider a mentor, as well as Tom Pinto, who I’ve recently worked with and Nancy Wolfson was also a big influence on, helping me change my delivery from an on-air jock to a working voice actor.
If you weren’t doing voiceover, what else do you think you’d be doing for a career?
Honestly, I can’t imagine doing anything else. For as long, as I can remember – it was in a media related field. As a little kid, all I wanted to do was be on the radio. In the beginning was a sports-caster. But all of the things I ever wanted to do, involved a microphone.
What did it feel like the first time you heard your voice on the radio/television?
I was hooked. I was 12 years old. My mother owned a fabric store, and she advertised on the local radio station in town, which I would later work for for many years. And doing her commercials, I just knew, that’s what I wanted to do.
How has new technology changed the way you work?
Well, technology is really amazing – think we take it for granted how fast things move and change, compared to the way things were done when I landed my first job in radio in 1987. Not to mention, how Source Connect has become an intricate part of what I do and where I live. ISDN is not an option for me, as I mentioned ….I truly live on the edge of the earth. So, with just a little bit of bandwidth, I’m still able to connect to studios for directed sessions with no problems.
What gear do you use on the road? In your studio?
On the road, and in my studio at home, I use a Sennheiser 416. I own several other mics, but the 416 is my go-to for just about everything that I do. From time to time, depending on the gig, I have a Neumann TLM 49 that I also use. On the road, it’s pretty basic – I carry a Focusrite 2i2 with me, as well as a handy little ShureX2u as a back-up. At home, from my booth, I use a John Hardy M1 preamp, or an Avalon M5, and a Focurite 2i2.
Which production system do you use and why? Any favorite plugins?
I use Adobe Audition, because that’s what I started editing on when computers became the way we work. In the beginning it was Cool Edit Pro, and then moving on to the upgraded version of Audition. It’s just simple for me, and I know it well. Plugins, I use a variety of Izotope products. Nectar, Alloy, Neutron and the Rx line is a life-saver for me.
Skills and Helpful Tips
Have you ever had a voice coach? Would you recommend it?
I’ve had a VO coach from Day1, and yes I recommend it. In fact, almost on a daily basis. I’m asked pretty frequently on social media, how to get started in the industry by others, mostly from a radio background. The first thing I tell them, is to work with a coach. I still do, on a regular basis. And I soak up other knowledge in podcasts and social media that I can read, watch or listen to.
How do you schedule/prioritize your work?
How much time do you spend auditioning for new work? Well, that’s quite honestly the toughest part of my day, is prioritizing. I have started working out of a calendar, to keep myself organized instead of a To Do List – for me, it just keeps me, more on-task. Auditioning, is a little different. I probably spend anywhere from 2-6 hours a day, auditioning for new work. Prioritizing – that’s really the key, right? I guess, being a manager in radio, I learned early on…how to make sure what is on fire, and which fire needs to be put out first. I do my best, now that it’s just me – to be as proactive as possible. Seriously though, the calendar thing, helps me a lot.
How do you market your services to potential clients?
I use a variety of different ways to reach out to prospects. I use social media a lot. But, I also do some grass roots, prospecting and email and phone calls. It’s really just basic relationships though. The people that I work with, or really I call them partners, and not clients… learn that what I do, is solve problems for them, so “they” can worry about their business.
When it comes to VO work, studio & gear, what are your most ingenious methods/discoveries for saving time and cash?
You know what, if you have a great answer for this question, email me firstname.lastname@example.org and help me, because I truly suck at time management!
What is the best voice processing trick or voice-over technique everyone should know?
You know, for what I do – it doesn’t require a lot of production. I do a lot of straight VO reads, that producers don’t want a bunch of compression and bells and whistles with. They want clean, raw audio they can alter however they need it. I hired George Whittam to create a plugin rack for me, to use in Audition. He created one for each of my microphones. So, I record at the proper levels, slap it through that basic rack, and send off my work.
Do you have a different approach to reading radio imaging copy as opposed to TV/Radio commercial ads?
I think each piece of copy has it’s own approach, so yeah. For me, a lot of the radio imaging copy that I do is “big” and announcery (one of my least favorite buzz words, but it’s true, I guess) And much of my TV/Radio and Narration, Documentary and other, is more drawn back, from a volume aspect… I try to picture who were directing the message to… how old are they, men or women, or both? What do they do for a living, and so on, so that I can do my best to connect to the copy – I think that’s the real key, is connecting. And being believable.
Can you offer 3 helpful tips for newbies trying to make it in the voice-over industry?
1- Hire a coach, but do your research. There are a lot of coaches offering their services and insight. But you need to make sure that their style matches you and your personality, and what you are trying to accomplish in your VO career.
2- Surround yourself with people that will push you to be better, not just as a voice talent, but also as a person. I have a group of friends that I feel like are another level, beyond my talent level and pay-grade. Another group of friends that I feel like are equal to where I am in my career, and then another group of friends that are just getting started, and I’m able to give back with tips and advice from people that gave me that same help. Pay it forward!
And 3- Be patient. Let it come to you. There are very few people who start hitting it out of the park immediately after starting.
If you could go back in time and hang out in any decade which one would you go back to and why?
From a radio stand-point, I think the 40s would have been a great place for me. Just the connection people had with radio at the time, was amazing.
Favorite 2 pizza toppings?
Pepperoni & Mushrooms
If you could invite one person to dinner, living or dead, who would it be?
Teddy Roosevelt. Think his stories of experiences would be fascinating.
Check out Rob’s website for more demos and the latest updates: https://www.robreedvo.com/