Behind the Mic: Shelley Wade
Shelley’s brand is positivity. Her sound is positive, friendly, and warm, while also upbeat & commanding. If you want your station’s voice to be a dependably comforting presence to your listeners as they navigate everyday life, Shelley’s voice is for you.
What radio VO work have you done in the past (stations/markets)?
Although VO is now at the forefront for me, radio has been my main career for most of my adult life, with stints on air at Z100 New York, 104.3 MYfm Los Angeles, and 97.9 The Box in my hometown of Houston. I’m also a TV personality with regular appearances on national TV as an entertainment, music & pop culture expert. I’ve been seen on the “Today Show,” CNN, “The Talk,” Steve Harvey’s talk show & more, but I’ve also done VO work throughout my entire career. The first VO gig I scored was when I was just starting my radio career in Houston. Jay Stevens at WPGC in D.C. liked my voice and asked me to be the voice of Prince DaJour’s “Coolout Corner.” Since then, my voice has been featured on various stations over the years…most recently on WLVH, Love 101.1 Savannah.
What do you love about your job?
I love the sense that my voice can play a part in a client’s efforts to make meaningful & lasting connections with audience members.
Check out Shelley’s Demo:
What was your first gig? Any memorable ones since then?
Being from Houston, Space City, I was excited to once voice a NASA documentary that played at the United Nations…I think that’s pretty memorable!
Who are your VO idols/mentors?
My first VO mentor was Bill Travis. Not only did he mentor me as I was getting my radio career underway in Houston, but he also mentored me in my VO endeavors. Bill has voiced many radio stations over the years & would often use my voice on stations to accompany his voice. All these years later, I recently made the decision to make my VO work more of a priority. To that end, I’ve been excited to receive coaching & invaluable advice from Randy Thomas, Dave Fennoy, Dave Alden, Tish Hicks and Joe Cip. Last fall, I attended Randy Thomas’ VO retreat in Santa Barbara and I made some VO friends who have also been so super kind & giving when it comes to advice…my friends Darrell Brown, Kesha Monk & Maria Pendolino.
If you weren’t doing voiceover, what else do you think you’d be doing for a career?
I’d likely continue doing radio & TV, but I also grew up wanting to be a Grammy Award-winning singer. I performed around Houston in my teens & before I started my radio career. So I wouldn’t mind singing & writing songs if I weren’t doing voiceover.
What did it feel like the first time you heard your voice on the radio/television?
When I first heard my voice on the radio, it was awkward…awkward listening to myself on the radio & awkward realizing how I sounded. But now I’m used to it…it’s no big deal.
How has new technology changed the way you work?
I love how technology has made it possible to do high-quality work with or without a full studio setup.
What gear do you use on the road? In your studio?
I currently reside in hopelessly gorgeous San Diego in SoCal. It would be sad to leave here, but if my radio career demands that I move elsewhere, I’ll have to make that move. Long story longer…I’m holding off on doing my full studio build up until I know for sure where I’m landing. In the meantime, I’m absolutely LOVING the ShurePlus Motiv recording setup. It’s super quality sound, while also being super light…sounds like I’m in a full studio. I typically record in my closet, which is perfectly sound-proofed. As far as headphones, depends on how I’m feeling. On a regular day, I use the Sony MDR-VS Studio Monitor headphones, but on days where I’m being extra dramatic, I like to throw on my bling headphones with my name spelled out in crystals, lol! Those are the Shure SRH750DJ headphones.
Have you ever had a voice coach? Would you recommend it?
Yes, I’ve done coaching sessions with VO coaches in person and virtually. I highly recommend it because these are VO pros who have a lot of experience and knowledge to share with you. There are so many little nuances to all the different genres of VO work that you may not realize until you’ve had some coaching.
Do you have a different approach to reading radio imaging copy as opposed to TV/Radio commercial ads?
Yes, but I suppose it’s all subjective. What one programmer wants isn’t the same as what another one wants, but I do put a little more swagger on my radio imaging reads than I do my TV/Radio commercial reads…just a little more swagger. And, of course, I’ve learned to be more intimate & understated with my TV/Radio commercial reads.
Can you offer 3 helpful tips for newbies trying to make it in the voice-over industry?
I’m not a newbie to VO, but I am newly making it a career priority, so it’s like I’m starting anew. From my new experiences, I can offer these helpful tips…(1) Believe in yourself & your dream because you have something to offer; (2) Network with other VO pros & others in the VO industry via social media, conferences & such because so much of anyone’s success is because of who they know & the relationships they’ve nurtured; and (3) Never stop studying our voiceover craft…never think that you’re so talented, brilliant & successful that you no longer have something to learn.
If you could go back in time and hang out in any decade which one would you go back to and why?
I’m a big fan of classic styles & music that were popular before I was born…I love Art Deco, I love Nat “King” Cole & music from the Great American Songbook, I love the fashion of the 50s and 60s. My parents were coming-of-age during those times and they weren’t ideal for African Americans because of inequality & segregation…but the music & the fashion were on point. So if I could go back to those decades to just attend a Nat “King” Cole concert & wear those groovy clothes, that would be an experience.
Favorite 2 pizza toppings?
There’s this pizza spot here in San Diego called Leucadia Pizza and they have an outta-this-world delicious Rosemary Potato Chicken pizza…that’s become my favorite. But I also love pepperoni and sausage pizzas.
If you could invite one person to dinner, living or dead, who would it be?
Prince. He’s been my favorite artist since I was a little girl. Because of that, one of the highlights of my entire life was the night I sat front row center at his concert in Houston, got onstage & danced with him AND met him at the after show! But I never got the chance to have dinner with him, so I choose him.