Behind the Mic: Susan Wise
Susan Wise started with imaging and made a full circle right back to imaging. Her career in radio prepared her in many ways for the best part of her life… a career in voice over and radio imaging!
What was your first gig? Any memorable ones since then?
Many moons ago I did an imaging piece before I ever started in radio. My former brother-in-law Mark Hanson AKA Mark Jagger worked for a station in Odessa Texas, and they decided to do their own in-house Imaging. I was “volunteered” (and free) and we had to whisper the call letters K R I G. I was the letter “R” All three of us huddled around an RE-20 microphone and took turns saying our letter. K….. R….I…..G! I’m thinking this is so cool plus I get to be on the radio. I was hooked. I would turn up the radio after the song so I could hear my imaging “R”. Eventually I went to work on the air at that radio station. And then from there I was on the air in El Paso, San Jose, Houston, Tulsa, Kansas City, Westwood One then finally landed in Miami and spent nearly 20 years doing the morning show. But during those years at all those different stations, I would do a little imaging here and there. So, while I was doing radio for many years, I still had a passion for the imaging side. I’d always be excited to hear the new voice that would be doing our imaging. I would try to emulate them. Practice their styles and tone.
What are you up to presently?
I left radio 6 years ago, moved away from Miami and my husband and I built a house on a gorgeous lake in Missouri and my lovely little studio where I get to be my own boss and go to work in my bunny slippers. I’ve been doing voice over since then and continue to build my imaging clients.
What are your favorite jobs you’ve done?
A couple of my favorite jobs I’m doing right now are so completely different from each other. I’m doing imaging for a station in Colorado Springs that’s news talk (Power talk) and I’m doing imaging for a nationally syndicated show called Yacht Rock Radio. Opposite ends of the spectrum but it allows me to get really creative. I’m also the in-store voice of Kroger all over the country so I always get to find out when strawberries go on sale first. Ha!
Susan on the mic!
How has new technology changed the way you work?
As far as technology goes we’ve come a long way since the days of whispering K R I G and recording it to a real-to-reel and then breaking out a razor blade and some tape to do the edits. And good grief, if you ever wanted to make a demo, you would take the pieces of tape and actually lay them on the floor end to end and you must label them, so you know which one is which and then decide what order to put them in. It was quite the ordeal. Things are so much easier now. You can get your work done a lot faster, it’s more consistent and a lot more efficient.
If you weren’t doing voiceover, what else do you think you’d be doing for a career?
If I wasn’t a voiceactor I would be a wedding planner. I got ordained on the internet, so I can do weddings on the side. I have the best seat in the house.
What gear do you use on the road?
I don’t go anywhere without my mobile studio. My travel gear consists of another Sennheiser 416, Scarlet 2i2, headphones, my laptop and then I just build a tent out of pillows and blankets in a hotel room. Actually, my car works really well too, it’s pretty soundproof.
Have you ever had a voice coach?
I’ve had coaches for voiceover that I absolutely adore. J Michael Collins, Chloe Dolandis, Jeff Howell, David Rosenthal but for Imaging it’s Joe Cipriano all the way.
How do you schedule/prioritize your work? How much time do you spend auditioning for new work?
Working from home has its benefits but you’ll also get cabin fever. It’s important to take breaks. I’m fortunate that I live on a gorgeous lake and all I have to do is walk out on my back deck and take in the sights and sounds of the Ozarks. Then it’s right back to auditioning. I believe in auditioning for EVERYTHING. Because if nothing else it’s a good way to practice your craft. I was always on the hunt for new clients for imaging. I would connect with program directors and consultants on LinkedIn. I make sure they know what I do and what I can do for them. I try to nurture my past radio relationships and remind them that I’m now doing Imaging.
The beautiful Ozarks
How do you market your services to potential clients?
I utilize social media as much as possible. C’mon, it’s free! I’m active on LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and TikTok. Just make sure you’re talking to the right audience. It’s fine to have friends that are also in the voiceover industry, but you really want to be talking to people that will hire you.
What imaging tends have you seen recently?
Imaging has changed so much over the years. Back in the day, we had those boss jock voices with big pipes, and they sounded like the voice of God. But now there are so many different styles and variations, it truly depends on the format, the audience, and the station vibe.
Can you offer any helpful tips for newbies trying to make it in the voice-over industry?
As far as tips for newbies in the industry, shop around for a good coach, someone that you really mesh with, have quality equipment, a professional demo when you’re ready for it and develop a thick skin. You will get lots of no’s before you get a yes. But don’t let it get to you. Keep at it, keep growing and keep learning. I truly believe that you never stop paying your dues. I’m just so grateful that I get to get up every morning and go into my studio and play.
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