Behind the Mic: Whitney McMaster
Whitney McMaster was one of the first females to become the brand voice of an automotive company. You’ve also heard her on Cartoon Network promos, Pandora radio imaging, and 100s of other tv, radio, and digital streaming commercials for brands like Gainbridge, Upwork, McDonald’s, Nordstrom Rack, Amazon, Mercari, and more.
What radio VO work have you done in the past (stations/markets)?
LiveXLive North America, DC101 Washington DC, KNDD Seattle.
What are you up to presently (freelance/on-staff at a station)?
Pandora’s VP of Programming, Kevin Stapleford was my last boss in radio and the perfect bookend to that experience so I’ll never say no when he needs an imaging voice. My primary focus is Commercial VO and when I’m unfocused, I daydream of Animation, Promo and Video Games.
What do you love about your job?
You know I love it so much sometimes I’m just happy to do the auditions. When you can look back on your day and think, “Wow I got to be a wizard, a raccoon, and a CEO all in one day” that is a pretty good day.
It is also perfect for someone blessed with an ADHD brain…the audition process is a mini battle of sorts and then once it’s submitted, I forget about it…but if you win, you get to shower and go to a recording studio!! In 2021, I don’t take that for granted.
Check out Whitney’s demos:
How did you get started as a VO actor?
As a little kid I was always doing voices, SNL was formative programming. In grade school I became a dedicated drama nerd and maintained that status through high school. I gravitated to radio, did my time, and then gradually transitioned to commercial VO and started building my arsenal. Demos, agencies, etc.
What was your first gig? Any memorable ones since then?
My very first voiceover gig was a Levis commercial in 8th grade. Levis filmed it at our school and when I saw one of the directors, I took my shot, furiously speeding up only to slow down, breathless, so I could nonchalantly pass in front of him…that’s when he said, “You! In the Levis!” and they used my voice in the ad.
In 2017, I voiced Red Monika and Enchantress in Battlechasers: Nightwar. It was such a blast. I would love to do more video games.
In 2019, I became the voice of Infiniti. You know when you’re so grateful and excited you don’t know if you’re going to cry or wet your pants? That’s how it felt. I only wish my mom/grandmother were here to witness that.
Who are your VO idols/mentors?
Idol: Lena Waithe is my Queen. Hands down.
Mentors: Kama Nist (DPN) and Tim Tippets are my “Miyagis.”
You can pay someone to coach but this industry is about more than just voice work, its etiquette and strategy as well so I feel pretty lucky to siphon their wisdom.
**Special shout to Ann Dewig who was definitely one of the first people to plant the seed back in the day.
If you weren’t doing voiceover, what else do you think you’d be doing for a career?
Music Supervisor. God, to be Karyn Rachtman!!! Or a Criminal Psychologist….maybe both.
What did it feel like the first time you heard your voice on the radio/television?
Like Harry Potter walking into Hogwarts for the first time. Maybe not that awesome but close.
How has new technology changed the way you work?
Source Connect, Session Link Pro, or any ISDN replacement has been really impressive in my humble opinion. I LOVE having an engineer. They’re pros so the job feels more pro and then you don’t have to stress about being the voice and the engineer. Play to your strengths.
What gear do you use on the road? In your studio?
Sennheiser 416, Apollo Solo, HP laptop.
“On the road” forces you to be seriously innovative! I’ve used a car in the sweltering heat. A DIY hotel room pillow fort, etc.
Which production system do you use and why? Any favorite plugins?
I have an HP. Go ahead and laugh, cool Mac kids, I’m used to it.
Adobe Audition because I’ve always used Adobe Audition. Izotope Manley Voice Box.
Have you ever had a voice coach? Would you recommend it?
Dave Fennoy is the man.
But it really depends on the coach, sometimes coaching can make you worse because you get too much in your own head.
How do you market your services to potential clients?
I admire those who have mastered SEO codes but I’m not so sure the ones that populate are in fact “THE GREATEST VO VOICE EVER.”
I would love to learn how to utilize social media without sounding like a braggart or vapid influencer. So if you know a solid/legit/reputable VO marketing “Miyagi” hit me up!
When it comes to VO work, studio & gear, what are your most ingenious methods/discoveries for saving time and cash?
My biggest issue/anxiety is soundproofing. When you’ve got rocket-powered leaf blowers and mufflerless loud cars in your neighborhood on the 10s, and building a fancy home studio is not an option yet, give Vocal Booth To Go sound panels a shot. They’re cost-effective and they help dampen a lot of street noise.
Also Tim Tippets Pro Tip – Prop a mattress against the door! Trust, it will improve your sound.
What is the best voice processing trick or voiceover technique everyone should know?
VO Tech Guru/ Audition Ready Online Audio Course.
Do you have a different approach to reading radio imaging copy as opposed to TV/Radio commercial ads?
It depends on the copy.
Can you offer 3 helpful tips for newbies trying to make it in the voiceover industry?
1. Invest in good equipment. Think of it like this, you want to walk into a black-tie party wearing jorts or a tux? 2. Auditions are like paintings…the more takes you do, the more you might run the risk of ruining it. 3. This is THE most subjective business. You might not get a gig because you sound too much like a decision maker’s neighbor! That doesn’t mean you suck. Play on.
If you could invite one person to dinner, living or dead, who would it be?
Favorite 2 pizza toppings?
Bill Murray and Bill Murray.
Connect with Whitney: