Behind The Mic with Donna Frank
Donna Frank is an industry leading voice who not only loves her job, but she happens to be really friggin good at it. She’s been given some great advice in the past and now she’s giving it. FRANKly, we are all about Donna Frank (see what we did there?), and we really hope she invites us over for Halloween.
1) What radio VO work have done in the past & what are you up to presently?
Hey now! I’ve done radio voice imaging full time for a few years now in a lot of great places in the US, including New York, Boston, Philly, Atlanta, Tampa, Vermont, New Hampshire and many more here and internationally. The list right now is over fifty stations, I think. Also, I’m doing imaging for The Howard Stern Show and Venus (Channel 3) on Sirius Satellite Radio.
2) If you weren’t doing voice over, what else did you think you’d be doing for a career?
That’s hard, as this really is my perfect job. I love working with my voice and studio equipment: I want to voice as much as I possibly can, it’s what drives me. If voiceover didn’t exist, however, I’d be working in the medical profession; I think I would have made a good nurse or doctor. I like taking care of people, and I’m fascinated by the human body and how to maintain and improve it.
3) Have you ever had a voice coach?
I haven’t ever wanted one. It’s just not for me. In fact, I go out of my way to not listen too much to other voices, good or bad, on the radio because I don’t want to subconsciously start sounding like someone else.
It’s important to me to maintain my originality, it’s the only thing that makes me different from everyone else. I feel like a voice coach would have stripped me of that a little bit…like my voice was being put through a voice farm that churns out voices that all hit the same markers of marketability. Too shiny, perfect, and cookie-cutter for me.
But I have gotten a lot of great advice from people in the business, on things like pronunciation, and I never forgot those things. For example, there have always been words that have tripped me up. Like ‘get’ (don’t say git!), ‘regularly’ (it’s in every spot, I swear…don’t think about it, or you won’t be able to say it either) and ‘mountain’ (don’t over-think the “t” and don’t under-think it either. If you can figure out how to do this please tell me how!)
On the sexy voice thing, never TRY to sound sexy, there is nothing less sexy than that, it always comes off an inauthentic. It was good advice.
4) How do you schedule/prioritize your work?
Even though my clients know I am really always available to them, I do try and have established studio hours from 9a – 5p everyday: during those hours I am on high alert for scripts to come in and turn them around as quick as I can, that’s really all there is to my scheduling! Every once in a while I get so much in a day though that I have to ask clients if it’s okay if I have it to them by the next day, just to give my voice a break. In between scripts, I squeeze in a run or find myself making the dinner salad at 10 in the morning.
5) What gear do you use (microphone, pre-amp, booth, etc)?
Neumann u87 mic, which I am in love with. It’s perfect for my voice, as I don’t have a big, booming voice. That mic pics up every little trace of sound. I use it with an Apogee Duet which works out great because I am just recording with one mic, not bands or anything. It all goes into Protools (whom I have a love-hate relationship with). I just did a big studio upgrade to all the latest software and stuff, and boy was that stressful. But I wanted the newest and best software and equipment.
6) What is your dream gig?
I hope it’s yet to come. I get a rush when my voice gets to a new part of the world, I want to be absolutely everywhere. I’ve had a few moments in my life where I’ve thought, “Well. This is amazing, how could it ever get better than this?” Like being hired by Brooks Brown at WEQX as an air personality, or being hired to do imaging voice work for The Howard Stern Show. But then another gig comes up, and I love that one too! I want them all. BTW, I cannot say enough how much I love the HS show or how important I think it is; whenever I am worried or bummed out, the show makes me smile and laugh and I know it does that for a lot of people. What a gift that there is something out there that could do this!
Everyone I’ve worked with at Sirius has always been so amazingly nice to me and professional. That’s one thing I’ve noticed about radio…the bigger the station or personality I’ve worked for, the nicer and more professional they are. It must be why they’ve risen to the top of their field.
7) What did it feel like the first time you heard your voice on the radio/television?
The first time and every time since was and is still torture. I make everyone shut up and turn the radio up and listen intently: I’m not going to lie. But it’s a double-edged sword, because I will always hear something I could have done just a little better, or differently, but by then it’s to late. I do try and file it away in my head to use for self improvement with my next recording. But overall, hearing myself just drives me nuts.
8) Biggest pet peeve?
Hard to pick one. Malicious envy. Inordinate anger. Laziness. Waste. And social media…the way it exposes any one or all of those things in certain people, and often the worst of human nature. Present blog excluded. 🙂
9) What’s your guilty pleasure?
Privacy, It’s so underrated in today’s society, and I think it is intriguing and rare and so much more interesting if someone is a bit private and reserved. I love hiding out every once in a while from social media, or just life in general, losing my phone and powering down the computer…it just feels so liberating. I think I’m apt to pull a Salinger or Garbo someday. Oh, and clothes. I do like nice clothes.
10) Dogs or Cats?
That’s like asking me to pick between merlot and chardonnay. Time and place for both. Sadly though, I’m allergic to dogs.
11) What’s the best Halloween costume you’ve ever dressed as and why?
I haven’t done it yet. It’s been pointed out to me that I bear a remarkable resemblance to the Sun-Maid Raisins Girl. So that’s probably next.
That being said, Halloween is the biggest day of the year for me. I have a big old creepy Victorian house, and love decorating it to the point where kids won’t even come up our porch. Here’s my front porch last year, and a zombie meatloaf I made. Every year I have a theme. This year it’s Spiders from Mars (RIP DB) . Tune in for pics in October. It. will. slay.
Benztown Site: http://benztown.com/brigade/donna-frank