Behind The Mic with Jeff Berlin
You don’t get on over 90 stations by sittin on your a**, just ask Jeff Berlin. This hard-working dude knows what it takes to be successful in the industry and because he happens to also be a supppeerrr nice guy, he let us on his tips and tricks of the trade.
1) What radio VO work have you done in the past? WPLJ NYC; KKBT LA; CFNY Toronto; KHKS Dallas; WWDC, WRQX DC; WWWQ Atlanta; WIOQ Philly; WAAF, WXKS, & WKLB Boston; WHYI Miami; WDVD Detroit; KYOT Phoenix; KSTP Minneapolis; KHTS SDiego; KALC Denver; WLIR Long Island; WIYY Baltimore; KSLZ St. Louis; WNKI Charlotte; KBBT SA; KENZ, KBER SLC; WREW Cincinnati; WAKS Cleveland; CFOX Vancouver; WXXL Orlando; KMXV KC; KHFI Austin; KVVF San Jose; WRKZ Columbus; WPRO Providence; WRVW Nashville; WAPE, WWJK Jacksonville…and more.
2) What are you up to presently? 90+ stations.
3) What do you love about your job? That a twisted brain…is a requirement for the job.
4) How did you get started as a VO actor? What was your first gig? First gig: Announcing weekly specials over the PA system at Big“Y” Supermarket, as a cashier during high school.
5) Have you ever had a voice coach? Would you recommend it? Yes. At best a coach helps hone your skills. At worst you just hear another perspective.
6) Who are your VO idols/mentors? Who influenced your work as a VO artist? Dick Orkin. Ernie Anderson. Don LaFontaine. Mark Driscoll. Danny Dark. Brian James. Chris Corley. Keith Eubanks. Ann DeWig. Brian Lee. John Pleisse. Steve Stone.
7) What is your dream gig? Winning the lottery, then operating a cool radio station in a fun town without worrying about how much money it makes.
8) Can you offer 3 helpful tips for newbies trying to make it in the voice-over industry? Immerse yourself – always study and refine. Learn how to produce audio. Smile and have fun.
9) If you weren’t doing voiceover, what else do you think you’d be doing for a career? Hedge Fund manager.
10) How do you schedule/prioritize your work? Scripts that need to be voiced are top priority. Mowing the lawn is bottom priority. My neighbors hate me. Now using a Google Doc to stay organized, instead of any specific app.
11) How do you market your services to potential clients? By taking damn good care of my existing ones. Fast turnaround, quick tracks with just enough takes to cover all the bases, processing choices. A contemporary, interpretive, compelling read. Ability to take direction. Funny ad libs if I think of them. I make it as easy as possible for the PD and producer to get a VO that pops and helps bring their promos and imaging to life. Word gets around.
12) Which production system do you use and why? Pro Tools. ‘Cause I own 4 licenses, I’ll be damned if I’m gonna switch now!
13) What are your favorite plugins? For basic EQ and compression: Fab Filter Q2, C2, and L…‘cause besides sweet sound, ease of use and powerful capabilities (the Q2 lets you isolate frequencies with surgical precision) they only make you buy it once. I can run FF on many rigs without needing an iLok. Also use Izotope Ozone & RX, and Metric Halo’s Channelstrip.
14) What gear do you use? I just got a Kush Tweaker. Beast of a compressor. You can’t help but tweak this thing.. (“what’s THIS knob do?”) Otherwise I’m working out of three different studios, the gear varies but the goal is for them all to sound the same. All 416 mics except one, all have voice booths.
15) How has new technology changed the way you work? Yes, Neural Audio Workstations have finally gotten so good that I only have to think about the promo, the software renders my neurosynaptic impulses into hearable audio, like telepathy. I think about the old days back in 2017 when we had to stare into tiny screens and use our fingers or voices to operate computers – no wonder people had so many issues back then! At least we were able to work in the then new self driving cars since we were stuck in traffic all the time.
16) What is the best voice processing trick or voice-over technique everyone should know? Cut the lows before you compress, boost the highs (if you must) after. Gargle with Alkalol to kill mouth noise, or eat green apples.
17) When it comes to VO work, studio & gear, what are your most ingenious methods/discoveries for saving time and cash? Macros enable huge chunks of work at lightning speed. I use Keyboard Maestro to rename my tracks in ProTools every day so everything I record has today’s date embedded in the name of the audio file. I use it to rename the files, find the right folder for upload, then render a web page with players so the client can preview and download… all in a few seconds.
18) Do you have a different approach to reading radio imaging copy as opposed to TV/Radio commercial ads? Yes. The read for Radio imaging is informed by the individual station and format – we’re branding a media outlet, there has to be consistency for the brand’s continuity. Unless it’s for Halloween, then all bets are off. The reads for commercials are case by case. They depend on individual advertisers (that includes TV show promos), and will vary wildly depending on the product and campaign.
19) What did it feel like the first time you heard your voice on the radio/television? Awkward, uncomfortable. Maybe because it was a spot for feminine napkins…
20) You mention you like to ride your bike around town. Do you listen to music when you ride and if so, what’s a song that’s on your playlist that we’d be surprised to hear you have on there? I never wear headphones when I bicycle, but lately I’ve been using a JBL Charge2+ in the water bottle cage. I play a loop of the Jetsons Space Car really loud so they hear me coming on bike paths. A song? I was digging Arbor Labor Union while mountain biking a week ago. Friggin’ love cranking the extended remix of “Speed Your Love To Me” by Simple Minds when I ride.
21) If you could go back to any decade and hang out which one would you go back to and why? I guess the 1980’s so I could use my knowledge of the future to manipulate events to my advantage…and maybe do good by trying to prevent catastrophes like 9-11. Can I have super powers when I go back too? Might mess things up.
22) If you could invite one person to dinner, living or dead, who would it be? Albert Einstein.
23) What’s your guilty pleasure? Slitherio. Stupid addictive game. My daughter turned me onto it. I blame her.
24) If you could travel anywhere in the world right now where would you go and why? Stuttgart. Just to visit the Benztown crew in Deutschland. If you’re offering free airfare maybe Sydney to visit Jeff Thomas. Or Rome where I think I left a pair of sunglasses in a hotel room this past June.
*Bonus video of Jeff being all profession and cool and stuff*