Behind The Mic with Jonathan Hanst
Blog readers, meet Jonathan Hanst, Jonathan Hanst, meet our blog readers. Being in the business for a while now, you could say this guy really knows what he’s doing once he gets behind a mic. On top of being a pro, he’s as easygoing as they get and if you hang around just long enough…maybe he’ll tell you the joke he thinks is really funny (picture above).
1) What do you love about your job? Well… I mean, what’s not to love? From the moment I started doing VO, I had a lot of fun. Almost 20 years in, I still find it hard to believe that I get paid to do this stuff. The thing I like most is ad libbing, making jokes up on the fly and cracking myself up. I normally don’t like to laugh at my own jokes, but I work alone, so if it’s not me, the house plants aren’t gonna chime in.
2) Have you ever had a voice coach? Would you recommend it? I worked with a coach that is not as well known as some. Her name is Brandy Hotchner and Ann DeWig turned me on to her. What I liked about Brandy is she comes from a full-on acting background. She pushed me into reads and mindsets that I probably wouldn’t have gotten to on my own. So, yes I would recommend her for sure…some coaches I feel come from the “if you can’t do…” background. I would say, choose your coach wisely.
3) What radio VO work have you done in the past? I started this whole journey being an imaging guy at WIYY Baltimore and before that, under the mentorship of the great Archer Dusablon at WZLX in Boston. I was always inserting myself into promos as some character. I did 10 years at KBCO in Boulder (as Creative Services Director) which was the best radio gig a boy could get. My first time imaging voice gig was thanks to Brad Savage, then at the Corner in Charlottesville. I’m also the voice of The Bert Show (syndicated out of Q100 Atlanta), Majic in Austin, KOOL FM in Phoenix and a few other small market stations.
4) If you weren’t doing voiceover, what else do you think you’d be doing for a career? I’m trying to do other things alongside VO right now because it’s essential to my creative sanity. I make art using old images from dusty thrift shop album covers (Plug alert! Check out HiFiJones.com) and also try to put together a mix tape once in a while (Plug 2: Listen at RadioDetour.com) VO is great, but let’s face it, doing a 4000 word eLearning script for Cisco isn’t the juiciest gig creatively. I love when I get to play with voiceovers, and when I don’t, I have other outlets. (Mixtape demo below).
5) How much time do you spend auditioning for new work? Is it wrong to say as little as possible? I know auditioning is important, and I do work at it, but in some ways, I sort of feel like I vibe with producers that hear my work and my demos and ‘get’ me. Most auditions these days feel like invisible cattle calls. You never know how many people they’re reaching out to, or if you’ll even be considered. I try to jump on them quickly when they’re posted, but that’s if I have the luxury of time.
6) Do you have a different approach to reading radio imaging copy as opposed to TV/Radio commercial ads? I absolutely do, and it’s why radio imaging is my favorite VO work to do (and Benztown did not make me say that). Radio imaging is where I get to be most creative in voiceovers. I like goofing around with radio branding…making side comments and jokes about contests, artists, the station itself or some pop culture event. I think by and large, imaging takes itself way too seriously. It’s radio. I mean: c’mon. Every voice, sound effect and bed does not need to be turned up to 11. (editorializing complete)
7) How has new technology changed the way you work? It’s opened up so many doors, but it’s also a double edged sword because so many people are doing this now and there are a lot of talented people out there. My most recent technological wonder was doing a session with some dude in Saudi Arabia over Skype. That’s crazy! He found me online, we scheduled the session, next thing I know we’re talking on Skype. Miraculous.
8) What is the coolest/most unique thing you’ve stumbled across at a thrift store? I love thrift shops. I find used things to be so much cooler and more interesting than new stuff. Underwear excepted. Most of the time in thrift shops, I’m hunting for vinyl. 9 times out of 10, you’re seeing Barbra Streisand and Lawrence Welk records. But now and then, you’ll find a cache of stuff that’s been dropped off like REM, Zeppelin, classic jazz or weird spoken word LPs. Sure you could go online and find any of these things, but when you find them in a thrift shop, it’s like buried treasure.
9) What’s your guilty pleasure? Musically I have all sorts of guilty pleasures. Let’s say Billy Joel. I mean: Billy has sold a s— ton of records, but you won’t find many people saying: Billy Joel is the greatest! It’s like you have to be too cool for Billy Joel. Or Rush. Rush is the geekiest band that will ever exist. I love that they never altered who they were or what they wanted to do. But I guess one of my biggest guilty pleasures song wise is a song from the band Kix. They’re from Baltimore and so am I, so I have a soft spot in my heart for this tune called “The Itch.” It’s horrible and incredibly catchy at the same time. God bless Kix.