Fast, Fresh, & FlaVOrful With Jeff Augustine
What radio VO work have you done in the past (stations/markets)? What are you up to presently (freelance/on-staff at a station)? I worked in radio for 11 years, mainly as a production director, before leaving radio 4 years ago. I always loved the creative process and theatre of the mind radio has over TV. I had the pleasure of getting started in radio working for a great radio family, Zimmer Radio Group. After my start with ZRG, I had the opportunity to go live on the beach in Fort Myers, FL and work for Fort Myers Broadcasting Company. I absolutely loved my time at FMBC but was lured back to ZRG to go work for their group of stations in Columbia, MO. 4 years later I was back where it all started but this time is was for Mississippi River Radio as the cluster had been sold since I had last worked there. A couple years after that, I decided to give VO my full attention…below are stations I’ve worked for or done VO work for:
1. KEZS (102.9), KGKS (93.9) KCGQ (99.3), KHIS (107.9) – Cape Girardeau, MO
2. WINK (96.9) – Fort Myers, FL
3. KCLR (99.3), KCMQ (96.7) – Columbia, MO
4. KJWL (99.3) – Fresno, CA
5. WRHT (96.3) – Greenville, NC
6. WHNN (96.1) – Saginaw, MI
Right now it’s just freelance baby!
What do you love about working as a freelance VO talent? The common answer is “I get to work in my underwear”. And yes, that is nice (as long as they’re clean)…but probably the thing I love the most is I have no limitations as to how far I can go with VO. I’m my own boss. And I love that. I love the entrepreneurial side of the business. I make what I put into it. And if you have passion for what you do, like I and many others in VO, then you can make a decent living out of it.
How did you get started as a VO actor? What was your first gig? First gig was through a mutual friend whose dad had a small ad agency. He wanted me to write and voice some stuff for one of his clients. 8 years later, I still get steady work from him.
Have you ever had a voice coach? Would you recommend it? My wife was in grad school for 4 years and with 2 small kids I wasn’t able to get the voice coaching I wanted because there were other life priorities. Now, my situation has changed a lot and I have enough disposable income to invest in some lessons. I’m super stoked to have my first with Nancy Wolfson coming up real soon.
Who are your VO idols/mentors? Who influenced your work as a VO artist? Dave Huber (currently the Production Director with BMP radio in McAllen, TX) was a big influence on me as far as imaging while at Fort Myers Broadcasting. Dave really taught me the ins and outs of radio imaging from processing to timing, audio creation, etc. Dave was a phenomenal writer and he taught me a TON. I don’t necessarily know that I had a mentor for VO. I did a lot of solo flying early on. But I definitely looked up to people and studied other peoples work. Joe Cip, Sean Caldwell, Brian Lee, Steve Stone, Scott Matthews…all heavy hitters…and without a doubt I looked up to them and still do, along with a lot of other very talented VO folks that I respect and admire but would take too long to list☺
What is your dream gig? A big network promo gig where they keep me as the voice for like 20 years.
Can you offer 3 helpful tips for newbies trying to make it in the voice-over industry? Try, fail, try again….rinse and repeat. If you can’t handle rejection, VO probably isn’t for you. It takes lots of hard work, rejection, patience, tenacity, and more hard work to make it in this biz.
How do you schedule/prioritize your work? I stay in constant contact with my clients. They can call me, text me, email me, carrier pigeon me, etc. The best way I’ve found to prioritize is just to handle whatever comes in my inbox as it comes in and adjust on the fly if something else comes in that requires immediate attention. I don’t let stuff sit though. Once I get something, I get it done.
How much time do you spend auditioning for new work? I spend a LOT of time auditioning. That’s a big chunk of my VO day. Whether it’s scripts agents have sent me, P2P sites (yes, I do belong to a couple) or just random audition requests. If you aren’t auditioning, you don’t have a shot at making any $$$.
How do you market your services to potential clients? I market using e-newsletters, banner ads on specific VO sites, direct mail, e-marketing campaigns, etc.
Which production system do you use and why? I use Adobe CS6 for Mac. I actually started on SAW 32 (for those that remember) and quickly moved to Cool Edit Pro back in the day. From there, I went to Audition 1.5 and when Adobe came out with Audition for Mac, I grabbed it. It’s just what I’m comfortable with. I’ve used Pro Tools as well and still have it but Audition works great for me.
What are your favorite plugins? I use a lot of stock Audition plugins. I don’t do a lot of processing to begin with. Most of the time I’m sending my tracks dry and I’ll let whoever is producing apply their own touch. I use some Waves stuff as well. In Audition it’s usually a little dynamics and the L3 Multimaximizer in Waves.
Gear: Senn 416>Focusrite Voice Master Pro Pre>Focusrite Saffire Pro Interface>iMac…I also have a Blue Baby Bottle mic that I use on some things as well. I have a treated space in my basement that stays really quiet.
How has new technology changed the way you work? New technology has changed the way I do business and what new business I go after. Everything is video now. There is so much VO work with e-learning courses, whiteboard videos, apps, explainer videos, etc. Not to mention the audiobook segment of VO is just booming as well. So new technology has changed the way I go after new business the most.
What is the best voice processing trick or voice-over technique everyone should know? The best voice over processing trick I could ever come up with is: Sound like YOU…that’s the best trick I can pass along. There is no voice over processing trick that will make you sound like someone else you’re trying to sound like. Know who you are and who you relate to and the rest will come. I’ve been guilty of thinking processing will help land more gigs. Ultimately, it comes down to talent. If what you have is what others are looking for, they’ll gladly pay you for it. No amount of processing has ever landed me a gig or got the client asking me “you sound great, what plug in did you use on your voice?”
Do you have a different approach to reading radio imaging copy as opposed to TV/Radio commercial ads? Definitely have a different approach to reading radio imaging copy as opposed to TV/Radio spots. Imaging is part standup comedian/part storyteller/part pitchman/woman. Radio imaging IMO is all about pace and timing. You’re selling the station’s brand/image and trying to relate to the listener. I tend to get into a different type of character when reading radio imaging copy depending on the format. For instance, if I’m voicing for a country station, I might get into the mindset of me kickin’ back with some friends enjoying a cold, frosty one whereas with a rock station I think about the wildest night of my life and all the bad things I did growing up. It helps with the attitude I’m trying to reflect with my reads. With TV/Radio commercials it’s much more about being believable and just selling the product.