Sultry, sexy voice, informative but cute? That’s Robin Marshall’s voice. Now meet the woman behind it.
First, please briefly introduce yourself by answering these 2 questions: What radio VO work have you done in the past (stations/markets)? I’ve been the imaging voice for almost every Smooth Jazz station in the USA, including CD101.9, NYC- until they all disappeared! I swear it wasn’t My Fault! I’ve done lots of imaging for other formats as well including Scott Shannon’s True Oldies, Kurtis Sliwa, Opie and Anthony and Imus for a short spurt. I have a list of others but I hate when radio people go off on themselves, so just know that I’ve been around the block. Oh! I’ve also done VO work for PDiddy’s “Unforgivable Fragrance line and didn’t know at the time that he was also Puff Daddy, and Sean Combs until my kids told me! I had been on the air in NYC for 25 years – on all different stations, … but one day one of my 5 kids heard that PDiddy, spot on Hot 97, raced home and said, “MOM! I just heard you on the Radio!” It was a true, “head shaking” moment… I also have done lots of national “Call 1 800” spots and the list goes on…
What are you up to presently (freelance/on-staff at a station)? Today I manage a commercial production division for a very large national radio group, called Sound Solutions. We write, produce and voice spec spots, corporate event spots and presold spots, so you probably hear me along with my team in every market! On top of that, when 5:30-or 9pm hits (depends on when I finish up with the importance of the previous mentioned job) I’m working on additional projects that revolve around my Second Book release! “The Diary of a Sugar Mom! Don’t Tell the Kids!”
What do you love about working as a freelance VO talent? I work for a major communications company- from home-full time and manage the division, if I want to, in my Bathrobe, LOL…and the division is Successful regardless of what we’re wearing; it’s all about hiring people that are better than ourselves. They all work from their home studios and are disciplined enough to appreciate that freedom. I have a great team and I am the luckiest person alive to have them!
How did you get started as a VO actor? What was your first gig? VO came after on air…Ugh… when I tell this story, it pisses more people OFF than not. So, Ok… prepare yourself… I was a singer in a rock and roll band. We lived in NYC and had Lots of promises from several record companies. A suggestion was made to me, “Hey! You have an “OK voice,”… why don’t you try and get a job on-air as a jock… and then you can introduce your record!” Really? That was a stretch, but being young and impressionable and feeling like you can make ANYTHING work… I said, “Ok!” Someone wrote me a fake resume, saying I’d been the PD at one station, and the Music Director at another and then I found someone from my home town of Pittsburgh who happened to be on the air at CBS FM; who said, “Sure! Come on down, we’ll make you an air check!” I walked into THEEE “Number One Market”- NYC rock station with a fake resume and a fake air-check on the day that one of their jocks walked Out! The PD met with me, listened, read my bogus resume and HIRED ME on the spot! I began that night; overnights! I called my boyfriend, who’d written the bogus resume and asked questions like, “How do I know which way the mic goes?? How do I thread a reel to reel machine?? What’s a POT?” The only Pots I knew of were those in the kitchen and I rarely touched THEM! He walked and talked me through the whole shift, after having been on the air himself, 20 years earlier in college. At the time I felt that was enough experience to get me through! I needed a valium to make it to the end of that shift, no kidding! Six months later after I’d established myself on-air, I went to the music director with my album and he liked it! We gained steady rotation- but we never got that record deal, and I stayed on the air instead! Crazy beginnings!
Have you ever had a voice coach? Would you recommend it? No, I never did. Well, hold on a sec… when I think about it… my dad was on the air for 50 years between Pittsburgh and Chicago, dragging the family back and forth (which is why I NEVER wanted to be in Radio! I’m a Radio Brat!) Every day that I’d come home and talk with him, he’d correct my speech: “there is no such thing as “YINS” or “Red-up the haus,” (“you, and clean up the house”) and so it went on for years until everything I said became Generic in tone and devoid of colloquialisms.) He was my voice coach. A KDKA expert! Would I recommend it? I’ve taught many classes to aspiring radio students, and my message to them is, “if your accent is THAT THICK- Work Locally- Don’t try and change who you are, midstream. People from your hometowns will appreciate that recognizable sound! If you’re on the fence with an accent, definitely work with someone to help rid you of it! It offers you more opportunity in the long run!
[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/220691772″ params=”color=ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]
Who are your VO idols/mentors? Who influenced your work as a VO artist? Wow… I have several… My dad, Perry Marshall, and there’s too much history to mention but he wound up at KDKA as a talk show host for the last 25 years of his career, and he was the first Top 40 Jock in Pittsburgh in the 50’s! Another strong influence was and still Is Dick Summer. He was also a hypnotist and as I’d step in after his shift to follow while on the air at WPIX, during the 6 minute commercial break he’d work on hypnotizing me to help me deal with my husband’s snoring at night! It’s so funny and so true! Another great influence in my ability to be what I consider a “story-teller,” was Allison Steele. We were on the air together in the late 90’s. She was a legend in NYC known as “the Nightbird.” She sort of took me under her wing and would tell me many stories of how women had been struggling in a man’s industry called Radio, for years! Those were precious moments in time for me.
Can you offer 3 helpful tips for newbies trying to make it in the voice-over industry? Yes. 1. Don’t try and sound like someone you’re not. 2. Do NOT record copy that SUCKS! Go to the client and respectfully offer suggestions to make it better! 3. Make sure your levels aren’t overbearing with whichever audio program you choose- and watch your levels. Send files to yourself before you send to you client so you can hear what needs to be fixed!
How do you schedule/prioritize your work? Day gig comes first, and I put everything I’ve got into it, even while knowing I’ve got my night gig coming up next. That is serious prioritizing and compartmentalizing, but I always have something to look forward to. That is the key of life.
How much time do you spend auditioning for new work? At this stage, and I don’t mean to sound pompous, I ignore all auditions unless they are specifically meant for me. I hope and wish that all new talent will reach that level and they can- if they stay true to themselves.
How do you market your services to potential clients? Believe it or not, I do a lot of Blogging, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram that has Nothing to do with my voice work! People are more interested in who you really ARE and once they find that they can identify with you and your beliefs, they’ll hire you more readily!
Which production system do you use and why? I use Adobe Audition because it’s the only one I was taught properly to use, (as I’m Always in a rush!) and still after all these years, I’m learning the inside skills! I’m less of a production person, even though I’ve gotten pretty good at it, because the bottom line for me was, I couldn’t Afford a production person! When I hire people to do production, I Always hire those that are better than Me! It should be a mandatory way of life!
What are your favorite plugins (screenshots, if available)? I really like IZOTPE Nectar 2!
What gear do you use (microphone, pre-amp, booth, etc)? Again, I admit defeat in expertise, but I listen carefully to those around me that have mastered this game, and do as they say: I use an Audiotechnica AT404 mic, a 528E Symetrix processor, and depending upon if I stay local or not I use a Macbook Pro with a Focusrite Scarlett box and a heavy towel to throw over my head!
How has new technology changed the way you work? I wish I could answer this and sound like a pro, but I can’t. I’ve learned by rote from Day One. My mantra follows the movie, “Field of Dreams,” I’ve continued to learn by the seat of my pants while praying internally, as in…if you build it, they will come!
What is the best voice processing trick or voice-over technique everyone should know? Back Off the mic! Let the program enhance what your voice may be missing. You will never be perfect, but it’s better to be able to Remove what’s wrong than to Fix the impossible!
Do you have a different approach to reading radio imaging copy as opposed to TV/Radio commercial ads? (if applicable) I do my best reads on the first take no matter if it’s Radio or TV. I always ask my clients to run tape from the minute I step into the studio. NO- most VO talents are not like this! “Take it with a grain of salt!”
Favorite TV show of all time? I really can’t answer that, but my favorite movie of all time was Imitation of Life, with Lana Turner.
If you could invite one person to dinner, living or dead, who would it be (non-family)? Janis Joplin, … just because.
Biggest Pet Peeve? People that act like they know what they’re doing, because it’s supposed to be their JOB- but are too lazy to follow through and do what is at minimum- expected of them. Did you follow that?
What’s your guilty pleasure? Encouraging people to do what they’ve always wanted to do, and watching their expressions as they realize how HOT it was and they want to do it Again!
Elvis or The Beatles? I dated one of the Beach Boys for a short while even though I could never stand their music. I learned to clap with earnest at a young age, (to encourage him) even while I was wishing I was with Steve Perry…
Dogs or Cats? This is the first three years, while living here in Dallas that I’ve never had a dog. I miss it… but I travel too much and it wouldn’t be fair. Black Labs are my favorites! My first one died young and his ashes are with me on a shelf that I can see every day.
Where in the world is Carmen San Diego? It doesn’t matter. I’m still looking for Waldo…