Radio vs Voice-Over – What’s the difference? by Marc Cashman

radio vs VO gram

Killer artwork done by Shane Drasin – Benztown’s ridiculously talented musicbed composer.

I never cease to get interesting questions about the voiceover industry from Now Casting/Actors Ink readers.  Take a look at the Q&As below about Radio vs. V-O, and creating a voiceover website.

Q:  I have spoken with, over the years, people in radio as well as people in Voice Over. I have gotten a mixed batch of responses from both sides and wanted to know your thoughts as well (through industry eyes).  Some voice over teachers tell me that voice over and radio are NOT VERY different. Some voice over teachers tell me that voice over and radio ARE VERY different. Some tell me that if you train for Radio AND train for VO you can do them BOTH SUCCESSFULLY IF you do it CORRECTLY. Some tell me that if you train for Radio you are training for VO at the same time. Some tell me that if you train for VO you are also bringing those skills to radio as well. Some say that a radio voice is a “natural” announcer voice,  which is NOT the same as a VO voice, which is an ACTING voice. However, some VO “experts” say that a “natural” voice is not as marketable as an “acting” voice IN THE VOICE OVER WORLD. AND SOME VO “experts” say a “natural” voice is EQUALLY as marketable as an ACTING voice. Some VO people I talked to say that VO scripts, when read, should sound like “your natural voice” and not a voice that you are trying to emulate. Can you sort this all out and make sense of things?  –George P., Washington, D.C.

A:  George, thanks for your inquiry.  Radio and the V-O world have similarities and differences. On-air talent have an amazing number of skill-sets that got them on the air in the first place: They have a clear, resonant, even voiceprint. They have excellent articulation and eye-brain-mouth coordination. They have the facility to ad lib and vamp. And they understand who their target audience is and talk directly to them. That said, their on-air persona sometimes makes them a bit caricatured and not sounding like a real person talking. They wear their headphones most of the time and fall in love with the sound of their own voice. And virtually every ad they do sounds like another announcement–because it is!  I know a few Radio industry people who successfully made the transition from Radio to V-O, but it took a while to learn how to “throw out the announcer” part of their voice. My advice to other Radio people looking to accomplish this: Find the best V-O coach or instructor you can and study with them for a year. That’ll give you the big picture on what it takes to be successful in this business.

George followed up with a few more questions…

Q:  Is there anything wrong with pursuing BOTH radio AND VO?
A:  Nothing wrong with that.

Q:  I am told that many people do and are very successful.
A:   Not surprising.

Q:  In your reply you mentioned that people have “transitioned” FROM radio TO Voice Over. What about FROM Voice Over TO radio?
A:  I don’t know anyone who did that, but I’m sure there are people out there who have.

Q:  When I refer to radio, I am referring to DJ, talk show host OR sportscaster. Would each one of these types have their own classification or would you treat them all equally when you compare the “transition”?
A:  I’m no expert in this regard, but there are obvious skills that each of these roles have. 

The concepts of classification, transition, and equal treatment get blurry when it comes to performance.

Q:  Has anyone ever criticized the effectiveness of VO coaching through phone or Skype?
A:  Only those who prefer to be physically in the studio with people.  But the majority of V-O sessions are now done remotely.

Q:  Can you REALLY hear and listen carefully to voice characteristics this way and critique them effectively?
A:  Yes, because this is a listening exercise.  Even via Skype I turn the camera off and listen.

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Q:  If a V-O newcomer is not an actor with a resume or an announcer, what’s the best way for such a person to compete and command attention with a website?  –Margo Z., Los Angeles, CA

A:  Margo, while it helps to have acting experience or time behind the mic, your V-O demo is your primary way to compete and command attention.  The website is just a “home” for your demo to live in, and it’s up to you to drive traffic to your site.  Though it’s easier said than done, you’ve got to create a dynamite demo and send an active link to agents and potential clients, as well as tout it in social and business media sites.  You don’t have to have millions of “bells and whistles” on your site, though—just keep it simple and professional, and make sure your demo plays almost instantly when they click on the link.  Break a lip!

Marc Cashman © 2013

MARC CASHMAN, President and Creative Director of Cashman Commercials/L.A., creates and produces copy and music advertising for radio and television. Winner of over 150 advertising awards, he’s a guest speaker at Ad Clubs and Broadcasters Associations throughout the U.S. and has been interviewed in trade magazines, newspapers and on radio and television programs. As a voice actor, Marc was named one of the “Best Voices of the Year”—three times—by AudioFile Magazine. He also teaches voiceover at California Institute of the Arts, through seminars at NowCasting’s iActing Studios and instructs all levels of voice acting through his classes, The Cashman Cache of Voice-Acting Techniques in Los Angeles, CA, as well as world-wide tele-coaching. Marc has been the Keynote Speaker and Master Class instructor at VOICE 2008, 2010 and 2012, the only international convention for voice actors. He recently presented at VO2013 ATLANTA (   He can be contacted at 661-222-9300, [email protected] or through his website,


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