The Harry Truth: Prostituting Your Image Voice
The latest installment of “The Harry Truth,” written by VO/Imaging/Kung Fu master Harry Legg! Take it away, Harry!
It can probably be safely said that I’m preaching to the choir here…but maybe passing this article on to your PD, Sales Manager or even GM might help gain some understanding and help with regards to protecting your station’s signature voice. What am I talking about you ask? Having your image voice read either long sponsorship messages in promos or worse yet – reading a full commercial.
Your station’s image voice is something that should be special. When he/she is on a sweeper or promo – you really want your listeners to pay attention (as much as we can expect listeners to ever pay attention). However, if your image voice is constantly droning on about things that are tune-outs “Brought to you by Blah, Blah, Blah Car Dealer – where you get the best value and the best service with a staff that is second to none – call today… “ No, No, No! Saying a sponsor name is totally cool – “B100 and Verizon Present” – but taking it much further than that and doing it on a regular basis causes your station voice to become like every other commercial voice and thus, a tune-out. This is prostituting your station’s voice. Then we have the situations where “a client requested you.” First, an image voice is typically contracted to read imaging and not commercials – so, the answer should be a flat out no from a contractual standpoint. But we all want to make the life of the PD easier and try to help when needed. Several times this past year I have been asked to read commercials and I immediately explained to the PD why this was not cool on several levels. The response is typically – “Just help me out this one time – they’re on my ass.” I get it – but it’s flat out wrong. Once you open that door to your image voice reading a client’s spot – then another client and another client may want the same, too. Just don’t allow it. Plus, it sounds awful hearing your image voice read a spot and then a piece of imaging out of the stopset. As far as sponsor mentions in a promo, I must say I love the way my clients in Australia at the Southern Cross Austereo stations handle it. The Image Voice does the promo and a secondary voice is tagged onto the end…this makes the client happy and prevents your station voice from droning on and becoming a tune-out.
I’m very interested to hear back from other VO talents on how they handle this as well as from Image Director’s and PD’s who have to fight the battle to retain integrity in the programming and imaging of their stations.
Thank you all for your time! Harry Legg