The Line-Reading Linebacker or Voice of the Week: Chuck Matthews

HUGE thanks to the legendary radio voice talent (and former semi-pro football player) Chuck Matthews for this contribution!!!

We’ll start with a little bit about Chuck, in his own words:

Celebrating (I think, lol) twenty years this year in broadcasting. Experience ranges from Cleveland to Raleigh to Atlanta. I’m a Marconi Award winner and multiple Achievement in Radio award winner. I’ve imaged most formats but my expertise, if you will, is oldies/classic hits, rock, country and news/talk. In addition to VO and imaging I’ve also programmed, in Raleigh NC and Toledo OH, classic hits and talk respectively. Currently I live in my hometown of Cleveland where  I’m the Creative Director for Rubber City Radio/Akron. I’m responsible for the commercial production of WONE/WQMX/WAKR. Additionally, I also write/produce imaging for news/sports/oldies WAKR (alums include Alan Freed and Scott Muni).

I believe my VO/imaging roster is about twenty radio stations. Most are news/talk and/or sports stations. In fact I’ve recently signed three FM sports station since February. I also voice some rock/classic rock, including newly signed KXFM/San Luis Obispo via Benztown. I also have been picking up some country stations. I do promo VO for a few television stations. I’m also in “commercial pools” for television stations.

In addition to promo for radio/TV I also have been doing quite a number of corporate sales narrations. Clients include Matco Tools, Johnsonite Flooring, Hercules Tire, The Cleveland Clinic and others. Additionally, I just picked up The Pro Football Hall of Fame for it’s 2012 Enshrinement radio/TV campaign, which is special since the HOF is in the Cleveland/Akron metro. I also voice/produce a variety of concert tours including The Ultimate Doo Wop Tour (since 2006), Sara Groves, Guy Penrod, Fireflight and others.

1. Which production system do you use and why? I have used Adobe Audition 1.5 for a longggg time. Why? Stable. Easy to learn/use. I have AA3.0. Don’t care for the interface and some of my “go-to” plugs didn’t play well with it. I also utilize Sony Vegas products; Vegas 8.0 and Soundforge. Mostly to access the DX plug ins that will also load into AA1.5. Sony’s Dynamic processor/compressor is a great plug in! I will produce in Vegas 8 (was tipped to Vegas years ago by VO talent/producer Ann DeWig when she was at DC101. She was a PT convert to Vegas and Adobe).

2. What are your favorite plugins? Favorite plugs I use daily; Waves C1 comp/gate, L1, SSL Comp and Waves REQ6. Those are in my VO chain setting.

3. What gear do you use? I still work in radio full-time. My employer does have vintage (pre-94) Neumann U87s… and no outboard mic pres. All mics run to Yamaha O2R boards (not a fan). So… I prefer my own gear. Work; Sennheiser 416 to Symetrix 528 mic pre. I also have at work a DBX286a mic pre. Home: Sennheiser 416, Avalon M5 mic pre, Vorsis M1 mic pre, Symetrix 528 and DBX286. Other mics include a Sennheiser MK4 LDC and a Rode NT2 (no longer made).

4. What is the best voice processing trick or voice-over technique anybody should know? Best VO trick? Talk softly. Will sound “big” when EQ and compression is added. (think movie trailer read… very soft but rich and explodes when EQ’d correctly). Best VO trick #2: EQ. I’m not overtly adept at it. But EQ, arguably, the most important thing to do to a VO. Best VO processing? I think this is subjective. For me I actually use an Eric Chase chain he posted some years back and then I added another compressor to the chain. To my knowledge most folks seem to like it. Depending on the project I’ll subtract the final compressor (Waves SSL) from the chain for less “juice” as I call it.

5. How do you schedule your work? Once again since I work full time in radio my priorities are my employer first, then my freelance. When there’s a lull I do my freelance VO. I produce from time to time at work if simple production. I just signed The Pro Football Hall of Fame as a client voicing/producing their TV/Radio spots. I produce their stuff at work. I have a template ready to roll. Freelance imaging clients I reserve for producing their stuff at home where I have more time and am not overtly infringing on my employer.

6. What do you love about working as a freelance VO talent? The fact that there are folks out there who are gracious enough to want to have me as the voice that brands their station is amazing. I’ve produced many great, big name VO talents. Never did I think that I too would be able to not only establish a career as a radio imaging VO talent but to start getting recognized as such. Outside of radio VO, with more and more coaching and training, starting to book narration and sales projects, industrials and even some bigger commercials. My goal is to one day be a network promo voice.

7. How did you get started as a VO actor? Like most of us it was via radio. Only in the last five years have I really buckled down and started to get training, to do targeted marketing (key!), get better demos and to really go after VO. Wish I did all of this fifteen years ago, lol!

8. Who are your VO idols/mentors? Who influenced your work as a voice-over artist? So many in different genres. In no particular order; Don LaFontaine, Bill Ratner, Andy Geller. Scott Rummel. Ashton Smith, Jim Jakula (on almost every concert spot you hear from Tour Design), Edward Herrman, Beau Weaver, Ernie Anderson, Joe Cipriano, Jeff Laurence, Earl Mann, Chris Corley….. and many others who’s names I may not know but their voices certainly influence me even to this day.

9. What is your dream job? Network promo (or cable :D)

10. What would be your 3 main tips for a youngster trying to start a VO career? Training, Networking, Marketing. Can never do enough of any of the aforementioned. I’ll add a fourth. Stay humble.

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