We’re just mad about Safnauer.
From Melbourne, Australia to Lagos, Nigeria to Philadelphia, Detroit, Atlanta, Washington DC, Denver, & Charlotte, Andy Safnauer is taking the VO world by storm.
What radio VO work have you done in the past (stations/markets)? I spent 15 years as a production director in radio. Started as an intern in Syracuse, and worked in Cleveland, Akron, Greenville, SC and Atlanta before I left in 2005 to work for myself fulltime. Currently I voice WLKO/Charlotte, CFMS/Toronto, WING/Dayton, WVSC/Hilton Head, WXNR/Greenville-New Bern, WHBR/Parkersburg, KSYV/Santa Maria, KVTY/Lewiston, KFTE/Lafayette, WFRK/Florence, WUPS/Upper Michigan and image promo work for WNCN-TV in Raleigh, who I won an Emmy with earlier this year.
What do you love about working as a freelance VO talent? I like bringing copy to life. I think my background and continuing work as a producer allows me to see copy from a perspective that is helpful for my clients. I can adlib, adjust copy on a 2nd take or even give a few notes on what might be a cool idea production wise when it’s assembled.
How did you get started as a VO actor? What was your first gig? I started doing vo at my first production director gig at WONE/Akron. To be honest, I was not at all ready for that job when I got it. I had spent a year as a Production Assistant in Cleveland working under the super talented Mitch Todd (now head of production for Sirius/XM). The opportunity at WONE came my way and I took it, and was drowning pretty quickly. I spent a lot of long days (pre digital editors) learning how to produce, workflow and voiceover. Trial by fire.
Have you ever had a voice coach? Would you recommend it? I have worked with a few coaches. Currently I work with the best – Marice Tobias. If you are serious about wanting to do voiceover, you work with a coach. End of story. Professionals in any other field get training – this one is no different.
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Who are your VO idols/mentors? Who influenced your work as a VO artist? Like these guys need bigger heads? Brian Cooney has been a friend of mine for years. We actually worked together in Syracuse and Cleveland. He is incredibly talented and always has taken the time to answer even my dumbest questions. Same goes for Rich VanSlyke and Steve Stone. Good guys with no egos who have always been there for me. James Justice is one actor no one talks about, but his adlib abilities are better than anyone I have ever produced. It’s not even close. His approach to copy has heavily influenced me.
What is your dream gig? The right answer is to say I am doing it, correct? Well, I am going to switch it up on you. I like doing what I do. Being creative is a blast. I also have a passion for entrepreneurship, and own several businesses away from VO. I love the challenge of all the things that go into running businesses. My dream gig would be consulting with start ups and helping their founders launch their dream. While still doing VO.
Can you offer 3 helpful tips for newbies trying to make it in the voice-over industry? 1) DO NOT TRY TO COPY THE WAY ANOTHER ACTOR SOUNDS. There is only one Ann Dewig and one Chris Corley (and one Andy Safnauer). They have that gig wrapped up. Be the best YOU you can be. 2) Get coaching. Whether it’s online or at a local studio that might do a workshop, find someone to help you get better. You need their ear. It is worth the cost. 3) Your work has VALUE. Do not give it away for nothing. Or 5 dollars. Rate integrity matters, not just for your long term career but for our industry as a whole.
How do you schedule/prioritize your work? My day starts in the studio around 7:45. I go straight all day until 6:30 or so. If I have a session with somebody out west, I will come back in after dinner to knock it out.
How much time do you spend auditioning for new work? I have a few talent agents who send me auditions – typical day is 2 or so – maybe 20 minutes. I am fortunate that most of my work comes from word-of-mouth. Doing a good job, under promising and over delivering really helps.
Which production system do you use and why? I use AA 1.5. Because it’s rock solid and I’ve found no reason to upgrade, along with Waves plug-ins.
What are your favorite plugins? I am not a heavy plug user. Some eq settings I built, compression and occasionally some verb. Renaissance Compressor and L1 are favs – keep it smooth like Barry White.
What gear do you use? I use a 416 with an M5 for radio and tv imaging. I use a 414 with a Symetrix 528E for radio sounding commercial reads. I built the studio when I built the house so it’s pretty quiet on its own without a booth.