Benztown Voice-Over Blog
Brian West is our Voice of the Week feature but really…he’s the voice of every week in the voiceover community. This guy is behind the mic, in front of the camera, you name it and he does it. And he does it well. Welcome to the family Brian!
What radio VO work have you done in the past? Currently the image voice for WBLI Long Island, New York; WNFN Nashville, Tennessee; WAJI Fort Wayne, Indiana; WLMI Lansing, Michigan. I was also the national voice for CMT Television in Canada for a few years.
What are you up to presently? I host the afternoon drive home show on rock station Y108 in Hamilton, ON. I’m the narrator for shows on HGTV (Mountain Life, How Close Can I Beach) and on CNBC (Adventure Capitalists). I also voice for national spots in Canada and the US (Degree, Chase, Coke, Esso, Charter Spectrum etc).
What do you love about your job? I love being able to work from home and being in different studios working with different producers and people. Every day is unique and that’s what I love about media.
How did you get started as a VO actor? What was your first gig? I started as an on air host in radio doing local spots. While I was part time I focused on my VO demos and shopped them to agents. My first freelance national VO gig was a television spot for Hyundai. My first ever media gig was the mascot for a radio station called The Bear… I was the Bear and got kicked by many children.
Have you ever had a voice coach? Would you recommend it? Yes I’ve had a voice coach and highly recommend it. It’s always best to have another set of ears hear your work.
Who are your VO idols/mentors? Who influenced your work as a VO artist? Jamie Watson in Canada has been my mentor and friend since the beginning of my professional voice over career. I also love listening to David Kaye, Pat Garrett, and Jeff Berlin. Hearing their radio imaging is what gave me the bug.
What is your dream gig? My dream gig is to be in an animated film and / or a regular animated series. Also to voice movie trailers.
Can you offer 3 helpful tips for newbies trying to make it in the voice-over industry?
1) Practice, Practice, Practice. My wife hates how I’m constantly reading out loud… like billboards when we’re driving lol. Having a voice is one tool, being able to read is a skill.
2) Listen to lots of radio and pay attention to the imaging and commercials. Try mimicking what you hear.
3) Work on different voices so you have a bunch that you can go to. Instead of singing in the shower, I work on coming up with different voices. TMI?
If you weren’t doing voiceover, what else do you think you’d be doing for a career? When I was a kid I wanted to be a school bus driver. Now that I have kids – not so much! If I wasn’t doing VO, I’d still be on air in radio. I used to have a part time job at a bank… but it’s too stiff in there.
What’s it like being a part of the voiceover community? While it’s definitely a super competitive industry, the folks that I’ve met who are successful, have always been willing to give advice and help out where they can. It’s competitive, but a small industry at the same time.
How do you schedule/prioritize your work? I have scheduled sessions that happen at a certain time with a producer, but when I have unsupervised reads I do them based on the order they come in to me (unless something is more time sensitive).
How much time do you spend auditioning for new work? I usually do an average of 3-5 auditions per day for spots.
How do you market your services to potential clients? I advertise my imaging on a radio site called MilkmanUnlimited in Canada and am constantly working on social media as well (Facebook, LinkedIn etc).
Which production system do you use and why? In radio school we learned on Adobe Audition (Cool Edit at the time), so I use that to record on my iMac.
What gear do you use? I use a Sennheiser 416 mic, Avalon M5 Preamp and Audient ID22 interface. I have a home studio after I converted a cold storage wine cellar in my basement – it’s nice and quiet! (And now has heat). When I’m traveling I use the Apogee One.
What is the best voice processing trick or voice-over technique everyone should know? Getting in close to the mic and speaking quietly can sometimes have some great results.
When it comes to VO work, studio & gear, what are your most ingenious methods/discoveries for saving time and cash? When I first started I used to voice things from the closet in our space bedroom. It was tight quarters but worked well until I could get my studio up and running. I also still use comforters and pillows when traveling and in a hotel and something needs to be voiced.
Do you have a different approach to reading radio imaging copy as opposed to TV/Radio commercial ads? For sure. Radio & TV commercials all have different direction depending on the spot. Imaging you can often have more fun with.
What did it feel like the first time you heard your voice on the radio/television? For me the coolest feeling was being in a different city when traveling and hearing my voice on a station there.
Not only are you in the studio but you have also been in front of the camera hosting red carpet events.
1) How do you prepare for a big red carpet event?
Doing as much research before interviews is key. There’s nothing worse than having nothing to say when an artist walks up to you. Also, trying to make sure you know a little bit about everyone is the toughest part.
2) Do you have a different approach to your voice on camera as opposed to the studio?
As much as you always try to be natural when reading, I think more of my ‘normal speaking voice’ comes out when in front of the camera.
3) Do you get star struck?
I’ve had the opportunity to meet a lot of cool people, so I generally don’t get star struck… although growing up watching his movies I’d probably be star struck by Arnold Schwarzenegger or Jim Carey.
Who or what kind of music are you listening to the most right now? The music I listen to is all over the map. Once minute I’m listening to Nirvana, then the next song is Eminem followed by Black Sabbath into The Beach Boys. It would be one hell of a radio station!
Agent: Nate Zeitz at CESD Talent
Agent Contact: Nate@CESDTalent.com
Beth Cameron is a force to be reckoned with in the VO world. She has quite the impressive background in the industry and we’re pretttayyy lucky to have her on Team BZ!
What radio VO work have you done in the past? I started doing imaging VO when I worked at KISS 108 in Boston voicing intros and an occasional promo. From there I voiced WYSP in Philly, KISS in Hartford, Triple X in Vermont, BOB and US 95.7 in San Diego, Star 93.7 and MIKE-FM in Boston, KC-101 in New Haven among of others. I was also on about 80+ stations as the female voice for Dial Global’s HotAC stations.
What are you up to presently? I currently work full time doing VO of all types, but radio imaging is still my favorite. I voice stuff for Beasley Broadcasting in Boston. I’m also the imaging voice for Westwood One’s HotAC stations all over the the country, as well as the voice of the nationally syndicated Zach Sang Show. Most exciting, I’m now working with Benztown! I’m thrilled to be part of this great group of people who haven’t forgotten that radio’s supposed to be fun!
What do you love about your job? I love that every day is different and you never know what any day is going to bring. It’s still exciting to me when I get email out of the blue from a new client who just found me online, because I never know who I might meet (even if it’s virtual) and what new opportunity might come from it.
How did you get started as a VO actor? What was your first gig? My first VO was as an intern at KISS 108. The infamous Jeff Berlin pulled me aside one day and asked me to say one word, “faces” (the name of a former nightclub) as many ways as I could. Once I heard the spot on air, I was hooked.
What is your dream gig? Anything with good writers behind it. I always like when people write the way I actually talk…and have a great sense of humor. There’s nothing better than writers who make you sound funnier than you really are!
Can you offer 3 helpful tips for newbies trying to make it in the voice-over industry?
1. Take a class in audio editing before you even start to work on VO
2. Take a class in web marketing
3. Don’t read too much about trying to “make it in the industry” because it can be discouraging. All of the people I know who are doing voice-over full time took a different path to get here, so you just have to find the one that works for you…but it takes a LONG time.
If you weren’t doing voiceover, what else do you think you’d be doing for a career? Something in educational media. I actually went back to grad school and got my masters in education when I was just starting to do VO full time…but now I’m having too much fun with VO to actually use it!
How do you market your services to potential clients? I think there’s no better resource than the web. Anyone, anywhere can hear and hire you…as long as you do your homework and figure out how to make sure they find you. Also, giving great customer service to existing clients. Fast turn-around…taking direction…giving them what they want with no drama is great marketing….because then they tell others. The majority of my clients are people I’ve worked with in the past who suggested me to their boss when they landed a new gig. It’s nice to have solid long-term working relationships like that.
What are your favorite plugins? I can’t live without Metric Halo’s Channel Strip.
How has new technology changed the way you work? In every way possible, but mostly I would say in terms of delivering files to people…which has opened up a whole new pool of clientele. I remember (not too long ago) driving out to FedEx at the airport every night at 10:00 to drop off a CD so it could be overnighted to a client in San Francisco. It’s amazing to think how far things have come…not to mention how many new people I now work with all over the world.
Do you have a different approach to reading radio imaging copy as opposed to TV/Radio commercial ads? It seems like these days everyone wants commercial reads to be super laid back and conversational. I like doing that kind of read, but I really like that with imaging you can still be over-the-top, or edgy if it calls for it. There are just more things to experiment with in imaging.
If you could go back to any decade and hang out which one would you go back to and why? The 70’s. Just seems like it was simpler times…plus, better music.
If you were on a deserted island and could only have one person with you who would it be and why? My 6 year old son…because we crack each other up like nobody’s business (not sure what that says about my maturity…let’s just go with he’s very mature for his age). Plus, that face!
What’s your guilty pleasure? OK, so it’s not exactly guilty…but my greatest pleasure is listening to re-runs of Casey Kasem’s American Top 40 from the 70’s and 80’s on TuneIn on the weekends. I’m that much of a radio geek…plus, I suppose it’s a nostalgia thing. And Casey…you can’t beat Casey.
Where’s your favorite place in the world to go to and why? You mean travel? My clients don’t let me travel! Honestly, right now my favorite place in the world is my home. A few years ago I bought the house I grew up in, and I’m now in the process of fixing it up. It’s a true labor of love!
Personal Website: http://bethcameronvo.com/
We are so excited to have Kelly Malone join our roster! She’s got a versatile voice that’s perfect for any station. Oh and total side bar…she has a Stanley Cup ring…WHAT!
What radio VO work have you done in the past? I have been voicing radio stations for close to 15 years; mainly in the Northeast including markets around New England and Pennsylvania.
What are you up to presently? Freelancing and loving it! I spent close to 8 years hosting mornings on WBMX in Boston and have been doing voiceovers ever since. Commercial and radio imaging are my passions.
What do you love about your job? I’m a media geek. When most people turn off commercials, I love listening to the latest production and radio station imaging…and I still love hearing myself on radio and TV!
How did you get started as a VO actor? What was your first gig? My VO career began while I was hosting mornings in Boston. I picked up some commercial gigs and radio stations to image. One of my good friends, the great voice talent, Damon Oaks, was the Imaging Director at the station and helped me gain a few clients to voice after I was off the air in the morning.
Have you ever had a voice coach? Would you recommend it? Yes! and Yes! I’ve worked with the legendary Marice Tobias. Her guidance has been worth its weight in gold.
What is your dream gig? I spent 11 seasons as the Public Address Announcer for the Boston Bruins…but I’m still waiting to voice a McDonalds commercial.
Can you offer 3 helpful tips for newbies trying to make it in the voice-over industry? Don’t give up; you won’t get every gig, but you’ll get the gigs perfect for you. Talk to audio engineers for advice on affordable equipment. Never correct your clients. And don’t wear headphones.
If you weren’t doing voiceover, what else do you think you’d be doing for a career? Media in general has always been a passion. I’ve hosted a TV show for the local CBS affiliate in Boston, but radio and voice work has always been what I love. Although I’d love to be on a sitcom.
What’s it like being a part of the voiceover community? I’ve been lucky to have many ultra-successful friends in the industry who have been nothing but supportive!
How do you schedule/prioritize your work? Work is always a priority. I’m constantly in contact with clients in cast there is a scheduling conflict or if I’ll be out of studio. Courtesy goes a long way.
How much time do you spend auditioning for new work? Depends on the length of the script. I try not to get caught up in my head too long, but always listen back to the audio with a critical ear while trying not to over think it!
How do you market your services to potential clients? Word of mouth has worked wonders for me and I’m in the process of updating my website while beginning to market my services.
Which production system do you use and why? Well…Garage Band, to be honest! I spent quite a bit of money on Logic a few years ago, which was unnecessary. A good friend of mine, who is an audio engineer, set up my recording system. It’s been highly effective for the last 8 years!
What gear do you use? Focusrite and M-Audio at home; Apogee One for Mac when I’m traveling.
How has new technology changed the way you work? You can work from anywhere!
What is the best voice processing trick or voice-over technique everyone should know? My audio engineering friends!