The year was 1974. I was deeply in love, and to be blunt, poorer than the proverbial church mouse. I was putting myself through school at a private college in the Chicago suburbs. Every penny I had, and quite a few I was borrowing, were paying for my education, so I had no money for an engagement ring. You see, I wanted to marry Kathy. She wanted to marry me. Like I said, I was deeply in love.
She confided in her mother about our situation. Mom suggested that a family heirloom diamond was available, one that had belonged to Kathy’s great-grandmother. But, if I was serious about marrying Kathy, I would have to provide the engagement ring and the wedding band to go with it. One of Kathy’s very best friends was the daughter of a jeweler in Madison, Wisconsin; who had just decided to move his business to the Chicago suburbs and merge with an existing jewelry store.
So there we were, going through Mr. Johnson’s jewelry inventory, finding just the right setting for the diamond, and a matching wedding band. All for only $75, including the cost of mounting the diamond. But, as my Dad used to say, I didn’t have two nickels to rub together. Where was I going to get $75?
At the time, Kathy worked for David C. Cook Publishing Company, as an associate curriculum editor. (This was back when they were still located in Elgin, IL.) And one afternoon, a few days after our shopping expedition, Kathy attended a meeting about an upcoming convention. It was decided that the company should prepare a kiosk display that would include a pre-recorded narration about their new releases. But, who could they get to record? There was no narration budget.
At this point, Kathy spoke up and said that her fiance had a “nice voice” and would be willing to work pretty cheap. Whomever was in charge of this project agreed to this suggestion, asked her to call me, and eventually met me at the Domain Communications studio in Wheaton, IL. The agreed upon price was $50 an hour and when we were done recording, the session took one and a half hours.
It was an answer to prayer! And exactly the $75 I needed to get Kathy her engagement ring and wedding band. Thus did I get my first paying voice-over job, the very humble start to my life as a professional voice-over artist. How humble? It would be 9 years before I got another paying voice-over job.