In 1980, my first full year working at a radio station, there were two announcers doing commercials that I especially admired and wanted to emulate.
One was Jim Kelly, who had worked for a while at that same suburban Chicago radio station where I got my start. He then went on to work at the old FM 100, (4th bullet point) a Beautiful Music station. And to do a lot of radio commercials.
The other was John Doremus. One memory of John Doremus that is especially precious to me, was a series of announcements he voiced for the Union 76 service stations during the Bicentennial in 1976. Wonderful patriotic messages, delivered in that classic Doremus style.
Both of these men were examples of the archetypical big-voice announcer guy. And back then, that’s what I wanted to be too. To some extent I guess I succeeded. Or at least, I’ve made a fair amount of money doing the big-voice announcer guy for lots of different people since 1979.
However, since 1997, I’ve been working very hard to get as far away from that style as I can. Because, more and more, the only people who want that kind of sound are people who are stuck in the past. And the advertising that’s using that kind of voice on television or radio is losing effectiveness. Every day, a little at a time. But, it’s happening. And the pace is starting to accelerate.
The natural human voice is the sound. Authentic. Raw and unpolished. That’s the sound that’s coming. That’s already here. And I’m working hard to stay as close to my natural voice as I can. To unpolish what I worked so hard for so many years to polish. Because, I want to keep working. And not just on little jobs. And not just on things that are losing ground and losing effectiveness.
As strange as it may seem, my greatest weakness as a voice-over talent today, is the very thing that has been my bread and butter for the last 20 years. My “announcer” voice.