Kelly In Catty

This blog is Kell's attempt to keep in touch with friends far away who complain that I don't e-mail nearly enough.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Tell Me - Don't Sell Me!

This week I got into a conversation with a friend of mine. He is a professional voice, and does narration and voice-over work for commercials, television, radio, and industrial video…. He’s got golden vocal chords. Where he started the business as a radio disc jockey, he found he enjoys the voice work more…

Anyway, we got into a really funny conversation about how much we *HATE* the “radio voice,” meaning the DJ who could make even Valerie Solonas’ “Scum Manifesto” sound like a sports-commentary-dipped- infomercial:

LIFE! in this society being, at best, an UTTER booooooooore and no aspect of society being AT ALL! relevant to women, there reMAINS to civicmindedresponsiblethrillseekingfemales ONLY to overthrow the GOVERNMENT!, Ahhhhh-liminate the money system, institute COMPLETE AUTOMATION! and des-trrrrrrroy the male sex!!! (But wait! There’s MORE! If you act now, you’ll get your FREE video OR DVD – explaining the LATEST! In arti-FICIAL insemination – with NO obligation to INSEMINATE!)

I feel that most radio personalities are just a little on the egotistical/insecure side... Almost as if their wisdom and talent needs the big sales pitch to really drive their points home – and I beg to differ.

Kudos to Chef Jim Coleman – who uses his regular speaking voice to deliver his well-cooked tales for NPR’s A Chef’s Table, Click and Clack of Car Talk, and Whad’Ya Know’s Michael Feldman for speaking in their normal voices… And of course, to Terry Gross and Fresh Air.

If you still have no idea what I’m talking about – consider the difference between theater acting and film acting. One requires large gesticulations – the other requires subtle facial expression. The radio voices my friend and I despise are like bad “THEEEEATAH ACT-TING!”

As two NPR aficionados, my voice-over friend and I have several hosts to complain about. I’ll leave the websites so you can introduce yourself to the wonderful world of uber-inflection. NOTE: I am not slamming these people’s shows… Just the way they use their voices. Why can't they simply tell me something - and not sell me something?

1) Mike McGrath of You Bet Your Garden: Don’t get me wrong. I live in the same community that J.I. Rodale grew his first organic garden. And where I don’t personally garden per se, I like the IDEA of gardening… (I have a potted rosebush)... And I think Mike McGrath is an amazing gardening expert. In fact, when he’s taking his calls, he’s great – his speaking voice is normal – he’s funny and informative. When he’s doing his show intro, however, he somehow turns into a carnival barker. And Mike? If you read this, know that I am eternally grateful for your advice on getting rid of the ants in my kitchen. All I’m saying is this: Announce like you're talking to your guests! Please!

2) Tavis Smiley – The Tavis Smiley Show: Tavis’ show centers around the African American Community. I’ve learned a lot from him… yet can’t STAND his “radio voice…” What’s amusing is that when he’s interviewing a friend – he sounds just as natural, relaxed, and as Tavis-From-The-Block as can be… Please, Tavis… Use your regular voice and keep it real, my friend!

3) Frank DeFord – Senior Sports Writer for Sports Illustrated; he writes commentaries on Morning Edition: For the first several years of listening to Frank Deford, he sounded like the snotty uncle who bored the entire Thanksgiving table with how much he knows about EVERYTHING… I finally saw him on a documentary, where he was interviewed. He quietly told TV land what he knew - and it was great. His voice was calm, normal, and compelling. After that, I started listening to DeFord's commentaries more carefully. Now that he’s no longer my know-it-all uncle, I find him rather insightful. I’d still rather he tone it down – but I always listen attentively.

That’s enough slamming. Just know that I love these guys – BUT PLEASE, gentlemen! Take an acting class for film and video – take a voiceover class! Calm down-and use your real voice! Your radio personality would be so much greater.


  • At 5:19 PM, Blogger Trixie said…

    You must know that in my mind I was thinking about how that manifesto would sound out loud. Then I started mouthing along with how it was written. Next thing I knew...I was looking around to see if I was alone so that I could actually DO THE VOICE out loud.

    See what you started ! *cutting stare of blame*


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