By Rich Van Slyke
Every day I receive your copy, along with a set of carefully thought out very detailed instructions about voicing your station imaging. Like this:
“Rich – script attached – do your thing”
And I love it. Because Program Directors and Brand Managers are too busy to give me a lot of instructions, and you depend on me to interpret and deliver your copy the right way. It’s my job to make your copy COME ALIVE!
So here’s how I do it. When I get your copy, I quickly apply 7 ways to make it rock.
1. The Message. The first thing I ask is, “what is the main idea you are trying to deliver?” If you want me to remember one thing, and only one thing, after hearing this promo, what is it? Everything I do as a voice talent, from the type of read, to the ad libs, must communicate the main message. So, as I read through the copy, I’m asking myself – how does this line help to re-enforce the message.
2. Your Branding. Whether it’s a country station targeted to females 18-34, or a sports station targeting Men 18-44, or a classic rock station targeting Adults 25-54, a voice talent must always keep in mind the brand. What does this station stand for? What is the overall image? Why do people listen? And then I must ask, “Is the way I’m delivering the copy appropriate for the brand?” Too hard? Too soft? Too friendly? Too badass? I have to keep in mind that when I voice for you, my personality must be the same as the personality of your radio station. I represent the brand and I must deliver the copy accordingly. Every line must be cohesive with your brand.
3. The Emotion. This is the fun part for me. A very smart creative director once told me, it’s not what you say, it’s how you feel when you say it. When we hear the feeling in your voice, it gives us permission to feel the same feeling. It doesn’t matter which emotion you choose to feel, as long as you choose one! It’s my job to find the emotion in your copy and deliver it in a way that makes you FEEL IT! As I read your copy, I make little notes on the page. This part is exciting, this part is funny, this part is unimportant, this part is urgent. I select a feeling for each one. But I also make sure that those feelings align with the Message and the Branding. Very Important. After recording the first take, I go back and listen to the lines that are marked with emotion. Did I evoke the feeling, or was it just plain old boring announcer, like reading a shopping list? If it don’t hear the emotion, I recut the copy. Sometimes, it’s not obvious which emotion should be used, so my default emotion is always confidence. Why? Because confidence makes station imaging sound good. Not fake, but rock-solid impressive. When your voice guy speaks confidently, the station sounds like a winner. Speaking with confidence can get you higher ratings. It can even get you elected president!
4. The Grammar. Part of my job is to correct bad grammar. And to remember that you are busy as hell and you don’t always have time to check for grammar. So I’ll read it as written, but I’ll also give you another take with correct grammar. And maybe even another take with bad grammar on purpose. Why? Because it evokes more emotion.
5. The Ad Libs. Everybody loves ad libs. Because they make you laugh, or chuckle, or feel surprised, or delighted, or make you nod your head in agreement, all of these are emotional responses. So I try to throw in great ad libs. How? By focusing on the emotion of the copy. If the promo is all about winning a trip to the beach in Mexico, I’ll focus on that emotion. What does it feel like to win a trip to Mexico? It feels like – (ad lib). What does it feel like to sit on the beach in Mexico? It feels like (ad lib). Focus on the feeling and the ad libs will come. If it makes me feel something, you will feel it too.
6. The Recording. As a voice guy, it’s my job to record my voice according the above factors. And the way it’s recorded makes a big difference. Once again, I look to the emotion. IF the copy calls for something soft and intimate, I have to get close to the mic. And if it’s loud, I have to back off. Sometimes I’ll add reverb or a filter.
7. Your Feedback. After careful considering the message, the branding, the emotion, the grammar, the ad-libs, and the recording, I filter everything through feedback I’ve receive from you. If you’ve told me not to voice stuff that sounds to “announcery,” then I will change all of the above slightly to reflect your wishes and voice it more naturally. If the last promo I voiced for you resulted in an email that says, “love the edge,” I’ll remember that too. When you incorporate all of these elements into a read, you get great results. And it rocks!
Rich Van Slyke does VO for KUFX San Francisco, WWSK Long Island, KSEG Sacramento, KXTG Portland, KZDC San Antonio, KCFX Kansas City, Production Vault Classic Rock, WONE Akron, WXMX Memphis, WGRD Grand Rapids, KKFM Colorado Springs, WZEW Mobile, WKQZ Saginaw, WKZQ Myrtle Beach, WTMM Albany, KZOZ San Luis Obispo, KOZZ Reno, KTUX Shreveport, WXKE Fort Wayne, WIXO Peoria, WRMR Wilmington, XFM Nairobi, The Minnesota Timberwolves Radio Network, and more. www.richvanslyke.com 770.962.4788 firstname.lastname@example.org