By Mike Broderick
When I changed careers last year and began focusing on becoming a voice-over artist, I decided to learn as much as I could about the industry as fast as possible.
I was under no illusions that to be successful in the voice-over industry usually takes years of hard work, learning, and dedication to the craft.
But I felt the time was right for me to step out in faith and go for what I had been thinking about for a long time.
So how could I learn the ins and outs of the voice-over industry in short order?
First, I turned to books. I also hired Gary Terzza, one of the best VO coaches in the UK, and I joined the VAU Mic Check, a weekly online work-out group in the States, which has been a fun and invaluable experience.
Without a doubt, however, one of the most useful tools I found for learning about the voice-over industry quickly is the podcast.
Currently there are no fewer than 8 active voice-over-related podcasts providing information on topics ranging from home studio development, equipment, audio editing and production, voice-over and voice acting, coaching, business topics, and industry genres such as promo, radio imaging, and animation.
Each of these podcasts brings its own unique angle to covering the voice-over industry:
East-West Audio Body Shop (EWABS) airs live on ustream (www.ustream.tv/ewabs) or via the EWABS website (www.ewabs.net) every Monday night at 9 p.m. Eastern U.S. time and is available on YouTube on Tuesdays. It’s also available as a podcast in Itunes and via other podcast apps. Viewers can watch episodes stream live and post questions in the chat room via the EWABS website. Viewers can also email Dan and George via the website to take part in Google Hangout episodes which air approximately once a month.
For my money, when it comes to podcasts, EWABS is the first place that VO newcomers should start.
Hosted by home studio expert and VO Dan Lenard and Edge Studios Director of Technology George Whittam, EWABS presents the broadest coverage of the industry by any podcast. Every episode is well-constructed with a “Whittam’s World” report on a technical aspect of voice-over equipment and a Tip of the Week (TOTW) by Lenard on home studio related topics book-ending an interview with industry experts.
Where else can you learn things like how to identify your noise floor and which recording equipment to take on the road, while also hearing from industry heavyweights like VO Coach Marice Tobias, Promo King Joe Cipriano, or the voice of the Brain from Pinky and the Brain, Maurice LaMarche? Nowhere. No other podcast covers so many aspects of the industry in a given episode.
Part of the fun of EWABS is that Lenard and Whittam don’t take themselves too seriously. They often run into technical problems (particularly with Skype) because they choose to broadcast live so that viewers can post real-time questions.
The irony of two of the industry’s most technically adept masters having technical issues with the broadcasting of their show isn’t lost on anyone – least of all them. Two of the most played bumpers within the show are: “And now back to East-West Audio Body Shop, where every week it’s Apollo 13,” and “Now back to the only webcast done with two cans, two geeks, and a string.”
One to Try: Episode 118 with Joe Cipriano. Watch one of the best in the business take voice direction from his home studio as he does a promo for the Queen Latifah Show.
VO Buzz Weekly Top Hollywood demo producer (and Rock Sugar guitarist), Chuck Duran, and voice of Walt Disney World’s “Top 7 Must Sees”, Stacey J. Aswad, present VO Buzz weekly. Episodes air every Sunday night on their website (www.vobuzzweekly.com).
A user name and password will get you free access to interviews with the best actors, artists and directors in voice-over like Pat Fraley, Cedering Fox, and Charlie Adler. Most episodes are split into two parts with the same guest appearing over two consecutive weeks.
Chuck and Stacey get their guests to open up, provide great interviews, and dispense “golden nuggets” – inside tips to bring to your own VO work. They also provide helpful tips from their own many years in the business.
An endearing quirk of the show is that it has rock star attitude but discourages swearing by the guests. Chuck and Stacey will often remind the guests that the show is family-friendly and G-rated, when the occasional errant cuss word slips out.
One to Try: Bill Ratner, Part 1, Episode 49 to learn about his experiences winning the Moth Story SLAM competitions and his unique thoughts on marketing, perception, and running your voice-over business.
The Producers Podcast Radio producer, imaging producer, and voice-over artist Ryan Drean presents The Producers Podcast, which covers his three specialty areas. New episodes are posted roughly monthly and are available in ITunes and other apps, with all episodes available on his website (www.ryanontheradio.com).
Ryan’s podcast provides a lot of inside information about the fast-changing radio business, as well as interviews with top notch producers like Eric Chase, and promo and imaging talent like Anthony Mendez, Jeff Berlin, Harry Legg, and Brian Lee.
In addition, he provides detailed show notes (sometimes including additional audio clips) and a 91/2 questions feature on his website.
Of all the VO podcasters, Ryan has the strongest links with the voice-over industry in the United Kingdom and has had a number of UK guests on his show including BBC Radio 1 Producer Matt Fisher, Music 4 Managing Director Sandy Beech, and Voice-over Artist and Producer Dave Bethell.
One to Try: KellyKellyKelly, Episode 7, Part 1. Listen to Kelly Doherty (AKA KellyKellyKelly), a top radio imaging producer and VO imaging talent (and what her website describes as: “one of the only female voice/radio producers in the world”) talk about the industry and push the boundaries of radio imaging.
The Voice Over Cafe The VO Cafe is presented by Terry Daniel and Trish Basanyi with support from a team of VO professionals including Tom Dheere, Sean Caldwell, Peter Bishop, and Rob Sciglimpaglia, Jr. Airing approximately monthly, it is available through ITunes and also other podcast apps via RSS feed. More information is available at www.voiceovercafe.org.
The VO Cafe is, like EWABS, a very well-constructed podcast including features such as Tom Dheere’s VO stories “Totally True Tales” (Did you hear the one about the VO newbie who asked Dheere for his client list?), intros and imaging by Caldwell, a legal minute by lawyer and voice-over artist Sciglimpaglia, and a running motif that episodes are taking place in a cafe, with Bishop as a put-upon barista.
Episodes are marked by great chemistry between Daniel and Basanyi, the occasional rant by Daniel (tongue firmly-planted-in-cheek…I think), and excellent interviews with voice-over professionals.
One to Try: Episode 13 with Johnny Heller for an entertaining discussion of audiobook narration.
The Voice Acting Mastery Podcast Actor and voice actor Crispin Freeman, who holds a B.A. in theater from Williams College, and an M.F.A. in acting from Columbia University, presents this podcast. Episodes air approximately every two weeks and are available on ITunes, on other podcast apps, and on www.voiceactingmastery.com.
The podcast focuses on acting (and often acting for animation, video games, and anime) as well as industry tips, and includes interviews with working voice actors and directors.
One to Try: Episode 56 with Monica Rial (Part 3) for information about competing in the thriving anime industry in Texas.
Talkin Toons with Rob Paulsen Emmy-Award winner Paulsen, the voice of Pinky of Pinky and the Brain, Raphael of the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Donatello of the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles among many other iconic characters, hosts this podcast, which is The Go-to-Source for discussions of voice-acting for animation.
Talkin Toons is available on ITunes, other podcast sites, via a Talkin Toons app in the Apple App Store, and Paulsen’s website (www.robpaulsenlive.com). New episodes are posted approximately 2 to 4 times per month.
Episodes of Talkin Toons Live! from the Hollywood Improv can be seen on ustream at www.ustream.tv/robpaulsenlive.
In a career spanning more than 30 years Paulsen has worked with the greatest voice actors and directors in animation, and most end up on his show for no-holds-barred and entertaining chats.
Listening to an episode is like enjoying a more detailed version of the new documentary about voice acting for animation: “I Know That Voice”.
Luminaries such as Bob Bergen, Tress MacNeille, Billy West, Ginny McSwain, Tom Kenney, and Nancy Cartwright regularly appear on his show.
Some episodes wouldn’t pass the VO Buzz Weekly cuss test and are marked Explicit.
Many of the episodes should also be marked ‘H’ for hilarious. On several occasions while listening in bed with my headphones on, I’ve had to stifle laughs to keep from waking my wife. On at least one occasion, I simply failed.
One to Try: Episode 78 with the very talented Corey Burton.
The Amivos and Friends Super Funtastic Happy Hour VOdcast The newest VO podcast, or “VOdcast” as they like to call it, was started in 2013 and is hosted by the “3 Amivos”: Garnet Williams, Dave McRae, and Mike Pongracz.
Accomplished voice-over artists based in Canada, the 3 Amivos provide the low-down on voice-over from a “Great White North” perspective.
These “VOdcasts” pack a lot of laughs. The humour quotient is high and the banter is somewhat testosterone-tinged in a way that reminds me of both my fraternity days and also my favourite non-VO podcast: “Barbell Shrugged”.
It is available in ITunes, on YouTube, and through their website (www.3amivos.com).
One to Try: “The 3 Amivos Holiday Special!!!” which includes a list of the top 10 animated Christmas specials of all time. The episode is laugh-out-loud-funny.
Love That VoiceOver I just came across this podcast as I was concluding this piece, so I haven’t had the pleasure of listening to it yet.
Hosted by Rebecca Michaels Haugh and available in ITunes, with episodes posted several times per month, it appears to have a tremendous line up of guests and interesting topics.
I can’t wait to jump in!
Thousands of dollars (or pounds) worth of voice-over expertise is available to you for free at the touch of a button whenever and wherever you want it through these podcasts.
They’ve helped me learn about the voice-over industry’s standards, expectations, genres, and its movers and shakers in a fun and entertaining way.
I hope you learn from and enjoy voice-over podcasts as much as I have.
Oh, and if you know of any other current VO podcasts that I haven’t covered, please let me know.
Because when it comes to voice-over podcasts, I’m all ears.
 My VO reference library includes: The Art of Voice Acting, Voice Acting for Dummies, Voice Over Legal, How to Start and Build a SIX FIGURE Voice Over Business, Making Money in Voice-overs: Winning Strategies to a Successful Career in TV, Commercials, Radio and Animation, and Sound Advice.
Thanks to The Voice Over Herald for publishing this article as a guest blog on its opinion pages.