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Casting Voice Actors: A Comparison of Past and Present

Ever since we first learned how to record the voice over 150 years ago, it’s become an integral part of our lives, filling the airwaves, adding to our on screen experience and even interacting with us through our technology (yes, Siri, we’re talking about you).

But if the course of time has taught us anything, it’s that the only constant is change.

Along with the proliferation of technology has come an upheaval in the way that we do business around the world – and that includes the process of sourcing and hiring great voices.

How Companies Hired Voice Actors in the Past

While your grandfather’s fishing tales may always be questionable, there’s no doubt that when he talks about the challenges of working in an office 30 years ago, there’s truth in saying that it was a tough hill to climb.

In an analogue world, the process of producing a radio ad – for example – required teams of people and reams of time and money before the message could meet the masses.

The Fictional Story of Ed the Marketer from 1952 and the Search for the Radio Voice of Fuzzy Wuzzy Co.

Let’s explore the ‘old’ process of hiring, by going on the journey of Ed, a marketer who works for international Teddy Bear retailer, Fuzzy Wuzzy Co. headquartered in New York City.

As the holiday season approaches, Ed has a dream of crafting an original radio ad to promote the bear. He’s sure that once people hear about their exclusive two-day sale, the cuddly toy is going to fly off the shelves… Especially if the radio ad is voiced by the company’s brown bear mascot, Jeff.


November: After a departmental meeting, several days writing up a proposal and then hosting a pitch to the CEO to gain his approval to ratchet up their promotion from newspaper ads to a radio commercial, Ed receives the green light to go ahead and start production.

After Approval for the Project, Ed the Marketer Gets into his Rolodex

A man in a suit flips through a Rolodex

December 1: Ed riffles through his Rolodex until he finds his account manager, Henry, at Good Advertising – the ad agency they have on retainer.

He calls Henry but the phone rings with no answer. He tries again later that afternoon, but to no avail.

So Ed makes a note to call him again tomorrow.

December 2: Ed reaches Henry, who says he’s eager to help Fuzzy Wuzzy Co. with this exciting project. They agree to meet at Fuzzy Wuzzy Co. headquarters the following week to work on getting an approved concept.

Henry and his team at Good Advertising go to work on developing at least three concepts to present to Fuzzy Wuzzy Co.

Ed Needs to Find a Great Voice for his Character – Jeff the Bear

A 1950s cartoon of a bear

Jeff the Bear needs a voice

December 7: The pitch session went well (the CEO chose option 2), so with an approved concept in hand, Henry and his Good Advertising team go to work by calling up several directors to check on their availability.

They know they need to put the word out that a casting call will be hosted to find the voice actor who will embody the ‘bear-itone’ voice of Fuzzy Wuzzy Co.’s beloved brown bear mascot, Jeff.

December 9: Henry tracks down director Arthur Eastman, who agrees to take on the project.

As soon as Arthur hangs up with Henry, he hops on the phone again and calls around the city to locate a last-minute space or studio that would be willing to accommodate the auditions before the end of the week.

He hits a lucky break! One of his favorite spaces has an open window of time in the next two days.

He quickly drives over to give them a deposit check.

Arthur then calls up all of his favorite agents and tells them to call the voice over talent on their roster who live in New York, to invite them to a casting call two days from now.

After Finding a Casting Space, the Director Needs to Deliver a Deposit Check

Cityscape of New York City in black and white

December 12: A casting session is held. Craft services are on site to ensure that the crew is fed and Ed, the marketer from Fuzzy Wuzzy Co. comes down to listen in too. The studio is abuzz with people and there’s lots of ‘shushing’ on site as the team attempts to carefully listen to each talent’s read-through.

December 14: After the director shortlists the talent down to three key voices, Ed invites them down to the office to read for the CEO of Fuzzy Wuzzy Co. After carefully listening to each, a mee    ting is held and the marketing department discusses the merits of each performer. By the end of their hour-long session, the CEO decides to hire Justin Short, a tall man with a very deep but friendly voice.

December 15: The very next day, Ed calls Arthur to let him know the good news! They want to hire Justin Short.

Arthur calls the actor’s agent, who then calls the actor to let him know.

Arthur then calls to book time at the recording studio, but it looks like the studio doesn’t have free time that week. He tells the studio he wants to hold the soonest possible date – which is in the following week. He puts a hold on December 20th.

Coordination for the Recording Takes Many, Many Phone Calls

How To Cast Like Marion Dougherty | Voices Blog - Where clients and voice actors can find valuable information on pre-production, technology, animation, video and audio production, home recording studios, business growth, voice acting and auditions, celebrity voice actors, voiceover industry news and more!

Marion Dougherty was a casting director who became famous for her ability to cast great actors from the 1960’s into the 1990’s.

December 16: The actor’s agent calls Arthur – Justin is thrilled! But he’s away with his family until December 21.

Arthur calls the studio to re-book the time and luckily, it’s available.

He then calls Ed at Fuzzy Wuzzy Co. to tell him the ad should be available just before Christmas, as long as the recording goes well.

December 21: Arthur, his crew, and Ed too, are on site at the recording studio with craft services for a full-day recording session that will run through each ad element, from capturing Jeff’s voice, to the background singers who have been instructed to sing the company’s signature jingle “Turn that frown upside down, with the bear that cares and never growls!” and add in “Now for $4.99 but only for a limited time!”

Ed Gets the Job Done in Just Over 20 Days

December 22: The recording is delivered at the end of day to Fuzzy Wuzzy Co.’s office, who quickly runs the physical copy over to the radio station.

The ad runs just in time and Ed’s marketing efforts make the sale a success!

How the Casting Process Has Been Modernized

Almost 70 years have passed since Ed ran his radio ad and since then a lot has changed. Ed’s granddaughter Julia is now a marketing coordinator at Fuzzy Wuzzy Co. and he has since retired.

Julia, Ed’s Granddaughter Gets an Opportunity to Cast a Voice Actor

East Coast VS West Coast: Glimpse into the Voiceover Agency and Casting World | Voices Blog - Where clients and voice actors can find valuable information on pre-production, technology, animation, video and audio production, home recording studios, business growth, voice acting and auditions, celebrity voice actors, voiceover industry news and more!

December 1: Julia has Ed’s chutzpah and is eager to make a name for herself at the company. Right now she’s excited and nervous because she’s been given additional responsibility – a chance to prove herself.

As the team is under a time crunch, Julia’s boss has asked her to take over as the point person for the production of a new line of children’s books featuring the mascot Jeff. Along with whimsical images of Jeff out on an adventure, the books will be interactive – with each page narrated in the voice of the bear, so kids can follow along.

It’s a great project, but Julia’s been thrown into the process that’s only half completed. The illustrations and script are done but now they need audio – and she only has until Dec. 8 to get the narration to the manufacturer so they can get the books out before the holidays.

Julia googles ‘hire a voice actor quick’ and sees a voice talent service website come up. Throwing caution to the wind, she decides to try it. Within 15 minutes, she’s created an account and posted her job online, with a sample script.

Jeff the Bear Needs a Voice Again – This Time for his Interactive Book

Jeff the bear

Jeff the Bear has been modernized too!

December 2: The next morning, Julia has several emails in her inbox – auditions have already rolled in throughout the night!

As she listens through the auditions, there are two that are phenomenal. Pulling her boss aside at lunchtime, they listen to the top performers together and decide to hire Wayne Davis, from the UK.

They email Wayne, and hire him for the job through the talent services website.

In Just 24 Hours, Julia Finds the Perfect Voice – and Hears his Performance, Live

Wayne is the new voice of Jeff

Wayne hosts a live-session so Julia can listen in.

December 3: Wayne submits his audio files through the website and Julia and her team listen through them. They’re almost perfect. There’s only one spot where Wayne’s pronunciation is a little off and could sound a little more enthusiastic.

When Julia connects with Wayne she tells him nervously that there’s just a few small edits to make.

To her surprise, Wayne invites her to listen in on a live recording session so she can talk him through exactly what she was hoping to hear.

By noon, Julia had walked Wayne through her vision and his delivery was perfect.

Julia Wraps Up Her Project in Just Four Days

December 4: The talent website emails Julia her completed files and she gets the payment processed through her accounting department.

She transfers the files to the manufacturer well before the deadline, which feels like a holiday gift in and of itself.

It’s Better to Live in the Modern Era, Where Finding the Right Voice Actor Has Never Been Easier

With today’s technology and online talent marketplace, the process of finding and working with the right voice actor for your project has never been easier.

Now anyone who needs to hire a voice actor is empowered to do so – whether you’re a casting director, a production house, an ad agency, a freelancer or any other form of business, the world is at your fingertips.

And you can get the job done faster than ever before too.

At Voices, jobs are often completed in as little as 24 hours.

Are you looking for that next great voice for your project? Learn more about Voices now.

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