Don Brown CBC producer/director at Voices.comLast weekend we had the privilege of hosting Don Brown, CBC veteran producer and director of 40+ years, at the Voices.com offices during one of Voice Over London’s events.
Over the course of the afternoon, Don shared a wealth of tips regarding voice production and speech, including the one thing he’d improve if he could for on-air talent!
Hear more in today’s VOX Daily.

Voice Production And Speech

While trends, broadcast personalities and stations may come and go, two things that don’t change drastically over the years are voice production and speech. Retired Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) producer/director Don Brown was our special guest presenter this past month at Voices.com’s London, Ontario-based Voice Over London discussing voice production and speech.

Don’s interest in voice production and speech correction started at Lorne Greene’s Academy of Radio Arts where he graduated in 1949. He was a Producer/Director at CBC in Toronto for 40+ years. When he retired, Don and his wife Marilyn moved to London, commuting for a few years as a freelance Director at CBC. The Browns have been married now for 60 years!

During Don Brown’s CBC days, he taught at Ryerson, Seneca and later, when he moved to London, at UWO. It was a privilege to have his experienced ears in the room in an age where voice production and speech correction are definitely needed.

In his nearly 82 years of life, the Simcoe, Ontario native has seen everything from World War II, rationing and wool blankets being a luxury to leading the exciting life of a CBC producer and director in Toronto responsible for high profile programs such as Front Page Challenge which he produced for 10 years (1963-1973) before resigning from the show which featured celebrities the likes of Zsa Zsa Gabor, did a daily show with Juliette, plus other assignments, then ventured into more film production with a mini-series on the ladies who brought Ballet to Canada, a documentary on the Fortress of Louisburg and another on the United Empire Loyalists.
I managed to catch some sound bites for you as captured via my Twitter account @stephciccarelli.

Sound Bites From a CBC Producer

  • Knowing how to handle dead air can be very effective. Jack Benny ex. “I’m thinking…”
  • Announcers: Stop saying “You know,” in order to improve your delivery and perceived competence.*
  • Words that don’t need to be said on-air or during interviews: “ah,” “you know,” and “like.”
  • Cut out redundancies such as “we are advancing forward.”
  • If you have mastered voice production and articulation, next up is dialect.
  • W.H. “Steve” Brodie was the man responsible for the “CBC” sound.
  • Don Brown started as an organist and had to choose between being a producer or a musician.
  • The training class preceding on-air in Sept ’52 at CBC included instances where you had to do interviewing.
  • Don Brown was appointed a studio director in television on his 22nd birthday in Toronto.
  • “We don’t judge our producers by their age but by what comes over the tube.” (in response to Don’s question about why he was hired at 22 years of age to direct)
  • Don Brown directed Mr. Dressup from 1993-2000 (one of my favourite shows growing up).
  • Build up your breathing over a month in your spare time and you will develop your ability to produce sound.
  • If you can master your ability to articulate and shape your voice, you will do much better on Voices.com.

* Number 1 tip for broadcasters from Don Brown!

Proper Grammar Is Sorely Needed

The role of grammar has changed in our schools over the years and not for the better.
There are words mispronounced now that weren’t so even ten years ago. Even the names of prominent cities are being mangled to a degree! According to Don, some of the many words mispronounced today include: recognized, Toronto, Aylmer, temperature, twenty, February, veterinarian, and Internet.

In our city of London, ON a number of street names are mispronounced. One of the most common ones is Highbury Avenue. Many people say Highberry instead of Highbury. Imagine if you were to book a gig for the world renowned chocolate company Cadbury and call them Cadberry? That wouldn’t fly, would it?
Don stressed that teachers, the clergy and public speakers need to be especially aware of proper speech because they are in a position to influence others and need to project a professional image.

Are Voice Production And Speech Important To You?

Join the conversation by leaving a comment!
Best wishes,

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Stephanie Ciccarelli is the Co-Founder and Chief Brand Officer of Voices.com. Classically trained in voice, piano, violin and musical theatre, as well as a respected mentor and industry speaker, Stephanie graduated with a Bachelor of Musical Arts from the Don Wright Faculty of Music at the University of Western Ontario. Possessing a great love for imparting knowledge and empowering others, her podcast Sound Stories serves an audience that wants to achieve excellence in storytelling. Stephanie is found on the PROFIT Magazine W100 list three times (2013, 2015 and 2016), a ranking of Canada's top female entrepreneurs, and is the author of Voice Acting for Dummies®.


  1. As a speech and dialect coach as well as a voice-actor for over 20 years, I agree that clear, responsive speech is key to standing out in any voice related field. Breath and speech work are intimately tied to each other, so it’s best to look at them together – addressing the whole instrument, as it were. I highly recommend that folks visit Fitzmauricevoicework.com to find an excellent voice coach. You can also visit the Voice and Speech Teachers Association (VASTA.org) to find a voice or speech coach in your area. Many, like me, coach via Skype, which is fine for speech coaching, but you should find a live, hands-on person for voice work. Think of it – your voice is all you’ve got – the more it can do, the more it can work. Period.


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