What is an ‘Announcer Voice’?
We all know an ‘announcer voice’ as soon as we hear it:
You get the idea.
The classic broadcast-style radio voice was the go-to for movie trailers, radio and TV advertisements and was the common sound for most professional broadcasters on radio and TV.
In 1994, all of the top ten movies at the box office had an ‘announcer voice’ voice over. In 2022, almost every major movie trailer has opted out of using a voice over, and if they do, they aren’t the ‘announcer voice’.
So what’s happened? Why has the go-to voice over style in the industry changed?
In this article, Voices Senior Account Manager of Premium Talent, Evan Wiebe and Professional Services Team Lead Brooke Foster will explain what the ‘announcer voice’ is, where it came from, why it’s disappearing and how you can drop it for a more authentic voice and relevant voice over read:
What is an ‘Announcer Voice’?
What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of an ‘announcer voice’?
Maybe it’s the deep talking, pushing you towards a looming event or major clearance sale.
Or perhaps it’s the polished advertisement delivery that feels like you’re being talked at, not talked to.
Our Brooke Foster does a good job of explaining what an ‘announcer voice’ actually is:
“When I think of ‘radio voice’ or ‘announcer voice’, I think low range, clear diction and articulation, expressive and authoritative but friendly,” she explains.
“A good announcer voice is easy to listen to in the right setting, but a bad one comes across as inexperienced or worse, inauthentic. Listeners get the sense that they are being spoken to rather than spoken with, it’s less conversational.”
Foster nails it when she describes the attributes around this specific style of voice over:
- Low Range
- Clear Diction and Articulation
- Expressive and Authoritative
Evan Wiebe said this iconic voice style stands out because it has an over-accentuated, dramatic inflection that commands attention and projects authority.
A Brief History of the ‘Announcer Voice’
Wiebe sums up how the voice got to this stage very concisely:
“Early announcers used their higher registers to get through to their audiences as the audio technology of the day couldn’t replicate the lower frequencies, but as audio technology improved over the years, announcers were able to leverage their lower registers and add even more power to their performances,” he explains.
“There are lots of different announcer styles: Some are over-the-top and grandiose, and others can be quieter and more intense. A skilled announcer can tailor their style whether it’s a TV promo, a comedy movie trailer, a thriller movie trailer, a car commercial, a live event, or an ironic announcer.”
Foster also points out that the ‘announcer voice’ has evolved from its origins in 1920 as the Mid-Atlantic American accent, to where it is today.
The ‘announcer voice’ was born in the early 20th century, from an accent called the Mid-Atlantic Accent, which was very popular in the northeastern United States. This accent, which many people may also associate with baseball announcers of the era and old ‘talkie films’ from Boston and New York.
This accent was named the Mid-Atlantic Accent because it sounded like a cross between British and American.
This ‘announcer voice’ seemed to drop lower and lower after each decade, going from a much higher pitch accent in the 1920s to the deep voice we associate with from the 1980s to today.
An example of where this style of voice started to shift can be heard below in this radio program from WLS 89 Chicago in 1962.
All those vocal indicators are there but notice how the voice is lower than your classic high pitched ‘announcer voice’ in 1930.
Finally, listen to a voice over from the late 1990s, which many will argue was the peak of this style of voice in the industry.
When Did the ‘Announcer Voice’ Start Sounding Dated?
There has been a huge focus on authentic, conversational and diverse voices over the last 10 years, especially in advertising and eLearning.
“In eLearning and advertising, listeners have a more enjoyable experience when information is coming from a trusted friend rather than from an announcer or authoritative personality,” Foster says.
If TV commercials serve as an indicator for this trend, it seems that in the late 2000s more and more brands wanted their voices to be relatable, and they started to shift toward relatable, casual styles, Wiebe suggested.
“Companies wanted to be on the same level as the consumer instead of the authority. This has been a long and gradual shift in consumer taste. It’s the same reason that we don’t like our sitcoms to have laugh tracks anymore, we don’t find it as relatable,” he says.
This shift was and is giving way to other styles, such as an ‘experienced voice’ with calm confidence, a knowledgeable, friendly voice, or a casual, regular-sounding style.
“As consumers, we won’t necessarily be drawn to your brand just because your voice has the most impressive set of pipes anymore, we’re seeking authenticity,” Wiebe says.
Why is the ‘Announcer Voice’ Still Being Used?
Simply put, because “it’s familiar”, Foster says.
“We’ve all heard this type of delivery from our local radio hosts and for some actors,” she adds.
Wiebe goes on to illustrate the connection between voice acting and radio, as one of the reasons behind the style:
“There are many reasons why voice actors default to announcer styles. For some, it’s because they have a radio background or announcing background. For others, they’ve equated announcing with the art of voice over,” Wiebe explains.
He suggests some novice voice actors, along with the general public, might be imagining that the art of voice over is the art of putting on your best announcer voice for the script.
“I find that some talent haven’t spent enough time listening to different styles of voice acting, understanding the different colors, moods, and styles that marketers might want to use,” he says.
But he continues to offer incredible insight on the thought process behind the use of this voice.
“Many new voice over talent think clients want that announcer sound on every script. However, your natural voice plays a part as well. Some talent, who naturally speak powerfully and authoritatively in their everyday speech, will have to lean even more on their acting skills to communicate a casual, conversational effect.”
Something to keep in mind: Announcer and conversational styles are not opposites. It’s better to think of announcing as a specific art, and a character within voice acting. A great voice actor can put on the announcer character, but not all announcers can perform a range of diverse characters, Wiebe clarifies.
Is the ‘Announcer Voice’ Becoming Extinct?
The short answer is it’s not extinct but evolving.
Let Brooke explain what we mean:
“I don’t think it will ever be extinct, but I do think the way we understand ‘announcer voice’ will evolve and expand. We already see this with the idea of ‘NPR Voice’,” she noticed.
For those wondering, here’s what the NPR Voice sounds like:
Foster says Voices.com still does see the occasional client job request for the traditional ‘announcer voice’, but this has largely been replaced by the conversational voice.
Wiebe agrees, and says like it or not, the ‘announcer voice’ is sticking around.
“There are plenty of announcer-friendly brands and mediums out there. Movie trailers, high-energy live events, and radio media are just a few examples of why announcers are still keeping very busy. Also, a relatively recent character in advertising media is the ironic announcer who doesn’t mind poking fun at the announcer trope.”
His final tip, just find and sharpen your voice.
“My advice for talent navigating this is to focus on authenticity, and whatever characters you offer, hone those particular skills. Not everyone can pull off an impressive announcer voice, and not everyone can pull off a hyper-realistic, relatable sound, and that’s okay.”
We have a Voices social media challenge for you. We want to hear your best ‘conversation voice’ and your best audition for an ‘announcer voice’. Record 10 seconds of both reads from the same script and tag us at @voices on TikTok and Instagram.