Podcasts Mission Audition Announcers with Oomph: Exploring Male Voiced Radio Promos with Marc Preston
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Announcers with Oomph: Exploring Male Voiced Radio Promos with Marc Preston

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Stephanie Ciccarelli
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The rumours of the ‘death of radio’ have been greatly exaggerated. Radio is, in fact, booming. Statistics show that in the United States, weekly radio reach stood at 89.9 percent of the population in 2018. Within the demographic of men aged 18 years or older alone, the average listener consumes 14 hours and 35 minutes of radio content, during an average week. Plus, with the advent of audio streaming networks, the (digital) audio content is more popular than ever.

On this episode of Mission Audition, Host Stephanie Ciccarelli and Co-Host Julianna Lantz are joined by Voice Actor and Coach, Marc Preston, to unpack what it takes to create an amazing radio promo voice over, and of course, how to win a radio promo audition! Discover all about Promo, its various genres and what’s trending in Promo today.

About Marc Preston

Marc Preston has spent over 25 years working as a successful voice talent and actor. He’s currently heard around the world as the branding and promo voice of a number of broadcast networks and stations. He is also the voice behind countless advertising campaigns for marquee brands, as well as a numerous broadcast and multimedia narrations.

Hosts: Stephanie Ciccarelli, Julianna Lantz, with special guest, Voice Actor and Coach, Marc Preston

Inspired? Get your practice on with Voice Over Sample Scripts:

https://www.voices.com/blog/category/tools-and-resources/sample-scripts/

Mission Audition is presented by Voices.com. Produced and Engineered by Shelley Bulmer; Scripting by Keaton Robbins.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
Hi there. I’m Stephanie Ciccarelli.

Julianna Lantz:
And I’m Julianna Lantz.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
Welcome to another episode of Mission Audition. Today, we have Marc Preston with us. We’re going to talk about promo and we’re going to hear from a lot of wonderful talent.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
This is a job actually for the men. If any of you have been wondering, well, when are we going to do a promo episode, or when are we going to focus on a certain kind of delivery that in our world, at least for voiceover, does really play to one of gender over another, that’s what we’re going to do today.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
Now Marc, we’ve mentioned you, you’re there in your studio talking to us now. Very excited. Why don’t you say hello to everyone and let them know a bit about yourself and your career?

Marc Preston:
How are you all doing? It’s a real pleasure to be here. I get paid to talk for a living, but it’s sometimes fun just to sit down and just talk about myself. That’s this is all about me, right?

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
Yeah. Absolutely.

Marc Preston:
I’m totally kidding. Totally kidding. Actually, I’m a voiceover talent, been doing this about 25-plus years. According to my kids, I’m really old, so I guess I’ve been doing this for a while. I have been coaching talent about just over 15 years now. My focus primarily is promo, so I’m working with stations and networks around the country, a bunch of fine creative folks every single day, but also do TV narration, and occasionally do some commercial, of course, but focus for me is definitely promo.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
That’s really cool. A lot of people listening, maybe thinking promo, what on earth is it? There are a lot of examples that we could throw to for promo. How would you describe promo, Marc?

Marc Preston:
Promo, very simply put, I think it’s telling the story about a brand. You’re a brand ambassador for a TV station, TV network, a radio station, radio network. As opposed to traditional commercials, when you’ve got breathing room of 30-plus seconds, that 80% of what I do happens inside of 10 seconds, 10 to 15. The days of long promos, I don’t get as many as I used to. I have a short block of time to tell a story and to embody the brand to translate the story of what is a station, is it a hard rock station, is it a classical music station, or if it’s television news. You’re embodying the brand.

Marc Preston:
It’s very much like commercial in that you are, I guess, selling, but promo by and large is its own thing. It really is. I would like to say that it’s misunderstood. It’s one of the veins of voiceover here. Most people, they have a cliché idea. They all think we sound like … though he’s a god of voiceover, Ernie Anderson, “Tonight on America’s Funniest Home Videos,” that guy, we don’t really talk like that, and that’s the cliché. For those who are uninitiated in promo, it’s a fun learning curve, I will say that.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
You’ve noted just now, Marc, that there have been some trends and certainly areas of promo that have come and gone. What is that sound that people are looking for now? Obviously it’s not that traditional announcer, like the Ernie Anderson that you just mentioned with that voice that we’re all used to thinking of when we think of almost more of an announcer, but what is promo today?

Marc Preston:
Ernie, I would like to consider him a godfather of where we all ended up. Without him, there wouldn’t be any of us doing this. Voiceover is predominantly, I think, when it comes to trends, promo, I’ve noticed, there’s a pendulum that swings and it goes, 20 years ago they had the big-voice guys, the hard-hitting, “Tonight at 10,” that big voice, and then they’ll swing all the way to something more approachable, a little bit more authentic, and I’ve noticed that it went to more of a youthful sound.

Marc Preston:
I think when it comes to television news, I don’t know if somebody wanted to get their news necessarily from someone that sounded like a kid, so the pendulum swung back, but maybe not as far to the big-voice sound. It swings, but maybe the swings aren’t as big.

Marc Preston:
I can think of one NBC station right now which had a fabulous voice talent, big voice, and he did a great job. I think just in span of a year, they started using someone who sounded more youthful, more energetic, more, I hate to use the adjective edgy, but he had that sound certainly.

Marc Preston:
I think what I’m hearing now, and I know the way I adjust my reads because you’ve got to evolve as a talent, you have to evolve with trends, is more just like with commercial: authenticity, a real person. You’re still playing a character. I don’t walk around every day going the way I’m going to deliver a news promo. I don’t speak to my friends like that or my kids. They would look at me oddly, more oddly than they already do, apparently, but what fundamentally happens is when you get on the mic, you are still a real person.

Marc Preston:
You are playing the part of the station. You are the biggest fan of the station and you have whatever story the station has to tell about its brand, about its promotions or whatever. There is nothing more in the world you love than that. At the same time, you need to be approachable. You need to be somebody that there is authority without going over the top.

Marc Preston:
All that being said, there are still some stations, and there’s some stations I work with that have that traditional news sound that they like, or a radio station that wants that big rock-and-roll sound, though some other stations would consider it played out or cliché. They’re looking for something specific.

Marc Preston:
In the most long-winded way possible, I guess you can say the trends move back and forth, but I think, just like commercial, they’re going for authenticity, approachability. They got to believe you, period.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
That’s the litmus test, right, is believability? Well, I think we’re ready to hear some of our first auditioners, but before we do, Julian’s like, no, no, no, Steph, you haven’t done what you normally do yet. What we’re going to do is talk about the actual job.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
We’re looking for a male voice, middle-aged. The category of work is radio, this is broadcast, obviously, and we’re looking for a general US accent, not a regional one, but just someone who sounds American, if you will. The style would be over the top and engaging.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
Essentially this is a classic rock station. You’re probably getting ideas in your head about what that means. This classic rock station is known for being crazy and way out there. They are Nevada’s most listened-to radio morning show since 1997.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
Knowing that, we’ve got Charlie The Cheese Factory Torino, we’ve got Slick Nick Brown, and of course their producer, Dave. They need somebody, one of these people hopefully who’s auditioning today, to bring a strong radio promo campaign to keep their listeners locked in so that everybody can just find out what on earth Charlie and Nick are going to talk about for that show. The listening audience happens to be mainly male listeners who are between the ages of 30 and 55. Julianna, how about some artistic direction?

Julianna Lantz:
We need a classic radio announcer voice that can be outrageous and goofy. We need that classic polish you’d expect from a radio morning show but be able to add the quirkiness of the script. We really want the voice actor to have fun with the script as their tone and approach will add color to these commercial reads in order to have the desired impact.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
Does that sound like a tall order, Marc, or do you think it’s doable?

Marc Preston:
I think it’s very doable, and I think that that sounds very much like a direction you would get from a radio station looking for promo, because sometimes these big rock stations, sometimes they like a young edgy sound, so they were very specific in looking for that, when you say classic sound. Now I now know what we’re looking for.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
Absolutely. Okay, Shelley, let’s roll that first audition.

Audition 1:
Want tickets to the biggest rock festival this summer? Tune in to 95.7 WFPK, The Jackal, tomorrow at 7 AM to find out who Charlie The Cheese Factory Torino and the boys will roast on live radio, as listeners battle for the last 10 tickets to Heat Wave.

Julianna Lantz:
All right, Marc, what are your thoughts?

Marc Preston:
I think, I’m going off of the direction, of course, and I will say this, I know before we started rolling I said this, but I have been in the exact same spot as any one of these gentlemen have. Being critiqued can be rough. Especially when anybody auditions, they really want the gigs, so I want to hopefully give him a little note here. If I think they’re spot-on, then great. If not, then maybe some notes were … what might be able to help them get there. Hopefully I can-

Julianna Lantz:
Constructive criticism, as you were saying.

Marc Preston:
Yeah! Absolutely.

Julianna Lantz:
Yeah, definitely.

Marc Preston:
I did notice that, we were talking a rock station, and overall energy, he was moving along slow. One of the things I tell my students is, especially in promo, you don’t want to come to a full stop at each line. You want to have forward momentum and energy. I felt like he was a little on the staccato side, if you will.

Marc Preston:
He had a good tone, a general tone, but I think I’m feeling more in the commercial direction on this read. They want a classic voice. They wanted quirky and energy and I didn’t necessarily feel like he was punching up the two big things you have to, in any promo, which is the brand or the station, or sometimes three things, of course, you also have a show, and then whatever the promotion is.

Marc Preston:
I really want to be sold on the idea of the promotion. I feel like he was just presenting me information, but I think he had a nice tone, but I think maybe it’s more keyed in for the world of narration or commercial as far as the way he delivered.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
To add to that, I was just thinking about the momentum piece that you were talking about, Marc. Before we put the show together, Julianna and I were talking about promo. How would we describe it? What is it? What differentiates promo from, say, trailer or promo from commercial?

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
So far as we’re concerned here, it really is about maximizing your effectiveness in a very small window of time. You have to think about what the most important words are in that script and also how to drive them home, keeping that same level of intensity, which is wild. I imagine there’s some dynamics that we need to use in here, too, because you can’t be full-on intense all the time and a certain volume level.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
On that note, Marc, do you use any kind of fluctuation with your voice when you’re reading promo? Is there suspense? Do you pull away? Are you saving something and then letting it all go? How does that formula, if there is one, work for promo?

Marc Preston:
Pay attention to the adjectives. There, those what we call sizzle words sometimes, what’s describing it. Also the brand name, put a spotlight on that. Emphasis, I think a lot of times, especially with promo, when people get rolling with promo, they think emphasis, they’re going to go push it over the top. They’re trying to push out. Well, you can give emphasis … if the significant other in your life disappoints you, I doubt you get loud. Sometimes you get really quiet. You can draw-

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
That’s when you know you’re in big trouble.

Marc Preston:
Oh, yes. That, and with my kids, I’ve used all three of their names. Sometimes it’s a matter of slowing it down. You can draw attention by slowing it down, by beginning getting quieter, but I’m a big, big believer in contrast between the line and the energy. Take me on a journey. Tell me the story about this promotion.

Marc Preston:
I remember from eons ago when I worked in radio in Dallas, and I remember thinking that the ones that I really liked were the ones that just embraced the brand, at the same time took me on a journey and told the story. You’ve got to maintain energy, but the fluctuations are important because, conversation, we don’t speak in terms of punctuation.

Marc Preston:
We put pauses in there. We don’t speak in a staccato way. We don’t talk like this to one another. We’d get a little louder, a little quieter. That variance is what I shoot for and what I teach students to try to embrace, to give color and a punch to everything they read.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
That’s a little lesson in there for everyone, a freebie there from Marc Preston.

Marc Preston:
I’ve got plenty of them. I’ll give you freebies all day.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
Oh, that’s fantastic. We love it. With that said, I think we need to move on to our next auditioner, but before we do, I want to say that women can do promo as well. I don’t want to give the impression that only men do it. It’s just a very male-dominated field.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
In one of our past episodes, when we were talking about AI and Alexa skills and Google Home, and that does lean more in the female camp, but to be fair, promo does and has traditionally lived in the land of the male voice. Any women out there listening, don’t be discouraged. There’s still work out there. Just today we’re focusing on the men. We will have a future episode where we talk about women in promo.

Marc Preston:
Oh, there are some wonderful women in promo. Randy Thomas is just absolutely stunning. I think that there are a lot of wonderful ladies there just knocking it out of the park. Yeah, absolutely, absolutely. Like that movie In a World. It’s long overdue, I will say that.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
Okay! Let’s listen to audition number two.

Audition 2:
Want tickets to the biggest rock festival this summer? Tune in to 95.7 WFPK, The Jackal, tomorrow at 7 AM to find out who Charlie The Cheesecake Factory Torino and the boys will roast on live radio, as listeners battle for the last 10 tickets to Heat Wave!

Julianna Lantz:
I think we had to take our headphones off a little bit for that one. It’s a tad loud.

Marc Preston:
Yeah. Modulation, here the thing. The direction was over the top and engaging.

Julianna Lantz:
True. Very true.

Marc Preston:
When it comes to over the top, I think this gentlemen definitely embraced that, I will say that, but he had no problem with energy at all. I would say if he learned how to modulate, like what we just were talking about with the previous audition is, is that variance, don’t keep it at 11 the entire time. Vary it, pull me in. Just don’t push it at me.

Marc Preston:
I think a lot of times promo is misunderstood as something that you’re punching it out, you’re pushing it, but at the same time, the direction was they were looking for over the top, they were looking for classic radio. In that vein, he was in that realm.

Marc Preston:
I made one little note here: give a little love to the things that you really want people to embrace. If everything, like I said, is at 11, I don’t know what my takeaway is supposed to be. He had great energy. He took the direction, over the top and engaging, most certainly.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
Marc, I know that we have some direction in here and perhaps this artist took things maybe a little too literally, I don’t know, but so far as how we’re supposed to look at direction and to know what to do, what do you think?

Marc Preston:
I think over the top and engaging, the demographic, 50-to-55-year-old male, classic radio voice, polished, quirky, I think that’s good to go on. See, that’s the other thing. If anybody wants to work in the realm of promo, and that’s why I think it’s one of those aspects of voiceover that pretty much demands some aspect of coaching and somebody to bring you in because it’s a genre, but it’s got sub, sub, and sub-genres, is really understand the craft.

Marc Preston:
In doing so, that helps you to reverse-engineer what somebody is asking for. You’re talking to 30-to-55-year-old males. They remember back the day when a DJ sounded like this on a radio. They remember that era, so maybe this is a callback to that. That’s why I’m a big believer in just read the directions or whatever direction the client’s given you. Take that and really embrace it and come up, darn gone it, and make some creative decisions. Give a second read.

Marc Preston:
I’m a big believer in giving two reads. No more than really three, but really make some decisions. Don’t make all two or three sound identical. People don’t like that, but I think that with this gentleman, I think he definitely has the capacity to really hit the nail on the head. I just think it’s smoothing out the rough edges and really give some purpose and direction to why he’s there is going to help him so much to bring this to life.

Julianna Lantz:
Like pull some places back, but it’s easier to ask someone to pull back than it is to ask them to push forward, so good on him for just putting it all out there, because he really did.

Marc Preston:
Yeah. Here’s another freebie for you. This is calling on you to be animated. Move your body. Have facial expression. Really, that helps so much. I tell my students all the time, it’s very difficult to smile and not sound like you’re smiling. Move your body, be energetic.

Marc Preston:
There’s a wonderful documentary called, I think it’s called I Know That Voice, I think that’s what it is, about animation. Look like you are losing your mind in the sound booth. It’s okay, but move. That’ll loosen you up. I think in this gentleman, to be loose also will help you with pulling back a little bit because you’re using direction like pointing at something. Then you’re wanting to draw attention to it or you’re pulling back or you’re …

Marc Preston:
Whatever you’re doing, here I am doing it physically right now, that is something that really helps in promo because promo uses bigger colors and bigger brush strokes, and it’s bolder. Accordingly, you run the risk of going over the top and having nothing having a real pop or meaning, if that makes any sense. That’s why you want to modulate, moderate and make choices. Hopefully that’s not too esoteric or anything. That’s something I try to embody and I try to pass along.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
Wow, those are amazing pieces of advice, I must say. For anyone who has a friend who wants to get into promo, share this episode with them. There’s some really great tips in here. That said, we are going to move on to audition number three.

Audition 3:
Want tickets to the biggest rock festival this summer? Tune in to 957 WFPK, The Jackal! Tomorrow at 7 AM to find out who Charlie The Cheese Factory Torino and the boys will roast on live radio, as listeners battle for the last 10 tickets to Heat Wave!

Julianna Lantz:
I can hear some of the tips that you’ve been giving in this guy’s read.

Marc Preston:
Yeah. He definitely, like I said, just like the previous audition, he embraced the direction, most certainly. I think one of the things to be conscientious of, and by the way, I really enjoyed his tone. There’s something about his voice, I think …

Marc Preston:
In promo, you’ve got to be a Swiss army knife, and I tell my clients that all the time. I try to be a Swiss army knife because, back in the day, they could have a few voices on staff, but now it’s really one person and you’ve got to be able to do the hard edge stuff and also toys for tots when it comes to Christmastime, let’s say, you have to have that softer tone. This gentleman I think could do something heavy and edgy, but at the same time, I can see him doing something humorous and fun. Rock radio does … a lot of it is tongue-in-cheek.

Marc Preston:
His read, like I said, followed direction. The only caution I would have for him or anybody looking to do promo is, be careful not to be pitchy and in terms of that wave pattern of inflection, dah-dah-dah-dah-dah, dah-dah-dah-dah-dah-dah, dah-dah-dah-dah-dah. I understand why people are doing that, because they’re wanting to punch each line, and the direction a lot of times give is, the story is a script. You do have to break it down to, that’d be phrases or lines, into words, but if you read it like that, just line to line or word to word, it doesn’t sound like a cohesive thing. It does come out sounding an inflection stew, if you will.

Marc Preston:
Think about character. Who is he? Three questions I always tell my students is, who are you? You’re the branding guy. Think about who you’re speaking to. Fundamentally, what’s the takeaway? I remember hearing Oprah Winfrey say something eons ago, hi, an Oprah Winfrey quote, welcome: “They may not remember what you said or what you did, but they’re going to remember how you made them feel.”

Marc Preston:
With this, how do you want somebody to feel at the end? This guy I think really has the capacity to deliver on the direction, and did, but I think he could definitely take it into the next level by integrating some of the nonsense I just said, hopefully.

Julianna Lantz:
We’ve heard with other coaches that if you have the same dah-dah-dah, dah-dah-dah, you sound robotic, but if you have dah-dah-dah, dah-dah, dah-dah-dah-dah-dah, it can give it that natural conversational feel that we’re looking for, that authenticity.

Marc Preston:
Well, I think acting training helps a lot. I do on-camera acting. One of the things I learned in acting is, acting’s reacting. The idea that you’re speaking at or to is wrong in promo, or in voiceover in general. You’re having a conversation, be it a one-sided one.

Marc Preston:
You always have to consider, for instance, I don’t know the exact script, but basically, “Hey, do you want some free tickets?” The answer is, you have to assume somebody’s going to be like, “Well, heck yeah, I want some free tickets!” “All right, then, come on …” You’re answering the response to what you just said.

Marc Preston:
That will do wonders to keep you from having that robotic sound that you mentioned is, react to what you think their reaction to you is. You say, Hey, do you want some free tickets?” Nobody’s going to say, “Nope, keep them.” Nobody’s going to say that. They’re going to be like, “Yeah, I want some free tickets!” “Then all right, here’s where you get them!” That’s just a little … I hate to use the phrase trick. I call it my tool bag. That’s one tool that I use to keep from sounding robotic, if you will.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
Anytime you step into audition and you embrace that role, what you’re really doing is putting your best self out there. I hope that everyone who’s auditioning and thinking about auditioning for something is really thinking, can I connect to this? Does it make sense to me? Can I sell these free tickets? Well, you are technically selling something. You’re trying to get someone to participate, to become part of that community in this case and to do an action. Everything really is sales, when you think about it.

Julianna Lantz:
Well, hey, let’s listen to audition number four.

Audition 4:
Want tickets to the biggest rock festival this summer? Tune in to 95.7 WFPK, The Jackal, tomorrow at 7 AM to find out who Charlie The Cheese Factory Torino and the boys will roast on live radio, as listeners battle for the last 10 tickets to Heat Wave.

Julianna Lantz:
Is this that more edgier, younger sound that you were talking about before, Marc?

Marc Preston:
Yeah. It’s funny you say that because he does have that capacity looking at the direction for this particular spot. It may not necessarily be for him, but he has more of alternative rock, let’s say, sound. He has the capacity I think to develop if I was directing him to say, “Okay, dude, you’re the cool guy. Be the cool guy. Ease into that.”

Marc Preston:
Promo, I think the genre may not be spot-on for him with this, but I think if he … little things like really embracing the brand, and when I listen to him, I hear more of an alternative rock sound as opposed to the classic rock. Once again, you’re dealing with an older male classic, they said, the classic radio voice.

Marc Preston:
I think he was having a little fun with it. I think if you had a little bit more fun, just as the cool dude, like that classic rock sound that maybe … The youth definitely is there, and that’s where it’s going. He’s in that zone, I will say that. Guys that sound like me aren’t getting the same level of work as these guys are grabbing a lot of the work these days.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
You mentioned genre, and it’s come up in a number of other conversations we’ve had recently. There obviously are many different genres. There’s lots of different kinds of radio stations, let alone music that one could be playing on those stations. Can you give us an example or maybe a list of genres of promo? Are there certain ways of doing promo for different audiences? If so, are there names that go with doing that kind of promo?

Marc Preston:
When it comes down to promo with radio, it’s really format, the format being you have rock-and-roll, but more of a traditional, classic rock. It really boils down to the … In advertising, you’re speaking to a demographic. If you’re in classic rock or in a more traditional rock, you’re speaking to maybe a little bit older audience, but that being said, I have still heard the younger, edgy, but believable cool sound happening even in older demographic-angling stations.

Marc Preston:
Then of course you’ve got country, you’ve got adult contemporary, which is your listen-at-workstation, that kind of a thing, or the hot adult contemporary, which is targeting more 25-to-34-year-old females, and of course you’ve got news. Gone are the days I think that you have a specific sound for each genre, be it news, Adult Contemporary, Top 40.

Marc Preston:
Now, of course this is radio. TV, it’s its own thing also. Fox News is going to have a different promo voice than HGTV. HGTV DIY, they’re using a lot of females, younger, very much younger. I have one fabulous talent in LA I was working with and she’s auditioned a number of times for Food Network and just a great, great fun, energetic, fresh sound.

Marc Preston:
Really, demographic, like in the breakdown for this one script, 30-to-55-year-old male, that’s the first place you’re looking. Like I say, you can have sub-genres and sub-sub-genres and really … but it all boils down to who you’re talking to.

Julianna Lantz:
Do you think it’s a good idea for talent who have a different voice demographic to audition for jobs that they’re not exactly right for?

Marc Preston:
Oh, God, that’s a great question. You’d never really know what somebody’s looking for. Sometimes they’re playing against, the program director of a radio station is looking to play against all of the other voices that are in his market or her market.

Marc Preston:
Maybe, you may not be necessarily a fit, but give it a shot, but at the same time if they’re very specific, if they say, “Hey, listen, we’re looking for a younger African-American male with some edge,” I have no business reading that script. If they said, “Hey, we need somebody with a lot of energy, who can talk to this demographic,” if it’s open-ended enough, yeah.

Marc Preston:
I think that there are only so many hours in the day. Audition for the things that you really feel like are fitting for you, maximizes your time, doesn’t waste the potential client’s time. At the same time, if it’s close enough, give it a shot! Absolutely. The worst-case scenario, it’s experience, but be mindful that if you’re way off-base on what they’re asking for, then, you don’t want to waste anybody’s time.

Julianna Lantz:
Use a little common sense.

Marc Preston:
Absolutely, absolutely.

Julianna Lantz:
Yeah.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
Let’s keep the show moving. We have audition number five.

Audition 5:
Want tickets to the biggest rock festival this summer? Tune in to 95.7 WFPK, The Jackal, tomorrow at 7 AM to find out who Charlie The Cheese Factory Torino and the boys will roast on live radio, as listeners battle for the last 10 tickets to Heat Wave.

Julianna Lantz:
All I could hear was, adult contemporary!

Marc Preston:
I was just literally making a note that that’s what I heard. I heard straight-up adult contemporary sound with him. I don’t believe that any university is going to be fitting the breakdown for this. I think we’ve discussed this with a couple of other auditions, that maybe they don’t really fit what was being asked for here, but that doesn’t mean that promo is out of the realm of possibility.

Julianna Lantz:
Just maybe not classic rock.

Marc Preston:
Yeah! Absolutely. I think with him, as with the others, what is your message? I keep forgetting the name of show, something Torino. Well, make sure I understand that’s the show and the station. Give it some pop. Have fun with it. Even if it’s adult contemporary, even if it is your listen-at-workstation, you still are going to be giving some emphasis, but yeah, I think adult contemporary is that gentleman’s genre most certainly.

Julianna Lantz:
It’s almost like when you’re doing promo, you’re their hype man. You’ve got to be excited about it. You’ve got to like these people. I think that that was a little bit more vanilla than the script needs.

Marc Preston:
I always talk with my students about wardrobe. Imagine what you’re wearing. I think the spot’s requiring somebody wear some old … maybe they’re still wearing acid-wash jeans and maybe a leather jacket. What’s this character-

Julianna Lantz:
Cool band tee.

Marc Preston:
Yeah! This guy is definitely khakis and a button-down Oxford with a sleeve shawl about him. Embrace who you are. It’s funny, I had a student who had come to another coach and the coach said, “Well, you can’t do this, you can’t do that,” and just said all the things you can’t do, but instead of really embracing that one singular thing he can do and really maximizing that … I can see this guy, if he wants to get training in promo AC work is, as long as he understands what it is and the craft, that would be the realm for him to step into.

Marc Preston:
To your previous question, would you audition for something that you don’t think you fit for? I think in this case, he should have probably … Okay, now we’re talking about him. He knew what we were going to be talking about and now he’s getting free advice.

Julianna Lantz:
Yeah.

Marc Preston:
Really, it would’ve been this … should’ve said, “Yeah, this is probably not for me.” Maybe it’s just days like, “To heck with it, man, I want some experience. I want to throw my hat in the ring.”

Julianna Lantz:
True.

Marc Preston:
That could’ve been the deal, but really embrace who you are. Love who you are, man. Everybody brings some kind of sparkly, special sauce in the world of voiceover. Don’t try to be like anybody else. Be like you. I know that’s like Tony Robbins just now or something, but …

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
Well, we do like some motivational speaking on this program.

Julianna Lantz:
Yeah. Absolutely.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
That’s absolutely fine. I did like his read a lot. I also noticed how it was a different genre fit. Part of me, if he were to do adult contemporary as well as for promo, I almost would’ve expected a little more punch. I don’t know, maybe that’s just a weird expectation, but a little something, a little more … I don’t know, but that was absolutely the right place where I would’ve expected to hear him would have been in that genre.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
All that said, I did like his voice. I liked where he was going with what he was doing. Of all the reads so far, I’ve actually connected more with him, even though this wasn’t his genre.

Marc Preston:
One side note that I think is great for anybody doing, well, any promo, but specifically radio, radio is just part of somebody’s day. Especially nowadays people have their cellphones and all manner of distractions, you’ve got to cut through and you have to realize people are listening in their car. Maybe they’re at home. Maybe they’re sitting at work.

Marc Preston:
I think it’s good to imagine where somebody is and maybe that they are distracted. It’s killing me as a parent. I realized my kids might be distracted. They’re teenagers now, so they always have a phone in their hand. Always consider that somebody has got their attention split and you need to grab their attention.

Marc Preston:
That helps so much because if you just present information, you’re going to become wallpaper and white noise. If you try to be engaging and really have a conversation and be authentic, that’s what’s going to have somebody who’s zoning out in their car ride to work, they’re going to be like, “Oh, wow, they’ve got some free tickets.”

Julianna Lantz:
Ooh, you bet!

Marc Preston:
Yeah, so it’s always good to keep in mind that the words you say, just because they’re coming out of the speaker, are not going to be digested. People are going to be hanging on every word. You have to command their attention. Even if you are more of a lighter, more adult contemporary read, you’ve still got to grab their attention.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
Well, let’s go on to audition number six.

Audition 6:
Want tickets to the biggest rock festival this summer? Tune in to 95.7 WFPK, The Jackal, tomorrow at 7 AM.

Julianna Lantz:
Is it just me or did he not read the same script that everybody else did?

Marc Preston:
It’s so funny you say that because that’s one of the cardinal sins, listen to the directions, read the script, but this fella, I’m telling you, I heard something. I was listening. I want to hear what he did. He had my attention. I’m sad he didn’t do the entire script because he had a unique tone. He was coming to that full stop. There wasn’t that forward momentum I wanted to hear, but I could see him injecting personality and he had a cool tone. He has that sound that they’re looking for out there.

Marc Preston:
I was sitting there going, what, that’s it? I really wanted to hear him. If he went to listen to the … followed the whole script, and I guess that’s the general rule of auditioning for voiceover, pay attention to … there’s two pages. Look at the entire script. Don’t just give a piece of it, but he was onto something. He had something going on. I wish he had done more.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
He sounded more bang-on for the genre. The fact that he wasn’t recording the actual script, it didn’t faze me until I’m like, wait a minute, that doesn’t sound like … but he’s doing a really great job, but again, you usually don’t get rewarded for writing your own copy in an audition.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
That said, he took a risk. In general terms, how would this play out in a casting scenario in your mind? Because clearly he’s got that kind of voice and you were like, “Well, where is he going?” but what are the odds that someone who is doing something like what this gentleman did would actually be given the time of day? Is this a situation where someone might actually say, “Wow, I’m going to contact that talent and try to get them to do another read,” but explain to them the importance of staying on script?

Marc Preston:
That’s a very good question, because if I’m casting and I’m going through a lot of voices, does the tone fit first, within the first five seconds? I will say that he left me wanting more, which is the point when you’re doing promo: leave people wanting more. I wanted to hear what decisions he was going to make, what choices he was going to make, rather.

Marc Preston:
If I was casting, I’d say, “All right, dude, you got my attention, but you didn’t follow the directions.” When it comes to the world of promo, it’s a different relationship than commercial. Commercials, many times it’s just one-off. You do the commercial, it’s done. Hopefully the client wants to bring you back for another commercial.

Marc Preston:
With promo, at least with my clients, I’m on a retainer. They pay me X amount of dollars a month and I’m talking with them daily or at least a few times a week, and so you have a relationship. I want to know that somebody that I’m investing one, two to three-year contract with is going to be following the directions I’m giving them, but let’s be really honest. We all have brain fart sometimes. Maybe he printed out the script and the first part was the direction. Maybe it was two pages and his printer ran out of paper or something.

Marc Preston:
I try to give people the benefit of the doubt. I have been there. I’ve made mistakes, and doggone it, I learned from the mistakes. Maybe this is a learning opportunity, but his sound, his tonality, the direction he was going, at the very least I’d give him an honorable mention. He left me wanting more, so in an interesting way, maybe tactically this worked for him.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
After that engaging dialogue, we will now move on to audition number seven.

Audition 7:
Want tickets to the biggest rock festival this summer? Tune in to 95.7 WFPK, The Jackal, tomorrow at 7 AM to find out who Charlie The Cheese Factory Torino and the boys will roast on live radio, as listeners battle for the last 10 tickets to Heat Wave!

Julianna Lantz:
This guy is cool.

Marc Preston:
He has a unique tone. He’s making choices, which is cool. The only thing I’d say is, I didn’t know who the character was. I didn’t know who he was. I heard two or three definitively different like, he was down here and then he got … he was going different directions. Contrast is great, but I felt like character-wise, who he was varied.

Marc Preston:
Also, just enunciation. I need to make sure I really understand what you’re saying. Now I hate to call people’s attention to that because they get a little self-conscious, but make sure I can understand what you’re saying and make sure you enunciate. He had fun locked in, I will say that. He had some cool to him. I just think that he has to smooth out, make some decisions, stick to them, and stick with one character, one idea, and let that be the guide.

Julianna Lantz:
Is there any kind of pre-work that you do before you sit down, like you were talking about beforehand, three questions that you answer? Do you mark up the script? Do you write it down? Or you’ve just been doing this for so long that you do it in your head in a couple of minutes?

Marc Preston:
Oh, I drink a lot of coffee, that’s usually the first thing, but who am I, who am I speaking with, and why am I having that conversation? Those sometimes fire off other questions or other clarifications. Even before … Actually, let me back up a moment.

Marc Preston:
The first thing I do is I make a couple passes on a script, three passes, minimum. One, it’s like opening up a map. I’m old enough to remember actually having to open up a map and not be able to fold it back, but, what’s on the page? Are there things I can’t pronounce? Is there punctuation? Seems funky. Do I understand context? What’s on the page?

Marc Preston:
The next pass, I always tell folks, you got to know, what are we selling? What are we talking about? Who’s the brand? Which is a station, product, if you will, of, it’s maybe the show. Understand what’s on the page. Then, the third pass, I’m going, okay, how am I putting myself into this?

Marc Preston:
That’s what fires off the three questions. Who am I? Who am I speaking with? Why am I having the conversation? That’s the template I always give my students because that lets you dive in and it’ll help you ask the other important questions on who am I speaking with. Well, a 30-to-55-year-old male.

Marc Preston:
The last note is I don’t ever speak generally. I speak specifically. I don’t go, well, I’m talking to a 55-year-old male. No, I’m going to think of someone I know in that age range, and what are we doing? Are we at a bar or are we at a concert? Are we driving in the car? Make it real.

Marc Preston:
If you are going to make this thing authentic and real for the listener, it darn well better be for you. Use your imagination. That’s the reason why I think some people say that when they read a book, the book’s always better than the movie. Probably the movie is just A-OK fine, but what it wasn’t was your imagination, because when you read a book, it’s all of the characters in the aesthetic, the sensory things that you create when you read a book. You know what the characters look like, what they’re wearing. Put that kind of love into a script and watch it come to life. That’s what I do before I sit down is I make it as real as I can for me.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
I really liked his voice. He had character, and as you said, which one did he want to be at the end of the spot?

Julianna Lantz:
Yeah. Other than that.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
But there’s something to work with there. It feels like he’s experimenting a bit as he’s doing. He is making some choices. It’s just making unified choices. To do that, you have to know exactly who you’re speaking to, but who you are and how you’re going to approach that audience. Well done for that audition. I did really like his voice and I think that it was a good fit for the genre. That said, we’re going to move on to audition number eight.

Audition 8:
Want tickets to the biggest rock festival this summer? Tune in to 95.7 WFPK The Jackal, tomorrow at 7 AM, to find out who Charlie The Cheese Factory Torino and the boys will roast on live radio, as listeners battle for the last 10 tickets to Heat Wave.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
I like the grit. It wasn’t over-heavy. It was listenable, let’s say, just right sort of sounds, but I’ll let the expert here be the judge. Marc, what do you think?

Marc Preston:
He did a really good job of finding the story to tell. I felt like he made some decisions. He locked into a story. He was consistent beginning to end. I think he just needed to do a little bit better job of pulling the copy together. He broke everything up. If you come to a full stop, it just makes it a staccato. If he just smoothed it out … He took the direction. He did a good job on it, I will say that.

Julianna Lantz:
He sounded like he’s done this before.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
Well, I think we have one more audition to listen to. Let’s cue that one up. It is audition number nine.

Audition Number Nine:
Want tickets to the biggest rock festival this summer? Tune in to 95.7 WFPK, The Jackal, tomorrow at 7 AM to find out who Charlie The Cheese Factory Torino and the boys will roast on live radio, as listeners battle for the last 10 tickets to Heat Wave.

Marc Preston:
I think he did a great job. I will say two things. One, I don’t think he fits this genre, but if he hasn’t done promo before, he definitely needs to look into it because he is that sound, that tone. He had some personality. I think a little bit of training with the right coach is really going to make him just take off.

Marc Preston:
I really enjoyed what he did. He was a little bit flat, like the previous audition. There was emphasis on certain things and then he varied it up a little bit. If this gentleman did that, I really think he would … He’s got something going on. I really, really liked his read and his tone. I just don’t think it fits for this.

Julianna Lantz:
Well, and you had mentioned a little bit of coaching would go a long way, and that’s really true. Quite often, we see talent who come into the consultations and they’ll book maybe one out of every 80 jobs, and then they’ll take a little bit of coaching, a couple of sessions here.

Julianna Lantz:
It’s amazing how a little bit of knowledge can go so far. The next time we see them, they’re booking every 50 auditions and then every 30 auditions. It’s a compounding effect once you start taking training and putting it into place, especially when you’re training with the right people for your voice.

Marc Preston:
Absolutely. You need to understand why you’re there. This guy just needs a little polish and I think he’s on his way to something, certainly.

Julianna Lantz:
Sounds like he could have a good long career in voiceover, from what you’re saying.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
Yeah, I like the color in his voice. He had some brightness there. You don’t have to have a big, booming, deep, dark voice to be sticking out and to cut through the noise. Sometimes a little bit of that bright, shiny sound could be helpful, too.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
Well, that’s everybody. Those are all the auditions we’re playing today, so that leaves us here at the critical juncture, Marc, where we turn it over to you. Who is the winner of this episode of Mission Audition?

Marc Preston:
Wait, am I getting a drum roll? That’s awesome. I got sound effects. Sound effects from Canada. Sweet.

Marc Preston:
Now I will say this. I am only going on the direction: over the top, engaging, 30-to-55-year-old male, classic radio voice, polished, quirky. Who fits that the best? There are some talent here that, like I said, they just need some polish. They’re there, or they’re meant for other genres.

Marc Preston:
I will say an honorable mention is that one audition, I think number six, where he didn’t complete the whole audition. I was intrigued by his read. The other honorable mention is the guy we just heard. I was impressed by just his talent, but I think the one that nailed it is audition number eight. He has a natural sound, but he’s talking to the demographic. He’s reaching out to a 30-to-55-year-old male. He’s got some edge. I think you had mentioned that he had a little grit to his voice.

Marc Preston:
An audition is not telling if you’re good or not good. It’s, do you fit? The fit, do they fit the demographic? Are they the tone, the energy? All the things that you gave me at the beginning, I’m like, all right, he hit home run on that.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
Awesome. Well, let’s remember what that sounds like, everyone. Let’s play audition number eight.

Audition 8:
Want tickets to the biggest rock festival this summer? Tune in to 95.7 WFPK The Jackal, tomorrow at 7 AM, to find out who Charlie The Cheese Factory Torino and the boys well roast on live radio, as listeners battle for the last 10 tickets to Heat Wave.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
There you have it!

Marc Preston:
Bravo. By the way, am I the only one wondering why they call them Cheese Factory? I was like, does this guy just really love cheese or does he make cheese, and what kind of cheese does he make? I’m wondering, why do they call him that?

Julianna Lantz:
I hope it’s puns.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
I have no idea. We can ask our writers later, but that’s the show for now. As we always do, I want to ask you, Marc, what is the best way that someone can get ahold of you to either learn more about how you work or to even begin a coaching relationship with you?

Marc Preston:
Well, I’ve got a website. It’s MarcPrestonConsulting.com. I spell my name with a C, by the way. It’s M-A-R-C. That’s probably the best way to grab me, but I just started a great Facebook group which, hey, you all should join.

Marc Preston:
We’ve got a lot of folks, a lot of really talented people, some new talent, and I love the discussion, because everybody loves asking questions and usually it’s about gear or training. The easiest way to remember it is just go to TheVoiceOverCommunity.com. Experienced talent can throw some knowledge out to folks that are stepping into it for the first time.

Marc Preston:
Besides that, I actually today just released, I’m going to be doing a weekly little video series based off … it came from this group of people ask questions, I’m like, well, let me just do 15, 20-minute little chitchat about training or gear or marketing, whatever. If you just go to my YouTube page, it’s just youtube.com/marcpreston. I just launched my first one today. I call it Preston’s Voiceover Cabana.

Marc Preston:
Whether you work with me or anybody else, do your homework. There are a lot of phenomenal, wonderful, experienced talent, hey, some people that have never been talent, that come from working in agencies, but yeah, I definitely appreciate you all having me here today. This was a lot of fun.

Julianna Lantz:
You’ve had such great tips. Honestly, it’s been really nice to pick your brain about things, Marc. Thank you so much for sharing everything with our community.

Marc Preston:
No, it’s my pleasure. Anytime you all need me, and hey, to anybody listening, by all means, even if you’re not where you want to be right now, just keep cranking away at it, tenacity, have a great attitude, and seriously, have fun doing this.

Marc Preston:
It’s the greatest gig in the world, but it takes a little bit of training, takes some patience, and just if you’ve got something that really works well for a certain genre or kind of voiceover, celebrate that. Let that be your thing. Don’t try to be somebody else. Be you, man.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
Well, and on that note, we’re going to say bye for now. I’m Stephanie Ciccarelli.

Julianna Lantz:
And I’m Julianna Lantz. We hope you enjoyed taking these tips into your studio. Happy auditioning, everyone.

Stephanie Ciccarelli
Stephanie Ciccarelli is a Co-Founder of Voices. Classically trained in voice 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. For over 25 years, Stephanie has used her voice to communicate what is most important to her through the spoken and written word. Possessing a great love for imparting knowledge and empowering others, Stephanie has been a contributor to The Huffington Post, Backstage magazine, Stage 32 and the Voices.com blog. 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®.
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