Vox Daily The Official Voices.com Blog

The Announcer Has Left The Building

By Stephanie Ciccarelli

March 24, 2010

Comments (11)

AnnouncerWhen's the last time you saw a casting call for a real, genuine announcer read that wasn't a spoof or a period piece?

More and more scripts are requesting that an announcer sound like the anti-announcer... in other words, to sound like a real person which for a number of years now has been a breath of fresh air!

Our industry is certainly taking note of this trend as are academics and educators teaching for college and university broadcast journalism programs.

Hear about my recent experience visiting Fanshawe College and find out what some of their instructors are now teaching aspiring on air talent and broadcast journalists.

Be An Announcer... But Just Don't Sound Like One!

Many scripts carry the disclaimer that although they are looking for an announcer, they don't want the person voicing the script to sound like an announcer.

For lack of a better term, sounding too "announcery" has received a bad reputation and corporate clients in advertising and marketing have realized that the announcer simply isn't cutting through and communicating to their audiences in meaningful ways that inspire action, but more importantly, build trust and a comfortable rapport.

From the voice acting perspective, this is a welcome change and has given rise to new opportunities to engage audiences in more personal ways using subtle techniques to shape a character who is not just speaking to an audience but is a trusted friend of those the message is geared toward.

Similarly, when you're listening to on-air talent, you want to feel like you are listening to someone who has a personality that you can identify and can serve as entertainer, educator and confidante. In other words, the most effective on-air talent and journalists find a way to become part of your life, your drive to work or keep you company during a 3 a.m. shift.

Voices.com's Visit to Fanshawe College

Last Friday, Ashley and I had the opportunity to present to some broadcast journalism students taught by professors Brian Nuttall and Jim Van Horne.

During the course of our presentation, we spoke about how important it was that messages, whether it be news or otherwise, need to be presented in meaningful ways in a style that was clearly reached the audience it was meant to be given to. We also spoke about how important it is to know your audience well and communicate in a manner that recognizes them and serves their best interests.

Throw Out The Announcer!

At one point, it was noted that the traditional announcer voice and delivery was not necessarily what people gravitated toward and that the new trend was to sound like a real person.

In voice over, we have been following this trend for a few years if not longer, but I wasn't sure if the same ideas were floating around in broadcast journalism. To our great delight, this approach is also being adopted and taught to students in some schools!

Brian Nuttall shared with me that one of the goals of his class is to help people develop their personality when working on-air and not just be someone who reads from a script or speaks without making artistic choices.

Isn't is nice to know that there are teachers out there shaping the minds of tomorrow's broadcasters who see the value in being authentic, expressive and informed? I think it's fantastic!

What Are Your Thoughts on This?

Are you seeing a change in how students are being prepared to announce? Do you hear a difference?

Best wishes,

Stephanie

©iStockphoto.com/Michael Martin

Related Topics: announcers, Announcing, Fanshawe College, industry, SAG, voice acting, voice overs


Comments


    AMEN!!

    Posted by:

      I first became aware of the trend away from the cliche announcer maybe as far back as the late 90's, with dee-jays on alternative rock stations. However, they almost sounded bored! 'Disaffected' we called it. But it worked for those stations. You could certainly tell the difference between the perpetually plastic and happy Top-40 stations and the rock alternative. Another thing that helped was that they were allowed to be opinionated, not just liner card readers. And they lived the lifestyle they were presenting. So it was authentic.

      Not sure who the Mtv voice was in the 90's, but he was a big influence on that format.

      Thankfully, I think we are now finding the middle-ground between perpetually happy and almost-no-pulse. Certainly for commercial work, you want to SELL the product. But as you noted a loud announcer won't cut through the clutter (somebody please tell the car dealerships this) as well as a whisper sometimes can. Or just a genuine, human, guy-or-gal-next-door type of read.

      Now. Breaking the bad announcer habit? I guess that's one of the reasons I continue to take voice-acting classes!

      Posted by:
      • Dan Roberts
      • March 24, 2010 5:53 PM

        Stephanie
        If you or Anyone Checks out my Job Record or Feedback
        on VOICES.COM..I've been VERY SUCCESSFUL
        with your Service
        I give clients What they Want
        Natural...The Announcer...I can do it if they want
        or Laid Back and Real
        Just give them what their looking for
        All The Best
        Joe McMillan

        Posted by:

          I agree...to an extent. I still think there is a place for a professional announcer here and there, and honestly, I think it is an art form that will fade away like anything else that people fall out of favor with. Not too many people can create the announcer sound that we all know and love. Now, I'm not talking the schmaltzy, fake, yell at you announcer. I'm talking about the guys that still make a heck of a living doing it. Charlie O'Donnell, Johnny Gilbert, come to mind. They make the "announcer voice" sound fun and interesting. When I was in radio back when "voice actor" was not even a recognized term, I admit I was the smiling, puking, top 40 announcer that just wouldn't make it today. But fortunately, I learned and changed, but I still tend to keep some of that announcer sound in some of my reads, because I've had a few clients tell me that they like the way I sound like a professional announcer, but still came across as a real guy and communicator. It drove home the importance of the message, but came across as real. When people hear a voice of authority, they immediately listen up. We are just wired that way from years of great communicators like Tom Brokaw, etc. But the type of message and the delivery will determine if the listener will "stay tuned."

          Posted by:

            I totally disagree with this. You have to make a distinction between broadcasting and voice acting. yes, both require you to be able to communicate a message and communicate with a listener, intimately. But, I don't want to hear my buddies on the radio. An announcer is a real person if they do their job properly; they just happen to be blessed with a voice that is inviting and easy on the ears. It's like saying there should be more physically unattractive people on TV. Sorry, I hate to discriminate but real people are not what you want to see all the time. It's too jarring. Announcers, use your gift. Done well, you can get the point across better than anyone.

            Posted by:

              Hi everyone,

              Thank you for commenting and for sharing your thoughts!

              I agree that there is a role for the traditional announcer in terms of news and other activities. What has grown old is the stereotypical announcer sound. That doesn't mean that announcing has to take on an entirely different sound, but it does mean that there is room for growth and experimentation with how a message is communicated. Having an authoritative delivery can mean many things. Warmth, sincerity, respectfulness and being human never go out of style.

              Best wishes,

              Stephanie

              Posted by:
              • Stephanie Ciccarelli
              • March 25, 2010 2:51 PM

                Have you watched TV, listened to radio or heard a movie trailer lately? These are all done by paid professional announcers. Much of it sounds like announcing to me.

                We need to stop apologizing for being professional voices. We have an instrument and we can play as the conductor directs. Some want a fast read with punch, others want a matter-of-fact approach and much in between. The copy is our music. We are the studio musicians hired to play our riff but we can adapt as needed. That is why we are pros.

                I will not apology for having a professional voice with an exemplary command of language who can take direction.

                Anything can be stereotyped, but a rose by any other name....

                Posted by:

                  Great topic, particularly from my perspective of 39 years in commercial radio (on-air & sales) and 'what' sells....also particularly NOW for me wanting to transform into the freelance voice over business.

                  I firmly believe it's all about empathy for the client's goals in the script and delivering the key message with natural credibility. The kicker to my mind is the ingredient 'natural credibility'. Whilst reality TV is supposedly that, I often cringe at what I sometimes see & hear. Reality radio incorporating a "buddies on the radio" approach to voice over is also an area where caution and discipline is needed.

                  If the targeted audio environment is 'under 25' this 'off the street' style is probably more suited. However, in my humble opinion, IF you're targeting a market 25 years+ the voice talent needs to come across as certainly natural, but with a large dollop of artistic cred, skill and experience. An effective voice over talent should incorporate both the qualities of a professional announcer, tempered with the qualities of realness. My thoughts !

                  Regards,
                  IAN in Oz.

                  Posted by:
                  • Anonymous
                  • March 25, 2010 5:52 PM

                    I don't care what the "trend" is, if that client wants me to bray like a Donkey, then braying is what they're gonna get!!!! "What's that you say? You wanna pay me $200 to sound like Eeyore? I'm In!"

                    Posted by:
                    • John McCann
                    • March 26, 2010 12:43 AM

                      I agree with Mitch all the way!! If clients want that "Next Door Guy" type read, hire the guy next door and see how much of your money is eaten up with studio "time". The first thing a non announcer tries to is to sound like an announcer. Clients always come back to basics...I want a good voice to get my message out there, it's for that reason the professional announcer will never die.

                      Posted by:

                        Stephanie...

                        Even when I was in college in 1970, instructors were teaching us to "sound like a real person, not a script-reader."

                        When I've taught acting/performing classes, I say that "acting" is "sucking a writer's words into your eyes... absorbing the meaning... and then spitting them out thru your mouth while making listeners believe you just made-it-up on the spot!"
                        Now, That's ACTING!

                        Also... in about 1969... KTTV-tv in Los Angeles experimented with the idea of hiring real actors to "perform the news" on-air. Management reasoned that for JOURNALISTS to try to become ACTORS for a nightly newscast was dumb. Better they should hire journalists to write the news and hire actors to perform the news on-camera. IT WORKED! They became the #1 newscast in LA almost immediately. So, another example of the importance of professional actors doing what they do best!

                        Sadly, the journalism-community drummed up a pr campaign against it. The public then felt "duped" by watching "actors" and the backlash from the viewers cost the station its following. But, it was a brilliant idea!

                        I will be a member of voices.com very shortly!

                        Jay Lloyd
                        Benicia, CA

                        Posted by:
                        • Jay Lloyd
                        • March 30, 2010 5:35 PM

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