By Stephanie Ciccarelli
November 28, 2012
Have you ever wondered what it takes to be a radio imaging voice talent?
When you've listened to enough radio, you come to appreciate good imaging when you hear it and find that the imaging does much to add to your listening experience.
What goes into creating awesome radio imaging?
Comment to let me know after reading today's VOX Daily!
When you first tune in to a radio station, one of the best ways to get to know the station is by listening to its on-air personalities and imaging.
What is radio imaging?
Radio imaging consists of pre-produced station IDs (recordings with the express purpose of identifying which station you're listening to), liners, sweepers and promos in between music or other on-air programming. Radio imaging is an art.
From where I sit, the imaging of a radio station should be just as exciting and of the same production quality as the music that's played. The imaging a station uses is a representation of what they stand for as well as how they want to be perceived.
According to voice artist, Arielle DeLisle, to be a great radio imaging artist takes training and talent, an understanding of how the audio fits in with the station and its programming, how heavily the station relies on it and then everything required of any other VO gig. Arielle is the station imaging voice for several radio stations and radio background in both on air and production. She relates, "I think it's helped me be a better imaging talent."
At Voices.com, we have a number of people working in the office who have a background in broadcast radio and also those with great ears for spotting what works and what doesn't. Andrew Amos, Public Relations Manager at Voices.com, looks at imaging from a brand perspective. He writes, "I think it's important for the imaging to stand out from that of the competition. The imaging should also reinforce and be consistent with the larger branding scheme of the station it's promoting."
Skills you will want to develop to be a great radio imaging talent are:
While understanding the station and its brand might be obvious for doing great imaging and editing a given, timing begs to be looked into a bit deeper.
Voice actor Nick Montague noted that while there are some amazing voices out there, not being able to understand the delivery and the timing of the read results in imaging that is FLAT and does not work.
Sean Sullivan pointed out that understanding the copy, just like when performing any voice-over, is very important. Sullivan says, "Really getting the intent of the copy is one thing. Using your imagination to hear what a producer will do with your raw voice tracks is another. I have a pal who is a terrific and extremely prolific imaging voice. I remember him saying that versatility and the ability to switch gears quickly from style to style is a great thing to be able to do. Of course, as always, the way to learn that, is doing it!"
Gabrielle Nistico, Operations Director of VoiceHunter.com and Author of The Guide to Breaking Into Radio Imaging, literally wrote the book on imaging for broadcast radio. She relates, "Back in the day imaging was all about identification for ratings purposes. Today, imaging is still a big part of a station's identity, but the shift is more on brand marketing and packaging. Stations need a brand voice that can not only standout amongst all the other elements of sound on the station (songs, commercials and the DJ) but they need a voice that speaks to the listener."
Nistico states that a great imaging voice helps a station say; "Hey you! I know you. I know what your life is like. I get it - I share your joy and your pain - I'm just like you!" Therefore stations are looking for an imaging voice that isn't just a 'voice of the station' or a 'voice of authority' - they are looking for a voice that embodies the very soul of the listening audience. That sound will change wildly from station to station and format to format.
Do stations have to stay stuck in one way of imaging? Like their song play-lists, the radio imaging for their station doesn't have to be entirely static. Nistico went on to say, "Imaging has these great mood-swings now...emotional and sometimes moody; where the voice actor uses ever changing performance styles. Radio is allowing imaging voices to be a very literal interpretation of the voice(s) inside a listener's head. This means stations are looking for imaging talent who can really show a wide variety of acting technique in the 10-15 second pieces of copy imaging is known for. It's fast paced and very exciting. I'm always telling talent, the more variety your audition has - the greater your likelihood of booking station work."
According to Gabrielle Nistico, stations are also looking for voice-actors that know how to 'find the funny' in their copy and make it even more funny by doing the unexpected. Timing is everything. Even though the scripts are small you have to really analyze your station copy, find the joke and make it land. Most modern radio formats are designed to entertain people. Imaging voices can't lose sight of that. Nistico cautions, "Take your role too seriously and you'll lose sight of some of the lightheartedness radio is known for."
And lastly if you aren't reading for the producers you aren't doing your job. You need to treat imaging copy differently than you would a commercial job to help make working with you a joy for a producer. You can save a station time and money simply buy presenting your reads in an imaging friendly manner. In Nistico's words, this means breaking - the - copy - down. Line by line, phrase by phrase. This allows the station more production control and the ability to better manipulate your voiceover.
Remember there's all this extra 'stuff' that has to be produced into your spoken word; sound effects, movie and TV drops, DJ segments, song hooks, blips, blaps, widgets and whoozels. If you run your lines together, you're probably limiting what a station can do with the audio and you didn't even realize it.
Be sure to comment with your thoughts and join the conversation!
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