doing SOMETHING is better than feeling helpless – radio edition

It was interesting to be at a Starbucks yesterday, doing some work on my computer, when word came out about the horrendous fire at Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris (Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris).

People talking about it were very shaken. Like, amazingly so. Various people noted how tragic it was…then the spire fell. That shook folks. Was it a terrorist attack (seems not, as of this writing) or accident (at this time, it seems so).

It went beyond Catholicism for these folks – who in fact, in my overhearing, didn’t even bring that up – it was about the art and the history…that was more the impact on their spirit than religion. Perfectly valid perspectives on such a religious AND historic place, especially if you practice a different faith or don’t believe in any religion.

Suffice it to say, listening to conversations and reading social media, many people were sucker punched by this terrible incident and felt pretty helpless.

I felt the same way…then I realized there WAS something I could do. It wasn’t much but it WAS something.

Catholic 540-AM Divine Mercy Radio Raleigh Durham NCI have, for some time now, volunteered my voice work for a few Catholic radio stations. Most Catholic radio stations are 501(c)(3) non-profits and most are run completely by volunteers. When I lived in Buffalo, I donated voice work to The Station of The Cross Catholic Radio Network. When I moved to Raleigh, I began helping with production and programming at Catholic 540-AM • Divine Mercy Radio.

Late Monday afternoon, as this was all unfolding in Paris, I was in the parking lot of my son’s school waiting to pick him up.  There, I was struck with an idea. What if Catholic 540-AM put together just a brief prayer for Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris, it’s parishioners, staff and friends. No big production, just something simple we could play on air for the next few days so listeners could, if they wanted, offer up their private prayers too while they listened.

This type of community remembrance is something radio (no matter the format) has always done exceptionally well.

OK…but then I had to figure out what we’d do.

Well, Notre Dame is French for Our Lady, referencing Mary, the Mother of God, someone incredibly important to Catholics. So the prayer needed to be the Hail Mary. Then I decided we’d need to do that prayer in French for it to be both respectful and impactful. So I called a Frenchman.

Liz de Nesnera Voiceover Talent

Bilingual female voiceover talent Liz de Nesnera

Well, actually a French Lady…and while she is French through heritage, she hails from New Jorseey. But she’s awesome and Liz de Nesnera did not hesitate when I asked her to voice the Hail Mary in French. She carries the whole piece and it worked out so nicely because of HER. She even offered to share her prayer with all the EWTN affiliates for them to create their own prayer.

LISTEN TO THE PRAYER CATHÉDRALE NOTRE-DAME DE PARIS (Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris)
PLAY HERE

It’s very simple. Heartfelt. Not fancy. But not nothing. And that’s something.

the voiceover agent series: how I partnered with Heyman Talent in Cincinnati, OH

Editor’s note: Often times I get asked by both new and experienced voiceover talent “how do you get a voiceover agent?” Or “how did you get signed with a specific voice talent agency?” It occurred to me recently that there are some interesting and fun stories about how I have partnered with my voiceover agents. Everybody likes a good story so I thought I would share a few of them in something I’ve entitled “the voiceover agent series”.

Voice Talent Peter K O'Connell Heyman 19 It is my recollection that an initial conversation I had with Lynne Heyman going back to at least 2007 (maybe 2006) was the discussion that was the foundation of my 12 year voiceover talent – voiceover agency relationship with Heyman Talent.

The call was me calling her about voiceover representation. She didn’t know who I was. I’m not sure I knew who I was…a question still pondered today 🙂

I was focused on Cincinnati for no better reason than it was about an hour away from Dayton, OH, where I had spent my formative college years at the University of Dayton in the mid-80’s. I had been to Cincinnati a few times and like it there. Also, I grew up a Reds fan of the Johnny Bench, Pete Rose and Joe Morgan era. The Big Red Machine.

Lynne was one of those folks who you immediately trusted when you were on the phone with her. She liked my demos and enjoyed talking about my perspective about the voiceover industry…she’d seen my social media posts, read my blog and could tell I was very involved and knew many folks in and around the voiceover business nationally. We talked then and later about women in VO, foreign voice talents and how to access them as well as the state of the industry.

Some years ago, Lynne wanted Laura VonHolle to take a lead role in the agency…which I think was a very smart business succession decision.

Laura VonHolle Heyman Talent audioconnellLaura, like her predecessor, was/is very talent centered, doing all she can for the talent but also holding the talent accountable. I’ve enjoyed a few conversations with Laura about how the business has changed in the past 5 years and it was great to get an agent’s in-depth perspective. Heyman handles print and on-camera – even more than VO – but listening to how the changes to the VO landscape impacted the agency side of the business was sobering. Of course, they have weathered it masterfully- and I am glad to be on the same team.

Athough I don’t think Laura ever forgave me for coming into to visit the agency on my way to a Reds game a few years back (the Red’s stadium is right down the street from the Heyman offices). I was going to the game and I didn’t have tickets for her (a big Reds fan). I briefly got the girlfriend/wife/mother stink eye from my agent. I now know that if I show up again at the agency on game day/night, I better have tickets for her.

And I will.

MEDIA RELEASE – First AI-Powered Procurement Solution Finds O’Connell

VindowCORAL GABLES, FL, April 10, 2019 – – Vindow, an artificial intelligence (AI)-first sourcing platform that brings intelligence to complex procurement processes, recently rolled out an updated marketing program for the company, including a new explainer video. The Vindow animated explainer video was narrated by award-winning male voiceover talent Peter K. O’Connell.

Vindow is the the only platform that combines data intelligence, RFP creation and contact management in the same product.

WATCH THE VIDEO WITH PETER’S NARRATION:

About Vindow

Vindow is the first AI-powered solution providing procurement officials with the ability to directly connect with hotels, and offers insight to market conditions and trends allowing them to obtain the best deals. Vindow is the the only platform that combines data intelligence, RFP creation and contact management in the same product.

About Peter K. O’Connell

From Fortune 500 companies to companies that think $500 is a fortune, multi-award winning male voiceover talent Peter K. O’Connell has shared his voiceover and audio production skills with a wide variety of companies, world-wide. In addition to his most recent narration voiceover work for the Vindow, some of Peter’s commercial and narration clients also include L.L.Bean, IBM, Duracell Batteries, General Electric, Massachusetts State Lottery and Kraft Foods.

O’Connell owns audio’connell Voiceover Talent, a division of O’Connell Communications, LLC. He can be reached via audioconnell.com or peterkoconnell.com.

– 30 –

NOTES FOR EDITORS

CONTACT

Peter K. O’Connell

Your Friendly, Neighborhood Voiceover Talent

audio’connell Voiceover Talent

P.O. Box 5493 | Raleigh, NC 27512-5493

PH. +01 716-572-1800

EM. peter@audioconnell.com W. audioconnell.com

COMPANY MEDIA CENTER

http://www.audioconnell.com/media

PETER K. O’CONNELL VO CREDITS

VO Credits Link

COMPANY NAME SPELLING

Use lower case letters- audio’connell or audio’connell Voiceover Talent

COMPANY NAME PRONUNCIATION

au·di-o’·con·nell (awe-de-oh-kah-nel)

the voiceover agent series: how I partnered with Umberger Agency in Atlanta, GA

Editor’s note: Often times I get asked by both new and experienced voiceover talent “how do you get a voiceover agent?” Or “how did you get signed with a specific voice talent agency?” It occurred to me recently that there are some interesting and fun stories about how I have partnered with my voiceover agents. Everybody likes a good story so I thought I would share a few of them in something I’ve entitled “the voiceover agent series”.

Voice Talent Peter K O'Connell Umberger 19 Because of a voiceover car trip from Ventura Beach, California to Los Angeles, I joined the voiceover talent agency roster of Umberger Agency in Atlanta, GA.

Yes, I would agree, that is some wacked out geographic math on the way to securing voiceover representation but my voiceover journey has never included a lot of straight lines. In fact, if my heritage were Indian instead of Irish, I feel strongly my Indian voiceover name would have been Circuitous.

I had a rental car that I had driven from LAX to the Marriott in Ventura where Amy Snively was hosting FaffCon 4. This was the infamous FaffCon where we all went out on a three-hour whale watching expedition — where people saw ZERO whales but did see dozens of people from the conference throwing up over the side of the boat.

‘Oh, you’re prone to sea sickness? You should definetly go on a three hour ocean cruise. What could possibly go wrong??’ 🙂

The event itself was awesome (I had a great time on the boat but I don’t get sea sick. And I met Lauren McCullough (winning!)!!!).

As I was leaving at the end of FaffCon 4, I asked if anybody else needed a lift to LAX as it was just me in the car. I was leaving the next day and was staying overnight at LAX to catch an early morning flight.

Why, yes, there were some folks who needed a ride. If memory serves, it was Doug Turkel, Sean Caldwell (who I met for the first time –I think– at this FaffCon), Amanda Fellows and Kelley Buttrick.

Now normally, you might think a car ride from Ventura to LAX with these fine folks would be a plenty good story in and of itself. Or you might say that a highway trip that involved these folks and then also driving behind a trailer filled with port-a-potties with yards of toilet paper spewing out from inside them and unspooling across the highway — for miles —- would be story enough!

But no, there was more to this 2012 story.

As happens when you get 5 voice talents in a car for an hour coming from a terrific voiceover conference — voiceover will be discussed. Often multiple conversations as once.

During the discussion, we were speaking about our agents and Atlanta’s Jeffrey Umberger came up. I believe Doug and Kelley were on his agency roster already.

I was on the roster of another voiceover agent in Atlanta – who I’ve long since fired – and who I believe may be a voiceover agent part time between selling Mary Kay Cosmetics, Amway and picking up children from school. This guy was not terribly focused on the voiceover agency business, which not surprisingly, there wasn’t much of for him.

Peter K. O'Connell and Jeffrey Umberger

Voice Talent Peter K. O’Connell and Voiceover Agent Jeffrey Umberger in Atlanta, 2016

As Kelley and Doug were singing Jeffrey’s praises, I said I would have to introduce myself to him. To which Kelley responded “Oh you HAVE to be on Jeffrey’s roster! I will call him this week!” Which I thought was very kind of her, yet I remember thinking ‘well…people get busy and forget’.

Not Buttrick!

BOOM! She’s on the phone to Umberger. BOOM! (well a little later Boom, but still a Boom) Umberger calls me and says ‘If you don’t join my voiceover agency’s roster, Kelley Buttrick has threatened to slash my tires and I just bought a whole new set of really expensive tires!!’

No she never really made that threat (it’s a joke!).

But Jeffrey did ask me to join his VO roster and we have been partners in voiceover…and friends…ever since.

 

the voiceover agent series: how I partnered with Big Mouth Talent in Chicago, IL

Editor’s note: Often times I get asked by both new and experienced voiceover talent “how do you get a voiceover agent?” Or “how did you get signed with a specific voice talent agency?” It occurred to me recently that there are some interesting and fun stories about how I have partnered with my voiceover agents. Everybody likes a good story so I thought I would share a few of them in something I’ve entitled “the voiceover agent series”.

Voice Talent Peter K O'Connell Big Mouth 19 350As of this writing, Big Mouth Talent is actually my newest agent. And it maybe one of my favorite agent stories because getting a new agent wasn’t even on my mind.

I was looking for a recording studio…and some heat.

Back in February of this year, you may recall that Chicago, IL had a cold spell of record breaking proportions. -23 degrees Fahrenheit (not counting the wind – in the “Windy City” – so the “real feel” was waaay colder than that by like double). Really unpleasant weather.

So naturally, I was IN CHICAGO during those exact days…and I needed a recording studio because an overseas voiceover client required some fast turnover.

I did “the Google” to search for a voiceover recording studio. In my search I wasn’t so much concerned with price as I was with distance. I was fortunate enough to be at a hotel in downtown Chicago but I wanted something within walking distance…even though with the cold, no matter where I walked, it was going to be OMG cold even for a Buffalonian.

I found within 3-4 blocks of my hotel there was a voiceover studio called Chicago Recording Company…fairly priced and they had a studio available that evening.

This was not the coldest evening of my stay but it was a pretty miserable evening to be going for a walk in downtown Chicago. Yet I pressed on (doesn’t that sound dramatic…I’m such a baby! I was fine.)

I had no idea just how many studios CRC had but it was a big and bustling place, even late in the day. It was, though, like a very efficient doctor’s office where I completed some paperwork, sat down and was escorted to my studio in short order.

The recording facilities were very nice and I was done with my narration in a half hour. They were very complimentary about my work, which they certainly didn’t have to be. That was a nice plus.

On the way out, I asked the studio manager if they had a voiceover roster. He said they primarily used a Chicago voiceover agency for casting, Big Mouth Talent. He encouraged me to speak with them.

Kelly Wilkening Agent Big Mouth Talent Chicago audioconnellI emailed VO Agent Kelly Wilkening there sometime later about the advice I was given by CRC and she asked for some of my voiceover demos. About a week later, we were working together and it’s been pretty terrific.

All because I was willing (and needed) to take a short but very cold walk in downtown Chicago.

So you can keep your portable rigs (there’s value there). But I think you cannot go wrong working with local recording studios folks, making connections and having the opportunity for something unexpectedly good to happen.

the voiceover agent series: how I partnered with All Coast Talent in Buffalo, NY

Voice Talent Peter K. O'Connell All Coast Talent 19Editor’s note: Often times I get asked by both new and experienced voiceover talent “how do you get a voiceover agent?” Or “how did you get signed with a specific voice talent agency?” It occurred to me recently that there are some interesting and fun stories about how I have partnered with my voiceover agents. Everybody likes a good story so I thought I would share a few of them in something I’ve entitled “the voiceover agent series”.

For as long as I lived in Buffalo, NY, for a long while I wasn’t really part of the voiceover scene. I would occassionally do some local spots but I was mostly doing stuff elsewhere. Buffalo also suffers (current tense because it hasn’t stopped) from that fairly common media/advertising producer’s attitude prevalent around the country that ‘if you’re from here, you can’t be any good’.

But Buffalo did have a smaller voiceover community – outside of the radio people often called upon to do spots (and some of those radio people were/are amazing voice talents).

I think the real boom of voice talents in Western New York took off, however, when Toni Silveri and her family came back to Buffalo from LA.

Toni was a Smurf.

That’s right, she was one of the original voice talents on the NBC Saturday morning Smurfs. Of course she did other stuff as well while in LA. A long time singer and actress, she has been performing across the U.S. But Buffalo was home and so she returned when she had had enough of LA.

However, Toni brought back with her a new perspective — in addition to her new Hollywood contacts and friends. Many things made an impression on Toni while in LA. One big thing, I think anyway, was attending the voiceover classes held over at Daws Butler’s house.

Daws was to Hanna-Barbera animation what Mel Blanc was to Warner Bros. animation. In other words…holy cow talented. To say Daws was only a character voice actor would be unfair…but he WAS an uncommonly talented character voice actor. He used to host VO workshops at his house for working LA voice actors and Toni often attended them…with Daws soon becoming a Silveri family friend.

Toni Silveri All Coast Talent / WNY Voice Actors Workshop

I say this made a big impression because when Toni came back from LA, SHE started hosting these same kinds of workshops in her home. The Western New York Voice Actors Workshop was born.

My inculcation within the Workshop was not immediate. I knew of it but didn’t get involved until one weekend when Toni hosted among the first of her many Pat Fraley workshops at her house (and then later at local recording studios). Pat is a well known and beloved voice actor in his own right but also, in my opinion,  Pat is one of the best straight out teachers of voiceover – especially character voice – in the world. His handouts alone are worth the price of admission because he is so well thought out in his presentation, so organized and so engaging. Oh, and Pat was also a Smurf which I believe is where he really got to know Toni.

So I show up at this Fraley workshop in Toni’s backyard, fairly unknown to these folks. Pat of course is amazing. I guess I made a good impression with my work there because Toni pulls me aside and says “I’m starting up a voiceover agency and I would like to represent you.”

This was not a blanket offer to all workshop participants.

I couldn’t see how it would hurt as up to that point and even today, there isn’t another VO agent in Buffalo.

But she quickly went from local to national and hasn’t stopped. She’s the real deal. All Coast Talent was born and I’ve been there since the beginning.

It was a unique position for this local boy when my voiceover friends from around the country would call me and ask about this voiceover agent in Buffalo. ‘Buffalo, really?’ they would say. ‘Oh yes really,’ I would answer.

‘Can you help get me on her roster?’ I would just smile.

Proving yet again, it’s NOT the address that matters, it’s all about the person who lives there.