The Struggle Of Announcer-y Versus Non-Announcer-y Voice Over

Hey there!

John Davenport recently left me a comment on one of my videos, the one on how I don’t think age range is a valid descriptor for voices.

He wrote, “I would love to hear you do a discussion about announcer versus non-announcer. So many of us who from the broadcast world who have been labeled as announcers in some genres of voiceover can’t seem to get work too much these days. Why do you think that is? Do you think it will change?”

Here’s what I think about that.

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Raw YouTube Captioning

hey there it’s David H Lawrence the 17th
I got a comment a few videos back the
one that I was talking where I was
talking about how I don’t think age
range really matters in terms of a
descriptor for voices and one of the
comments that was left was by a viewer
by the name of John Davenport who said I
would love to hear you to a discussion
about announcer versus non announcer so
many of us from the broadcast world who
have been labeled as announcers in some
genres a voiceover can’t seem to get too
much work these days
why do you think that is do you think it
will ever change and I think this change
occurred a long time ago I think that
the world of radio and television talk
show and news is one world and the world
of post 30s 40s 50s early 60s commercial
presentations is another world and the
the more modern world of commercial
presentation and narration is yet a
third world and they don’t really
overlap I mean I tell people all the
time you know if they want announcers if
a person casting a commercial wants an
announcer all they have to do is go to
any one of 40 50 60 80 radio stations in
town and check out the four or five
announcers that they have on staff at
each one of those stations and pick one
but the vast preponderance of
commercials and eLearning and other
genres a voice-over aren’t looking for
announcers anymore back in the day back
when radio was first a thing in the 20s
and 30s you know there was this
separation between the announcing staff
which was kind of exalted it was kind of
royalty and the listeners you know they
had this style that evolved over the
years but was basically we are talking
to all of you
you know instead of it being that
one-on-one thing it was one too many you
know there’s a big broadcast audience so
we’ll talk to them like an audience and
they used to say things like from high
atop the Statler Hilton in Cleveland
Ohio you know so-and-so presents to all
of you lovely Clevelanders the Cleveland
Symphony Orchestra or whatever it would
be a one-to-many kind of thing and then
along with other people but for the most
part this one guy Arthur Godfrey changed
all that he was talk he started talking
to people one-on-one his target audience
when he did his radio show was
housewives he was on during the day and
instead of talking to all of them and
saying group references to all of them
he would talk to one person I know what
you’re thinking I know you’re sitting
there at your dining room table your
kitchen table and you just want some of
that Lipton tea I mean I go into this in
pretty pretty deep detail in our
commercials class because we talk about
this and announcers have sort of
developed this style that is
presentational rather than
conversational right there’s an elevated
importance to what announcers say and
it’s conversation conversational versus
announcer style you know in the UK it’s
you know sort of relationship versus
presentation in fact they even call talk
show hosts and anchors in the UK and
another British influenced country’s
presenters right so there’s this
bifurcation and we learn in the world of
radio I spent 35 years in radio so I get
you John I completely get you we learn
how to be bigger than life and how to be
that presentational person and I’m
working with a client right now in
getting started who is having a real
difficult time shedding the whole
presentational announcer E style because
that’s all he’s known I find it with
women as well they grow up in radio or
they have spent a long time in radio and
they get used to and trained in this
speak louder than the music and be a
bigger bigger
personality than you normally are in
everyday life and it becomes a standard
and we forget just how to talk like
normal people and we forget how to give
ourselves permission to not be perfect
right to be imperfect to be human
announcer is not supposed to be human
they’re super human right they never
make mistakes they elucidate they
enunciate perfectly they have pace and
style whereas normal human beings that
just talk to each other right and that’s
where you connect with commercials and
elearning in other situations is that
conversational tone where people go oh a
human being is giving me the information
rather than some stylized persona that
revolves around announcers and so do I
think announcers are gonna get work sure
when a spot requires an announcer or
requires a character make fun of
announcers do I think that’s ever gonna
change no I don’t I think what you need
to do what you absolutely need to do and
it’s one of my main functions as a coach
for voice-over especially for people
that come from television and radio and
even to a certain extent people that
come from sales and legal you know
because they’re used to being in front
of an audience a jury or a customer or a
series of customers pitching people is
to get them to realize that if they just
simply relax into their natural state
what it’s like for them waking up in the
morning sitting at the dinner table at
night talking to their spouse their
family their friends they don’t say to
their friends my this is a great beer
they don’t say that they go wow this is
really good but yet that training that
announcer training won’t let them do
that the moment they realize they can do
that and they should do that when it
comes to those kinds of commercials
which is again the vast majority of
commercials that’s when you start to
make that breakthrough and the good news
is you’re just adding to your quiver I
still have the announcer II thing and my
agent can book me on those kinds of
things but you know that day that I
being you you know I’m enough I don’t
need anything else I don’t need to suit
up as an announcer and when I started
doing that that’s when I started booking
more heavily in the world of commercials
so I hope that answers your question um
add to your quiver get to know what it’s
like again to have a normal conversation
and trust that that’s all you need let
me know if you came from Radio or if you
came from television or some other sort
of presentational style business have
you had troubles dealing with this sort
of conversational human tone do you miss
being hired because you’re an announcer
let me know in the comments below tell
me what you think and if you’re watching
this anywhere but on VOD go go comm
please go over there go to vo the
numeral two go go comm because that’s
where we have all kinds of things that
can help you with just these kinds of
situations if you’d like to join my
youtube channel and be notified when
each one of these new videos comes out
go ahead and click on my head there if
there’s no head look for a subscribe
button if you’d like to see the latest
video I’ve done click on that frame
YouTube will play it for you I’m David H
Lawrence xvii thank you so much for
watching and I will talk to you tomorrow.

11 Responses to The Struggle Of Announcer-y Versus Non-Announcer-y Voice Over

  1. David Wandelt June 19, 2019 at 6:50 am #

    I recently was doing some live theater VO drop-ins, and needed to effect a 1940’s-style announcer. I mustered my best “Mid-Atlantic accent,” and once EQ’ed for a ‘40s taxi cab radio, they loved it! I spent five years in the 1980s as an on-air personality at a New York-market FM (36KW ERP). Felt like old home week! But realistically, I know that I could never make a career out of it. Still, doing it as a character was a blast!

  2. Wes June 19, 2019 at 6:52 am #

    “People judge you by the words you use…” from the 80’s Verbal Advantage radio ads embody my “favorite” power voice. I sometimes put on that announcer voice, crank it up to 11 and read through my script so I can hear what I should _not_ sound like and get it out of my system.

    It can be cathartic.

    • Bruce Andis June 19, 2019 at 6:32 pm #

      I think I’m screwed: 11 years as a radio reporter, followed by 30 years in courtrooms. Getting the announcer out of my head seems to be as hard — maybe harder — as getting the inner editor out of my writing head. Time to book some coaching time with Mr. Lawrence….

      • ed waldorph June 19, 2019 at 7:10 pm #

        Bruce, you could always pretend you were announcing golf. ;)

  3. Judith Patterson June 19, 2019 at 8:04 am #

    Outstanding….very important information for today’s voice over artists. Thank you, David.

  4. Paul H Rothfuss June 19, 2019 at 8:21 am #

    Hi David. Boy did I ever need this one! Many thanks.

  5. Annette Tucker June 19, 2019 at 9:12 am #

    Your comments really hit home for me. I have been involved with radio news since the early 1980’s and took voice lessons to improve my “delivery”. Even then my friends and children commented about how my voice changed just by reading out loud. I try to be conversational, but still having a hard time relaxing and imagining a talk across the kitchen table when I read. sigh!

  6. Jeff June 19, 2019 at 12:02 pm #

    Very helpful reminder; thanks, David! Love these videos; keep up the good work.

    Thanks again,


    P. S. It was great connecting with you via email the other night.

  7. John Tambascio June 19, 2019 at 12:12 pm #

    Absolutely can relate. I’m embarrassed to say it’s a hot button for me. I went to a workshop one time and was asked to read and the presenter said, “Oh, you old radio guys all sound alike.” Yes, it’s a style I mastered long ago at a 5000 watt daytimer when I started in radio. The 90 degree turn to the right came when I got some coaching and the person working with me said, “Sometimes, you just have to try and sound like you’re talking to the guy on the barstool next to you.” Amen, brother.

  8. Patricia Napolitano June 19, 2019 at 8:57 pm #

    This split between “conversational” and “announcer” or “fake” or “cartoony” just drives me crazy. I always seem to pick the wrong approach. In a recent animation class I was warned to not do cartoon voices but just be “real”. We were using scripts from “She-Ra Princess of Power”, a kids’ show I somehow never saw. After failing to satisfactorily bring the witches, elves, magic cats, evil aliens, etc. to life in “my” voice, after class I listened to an actual episode. Every one of those far out cartoon characters had a goofy voice -very high or low or nasal or raspy or breathy or shakey etc. etc. NONE had a “normal” voice.
    In an audition for a car commercial I did my attempt at “SUNDAY, SUNDAY”, which seemed to fit the excitement of the script. The commercial ran with a very “real” read.
    I don’t believe there is a correct or current way to do a script, every script is different.

  9. Mark G David June 22, 2019 at 8:26 am #

    Spot on conversation David! Being a 26 year radio vet, it’s an everyday struggle to shed the annoucer and just talk. For myself, I find I stress the word “and” too much. For instance, in radio, we read a promo that includes something like: “free food, beverages, and prizes.” My emphasis is usually on the word AND…now it’s driving me crazy! It’s where I learned to take my breath BUT it should come out: “free food, beverages, ‘n’ prizes.” I started studying my airchecks and maybe this’ll help my fellow radio folks…everyday I read out loud an article from the newspaper or a magazine and recording it…I’m learning alot about being normal and conversational while adding pace.

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