By Jeffrey Hedquist
Is your talent pool a little too shallow?
You’re frustrated. You’ve written a great spot, but you know your available talent isn’t going to be able to pull it off, or they’re over-exposed in your market. So what do you do? Try to make do with the same old voices? Replace the spot with another less talent-dependent spot? Tear out what’s left of your hair? Scream? Throw a tantrum?
Assuming the tantrum doesn’t work, try looking (listening) around. Where might new voices be hiding?
Community, elementary, highs school, and college theatre groups: you’ll have to get them to pull back their voices so they’re talking to a friend instead of projecting to the 12th row, but you may be surprised at who you can find who will act for free, or for traded goods or promotional items, or for help making a voice sample, or for a small amount of (gasp) cash.
Singers, entertainers, standup comics, storytellers, improvisation group members and poets: In my experience you will find some of your most useable voices for radio commercials here.
Teachers, professors, instructors, coaches, professional speakers, salespeople, telemarketers, consultants, toastmasters or librarians: They’re used to talking, generally have good diction, but you’ll have to have them pretend to be talking to a class, team or a client.
Waiters, flight attendants, supermarket and discount store employees who announce over the PA system, fast food drive up order takers and auctioneers: you can do some funny approaches using the “translation” technique or just contrast their flat, run-on disinterested read with a warm interested voice.
You’ll have to write for the range of what the non-professional voices can do, but that may lead you to some interesting and unexpected ideas.
Trade talent with other stations: The overused voices in your market are underexposed in another market. I’ve spoken to small independent stations and large groups that have done this with great success.
Wherever you go, keep listening for the voices with interesting timbres, phrasing, unusual qualities that could save a future spot; and when you hear one, invite ‘em for a swim in your talent pool.
© 2004 Hedquist Productions, Inc.