Thursday, August 22, 2013

My top five voices of influence...

and they're not the ones you might think.

Who are the voices that I have most admired in my lifetime? Most people in the voiceover world will toss out names like LaFontaine, Blanc, Cullin, Hermann, LaMarche, Adler, Brick, Foray etc. For me the names are somewhat different and for various reasons, not necessarily because they were voiceover talents, but because they were extremely creative and talented men. Yes, men. I think that's beacuse I admired them and looked up to them as role models. So, these are my top five:

5.Arthur Godfrey – He was the champion of conversation (and controversy). Starting first on the radio and then embracing television, Godfrey was the person that I was often referred to as a young radio broadcaster. I was told that if I wanted to succeed in radio I needed to develop a conversational style, one the listener could relate to. People told me that I needed to pay careful attention to how Arthur Godfrey handled conversation and an interview. Surprisingly his radio broadcasts lasted until 1972. So his style of interview and chatter was readily available to a guy like me that had only become interested in broadcasting ten years earlier. Arthur Godfrey made you feel that he was speaking directly to you.

4. Ken Nordine – When I first heard “Word Jazz” and “Son of Word Jazz” many years ago I was most impressed with the voice behind what has been called “beat poetry.” Nordine established himself very early and was on the pop charts in the mid fifties appearing on Billy Vaughn's album “Song of the West” and a very popular hit recording of “Shifting Whispering Sands.”

Best of Chickenman Cover

3. Dick Orkin – No, not the Orkin man. In my teen years I was an avid listener of the big 50,000 watt radio stations WCFL in Chicago and WKBW in Buffalo. Dick Orkin was a staffer at WCFL along with Jim Runyan and Jane Roberts. They created Chickenman and later The Tooth Fairy for WCFL. The series became so popular that Orkin created a syndication company and started distributing the radio comedy series to other stations across the country including WKBW. Orkin is brilliant.

2 William Conrad – Gunsmoke was still running on the radio at the time I got interested in broadcasting, as was Suspense and Yours Truly Johnny Dollar, the last of the first wave of radio dramas. CBS later resurrected radio drama with Hyman Brown's Mystery Theater. To me William Conrad was the voice actor of voice actors. His portrayal of Matt Dillon was in my opinion far superior to anything James Arness could do for the television role. The nuances with is voice and the way he handled the character was top shelf in my book. I followed his career to TV with Cannon and Jake and the Fat Man, and others. Later, thanks to transcription recordings, I discovered his contributions to CBS's Suspense and another high adventure series titled Escape.

1. Stan Freberg – When I first heard his version of The Yellow Rose of Texas I knew that his bizarre sense of humor was going to be one of my favorites for a lifetime. Later he created, with the help of Sarah Vaughn the “Who Listens to Radio” campaign for the Radio Advertising Bureau in which he drained Lake Michigan and then filled it with Hot Chocolate, topped it with whipped cream and the Royal Canadian Air Force flew over to drop a ten ton maraschino cherry on top (woosh).

Be sure you play the link to that skit below. Brilliant!


  1. You choose five phenomenal talents! Ken Nordine has the voice of Levi's. Today's interviewers could take plenty of lessons from Arthur Godfrey as well. All of this people developed their own "voice" during a great time of creativity.

  2. You chose five phenomenal talents. Each developed their own "voice" in a time of great creativity.


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