Sunday, November 2, 2014

What Goes Around Comes Around

Warning: This blog is written by and contains wisdom of a senior citizen. Proceed at your own risk.

When I first entered broadcasting as a teenager, “The Announcer” could still actually be heard on some radio stations around the country. There was a local announcer by the name of Elliott Stewart that still rolled his “Rs” and had perfect diction, something you never heard in a real conversation. While I didn't roll my “Rs,” I tried for that perfect diction. But gave that up when one of my mentors told me to “be more conversational.” He said that if I wanted to hear an example, I should listen to Arthur Godfrey. “Arthur who,” I questioned. The TV & radio show was actually called Arthur Godfrey and Friends and was still on the air in my early radio days and continued till 1972. Art had a knack for conversation. As a matter of fact, that's all his program was, a program length conversation. He was also quite controversial, but I won't go into those incidents here.

Then came along a couple of hot shot radio program consultants by the name of Bill Drake and Gene Chenault, both now deceased.. They further perfected the idea of some earlier radio programmers who played the top 40 popular records over and over and the announcer would insert short but rapid shouts or yells between the records. The news reporter was to deliver a sensational news report usually of 2 minutes or less at twenty minutes after and before every hour. Out the window went the conversational delivery. I don't think broadcasting ever recovered.

So you see, the goal of being more conversational has been with us for a long time and is appropriate in many situations. But it depends upon the audience and whom you are targeting. So, if you are going after the “baby boomers” you might want one style of delivery because the audience might relate better. If it's generation “Y” you seek, often called the millennials, you may need a different style as this generation doesn't want you to “sell” a product, yet wants to be catered to. The younger audience today wants to discover your product through their friends and generally rejects formal advertising unless it appeals directly to one of their interests. Today, we are much more aware and responsive to our audiences. We have adjusted our messages and delivery to multi-cultural segments of our population and to the needs of the huge LGBT segment which has gained much wider acceptance in recent years.

My point in mentioning this is to suggest that the more styles of voiceover we can master and deliver the more marketable we can be. But, finding a niche and appealing to it is worthy of a specialty.

Today the casting directors and creative directors often ask for a conversational read but is that what they want or do they just want to appeal to their target but don't know what to ask for? I think it's a little bit of both. Knowing what appeals to an audience segment can give a voice talent a huge “leg up” as they say. Here's a link to an interesting article that might provide some insight. It's called Consumer Segments of Consequence in 2020: Are you prepared?


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