… no, wait … that was a voice for radio.
My whole life people have said “You really ought to be on the radio with that voice.” And they weren’t even laughing when they said it. So when I heard that the NPR station in State College was looking for on-air voices, I gave a call.
Of course I waited until the very last possible moment … literally … at four o’clock of the last day to call. And was told that they already had enough people who had applied … but if I wanted to, I could drive up the following week and audition.
So I did.
While filling out the paperwork, the station manager mentioned how they already had enough folks and asked what experience I had. “None” I replied sheepishly. “But folks always say I sound like someone named Delilah.” At this point she stopped dead in her tracks and looked at me.
“Oh my gosh … you really DO sound like Delilah.” she said. At that, I started to laugh in the deep voiced way I always laugh … to which she said “and you LAUGH like Delilah too!” I suspected that this was a good thing.
On being given a short blurb to read, I leaned into the microphone and read “This is WPSU State College and WPSX Kane …” and so on. When I was done I looked up only to see two huge round eyes staring back at me. “Oh my gosh” she said “you really do sound good” and gave me another blurb to read.
At the conlusion of that, she said something about how my speaking voice sounded like I was telling a story (this is good, I guess) and she asked me to read the first reading again … with one small adjustment.
When I first read it, I had pronounced W something like I was referring to a former President …. as in “Duh-bya” She said the proper way was “Duh-bull-yew”. So ever since I have pronounced my W’s with some extra bull in the middle.
She then stood up and asked which day(s) I preferred to do the on air shifts. “But I thought you already had enough people” I said.
“Yes, but we HAVE to use you'” she replied.
With this encouragement I began the long and arduous process of training to be an on air voice. Which brings me to today’s Happy Holly Project activity. I went to the station today for yet another one-on-one training.
And on arriving in State College I was faced with a massive hoard of people … news vans … reporters … TV … radio … people.
For me? No?
Okay, I knew that there was an Arts Festival in town, but this seemed excessive, even for that.
Now, I don’t know if you noticed the call letters above, or the name of the town … State College … Pennsylvania … as in Penn State University … as in Jerry Sandusky … as in scandal … as in they were holding a news conference following the other news conference … held by Louis Freeh an hour before in Philadelphia … outlining the findings of the official investigation by the former FBI charman … today … an hour before my training.
Needless to say it was hectic in the station as they were busy out and about doing interviews and preparing feeds for NPR on the matter.
Timing, after all, is everything.
They insisted that I still could do the training and the challenge began. All Things Considered … break at six minutes past the hour … 0:15 “Thanks for listening to WPSU …” 0:15 “Weather in the area will be …” Mic on, Red button, Music bed on feed, SD1 … Lower SD1 slider a smidge, Mic Pot Up … Read Log, weather and “It is six minutes past the hour” … slide SD1 Pot up, and Mic down.
Well THAT’S easy enough, right?
OK, All Things Considered … break at nineteen minutes past the hour … screen two … drag 0:30 Music Bed, 0:30 Promo, 0:30 Music Bed … drag over, pot up Air Enco 1. Back to screen one. Then at 18:59 past the hour, simultaneously do All Things Considered SD1 pot down, push button to start 0:90 queued Air Enco 1, AND pot Up Mic. Read Underwiters impossibly long two 0:15 sec blurbs, er, promos … sweat silently … pot up AE1 for 0:30 Promo, pot mic down … at end of Promo, AE1 down, Mic up, and say “Coming up here at 6:30 on WPSU” … and then as the final 0:30 music bed starts, read two back to back 0:15 Promos, all the while praying to the radio gods that it all fits in before ATC starts again. At the end, pot Mic down, slide SD1 UP and breath a huge sigh of releif.
At this point the manager walked in and said “GREAT!!” … obviously she didn’t notice me shaking my head slowly.
Then at 29 minutes past the hour, picture a 0:60 repeat of roughly the same thing as the nineteen minute break … except THIS time, when all is said and done (ending All Things Considered on Air Enco 1 by Pot-ing down … and doing the various up, down, on, offs for Promos, et al) I had to remember to say “Its 30 minutes past the hour” and simultaneously pot DOWN the Mic and pot UP the SD02 … not SD01. Because this was the beginning of Marketplace for a half hour. And it is on SD02, not SD01 … which not surprisingly enough actually is playing the next half hour of All Things Considered which had been played earlier in the day.
Lord Have Mercy.
Little did I know when I signed on for this gig that having a good voice … and I do … and having computer skills … which I certainly do … were not the biggest part of it all. The biggest part is all the intricate timing and Pot Up, Pot Down, Air Enco, SD, Mic, Button, Slider, Automatn stuff.
I just practiced three breaks today … a grand total of two minutes of air time. Yes all that pot-ing and mic-ing and whatever-ing I described above is for two minutes of air time.
I practiced for an hour. My shift is two hours …
When I signed up for all of this, it was because I had a good voice … and I thought it would be great fun.