Stephen Lyons - International Voice-over
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The Voice

The Magazine on the Internet for Voice-overs
& Radio Commercial Producers


What? No July or August? Sorry for the delay, but sheer pressure of work has prevented me from putting together another issue until now. I swear that some producers have a camera trained on my house. Even though the phone may not have rung for two hours, every single time I make a bolt for the Post Office, the sandwich shop or the Bank, the mobile rings before I've even parked the car - often before I've even got out of the gate! Still - better busy than not!

The Voice is now one year old! (Cards, flowers & cheques are all acceptable). It hasn't been the easiest of ventures but, with perseverance, it has stood the test of time. My thanks to all who have sent messages of support and encouragement over the last year; my thanks to others for not suing; and a warm welcome to the flurry of new subscribers. Onwards and upwards! Ed.


So there we were, two of us trapped in a recording studio being directed by the Producer From Hell.

My colleague was a great voiceover talent but has never been asked to join Mensa, if you catch my meaning. Anyway, we were working on a sixty second spot for a healthcare organization. I was playing a grieving father and my colleague was the caring announcer, something he usually does remarkably well.

The Producer From Hell was micro managing our performance. My voice was to crack with sorrow precisely here, quaver a bit exactly here, and so on. After a couple of dozen takes he then turned to my colleague and said, "You are to be the reassuring voice of reason. You are compassionate, yet commanding. You feel the father's agony, but you rise above it, tender with bold overtones because you have the solutions to this mans suffering."

After a moment my colleague turned to me and said, "What?"

I leaned over to him and whispered, "He means read it softer."

Joe Van Riper, a very busy American voiceover talent, sent me a great letter outlining how best to direct talent using reason rather than examples to guide the performance. It would be appropriate to share it with you, but it is now wherever e-mail goes after it is accidentally erased.

So to hide my embarrassment, I'll deftly segue to a totally unrelated story.

Another time we were doing an announcement for some charity that was being produced by a large advertising agency. The radio was part of a multimedia campaign and the agency sent their hot, award-winning creative team to oversee the production of the radio.

The team was a writer and an art director. The art director was clearly uninterested in something as mundane as radio and spent his time in the control room perusing a book about print advertising.

The writer was passionate about how he wanted us to sound. We got caught up in his enthusiasm and didn't mind doing read after read looking for that "magic" take.

Finally we managed to get close to what the writer was hearing in his head. The writer turned to the bored art director and asked him what he thought of our performance. It was obvious to everyone else in the studio that the art director hadn't been paying attention but he wanted the writer to think that he was hanging on our every word so he thought a moment and said, "It had an interesting texture."

We were all impressed by the art director's quick thinking.

The writer considered the answer for a few seconds and the art director visibly relaxed thinking he pulled it off. The writer then whirled around in his swivel chair and shouted at the art director, "WALLPAPER HAS AN INTERESTING TEXTURE! THIS IS RADIO, YOU IDIOT!"

E-mail me at Chris White


The Media UK Internet Directory has re-launched at a new address -

With over 10,000 visitors every month, the site includes e-mail addresses for all UK Radio Stations, tv, magazines and press - also links to web sites. Production studios (JMS and Alfasound) are included, as are links to industry resources (e.g. The Voice).

Currently, users can download a free EMAP screensaver and game (Windows only). It's sister site, the Media UK Freelance Guide, contains over 300 freelancers working in the UK - including a list of ISDN & non-ISDN V/Os.

Entry is free and Media UK can also write & host web pages for those not yet on the Net.


Sounds Visual, in Devizes, Wiltshire, is the home of the YoPo (You Only Pay Once) music and effects library. Jonathan Slatter has produced, to date, five CDs as an alternative to MCPS material.

  • "The Sounds of New York City" (53 actuality tracks of NYC life),
  • "Music for Film" (23 varied style, instrumental underscores),
  • "Music for Classical Moments" (a selection of the best known classics),
  • "Church Organ Music"
  • "Music to Voice-over - Take One" (69 mainly commercial length tracks in a variety of styles)

The library is aimed primarily at Independent producers of advert- ising, film and video.

"Music to Voice-over - Take One" has a high percentage of Commercial length tracks (29", 39" & 49"), nine tracks over one minute long, four tracks from 26" to 60" long, three tracks at 6" or less and two 30" tracks. There's no doubt that the "Music to Voice-over" CD represents very good value for money and is a very useful tool for Commercial Production departments looking to attract agency and outside production company TV Commercial and other work, at a sensible price. "Music to Voice-over - Take Two" will be the next release.

Sounds Visual can be found on +44 (0) 1380 726831.

From Michael Mayer, Tamboerskloof, CAPE TOWN:

Six weeks ago, in what is known as the Newtown Cultural Precinct in Johannesburg, a group of twenty five or so of some of the busiest voice-over artists in South Africa got together to attempt to discuss and (ideally) resolve some points which have been nagging the profession for some years.

The 'slice of the cake' aspect of voice-over fees was the first item on the agenda. It was put to the meeting that the percentage of the ad budget which was allotted not only to the voice-over artist; but the ENTIRE audio side of the TV commercial .. ie. Orchestra/Band when using specially composed music (a fairly frequent occurrence), Conductor/composer/arranger; recording-studio fees; post-production; effects, mixing etc., was a ludicrously low 3% to 5% of the budget.

Actors, voice artists, recording studio bosses, musicians, jingle singers and almost everyone involved in the audio side of things for TV commercials, had seemed to glumly accept this as being 'the way things were' or 'the nature of the business' or whatever other phrases one could possibly use to accept this kind of 'inevitability'.

I arranged with and through P.A.W.E. (Performing Arts Workers Equity), South Africa's new 5 year old Union, to call a meeting of key voice artists to thrash out this nagging aspect of the business.

It was unanimously agreed that extreme exploitation had been taking place for years and years. Without exception the voices present at the meeting of the 25th May felt that a TOTALLY new view ought to be taken vis a vis a voice artist's value or worth as for as his or her contribution to the finished product was concerned. It was resolved to contact no less than 90% of all artists in the country by phone or fax, and hold a further meeting a month later. This was duly arranged.

At the second meeting the resolve was as strong, if not stronger, as far as this first main point was concerned, and the meeting appointed a voice-over working committee whose job it would be to appoint one or two executive members to become part of the P.A.W.E. executive at the time of the annual voice contract negotiations. The members would attend those negotiations secure in the knowledge that more than 95% of the voice artists (INCLUDING all the busiest artists) had resolved to APPRECIABLY increase the voice fees (for TV AND radio) and also secure in the knowledge that these negotiations would have unwavering support".

EMAP Radio Graduate Training Programme

Following the success of their Graduate training programme in other departments last year, EMAP has extended this welcome initiative to it's Creative Departments.

Graduates are being recruited as additional members of the teams and have in no way occupied existing posts.

The six months programme involves full training in all aspects of radio, including Sales skills and Negotiation; Legal training as to the rights and wrongs of practices within Radio; and face-to-face experience with advertising clients.

To date graduates have been placed in Creative Departments at Hallam, Viking, Aire, Piccadilly, City and Red Dragon.

EMAP's Lyn Wood told the voice that, if successful, the programme is likely to be extended next year.


Metro FM's Commericial Production's Martin Healy has just finished a stint in the hot seat of the North East's most listened to, late-nite Talk Show, deputising for Alan Robson - and extremely effectively by all accounts.

Some Comm. Prodders will do anything to get the morning off!


Classic clangers dropped by radio sales people in the course of their work!
  • It's like an Aladdin's cabinet in here
  • Ooops...that was a bit of a fraudulent slip
  • It has a double-barrelled meaning
  • They're going to have the flag all around the peripheral
  • We're just a small fish in a big cog
  • We should use the special offer as a lost leader
  • She could sell snow to the Arabs
This issue's most creative direction of the past month has to be "Don't pay any attention to anything I say - Just get it right!". Thanks to Jerry Rowlands at Hampson Sandall Ltd.

You could almost say that sales of Ian Britton's ISDN User Guide & Directory have gone ballistic. One order for the latest issue came from NATO at the Allied Command HQ!

Latest Creative Team to trip the lines fantastic is Gemini radio, in Exeter. Tim and Emily would like to hear from former Devonair & Gemini voice-overs who may have lost touch. The Direct Comm. Prod. line is +44 (0) 1392 444447.

In an attempt to counter or reduce the current level of drop out between CDQ2000 codecs and Primas Nicral are currently testing a new chip in CDQ2000 Encoders. The chip has already been on test at LBS in Stockport and is soon to be tested in the Ed's own codec. It's a case of watch this space for the results.

Lincoln Fernandez has now left Metro C.P. and is freelancing in London - freelance scripting enquiries to 0171 228 4437.

Colin Platt is shortly to leave Heart 106.2 to take up post as Head of Production at Jazz FM. Rob Arenstein, who has already expanded the Heart team with the arrival of Will Kinder (ex Mercury) is now recruiting a writer/producer (with Sadie capability) to replace Colin.

Paul Drogan is leaving Piccadilly for Red Dragon to replace David Roach who has gone to GWR Bristol.

Mark Baggit is expanding the Red Dragon team with the recent recruitment of Jim Campbell and the impending arrival of a trainee graduate.

Head of Production, David Greenwood, is departing Orchard FM at the end of the month for Dallas, U.S.A. to explore a new career path across the pond. Orchard are now looking for a temporary scriptwriter, probably until the end of the year.

Damian Grady has left The Bay and becomes Head of Production at Red Rose from September 9th.

Publisher & Editor
Stephen Lyons, Cwmcaddon, Ochrwyth, Risca, South Wales NP1 6EL
No.1 Sept '95| No.7 June '96| No.9 Dec '96| No.10 April '97| No.11 May '97|
No.12 July '97| No.13 Sept '97| No.14 Xmas '97|