Voice Over Radio at Edge Studio


Some people think you can’t do as much with radio voice overs as you can with visual media, such as TV and Internet commercials. They’re wrong. Voice over radio forces the creators of the commercial to create environments incorporating sound effects (SFX) and music.

We love it. Here in our world of voice over, radio is a veritable playground.

There are so many things you can do with radio. There's the conversational straight-read ... the voice-over-a-radio-jingle ... the dialog (what we call a "double") ... the humorous spot ... the outright comedy spot ... the warm, emotional spot ... and the hard sell. Anything you can do with a combination of voice, music and sound effects, you can do in a voice over or radio studio.

(Maybe you've the heard the classic "Maraschino Cherry" radio production by Stan Freberg, whose comedy voice, over radio and TV in the '50s and '60s, greatly influenced American humor and advertising. That image-filled bit depicted the Royal Canadian Air Force dropping a giant maraschino cherry into one of the Great Lakes -- filled with hot chocolate and topped with a mountain of whipped cream -- to the cheering of 25,000 extras.)

We have tremendous respect for radio professionals, many of whom do amazing things at local radio stations. Unfortunately, most radio people are radio people, not trained voice over actors. They are experienced in announcing, DJ'ing and promotion, but not necessarily in other types of voice over. Radio voice training and acting voice training are simply not the same thing. Even more important, DJ'ing and acting presentation are even more different. For most types of radio commercials, you want a voice actor.

So, permit us to make the case for producing your radio commercial in a professional voice over studio such as ours, using performers who are trained as radio voice over talent. This way you know your commercial will enhance your advertising image (and your own professional image). If you run it on one station, it will be more distinctive. If you run it on many, your image will be consistent. All in all, this improved effectiveness will greatly outweigh the relatively small added cost.

How to write for radio

For tips on writing radio scripts, see our article on Voice Over Copy.

To those, we would add the following, specific to radio.

  • At first, don't worry about the length. Instead knock it out fast, and don't inhibit yourself. But then come back a little later to cut it back to 60 seconds, 30 or whatever. Some of the funny stuff will still be funny. Some of the poignant passages will still be moving. Some of the sales points will work better than others. Those are the parts to keep.
  • Use the same principals as in print and other advertising. As in print, in order to be noticed, understood and remembered, a radio spot should be about one thing, not a laundry list. And, as in print, some commercials are conceptual; others are simply "sales copy." Either can be appropriate, depending on your communication goal.
  • Think "campaign." As marketing professionals know, repetition is the name of the game. You and your client might tire of hearing your own "voice" over the radio long before the general public even catches on to it. (Although a professional script and production can improve on that.)

But at some point, freshening will be necessary. If the first commercial is on-target, don't jolt your product image by changing the advertising personality entirely. In fact, a follow-up spot in the same vein is where you can introduce copy points that you omitted from the first one to simplify your message.

And if you can't easily extend your initial spot into a series of 2 or 3, maybe your concept isn't as strong as you'd like it to be. Think again.

How to cast for radio

If you want to do the casting yourself (rather than simply choose from our recommendations), here are some tips:

  • Consider only trained professionals. Often a pro at voice over gives radio copy a wonderful twist you hadn't thought of. On the other hand, an amateur can significantly drag out the session, and may not be versatile enough to perform to your direction.
  • In listening to auditions, disregard minor technical glitches and slip-ups that won't occur in the actual production situation, or that can be easily corrected by re-recording the line. Even the most professional radio voice over talent makes an occasional mistake.
  • If you're auditioning out-of-town talent, it's never been easier. You can even produce by phone or Internet these days. If you're not in a major city yourself, your production can sound as if you were.
  • As we've noted, casting is one of the major reasons for using a studio that specializes in voice over for radio production. We abound with talent resources. Edge Studio has recorded countless major celebrities, and voice over veterans, and (with our long history of radio voice training) we also "grow our own" of every type. We have a large demo library of voice over radio specialists. With all types of radio voice overs, rely on us to find the right professional for your respective -- and respectful -- needs.

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