Working from home has become the new norm. Tens of millions of people had suddenly been converted from office workers to digital home-mads when the shutdowns began. We left our one on one relationships at work and shifted to virtual co-workers, no longer sharing a workspace and the casual conversations at the water cooler. The business trips stopped. The cold coffees in the break rooms ceased to exist. And the things that connected us and gave us variance in our lives came to a halt. For so many, these disconnects made us feel lonely.
I remember when the pandemic started many of my colleagues and friends in the voiceover business joked about their many years of experience working from home. Like them, I had been working from home for many years. As a full-timer in the voiceover industry, you work in a booth, or a closet, or any enclosed space that will help reduce reflective noises. And for most, they come out of those spaces after a full (or partial) day’s work to interact with their families and friends and enjoy activities.
My life and experience working from home have always been different. Before becoming a voiceover talent, I worked in the school system as a substitute and afterschool teacher. As you could imagine, I was never alone. I was always busy, with tens and sometimes hundreds of kids around me. There were parents to talk to and co-workers to congregate with and share outrageous and unbelievable stories about the kids. After school, I hung out with my co-working friends.
But in 2006, after 2 years of part-time voice acting, I made a commitment to being a full-time voiceover talent (after I was fired from substitute teaching). No more hanging with co-workers or seeing the kids. Or conferencing in person with parents to discuss why their kid’s behavior at school was markedly different than it was at home. No mas! And as a result, I became far less relevant to the people I worked with. To make up for this, I involved myself in activities.
What’s So Different About Me?
When I left my job, or rather, when my job left me, I had to find different things to involve myself in. Unlike so many of my friends and former co-workers, I don’t have a family. Over the many years, I have had many girlfriends but I don’t have any children. I don’t even have a dog. For much of those years as well, I lived alone. While I saw even my youngest brother get married and have beautiful daughters, I decided that a life of travel was the path for me.
I am also an introvert who has always forced himself to be social, and it’s worked for me. I have found friends in new countries while traveling. I’ve encountered new buddies while working out in the gym. I have new friends from attending various Spanish meet-up groups. And even found some guys who gladly and repeatedly dropped me on my head doing judo (lol). I have made friends based on the activities that we have in common which has warded off loneliness. But generally, when those activities were over, I was back to the voiceover booth and back to being alone.
So Why Do I Feel Lonely Now?
The pandemic really highlighted how fragile my associations were. It shone a spotlight on how I had medicated myself with travel and meet-ups. It was initially tough and made me feel lonely. Unlike my co-workers who had their children, spouses, and dog to huddle around the barrage of news coming in about the virus, I did not have that. I was actually working doing radio imaging (alone in the booth) to inform and encourage people to stay home. All the meanwhile spending no time producing nightclub commercials, because they were locked down. I was also suffering from health issues that started before covid.
All of the things that I had occupied my time and mind with were crumbling around me. My social interactions have been reduced to social media and a sharp increase in on-screen time. My time in the gym halted and my only exercise was a brisk walk from the studio couch to the bathroom before my bladder gave way. There was no more swimming. There was no martial arts training. Instead, there were short drone flights around the neighborhood with my DJI Mavic; at least until that fateful day when I flew it into some electrical wires (RIP Mav).
Suddenly I was doing nothing but scrolling. My health and good sense dictated that I follow the CDC guidelines. It wasn’t long before I saw posts from here in Georgia and other red states where everyone was back out and about. Heck, at that point the pandemic had just started a month prior and some clubs were back open. Everyone was having fun. They were in the bars, hanging out in Miami, going out to restaurants and I was still sheltering. The gym re-opened in June 2020. Some of my gym buddies went back to working out immediately. Some were decidedly cautious. But regardless, I allowed my membership to lapse and have still not renewed.
What Now? Do I Go Back To Normal Now That I’m Vaccinated?
No! The pandemic isn’t over. 94% doesn’t mean 100% effective and there are still breakthrough infections. The number of people getting vaccinated with both shots is waning. And the anti-vaxers are getting louder. All of this means, that as the summer progresses, I take caution in finding things to do outside with my girlfriend. We still plan to do activities but in a controlled manner. I’ll get back to medicating myself with travel. I have already started flying again, but I take extra precautions. But in all of that, I’ll still be working from home.
The Covid pandemic has taught me a few lessons. It has taught me that people need people and to strengthen the connections that I have with others. It’s taught me that working from home isn’t for everyone. Being a loner is ok. But I don’t have to feel lonely. It’s important to discover commonalities with people and to keep up with them. The pandemic taught me that we are all mentally vulnerable and the necessity to continually evaluate one’s psychological health. I am still learning the value of random calls with the thousands of unused names and numbers in my contacts list. Because when dealing with the stress of toilet paper and gas shortages, we need others to relate to who are dealing with the same crap.
As a voiceover talent, I do a lot of voices. And I do a lot of voiceover for different genres of voiceover. But as I have expressed before, being a radio imaging voice is one of my favorites. I have nailed a bunch of commercial voiceover auditions and it is really satisfying to book them, but nothing like booking a radio station. Recently I booked KZBT. I’m super excited about this station for several reasons. For One thing, I’ll be their Hip Hop Radio Imaging Voice
Most of the stations that I do radio imaging for are R&B or Gospel stations. I love that work. At 40 plus years of age, I have a grown person’s voice and I actually listen to the music from those stations. But when I entered into voiceover, I was in my twenties and hip hop was everything to me. I did thousands of commercials over the years for hip hop nightclubs. I enjoy that work so much that I go back and listen to my old commercials. So when KZBT called me, I was super excited.
I don’t do as much current Hip Hop anymore. I do a lot of Throwback stations. I enjoy that too but there is a difference from hip hop stations. Hip Hop stations allow me to be wild. I can adlib things in a very unpredictable way on hip hop stations that I can’t on old school or throwback or gospel stations. That’s the difference. That’s what young people like.
The talent who did the voice for the station is one who I respect greatly. He inspired me to get into radio imaging and voiceover in general. But, like myself, he has a huge commanding voice. He makes you pay attention. But there is a new generation of hip hop radio station listeners and they hear things differently. They don’t want to hear a booming voice. They feel that voice may not be talking to them on their level. So many stations are switching to a younger sounding urban voice.
Luckily for me, I can also change to a younger sounding voice as well. If you’d like to book me for your station, leave me a message here on the site and I’ll get back to you.
Dane: I’m Dane Reid, The Voiceover Guy. I am here with the team from voice actor websites. Guys! (Team Introduces Themselves) (Dane) And I don’t have any labs that fit five people.
At the cross section of one of the most successful voiceover careers and the embodiment of talent, is one of the nicest people in VO, Joe Cipriano. I had a chance to meet Joe Cip (as he is affectionately referred to) a few years at VO Atlanta. He was signing copies of his book “Living on Air” which was co-written by his wife Ann. As soon as he spoke, I recognized that iconic voice. I was intimidated to speak to him. But after purchasing his book, myself and fellow VO friend Scott Chambers sat around talking to him and even sat at his table for the lunch session. He was so COOL. It made me want to know even more about “How Do I Become Like Joe Cipriano?”
Joe’s career is the admiration of most voiceover talent. It spans decades and thousands of very well known promo and radio imaging projects. You’ve heard him as the voice for promos for the Simpsons on Fox and he’s been the voice of comedies on CBS forever. But inspite of his success, Joe is incredibly humble. When I decided that I wanted a chance to interview him, I doubted that he remembered me. But I knew that Scott had kept in touch with him. So I called Scott. And Scott called Joe. And Joe gave the “ok”. This, I knew, was gonna be exciting.
Not every voice actor, podcaster or youtuber visits “The Clubhouse” where Joe cooks up nationally recognized voiceover. Joe has been the voice of the Emmy’s, Network TV and Game Shows and keeps a busy schedule. So, I was excited to get some of his time for this interview. Much of the prep time at the Clubhouse I spent shooting B Roll of Joe just simply working. His schedule is of back to back jobs. He goes from Game Show, to promos to Radio Imaging with the precision of a surgeon, never missing a beat.
Reading Voiceover With Joe Cipriano
But Joe is still one of the most talented guys in the industry. I had a chance to do a promo read with Joe which blew my mind and inspired the direction of my voiceover career for 2020. Check it out in the video at 9:28. Joe showed me how to break down promo copy. We talked about timing and the nuances of the script which indicate different inflections and points at which the VO talent should change moods, voices etc. The scripts are complete with info for everyone involved in the project from audio mixers, to the SOT and the video producers. Joe showed me all of that.
Watching Joe Work
Joe changed the way I do business. I watched Joe work for hours and what I was impressed with most was his level of organization. He was like a machine. Every job he did, he documented in his system and emailed his agent about. Joe explained to me that it was not only important in keeping track of getting paid, but also making sure you were doing the work you’re being paid for. I know from radio imaging that you are contracted each month to a certain number of pages. Joe keeps track of even the length of scripts and how much he had done that month. After watching him handle the administration part of the job, I went home and became more precise.
Joe credits his success to 4 things: Relationships, Talent, Luck and his wife Ann. Back in 1997 Joe was a radio guy in LA when he was heard on air by a television executive who was searching for the right voice for their new network Fox. He made a few phone calls and a connection of Joes made the introduction. That sparked a relationship with Fox that has lasted more than 2 decades. And similarly, a relationship that he had with a CBS executive that landed him the promo jobs at that network.
But it’s the relationship that he found long before he was nationally admired, with his wife Ann that he seems most proud of. Joe and I talked about his family as much of being a part of his success as he did his talent. Ann helped write his book Living on Air, which they released in 2013. The book explores Joe’s career as well as helps VO talent build their own careers. It takes you through the wild adventures of broadcasting life.
I walked away from the Clubhouse that day thinking about luck. When speaking to most people, they credit hard work exclusively to their success. But during my time with Joe, he was humbled by the fact that there were many key moments when he just got lucky. Obviously, Joe has more talent than most voice actors could hope for. But he very plainly expressed that if it weren’t for simply being given certain opportunities, that he might not be the Joe that we all know. For me, that was humbling.
Have you ever gone to work mad? Do you hate mondays? I used to too when I was a working 9 to 5’er. Over the years I have had many jobs but none was so satisfying as being a full time voice talent.
Throughout my employment years I have worked my tail off for less than stellar money in jobs I didn’t enjoy. I was fired as a substitute teacher. Fired as a security officer when my employer physically assaulted me. I woke up for months at 3 in the morning to work for the IRS processing plant. And I washed and shuttled cars at the Atlanta Airport to make it through college. But all of these jobs were a drag and made me realize that I was giving my energy to employers who weren’t interested in seeing me thrive. There were no benefits to working for someone else. But there are definite benefits to being a full time voice talent.
As a self employed voice talent and small business owner, I make my own schedule. I’m driven and self determined. I get paid daily, monthly or weekly depending on the nature of the voice over I’m working on. My commute to work is just a few feet to my home recording studio. And there is no one who can fire me from my job or assault me at work. lol.
Voice work has also afforded me many opportunities like frequent travel. It allows me to take my portable home studio anywhere in the world that there is an internet connection and work. And its a great conversation piece when meeting new people. And its pretty cool hearing your voice on the radio all the time. Its just what I imagined, in 2004, when I decided that I wanted to be a Voice Actor.