Beware Of William May - Or Whatever
Name He Posts For Auditions Now
By Paul Strikwerda
©2010 Paul Strikwerda
Posting jobs under false names, not paying invoices, and Jekyll-and-Hyde-treatment of voice-over talent … these appear to be the trademarks of William May.
Mr. May is the founder and editor of Newspapers For The Blind Organization Inc., a web-based service offering a daily selection of newspaper articles for the vision impaired, read by voice-over pros.
The site was quietly launched during the last quarter of 2009 (and should not be confused with NFB-Newsline®).
WHAT AND WHO ..
The idea behind Newspapers for the Blind (NFTB) is not new, but certainly noble.
The other two people involved, Dr. Edward E. Boas Jr. and Noelle Mills Adler, have impressive credentials.
Dr. Boas is a Professor of Computer Science, Data Processing and Electronics at Cecil College in North East, Maryland.
Ms. Mills Adler is a past president of the Ladies Christian Union of New York City (now known as the LCU Foundation).
But it’s the voice-over professionals known as newspapercasters who are at the heart of NFTB.
I AUDITIONED ...
At the beginning of September 2009, I became a member of this “elite team,” after auditioning for the following job posted on Voice123:
GOT THE GIG
I was absolutely thrilled to have made the cut.
Regular gigs are hard to come by in this industry, but there was another reason why I was so excited.
Some jobs we do for the money; others because it is the right thing to do. This was the best of both worlds!
THE AMAZING MR. MAY
On top of that, the founder/editor seemed to possess an incredible drive and contagious enthusiasm to make things happen.
His initial emails were personable, funny and encouraging.
After I started reading leads from The Independent and The Times, he commented:
One day, I shared with him that I wasn’t feeling too well. He responded:
BUT SOMETHING ODD ...
This was clearly a man with a heart! One thing bothered me a little, though.
Whenever I asked May if he intended to formalize the relationship and how payment would be handled, it took him months to come up with something that came close to a straight answer.
A month or so into the job, I had yet to be paid.
Then I noticed that May had placed another job posting on Voice123. Why would he be looking for new recruits? When I asked him about it, he answered:
He was right. Not only would I be recording and editing at least two articles a day, but Will asked me and four other colleagues to record public service announcements for NFTB (a 501C-3 Corporation).
ON A ROLL ...
I was tickled when he told me:
By that time I was on a roll. The only thing missing was a regular paycheck and eventually, that became an ordeal.
I had to send out countless reminders, only to hear that my “address was lost” or that someone would be looking into it.
GIVE ME A BREAK
On Nov. 15,, May surprised me with the following message:
But on Nov. 20, I received the following email:
The truth is that it was business as usual at Newspapers for the Blind. They didn’t miss a beat, and never have.
I was sidetracked for no apparent reason, while waiting for my checks. And I was not alone.
Voice-over colleague Juliette Gray picks up the story:
VOICE123 HEARS IT
Steven Lowell handles the PR for Voice123. This is what he said when I asked him about NFTB and Will May:
SAME OLD STORIES
Before hearing my side of the story, Voice123 heard from Juliette and two other voice-over professionals; one from the US, and one from the UK.
As I was researching this article, I got in touch with other newspapercasters. Without exception, they asked me not to reveal their names, because they’re still hoping to get paid and they want to keep their job.
But all of them told similar tales about Mr. May, and I wondered if Voice123 had taken any action.
MAY IS BANNED
As a rule, Voice123 only investigates non-payment matters that are 60-days old. Steven Lowell:
But having examined concrete proof from email correspondence as to what had happened, Voice123 banned Will May from the site.
Unfortunately, that was not the end of the matter. Lowell:
WHERE'S THE MONEY?
Juliette Gray is still waiting for her paycheck, and she’s not the only one.
I was lucky. Even though Mr. May still owes me a substantial amount of money, I did get paid for approximately two-thirds of my work.
For months, I asked May to pay the remainder of the balance, but he was MIA. When my knocks on his door became louder, he finally sent a very unfriendly email, accusing me of “futzing the dates” on my invoices. He wrote:
WHAT I'M THINKING ...
I think that Newspapers for the Blind offers a terrific service. The newspapercasters are dedicated and talented readers who can be proud to support their families by bringing the news to the blind and vision-impaired, day in day out.
The web site has an impressive list of reputable institutions labeled as “dedicated listeners“.
There is no doubt in my mind that the energetic editor has moved mountains to realize this project.
Based on my email exchanges with him, Will May works night and day to keep the service up and running. I don’t know for sure, but I suspect that he has invested a substantial amount of his own money into this undertaking.
THE WILL MAY-WAY
I also believe that people are not their behavior. From time to time, all of us do things that we are not proud of, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t know any better.
Just because we do something crazy, doesn’t mean that we are crazy.
Having said that, it is not okay to treat people the Will May-way, and Voice123 was right to ban him from the site.
Other sites have been alerted to make sure he doesn’t pull the same stuff.
Furthermore: May needs to pay his talents. Without them, there would be no Newspapers for the Blind.
WHY DOES HE DO IT?
For now, I am left with one question: why would someone who is clearly invested in and dedicated to such a noble cause, turn from Mr. Nice into Mr. Nasty?
In my experience, there’s always a story behind a story. And believe me, in this case there is:
ABOUT PAUL ...
Paul Strikwerda is a 25-year veteran of the voice-over industry whose Nethervoice service features German and Dutch voice-overs, translation and evaluation services. Born in Holland, he has worked for Dutch national and international radio, the BBC and American Public Radio. Although 90% of his work is in English, Strikwerda also records in Dutch, German and French. Clients include Novartis, Johnson & Johnson, and the Discovery Channel. He also publishes an informative and entertaining blog, Double Dutch.