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'New Tricks For Old Dogs' Podcast Episode Has
Advice For Boomers Thinking About Voice Over
August 27, 2020

By John Florian

Can 'Old Dogs' (aka Seniors/Boomers) really learn new tricks?

Or maybe find their way back to the career home they'd dreamed about - or abandoned - long ago?

Longtime friends - and Old Dogs - Jim Conlan (pictured, on the right) and Paul Menzel (left) not only answer 'Yes!' but prove it with their entertaining and informative podcast, New Tricks for Old Dogs - "The podcast for Boomers who still like to howl at the moon."

Now in its second big season, the podcast is a 25-minute blend of friendly chat about life in the senior zone, plus sometimes bizarre news and an interview with a senior "who is still doing their thing - or maybe they've found a new thing to do after retiring," as Jim puts it. They're "Boomers who are still actively engaged with life."

Jim adds: "The podcast is a politics-free zone, but other than that, anything goes, as long as it's interesting to seniors."

Jim - or James, as his audiobook narration fans know him - is a veteran voice actor, coach and advertising creative who is especially known for humorous radio commercials. VoiceOverXtra readers might also recognize him as the author of insightful articles.

And Paul is a former actor, director and creator of Houston's Comedy Workshop - which he describes as "a home for untried actors, writers and comedians - and a lot of bad behavior." Yet notable alums include Brett Butler, Sam Kinison, Thea Vidale, Janeane Garofalo and Bill Hicks.
PS: There's lots more interesting stuff to know about these guys, so you might enjoy their bios below.
They call the interview segment of each podcast "Howling at the Moon," and recently, I was honored with an invitation to howl about the fun and viability of starting or restarting a voice over career. You can hear this in Episode 39 below. The interview starts slightly after 13 minutes, but you'll enjoy the rapport of these friends right from the start ...


The witty bios of this duo reveal fascinating lives that are still full of new tricks.

Jim Conlan ("James" to his close friends) is a multi-talented guy with multi-multi talents (he says). Known as a child for his extremely loud voice, he was often thrust on-stage to make announcements at class assemblies. From this he developed a powerful yen to be entertaining. Some day. ​

Between then and now, Jim has howled at many moons. He has a degree in painting. He was in the Peace Corps. He was a national director of the Beyond War Foundation. He was and is a director of the Carl Jung Educational Center of Houston, including four years as President. And for years you could hear Jim's jazz trio around town until even the small audience for jazz dried up. Jim refuses to speculate on the likelihood that his playing in part contributed to the situation.  

Over a long and varied career in advertising Jim has collected hundreds of local, regional and national awards, mostly for extremely funny radio commercials. Coincidentally, many of them featured Paul's voice. If you still bother to listen to the radio, you may be familiar with Jim's long-running campaign for Jimmy John's. Jim's talent for directing may become evident whenever he decides to ask Paul to rephrase something.  

Jim is also a voice actor with over four decades of experience.  Hundreds of clients have hired Jim for thousands of commercial and non-commercial projects, from humorous to hard-sell, Voice of God to Guy Next Door, narration, industrial, inspirational, and matter-of-fact. This may well be why 3 out of 4 of our listeners (Benny, Shirley and Max) prefer Jim's voice to Paul's.  

You may also be aware of Jim's work as an audiobook narrator. If you're not, you can find him on under the name "James Conlan." He has narrated over 80 titles so far, from Moby-Dick to books you probably never heard of.  

A native Michiganian, Jim now lives in Houston with his wife of 50 years (who, with good reason, prefers to remain nameless), two grown children, and two un-grown grandchildren.  


Paul has always known that he was destined for a life of comedy. And people have been laughing at him ever since.

Shortly after graduating from college in 1968, he joined an improvisational comedy troupe called Dudley Riggs' Brave New Workshop in Minneapolis. For the next eight years, he directed and performed in their comedy revues. During that time, the group was featured weekly in satirical pieces for "All Things Considered" on the National Public Radio Network. ​

In 1977, Paul moved to Houston to open a comedy club. One room featured improvisational comedy revues and a separate room featured young comedians. Over the next 12 years, the Comedy Workshop provided a home for untried actors, writers and comedians - and a lot of bad behavior. Notable alums include Brett Butler, Sam Kinison, Thea Vidale, Janeane Garofalo and Bill Hicks.  ​

In addition to running the Comedy Workshop, he was busy as an actor in commercials, industrial films, and a couple dozen forgettable movies. He still gets residual payments from some of that work ā€“ only now the checks are in cents rather than dollars. He framed one check for 2 cents ā€“ a reminder of the lasting value of his on-camera work.

​ At the beginning of 1990, Paul closed down the Comedy Workshop when he realized that he didn't like being the only adult on the playground. Since that time, he has combined work as an actor, writer, video producer and instructional designer. 

Along the way he added a Master's Degree in Training and Development and certification as a Ropes facilitator, family mediator and life coach. Don't ask ā€“ somehow it all fits together.

After he hit 65, he scaled back his contract work to focus on writing and acting. Creating the Old Dogs Podcast with Jim Conlan has been a great way to draw on the life experiences of the last seven decades.  

Paul has been married to Susan Huff, a video producer, for 25 years. They have a teenage daughter, Savanna. Paul also has a son, Andrew, who lives in Houston with his wife Cheryl and their three children. It's always interesting being a parent and grandparent at the same time.
For more about the New Tricks for Old Dogs podcast, including past episodes, visit
John Florian is the founder/publisher of VoiceOverXtra, the voice over industry's award-winning online news, education and resource center, offering thousands of resource links, how-to articles, calendar of industry events, industry directory, webinar training and more. A former magazine editorial director/publisher, John is also a voice talent who merged those two career passions to create VoiceOverXtra in 2007.

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Comments (2)
Dave Clarke
8/27/2020 at 6:57 PM
Great job John! Enjoyed your segment, and thank you for what you do. I read every edition of Voice-Over Xtra! you send out.
Joe Loesch
8/27/2020 at 7:42 AM
This looks like fun! Iā€™m about to dive into it.
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