Who's Hiring TV Promo News/Imaging Voice Overs Now? Think Corporate - And Group Discounts
September 8, 2020
By Dave Courvoisier
Voice over colleagues often ask me the same question:
"How do you approach local TV affiliate stations about Promo/News Imaging jobs?"
Well, I've been toiling away in CBS, NBC and ABC affiliated stations since 1979, and I've noticed a thing or two along the way.
In fact, now that I'm a voice actor myself, I realize how cool it is to be the "voice" of a TV station … to do those news opens, and to be on call every day to cut the latest news promos and more.
Of course, I personally can't do those jobs, because it would be a breach of my news anchor contract.
However, I've become familiar with decision-making processes at network affiliates, and below is my answer to voice actors who ask me how the system works these days.
Note: this answer is different that the one I would've written five years ago. Things are changing fast in local broadcast TV. The new reality stands aside from ownership, network affiliation, programming or personnel. The main disrupter of legacy broadcast paradigms is the internet and social media, and by extension, the ad dollars that are going THERE instead of into broadcast.
I hope you get something out of my explanation below.
THE WAY WE WERE
Let's start with the way things used to be.
Each station's promotions director independently chose the voice they wanted. This person might have the title of Production Director, Promotions Manager, Creative Director or Commercial Director… and even the News Director at some stations may have that responsibility.
Lord knows how they made - or still make - their voice choice. They may rely on past relationships, word of mouth from other News Directors/Promotions Directors, agents, casting services, consultants, or their own research.
MOVE TO GROUP MANAGER
My guess is the above paradigm is losing traction in the environment of stations being bought-out and belonging to media groups of stations.
Which leads me to my next point: The decision for local TV voices is increasingly being made at a higher corporate level by some station "group" manager - either nationally or according to regions/districts.
I'm not sure what title that person would have. I would imagine it varies widely according to the company.
Chances are, though, that if you get through to that person, and they like you, you could ostensibly end up as the voice for many stations in their group. That would be nice, but the compensation would be less than the above scenario of finding each station one at a time.
In other words, the corporate person choosing a voice for his group would expect a "volume discount" for choosing you for many of their affiliates.
ALLEGIANCE TO AFFILIATES
A final scenario involves allegiances along network lines CBS, NBC, ABC, FOX, etc.
The network itself may make suggestions or apply pressure in some way to have their affiliates accept a certain "sound" or voice personality to be consistent with their news product.
This would certainly be more true of so-called "O & O's" - stations that are owned AND operated by the networks themselves, usually IN the biggest national markets: LA, NYC, SF, Dallas, etc.
How well the big agencies (e.g. ATLAS, VOX, TGMD, etc.) or even news consultants are plugged into this system is a matter of conjecture. I'm sure it has to do with legacy relationships, agreements/contracts already in place, and enterprising people such as you, inserting themselves into the process.
Having worked in affiliate TV news for 35+ years, I can tell you this is the truth as far as I know it. More and more is it becoming a corporate decision by someone who arranges a deal for a "volume discount" to all their member stations.
A TOUGH MARKET
For a time, as a retired news anchor, I hit this market hard. I thought I was the perfect choice: established voice actor with a background in news. Barely got a nibble! SMH.
Oh, and BTW, once you GET the job, you are on the hook every day, sometimes many times a day. And by "on the hook", I mean you're at their beck 'n' call on a rigorous and demanding schedule. Good luck getting a vacation!
Dave Courvoisier is a voice actor and audiobook narrator based in Las Vegas who was recently recruited back to TV news following retirement from a long stint as Emmy Award-winning broadcaster, producer and the main weeknight news anchor on KLAS-TV, Channel 8, the CBS affiliate. He is now the morning TV news anchor on Good Morning Las Vegas at ABC affiliate KTNV, Channel 13 (also seen as live stream on KTNV.com). A former president and a founding member of the World-Voices Organization (WoVO), he also writes Voice-Acting in Vegas, a daily blog of voice over adventures, observations and technology, and is author and publisher of the book, More Than Just A Voice: The Real Secret To VoiceOver Success, now in its second edition.
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