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Dave Courvoisier at KLAS-TV: "Communicating one-to-one is the key to successfully presenting your voice - no matter the medium."
 
 
TONIGHT AT 11:
Voice-Overs Enhance Career
Of Las Vegas TV News Anchor
 
By Dave Courvoisier
Voice Actor & TV News Anchor

Humans can’t compare to dogs in the realm of hearing. But we’re pretty high up the scale on sight (maybe cats or eagles are higher, but then they can’t operate a TiVo remote). So no wonder TV captured our attention when it overtook radio.
 
But hold on there just a minute, buckaroo ….
 
Although we’re apt to forget it, television - and it’s latest iteration, the Internet - is almost always pictures and sound. Can you imagine:
  • You Tube with only silent zany videos?
  • AOL without the characteristic: “You’ve got mail”? or
  • Anderson Cooper with the volume turned down?
I’m reminded of that fact when I’m recognized waiting in line at the grocery store.
 
SEE ME? HEAR ME?
 
I’ve been the main weeknight TV anchorman on the NBC and now the CBS affiliated stations in Las Vegas for a total of 17 years.
 
Those stations and others spend millions for consultants to tell me and my peers how to look good. High Definition has only made it worse. Make-up, hair, clothing, teeth - all are tweaked to optimum level.
 
But back to the grocery line.
 
When I’m recognized, seven times out of 10 (uh, lessee, that’s 70% of the time), the person is keying off my voice, not my face. (Disclaimer: this is unscientific data - anecdotal evidence only.) I always considered that to be a very nice compliment, but the more I thought about it, the more it floored me.
 
Oddly enough, though, very rare is the News Director who spends a dime to train the talent in voice. All those consultant dollars go toward image.
 
What a waste! Amazingly, 70% of TV “viewers” is keying off voice, but the bosses worry more about image.
 
SEGUE TO VOICE-OVER
 
 Voice coaches, agents, casting directors and even prospective clients are fond of saying that TV news anchors don’t translate well into the world of voice acting. Maybe some don’t.
 
But my news anchoring got noticeably better when I became a voice actor on the side in my own right. It changed my entire perception of what voice contributes to pictures in a newscast. Linkage between the two is the Holy Grail of TV news.
 
On the flip side, my voice acting improved too. I began to look at my daily news shows as a practice field for timing, inflection, conversational tones, and building my own personality and style.
 
COMPETING WITH MYSELF?
 
However, getting my boss to accept the possibility that his main anchor might be moonlighting in a related field prompted a lot of red flags.
 
They spend considerable money promoting me, and don’t want me personally capitalizing on that notoriety when it doesn’t return money to their pockets.
 
Also, from their preconceived notions of what voice-over artists do, they could only see it as competition against myself - muddying the waters as to who their anchorman is, or represents, or speaks for.
 
Thus, negotiating some wiggle-room in my contract for freelance voice-over work required a bit of educating.
 
PROVING NO CONFLICT
 
I had to convince management that 80% of the work I would like to audition for in the modern VO market was not a threat to them ... that I was not going to hawk used cars, insurance or dentures in the Las Vegas market on camera.
 
Heck, I told them I wasn’t even interested in TV imaging, radio commercials, political commercials, or any on-air TV commercials.
 
Then I challenged them to be able to prove to me how my doing narrations for real-estate presentations, corporate video productions, or voicing e-learning, web sites, or podcasts outside the Las Vegas market was any threat to their bottom line.
 
So far it’s worked fine. They only ask that I tell them what VO projects I’m currently involved in.
 
Most of the time, it’s not an issue. But if the News Director has a problem with it, we talk it out and compromise. Basically, they just want to know that the TV anchor job is my prime 100% focus for the time they pay me to be there. Whatever I do in my off-hours that poses no conflict to them is my business.
 
DON’T MIMIC STYLES
 
I will admit that something the TV consultants taught me many years ago has finally paid off.
 
Early in my on-air career, I begged consultants to provide me with videotape examples of other successful anchors in bigger markets. To their credit, most of those consultants steadfastly refused.
 
They encouraged me to develop my own style … use my own gifts … relate to my viewers in the way that was uniquely “me”.
 
Many years later, that style began to emerge. And I now realize that is also the best possible admonition I could recommend to any up ‘n’ coming voice actor.
 
Conversational is ”in.” Communicating one-to-one is the key to successfully presenting your voice - no matter the medium.
 
That’s why it’s no longer essential to have those deep pipes for announcing. It’s not “announcing” anymore. It’s about relating to your listeners in a highly personal way. They identify you with that style, become comfortable with it, and then it becomes your hallmark, your brand, plus your job security.
 
And remember: your dog will always love you and your voice, no matter what you do. That’s how dogs achieve job security.
 
Dave Courvoisier (“pronounced just like the fine cognac, only no relation”) is an Emmy Award-winning broadcaster, writer, producer, voice actor, and the main weeknight news anchor on KLAS-TV, Channel 8, the Las Vegas CBS affiliate. His budding voice-over career led to his appearing as emcee of the VOICE 2007 conference in Las Vegas in March 2007. He also writes “Voice-Acting in Vegas,” a daily blog of adventures and observations in a style that’s true to his friendly Midwestern farm roots.
 
 
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Comments (1)
Felicia S.
5/5/2014 at 12:42 PM
Thank You oh so much for posting this article. I am currently pursuing a career in voice acting due to a bit of a shove from some of my co-workers. I'm working with a gal by the name of Leah Frederick out of Kentucky who mentioned that being from the Midwest is a bit of a bonus for most voice actors and I couldn't help but laugh as I read your last line. I must admit I sometimes find it hard to believe that it really me that I'm listening to when I practice on the app I have on my phone. But I've taken on a new motto...You never know until you try.

Thx Again,
Felicia
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