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Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2011

Voice Over Milwaukee Teaches the Art of Speaking

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It's not just advertising and movie trailers anymore. Those voices you hear everywhere—at the Amtrak station or the airport, using soothing tones to warn about unattended packages, or at the store, alerting customers to a sale in aisle 12—are the work of a growing number of professionals. With Voice Over Milwaukee, David Conner and Dave Redemann have developed what they consider the best professional voice-training program in the Midwest. Redemann has worked in advertising in Milwaukee for many years and Conner was an engineer at Los Angeles' Radio Ranch, a renowned recording studio with classes that have served as a model for Voice Over Milwaukee. Together, they opened a studio in Milwaukee, Loft 117. We recently spoke to Redemann.

Why did Conner come to Milwaukee?

He wanted out of the L.A. scene. He's from Ohio and worked in Chicago and has roots in the Midwest. I got to know him when we worked together directing commercial talent. We decided we share a brain when we're in the recording booth.

And you developed a curriculum and began holding classes this year?


Yes, we've graduated four people. We teach people how to behave in the studio and how to use their voice. An announcer should sound like a real person, not an announcer. They should sound like they do in a real conversation. Classes meet in six weekly sessions of two, three hours each. The whole idea is to give students lots of time in the booth with the microphone. We give them scripts to read and compare them from session to session.

Do you grade them?


Not really. We give them a lot of continuous feedback from our experience with getting nuanced reads from talent. We try to prepare them for what's out there. The final project is a professional demo CD plus head shots. If they get an audition from an agency, we'll let them come to our studio and record something at no charge.

Is the field growing?


The need is, especially with the new media and new opportunities with mobile phones and all those things. We're filling an important niche. Many studios nowadays are using an ISDN phone line to connect with other studios. You can have a voice talent in L.A. contributing to a commercial production being made in Milwaukee. Someone who lives in Elm Grove can get national work.

Do you flunk students?


We're very conscientious about being honest and helping people develop. We offer an intro seminar where we talk about what we do. In our business, you can usually tell whether someone can deliver after three takes. I think in our class, if we'd discover someone is incapable, we'd refund their money. It hasn't happened yet.