The Voice Behind the Voice: A Conversation with Voiceover Artist Heidi MasonDenise McArthur 03.19.2015
“I remember, in third grade, my teacher always made me read. I got fed up with it and asked, ‘Why?’ And she said, ‘Heidi, because you’re such a beautiful reader! When you tell a story, you really make everybody feel like they’re there.’”
I sat down with Heidi Mason, the Production Director at Cox Radio Atlanta, to talk about her additional career as a voiceover artist.
SF: How did you first get started as a voiceover artist?
HM: I went to college for TV, then kind of fell into a radio career almost right off the bat. I ended up being a midday talent, and then I was a program director. The voiceover stuff really just came into play because it’s such a huge aspect of what I do. But it’s so much fun. Throughout my whole career, what I always fall back on is “Talk to your audience, not at them”.
SF: What do you find most challenging in your voiceover work?
HM: The hardest thing for me, because I’m writer too, is I want to fix the script. Right away, I’m like, “A mom wouldn’t say that!” But there are some amazing copywriters out there. Some copy you just feel like, “OK, this is me.” One thing I’m not very good at is older characters. I can do a little kid, I can do an animated character, but I haven’t been able to – they call it “elasticity” in your voice – I haven’t been able to stretch to an older person yet.
SF: What do you do to prepare for each project?
HM: I just really try to find the story in the copy. If you have good copy and there’s a story behind it, I put myself on the other side going, “Ok, who is the target audience here? Who are they trying to reach? How are they trying to make them feel?” I try to find the story in every copy and just try to relate to what is going to appeal to that listener.
SF: What is your favorite type of voice work?
HM: My favorite spots are the ones where you’re really telling a story. And we all go back to the Dan O’Day school of thought: one core message. When people try to put too much stuff into a spot, you have to rush through it, and then I feel like you’re making the listener feel rushed. But probably my favorite spots are just ones that don’t necessarily push a product at you, but that just tell you a story.
SF: What sort of work have you done with IdeaRocket?
HM: I remember specifically Will saying, “I can tell you’re a singer, because the way that you read, you can tell that you almost hear music in your head.” It must be my cadence. I’ve done several narratives for them. Explainer videos are a big thing right now, where you go on a website and they’ve got a little video there that says “Here’s what we’re all about”. I did a Verizon one of those through Will, which was really cool. I was a little animated girl, and it’s fun to see the storyboards and stuff, so then you can come up with how she would sound.
SF: What kind of projects would you like to do in the future?
HM: I would like to delve more into voiceover for animated stuff, whether it be explainer video or something that’s a series because I love the whole character thing. It would be fun to be a voice on a video game or a princess for Disney or whatever. I can’t sing quite that well! I’d love to do an audio book. I love this business because of the fact that there are so many things you can do. Radio production is great fun and I love what I do. The cool thing about being a voiceover artist is that it’s a job that ages with you. Even years from now, when I officially retire from this job, I hope to always do some form of voice work, and beyond that hope that companies will always be in the market for voice people!
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