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  • Writer's pictureMelissa Thom

LA (Radio) Woman

Updated: Jun 26, 2020

I was recently asked to attend the Worldwide Radio Summit in LA as a speaker on the Voiceover and Radio Imaging panel. The event was brilliant and intense: 3 jam-packed days of talks, panels and schmoozing, set in the most beautiful location, high amongst the Californian hills.

View from the office
View from the office: The World Wide Radio Summit 2019. Credit: Melissa Thom

A creative soul

The panel was a lively discussion about how to tap into the soul of VO and radio imaging. Hosted by the mighty Kelly Doherty, the panel included Issa Lopez, a highly successful female bilingual VO; Joe Cipriano — a well-known promo voice across a number of American TV networks and voice of the Grammys; Nate Neitz — Head of the Radio Imaging & TV Affiliate Divisions for CESD; Steve Stone — a prolific radio imaging male voice in the US…and myself.

The WWRS Voiceover Panel
The WWRS Voiceover Panel, 2019. Credit: Unknown

Digging deep

We talked about life and career, with Issa relaying how getting her head around overthinking helped her grow her English language work. Joe shared anecdotes of going off-script in sessions, giving clients extra material to work with and Nate described how he puts clients and stations together, commenting that ‘there’s a perfect voice for every station’. Steve emphasised the importance of creating a relationship with PD’s to get a full understanding of the station and their listeners, and my contribution centred around how a female voice can represent the soul of a station on it’s own, without the need for an aggressive male voice as a counterbalance (full round-up from Access All Areas here:

Chewing the radio fat

Thinking about my own specific radio journey — starting over 20 years ago as station voice for Surf 107.2 in Brighton, through hosting breakfast shows for GWR and Chrysalis and now commercial and imaging all these years later, it struck me how fortunate I was to be sat here in a beautiful place, talking about the work I love.

The real highlights for me, were of course, the people I met. Having started out in radio, there’s something about the medium that’s definitely in my bones — and it was great to chat with other people who felt the same way. I joined many an impromptu chat with fellow Brits about the state of UK radio…but that’s a story for another time.

There were a few firsts for me too. The kind guys from Reelworld introduced me to my very first Kettle Glazed cronut. It was every bit as good as it sounds.

Kettle Glazed Donuts
Kettle Glazed Donuts, courtesy of the Reelworld team. Credit: Melissa Thom

Cast a wide net

All of this radio chit chat got me thinking — the US market is BIG— over there, it’s possible for a significant number of VO’s to make a living on radio imaging alone. Whilst that may be the case for a very small number of VO’s here in the UK, the majority of working British VO’s will voice across a range of genres to make a decent living.

I Got Work To Do

Trying to manage the daily bookings whilst I was out there was an interesting task and something that all VO’s face when they’re travelling. Many of us headed off in the daytime to find studios to record in. On one particular day, I joined Kelly and another fantastic VO, Heather Walters, at Atlas Talent, so we could all get some work done. It was hot and sticky — 3 of us queueing out the booth, trying to lay down audio and get it back to the client was intense and hilarious at the same time. I had a wonderful chat with US VO, Roberta Solomon about the possibility of putting a VO booth at next year’s WWRS. It would save a ton on Uber fares.

Team Atlas Reception, LA
Team Atlas Reception, LA. Credit: Melissa Thom

LA sunset

But for now, as the uncertain Brexit sun sets once again on a Spring evening here in the UK, I say goodbye to the dazzling Californian sunshine, and leave my Radio Imaging demo right here for your aural delight:

If you want to chat about a new imaging voice, or grab a cuppa, drop me a line anytime:

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