It all started one day when I was watching VO Buzz Weekly. You know, that invaluable and infinitely intriguing show dedicated to all things voiceover. You'd have to live under a voiceover rock not to have heard of the personable and fun-loving co-hosts, Chuck and Stacey. In their 123rd episode, they interviewed the legendary Harlan Hogan who was, by the way, a more humble and transparent man than I would ever suspect from someone with as many accomplishments as he has collected over his 30-plus years as a voice actor. Since I happen to like free stuff, I took Hogan up on his exclusive offer to mail me his book, VO: Tales and Techniques of a Voice-Over Actor.
As an old soul who is familiar with the antics of Jack Benny, Abbott and Costello, and Burns and Allen, I've heard plenty of commercials with their booming male announcer informing you that Lucky Strike means fine tobacco. So I gratefully followed Hogan through his childhood in the ‘50’s as he heard his recorded voice for the first time, giggled over the reel-to-reel snafus as he started out in the radio world, and felt his apprehension as he decided whether to keep his steady job in radio or follow his dream.
Peppered with quips, quotes and illustrations from Hogan's goofy production calendar, the book still manages to insert small sections of useful advice after every chapter dealing with anything from script interpretation to how to survive a studio session. Reading Hogan's book felt like sitting down in a cozy restaurant to pick the brain of a guy who's seen it all in the voiceover industry. His style is equal parts reflective, playful and authentic with just a touch of sass. Okay, more than just a touch. I died laughing over the part where his wife was forced to attend traffic school for a moving violation only to be instructed by her husband's recorded voice on the video!
Even the title is honest: this is a book highlighting Hogan's experience in the business. He never promises to help you make a 6-figure income or entice you to stand behind a microphone in your skivvies. If you appreciate the glory days of radio, wise cracks from someone who doesn't have to kiss anyone's feet anymore, or poking a little harmless fun at some of the outlandish things voice actors are asked to do, you will certainly enjoy this book. What it lacks in practical tips, it makes up for in humor, quotes, and the celebration of where the industry began and how it's evolved into the current technology-driven state voice actors are privileged to enjoy today.
Voice Actor, Tracy Lindley Voiceovers