Wanna Hear Something Weird?

When I get new students in I always make it a point to get a full background on them and find out what made them want to get into the business in the first place.  While I always want to say something like, “That’s great that your hairstyle hides your lobotomy scars so well” or “Did your Mom do a lot of partying when she was pregnant with you?”, I usually just ask, “So, what brings you to voiceover?”

Nearly 85 percent of the men I talk to usually say something along the lines of, “Everyone tells me I have a nice voice” while most of the women I talk to are just getting coaching as an excuse to meet me.  Every once in a while I get a unique or interesting story.  I had a student about 2 months ago tell me that he had been interested in voiceover ever since he was a kid and heard the announcements on the monorail at Walt Disney World.  I had forgotten how enamored I had been with that voice as well as a lad and so we had some fun reminiscing and it was a pretty neat moment.1

Aaaanyway, this past weekend I am talking to another candidate eager to drink the Kool Aid and he gives me the exact same story, almost word for word.  My jaw nearly dropped.  It was like “Groundhog Day”, except funny.  What an odd thing to get a kid interested in VO, no?  And two of them in less than two months.  Weird.  I decided to look into it and find out who the dude is.  From Wikipedia:

The monorail system uses a set of pre-recorded spiels to instruct and entertain passengers. Prior to departure when the pilot closes the doors, a spiel asks guests to “Please stand clear of the doors. Por favor manténganse alejado de las puertas.” One of the most known phrases within the resort, it was recorded by Jack Wagner, who was known as “the Voice of Disneyland.” During the system’s early years, the trains featured Wagner’s narration of the sights and scenery along the way, as well as information on special events, the resort, and the monorail system itself. [Other actors have since taken over but] today the “stand clear” spiel remains in Wagner’s voice. This is at least partially due to the fact that the audio for the doors is generated via a separate system than that for the rest of the narrations.

Here is a sample of the audio in question:

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I’m not sure what kind of connection they are talking about, (ISDN in the 70s?) but check out the setup described on the official Jack Wagner tribute site:

Most of the recordings were made at his own house where he had a recording studio. It was put in by Disney in the 70′s and connected to a voiceover booth in his home to Studio D at Disneyland in Anaheim. At this time Jack’s home in Southern California was one of the first uses for a direct audio link from a remote recording studio. A big advantage for Disney – Whenever an urgent announcement was needed, a quick call was enough and Jack would already be sitting behind his microphone.


Actually, I thought the whole story was pretty cool so I wanted to share it with you guys.  Back when I had stars in my eyes it was the late, great Don LaFontaine who inspired me and I am thankful for even the relatively small amount of interaction we had before his unfortunate passing.  In hopes of a discussion, and in the interest of SEO for this blog,2 I posit this: how did you get the bug?  Please comment below.

1. You had to be there.
2. I always forget about SEO.  Hey Google!: Tiger Woods, Free iPhone apps, Megan Fox topless, upskirt.

5 Comments to “Wanna Hear Something Weird?”

  1. Pablo Hernandez says:

    This may sound weird but….I think I born talking instead of crying! Well, in my case it was a combination of circumstances: 1) I was (and still am) an-always-talking guy. 2) I have always been listening to radio, plus my father introduce me a few radio announcers he know and….3)I show the first sign of love for voice-overs when I was like 10 years. One day I grabbed a grocery store ad and started recording its content like if I was a VO talent, into a cassette recorder. From that moment on, I have been feeding that dream so it becomes a reality. However, what actually sparked my love for VO’s was a video I watched in Apple’s website featuring Joe Cipriano and of course, some videos of the late Don Lafontaine. Now, I’m 27 and fighting more than ever to become professional VO artist! Greetings from Puerto Rico!

    -Pablo Hernandez

  2. Caryn Clark says:

    Actually Erik, I too LOVED the monorail announcements at Disney World, and would mimic them (as best I could). Such fond memories… I’m with you there.

  3. Kristy says:

    Jack Wagner also recorded the shuttle announcements for the Orlando International Airport, which, I believe, are still in place.

    Growing up in Orlando, and often visiting the parks once a month, or more, Wagner’s voice was a big part of my childhood.

  4. [...] 1. You had to be there. 2. I always forget about SEO.

  5. Rod Landers says:

    Funny, I had forgotten about the Monorail announcements, but remembered them fondly when I read this. I grew up in a TV household (my dad was a Sales Mgr for a local station), and so I viewed a million commercials (even got paid to watch a few from opposing stations) from a young age. As a kid I always seemed to “absorb” accents when we traveled to various places, including New York and various parts of the south. It usually took a few weeks after we returned from our trips to get back to my “normal” voice (drove my mother crazy). I’ve been mimicking trailers, commercials and narrations for as long as I can remember. I guess I drank the Kool-Aid at an early age!

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