Three Questions … an interview with: Bob Souer February 27, 2007Posted by William Spear in >> Radio Drama, >> Three Questions: an interview with ....
Bob Souer, of Charlotte, NC, has narrated thousands of non-broadcast training and marketing films and videos, as well as radio and television commercials and more recently documentaries.
We caught up with each other a few weeks ago and like his blog, Bob shared his thoughts “about voiceover, life and assorted other ramblings.” Who could stop with only three questions?
. . .
LIT: How’d you get into voiceover?
BOB: After college, I worked in a couple of retail jobs and then was hired to be sales manager for a home builder in the west suburbs of Chicago. It was a few months after I started that job that I sold a house to the program director of a local radio station. He liked my voice and asked me to come audition for a part-time job he had open on the weekends at the time. I did the audition and was stunned when he called me one Friday afternoon a couple of weeks later to tell me that he wanted to hire me. We set up that I would start my training the following Monday.
LIT: So far, pretty good.
BOB: I was even more stunned when two hours later our Vice-president of Sales came to my office to tell me that I was being laid off as part of a massive cut-back at the company.
BOB: But, things went really well at that radio station and four months later I was working there full-time doing mid-days for their easy-listening format. Two years after that I was hired as a staff announcer at one of the big stations in Chicago and a little over two years after that I was working as a program director myself.
LIT: Given your announcing and voiceover experiences, how is radio drama similar to, and different from, stage, film or television?
BOB: Most people don’t understand that radio in general, and radio drama in particular, is an intensely visual medium. In fact, I would say only on the radio are the pictures perfect every time.
LIT: How can an aural medium deliver perfect pictures?
BOB: Because we, the listeners, supply them, so for us, they’re always perfect. In fact, almost all of us have probably had the experience of seeing a movie after we’ve read the book on which it’s based and been disappointed with some things about that movie. It’s because, reading a book is like listening to a radio drama, in that we have to supply the pictures ourselves. And the filmmaker is limited to his or her own vision of how it should “look” as well as budget and time constraints. Of course, every genre has its strengths and weaknesses. When the radio drama is done poorly, the experience can be less than satisfying, but I think that’s mainly because we all know how vivid and colorful the experience can be when it’s done really well.
LIT: What should radio dramatists and producers do to find new listeners for our “vivid and colorful” creations?
BOB: Make use of the new media that are available to reach people today. Radio drama (and comedy) didn’t leave radio. The radio industry moved away from those programs as television rose to be come the dominent mass medium in the 50s and 60s. But, through the Internet the genre of “audio” drama can and should not merely survive, but thrive.
LIT: We like the sound of that. Tell us more, tell us more.
BOB: I would suggest that the explosion in the audiobook industry portends good things for “audio” drama, since fictional audiobooks are in a sense one woman or one man “audio” dramas or comedies, etc. I would suggest that some clever audiobook publisher is going to figure out a business model that will allow for full cast audio productions and then things could get very interesting.
LIT: Using your words, what radio drama is “very interesting” to you and why?
BOB: Of things currently running, I think the “Adventures in Odyssey” series from Focus on the Family is simply spectacular. Well written, well performed, wholesome and uplifting. I’m old enough to remember the last few years of radio drama from the mid- to late-1950s and used to love listening to the radio dramas that were still on the air then.
. . .
We appreciate Bob’s perspective and encourage readers to visit The Voiceover Boblog for more thoughts “about voiceover, life and assorted other ramblings.” And listen for Bob in the PBS documentary about Urban Renewal efforts in Cleveland and another based on the business book “Good to Great” by Jim Collins.
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