My Civic Duty

jury‘Used to be all I had to do was tell the harpies at District Court that I was a working member of the local news media, and I’d get a pass on jury duty.  Not any more.

So today — after a full night’s sleep of 3 hours — I’ll report downtown at the Regional Justice Center in Las Vegas at 7:30am to complete my obligations as a US citizen.  I could go to bed earlier, but I won’t fall asleep…so they will get a half-asleep juror.  Gee, I hope it’s not an important case to anyone.  ;-}

That means while you’re reading this, I’m sitting in a room full of my fellow prospective jurors with a smartphone or a tablet computer or a book trying to pass the time till I get called up or sent home.

Please take note below of some housekeeping items for this blog, and at the bottom, a great infographic I’d like to share with you about social media.

FIRST.  I’m aware the “feed” for this blog has been disrupted.  I’ve rec’d many nice letters from people who are frustrated they’re not getting my daily blog in their email.  If you subscribed by email, or are taking the RSS feed from my blog, please know that a disruption of the feed was a necessary downside of my website refurbishing, and that I’m working feverishly with my WordPress consultant to complete a new solution.  It will happen this week, and you will get an email or read about it here.

SECOND.  World-Voices Organization is rallying to host its first conference this year.  You must be a member to attend.   Membership requires a one-time $25 application fee, and a yearly $49 membership fee.  Register as a member, and for WoVOCon at:  http://www.WorldVO.org.  The date of the event is May 2-4, 2014 in Las Vegas.  We already have some 20+ members committed, and this is gonna be fun!

THIRD. You will not want to miss this blog tomorrow!  I’m posting information from a guest blogger who is one of THE TOP voice-over coaches/producers/directors in the United States.  She is sharing invaluable information about what you should be looking for when you are seeking voice-talent coaching.

FOURTH. ‘Said it before, and will say it again:  Social Media is not a passing trend.  It is free marketing, and any one can jump on board at any time.  Click on THIS LINK to see an uncomplicated infographic that makes a few important points with which I absolutely concur.

CourVO

The Innocent Audition

photo (5)-aDid  I mention that through all the holiday rush my wife broke her ankle in two places?  ‘Tripped over the dog, and fell on a hardwood floor.  Our Orthopedic Physician says it’s one of the most common falls in the home, and he sees ‘em all the time.

Surgery with six screws and a plate came on Christmas Eve.  She’s in good care, already improving by the day, and managing a positive spirit.  But… did you know crutches are passé now?  photo (7)-a

Getting around with a cast means the latest technology, and that’s a gizmo called the “knee walker”.  It’s basically a glorified and adapted scooter, but it beats getting sore armpits, and offers a little more mobility.  You can rent them or buy them, but either way they’re not cheap, and some insurance carriers won’t pay for them.

knee walkerThe surgical nurse sent us out the door with a handful of brochures of businesses we could contact for knee walkers.  I got busy and made a call Saturday, not expecting a return call until Monday.

That same day a guy called back.  ‘Said he was happy to help.  We chatted about payment plans, and various options, and I asked him if he could text me his insurance code to my cell phone.  I texted him back a thank you with my email.  CourVO@CourVO.com.

Sunday the man emails me.  ‘Turns out he’s the CEO of the company, covering for staff on phone calls for a busy holiday weekend.  Not only did he like the sound of my voice on the cell phone, but he checked out my website, and was writing  back with  a proposition of barter.

How ’bout I do a few on-call phone menu recordings for his answering service, he said… and he’d supply a knee walker for my wife for as long as she needed?

No insurance company, no paper-trail, no money changing hands…just a simple, old-fashioned arrangement of one value for another.  Perfect!

This may be a good time to mention a blog I wrote about this in 2009 called “Your First Audition is Not in the Studio”

Doncha love it when stuff like this happens, though?  My wife gets a break, and I get a new client?

CourVO

Christmas, A Week Early

winter whiteTo match holiday schedules with almost 20 people, I’ve had to move my family Christmas calendar up a week.

I’m in the Midwest with lots of family and plenty of cold weather.

cousins

nieces, and grand-niece

And…true to Murphy’s law for VO, one of my most reliable clients sent me a job of 6700 words. Not wanting to disappoint, looks like I’ll be getting some time in the closet tomorrow!  I planned ahead, and have my trusty mobile setup here with me.

In the meantime, please enjoy these pics from my IL/MO escapades.

CourVO

Passages

Maddy C-2Friday morning I leave for Ft. Worth, TX to see my daughter play her last game of regular-season organized soccer.  She’s a striker on the Division-1 Texas Christian University Horned Frogs team.

Friday evening, as they prepare to take the field against Baylor, there will be a short ceremony honoring the senior players, and I’ll join my wife in standing by Madeleine as she receives her due.

To say this is a bittersweet moment would be an understatement.

Maddy started walking at 9 months.  She chased anything that was round and bounced.  Organized soccer for her began at age 5.  And now, 17 years later, she completes her run of competitive soccer.

Everything changes… this too.

Her mother and I are just happy that in all those seasons of rugged play, she never tore an ACL, never got a Maddy Cconcussion, and never broke a leg. Soccer can be brutal. (that’s her head sticking out above the crowd in the picture above to the left).

She’s OK with it.  The life of a true student athlete is exhausting.  Training never stops year-round.  She hasn’t had much of a social life.  Through it all though, she’s maintained a 3.87 average as a Kinesiology major.  The kid is focused.

I count myself among the most blessed of fathers everywhere to have a daughter like Madeleine (I’ll gush about my other two daughters some other time).  When the ceremony on the field is over Friday evening…I’ll be lucky to have any buttons left on my vest.

CourVO

R & R

ireland

Rumor has it, they speak something akin to English in Ireland.  I hope so, ’cause that’s where I’ll be for the next week, and I don’t have time to learn a new language.

As we’ve discussed here before, there comes a time where you just have to draw a line in the sand and commit to some down time…or at least a decent diversion from the routine.

My wife of 30 years and I are celebrating the event by doing a self-driving tour of Ireland with my sister and her husband.  We have reservations at various locations around the country…castles, hotels, and B ‘n’ B’s, but in between the roadway answers to our whim.

I’ll be dropping in to see a production studio in Dublin, and occasionally checking email when we can find Wi-Fi, but mostly, I’ll be enjoying the countryside, the downtime, and the clouds ‘n’ rain. You’d be surprised how tiresome constant sunshine can be in the desert SW, so we’re actually hoping for dreary weather. :)

If you check back here from time to time, I’ll be posting a few pics, but not much more.

I know the week will go quickly, but that’s no excuse not to go, right?

I wish you a wonderful weekend and the luck of the Irish.

CourVO

Guess Who Came to Dinner?

meetupRemember yesterday I said the coolest thing in Vegas was SXSW-V2V?

Well, that was a mistake.  I forgot that Peter O’Connell was in town…. not for SXSW, but for one of his many marketing commitments.

Naturally, I had to drag him off for dinner last night with another Vegas voicer: Dustin Ebaugh.  Along with the Mrs, we had a fabulous time talking about nothing and everything.

Isn’t that what the VO community is all about?  The chance to meet in person after many months of virtual sharing.  As Peter said:  “you can only spend so much time cooped up on a booth before you hafta get out ‘n’ about” (approximate paraphrase).

Here we are after a fine dinner at The Cuban Cafe:

DSC02276-a

Thanks for taking the time, Peter!

Safe travels, my friend!

CourVO

Truckee/Donner, CA

picture024Truckee, CA is a small, quaint community just North of Lake Tahoe.  Truckee has a rich history in the mountains near Squaw Valley.  It’s set in what’s known as the “Tahoe/Donner” region.

You’ve heard of Donner….the “Donner Party”… a group of Mormon homesteaders who got trapped at this high altitude by a huge Winter storm, and ended up resorting to cannibalism to survive.

Visit here in January, and you can understand how that scenario could happen.

But in the dead of Summer, the moderate temperatures and outdoor sports make it a welcome respite from the 117-degree heat of Las Vegas.  You just have to steel yourself to the 7-hr drive from Southern Nevada.

This view from the deck of my friend’s cabin was just what this over-extended, workaholic, uber-busy TV News Anchor/Freelance VO talent needed.  The smell of all those pine trees was like Pine-Sol cleaner for my soul.

It doesn’t hurt that the 7-hour drive here is just as much fun as the stay itself.

….and the stars at night, revealed in this thin mountain air.  Oh my!

What do you do to unlax once in a while?

‘Hope you had a great 4th!

CourVO

The Patterns of Pace

1915_Ford_Model_T_RunaboutMy Dad was born about the time the Ford Model-T became popular.

He died in the middle of the digital boom, even though he wasn’t part of it.

I marvel at the changes he experienced, but I’m even more astounded by the pace of change WE are all seeing now.

Technology is a blessing and a curse…giving us immediate access and contact, while increasing the presumption of getting it all done much faster.  The human being in the middle hasn’t changed.  More is just expected of us.

Media Morph

Voice Acting is not immune.  I’ve often written here about disruptive VO technologies, the internet, the cloud, and endless new devices that are making our job more advanced, and I’d like to say “easier”… but not always.

In my TV job, there are almost daily reminder of the morphing of journalism, content streams, digital news gathering, and device-driven viewing patterns.  Much of what happens there effects us as voice-actors, too…as some of the most lucrative work in VO comes from radio and TV adverts.

The highly-successful Social Media manager for the Ford Motor Company — Scott Monty — wrote a most perceptive article the other day:  MUST-NO-SEE-TV.  Take a moment to read it, and you will not regret it.  It basically states that we’re a victim of our own content over-abundance.  That all our cloud storage, time-shifted DVR programs, and net-streaming devices give us more than we can possibly consume.

Caught in the Middle

The hard part is that there is very little middle-ground.  It seem you must either be committed to the pell-mell pace, or go off the grid entirely to maintain your sanity.

Nothing has contributed more to that panic than the internet, and now…social media.  The business of voice-overs became enabled by the ease of contact through the internet, but it isolated us in our own home studios…then turned THAT on its ear when social media streams and forums allowed for real-time sharing of all that interests us.  Who knows what’s next?

Keeping Track

This is why I love being a student of social media.  It’s cutting edge.  What’s happening there at the edge is tomorrow’s world.  But one thing that hasn’t changed is the math.  Even Gutenberg’s first publishing distributors were interested in keeping track of how many volumes were sold.  Newspapers had their readership, and TV has it’s Nielsen numbers.

The internet is still struggling to find successful monetization, but rest assured, it will be decided by the numbers.  Google Analytics, Klout scores, and Kred cred (or some iteration of SEO metrics) are the hope of next year’s millionaires.

I try to keep track as best I can, but what I know pales in comparison to the mega-mongo metrics list I stumbled upon last night.  It begs you to take a look if only by the sheer preponderance of its exhaustive research.

50 Top Tools for Social Media Monitoring, Analytics, and Management

Honestly, if you can’t find the right measurement tool here, then it’s time to go back to Algebra 101.

…and if you read this far, I want to thank you for hanging with me in my ramblings today.  I thought it needed to be said.

CourVO

To Have Friends…

…you have to BE a friend.  You’ve heard that…right?

But how often do we live it?

I have the perfect real-world example.

This last weekend, I spent time in Ft. Worth, TX to visit my middle daughter, Madeleine, on the campus of TCU.  She plays soccer for the University, and I wasn’t sure how many more times I’d be able to see her play. (BTW, the Horned Frogs tied Texas Tech after two overtimes, 1-1, and two days later beat the Univ of TX 1-0).

I know a number of voice actors in the DFW area but I was there to see my daughter, and didn’t want to be distracted trying to do too much (sorry Bettye!).  Instead Cliff Zellman came to me.

He didn’t have to.  It’s a long drive in Dallas traffic on a Friday evening.  Cliff has plenty of family commitments as a devoted father and husband.  Yet, there he was sitting with me on hard metal bleachers cheering on the TCU Horned Frogs…supporting me and my daughter on the field.

I was impressed.

I was also sated in my still-empty feelings of having missed FaffCon.  Cliff helped me bridge the loss by sharing a lot about the event.

I’m not going to go on and on here about Cliff’s impressive resumé.  Suffice it to say he’s among the best of the best of the best audio engineers, producers and directors across this fine land. Cliff has encouraged and coached me professionally in my VO walk.  He’s active in the efforts of World-Voices.org to launch technical standards for voice actors.  Cliff also founded and runs possibly the most successful VO meet-up group in the nation.

On that night, I could’ve care less.

The voice-over business brought us together, but that was merely an introduction to a friendship that has enriched me in more ways than I expected.

Cliff’s not the only one…there are many other examples of voice actors who are my friends because they work at it.  I can only hope a few of them think the same of me.

On a weekend of family blessings…lucky me…I found friend fulfillment as well!

Friends warm you with their presence, trust you with their secrets, and remember you in their prayers.

Thanks, Cliff….you’re a true friend!

CourVO