After about 50 years in broadcasting, Jay Deane, an Orange resident, still finds ways to share his voice.
A former radio host, Deane said he still works part-time, including at Market Basket preparing the food. He said his reputation as a broadcaster followed him and managers sometimes asked him to make announcements through the public address system. It was a colleague who first suggested that he consider doing dubbing for video games, which prompted him to return home and look for possible work.
“I went to do some research on video storytelling, and ACX came up,” Deane said.
Deane works through ACX, an Audible-owned company that is owned by Amazon, sending them auditions for audiobook narratives. Having read for commercials and been on the radio for years, he was no stranger to the concept of storytelling and voiceover, but said that “reading a three hour book is very different from a 60 second spot. “.
Even with his experience, he said that getting into storytelling or reading audiobooks is accessible enough for anyone looking for a “side hustle” or anyone looking to launch a full career of vocal talent.
“There are a lot of books out there, thousands of author-looking titles on this platform,” Deane said. “It’s just that it takes a little bit of time, but you know, depending on your professional situation, some people can make a very good living doing this. ”
“You have to have a certain level of equipment quality or your audio files have to meet certain criteria for ACX / Audible,” Deane continued. “But it’s something you can do at home. And there is no age limit. I think I’m relatively brave and my voice is a bit younger, so even though I’m 65, I can sort of get away with something that is aimed at younger people.
He echoed Chicago voiceover talent Bill Dewees who said voiceover workers don’t necessarily decide what they do best, but rather it’s decided for you. Deane estimated he recorded more than 220 auditions, but he was only hired to record 21 tracks. Most of the books he was chosen for, he said, fell under the self-help book genre, covering topics ranging from public speaking to anxiety and mental health.
With the COVID-19 pandemic having lasted much of the past 16 months, Deane said the number of authors writing books on mental health has apparently increased. A headline he recounted was even written in the wake of the pandemic outbreak – “Six Steps to Overcome Adversity: From Financial Crisis to Corona Pandemic” by Jack Doueck. In fact, Deane is recording a new reading for a “reworked” version of this book at the author’s request.
He said writers will often say they’re looking for a narrator who can “act” and having some theatrical or performance experience can help any potentially interested narrator. Depending on the books you read, Deane said recording can be a lot of fun.
“I didn’t really choose any character based on the character because it takes a lot of work and because I work in other jobs I kind of have to fit that in,” Deane said. “… In terms of performance, this is something I would really love to do, but I would probably prefer to do it under the direction. ”
Headlines Deane read include “Stress Control: The Complete Guide to Taking Control of Your Stress and Anxiety Levels, Mastering Your Emotions, and Learning to Stop Thinking Too Much”, “Start Making Your Bed: Habits For You. Design Your Life, Think Big and Become Mentally Strong “,” Make It Happen: 12 Steps to Reimagining Success and Create the Career of Your Dreams “and more.
He said he auditioned for a wide variety of books he was not hired for. Some of those auditions included books related to real estate and a book on how to grow vegetables in pots and containers. Inspired by his wife, who is a heavy tea drinker, he even auditioned for a book called “An Expert Guide to Tea: 101 Tips to Learn About, Make, Drink and Enjoy Tea for Every Day Tea Drinkers”.
“They rejected me,” Deane said with a laugh. “The good thing is you can audition and, if they don’t like you, you can’t be emotional about it. You just have to move on. ”
While the kind of self-help didn’t appeal to Deane as a casual reader, he said he learned some valuable lessons from those recorded readings. He referred to the power of positive affirmations and particularly highlighted a headline he recounted, “Change Your Mind, Change Your Results” by Shawn Shewchuk.
“If there’s one thing we can control, God forbid, you have a mental illness, the only thing we can control is our mind,” Deane said. “If you tell yourself you’re going to have a good day, you put yourself in a better frame of mind. I think that’s part of what it is, for me.
Again, Deane said storytelling for audiobooks is something that is accessible to many, and he encouraged anyone interested to try and get involved. He said his gear isn’t professional and he just uses a Yeti condenser microphone that plugs into his laptop to record his readings. Dynamic mics, like the ones vocalists use onstage, he said, tend to be more rugged and can handle sudden bursts of harsh sound. A condenser microphone, he said, can be sensitive enough to pick up ambient noise.
“Sometimes I record something, and you can actually hear my stomach growl,” Deane said.
One of the rooms in his house, he said, doesn’t pick up too much ambient sound. He said some audio players or podcasters may purchase whisper rooms, which are essentially small, enclosed recording booths the size of a small walk-in closet.
“In the studio, I started out by doing it sitting in my recliner,” Deane said.
For the most part, he didn’t have to do a lot of editing or retouching on his recordings. For editing, he said there are several DAWs or digital audio workstation programs such as Adobe Audition audio editing software, which can be downloaded to a personal computer or laptop.
“With the number of years I’ve worked with digital workstations in radio, for me this is one of the easiest parts,” Deane said. “For people who are trying to get started, it can intimidate them the most. But if they sit down, they’ll find it’s as easy as mixing iced tea.
Deane has been in the radio business since 1971. He worked for FM95 in Springfield, WXLO in Worcester, and he and his brothers operated the WJDF radio station in Orange for over a decade starting in 1995.
“So being in front of a microphone for some people can be intimidating, but that’s exactly what I’ve been doing for 50 years,” Deane said.
He said his interest in radio and voice work dates back to his childhood, even before he joined the Boy Scouts. His mother took him to visit a local radio station, and seeing the DJ working in the booth, combined with a fascination with Dick Clark on American Bandstand, ignited the spark for his long career in vocal work.
Deane said he’s always been fascinated by the career of a DJ. While working in the cabin, he said they should strategically plan to play a long song like “Hey Jude” or “Stairway to Heaven” so they can take a bathroom break. Now, he said many radio shows pre-record most of their five-hour segments with hosts.
He attended Grahm Junior College, which is now closed, for radio and television broadcast, and has worked full time in the field since 1976. He said he attended the school with other local figures. who made their own careers in broadcasting, including the LaPierre brothers – Gary, Rick and Bob. Famous performing artist Andy Kaufman also shares this alma mater.
While he enjoys reading these audiobooks, Deane has also expressed interest in researching even more possible voiceover opportunities to explore where the use of his voice can take him. He said there are plenty of opportunities for voiceover work, from video game or TV dubbing, to storytelling of ads on Facebook or YouTube videos.
Zack DeLuca can be reached at [email protected] or 413-930-4579.