MAKING WAVES FROM
WIMBORNE TO RADIO ONE
It can be tricky explaining to people I meet that my career is my ‘voice’. Being a British Voiceover is not a normal vocation like a mechanic or doctor. Mentioning it has raised a few eyebrows or foxed those who’ve asked. I’ve always known that audio in some form was going to shape my working life. You hear vets saying that they cared for animals from a young age, it was a similar situation for myself and radio.
Born in Poole, my early years were spent in Wimborne, Dorset. I describe radio as a ‘calling’ because my overriding memories of being a lad involve it in some context. Back in the day, I’d pretend I had a radio station in my bedroom. From the age of eleven, I’d go to sleep listening to Radio Luxembourg. Other than being a bit odd like that, I had a normal upbringing.
The first opportunity I had to attempt to shape my future career came in sixth form at Queen Elizabeth School (Wimborne). Keen as a bean, I sent a letter to local radio station ‘2CR’ to try and get some work experience. Didn’t hear back. Gutted! After leaving it too late to do anything else, I persuaded a family friend to give me the required 2-week placement in his Locksmiths shop. A far cry from the radio career I wanted, but I had an aptitude for picking locks (should I be admitting that ??) and discovered I could do this in seconds! I was good at something, so I ditched school and turned my hand (and a few keys) to Locksmithing.
Thankfully for me, my dad knew that I aspired for more than picking locks and told me about a position he had seen advertised at 2CR. The job was an ‘Audio Controller’, not something I knew much about, but not an opportunity I wouldn’t let getaway. I did my research, went to the library, got books about recording techniques and visualised myself working in a studio environment. My good friend at the time Tanya (now my wife) helped me with the application. I remember the interview well, Paul Seed showed me around the station and my excitement and enthusiasm must have been off the chart. The same feeling a pilot must get when they first sit in the cockpit, my ‘lightbulb moment’. It was then I definitely knew I was born to work in and around studios.
It was fantastic, I was where I wanted to be and things were really happening for me. Eventually, I was promoted to ‘Commercial Producer’ making ads. uring this time I began voicing local radio commercials for venues such as ‘Bumbles Nightclub’ which is now ‘Canvas’. I became known for the Bumbles tagline I’d voice on a weekly basis “Now is the Time!”
During 1996 I did some work on the pre-cursor to current local radio station ‘Fire Radio’. I had met David Harber and James Bromley from the Nerve Radio Group (NRG), with an existing radio operation at Bournemouth University. They were taking it to the next level and a greater audience with an RSL. I produced and presented the primetime weekly show called ‘The Summer House Dance Party’. This went out on Friday nights featuring a mix of the hottest tunes and was playlisted by Paul Clarke (then resident DJ at the ‘Opera House’). This was my inaugural full radio production. I wrote and produced an entire radio show imaging package. It sounds hilarious now, but hey I had to start somewhere!
Around 1997, I made the jump to London. I wanted to push my experience beyond local radio and decided to leave 2CR and see what the city would offer. At the time a VO friend told me about a job they had seen advertised at BBC Radio One working in the newly developed web team. I’ll always remember the call he made from a phone box around the corner from Broadcasting House, I was so excited! However, despite the interview initially going well, it was an absolute disaster and I didn’t get the job. My destiny didn’t lie there (yet).
As with any industry, it is all about contacts and thankfully other people were looking out for me. Hearing I was in London, the guys at Wise Buddah offered me a chance to work with them as a sound engineer. The initial two-week trial became a full-time job and I found myself in an environment that fixed a smile permanently on my face. I spent time working with radio legends Pete Tong, Trevor Nelson, Mary Ann Hobbs and Judge Jules. These were my DJ heroes!
When Pete Tong and Boy George
are Playing YOUR music!
I began producing radio imaging, working on Pete Tong’s Essential Selection. A mad thing happened around this time. Deciding I wanted to write dance music I purchased a cheap synth from Tottenham Court road and wrote a track. After it’s completion I played it in the background one day whilst working with Pete and he picked up on it, asking “Do you want me to cut that demo for you?” (Errrmmm, YES!!). He then went on to play the demo on his New Year’s Eve Essential Selection and put it out for two consecutive weeks(!). This led to interest from record companies.
I also worked with Boy George on his radio show “Clubversive” and mentioned that I had a track and gave him a copy also. I remember he called me in the middle of the night to say the crowd went crazy at my track and that other DJs wanted copies. The track ended up being played on the BBC Sports Saturday afternoon programme ‘Grandstand’ as the menu music! Crazy days!
Around this period, I spent some time in Ibiza, working at Mambos as a sound engineer. I was ecstatic to meet my absolute hero from my favourite dance band of all time! Nick Warren from Way Out West, an electronic music duo. Working with and around multiple high profile music artists and producers never phased me – Nick was the only person I have completely lost my nerve speaking to! An absolute legend.
Radio One Comes Knocking
Luck is when hard work meets opportunity and unique circumstances led to me doing a voiceover gig for Radio One. Their voiceover person had let them down and so I stepped up to the plate announcing, “Judge Jules live at Creamfields on Radio One”. Around this time, Wise Buddah has started a Voiceover agency and representing me they were putting promo and commercial work my way. I started writing music for television and got involved in MTV doing their Party Mixes as well as producing imaging for DJs such as Carl Cox and Roger Sanchez.
Towards the end of 2002, I went freelance and invested in kit which would allow me to do my own voiceover work a home. During this time, I approached the Head of Imaging at Radio One with some production music I had written. Cheekily asking if I could also submit a voice demo, he laughed, said they didn’t need a new voice at the moment but send the demo anyway. I did and a few days later he invited me to record a demo session. Initially, this led to me being the weekend imaging voice on the station, but after a couple of months, I became the ‘station voice’ of Radio One. I really felt like I had ‘arrived!’
That opportunity was one of the proudest moments of my life and to date the pinnacle of my career. A dream realised. I once had a conversation with a friend on a petrol station forecourt where they said: “you know you’ll be on Radio 1 one day”. And there I was – in multiple ways!. I had developed my skills at Radio One in imaging, programme-making, show production, music composition and voiceovers. This was all invaluable experience and I’ll be forever grateful to the guys at Wise Buddah for giving me the support and opportunities that I wouldn’t have got anywhere else.
Back to my Roots
A pivotal change came when I got back in touch with my old school friend Tanya (via Friends Reunited). For any youngsters reading, this was THE social network before Facebook etc. I ended up moving back to my hometown of Wimborne. The Calypso Voice agency signed me up and I began making frequent trips to London for TV, Radio and commercial bookings. I built up a solid portfolio and continued to voice station imaging for the likes of London’s Kiss 100. Discovering that I didn’t need to be in the city to work in broadcast I quickly got to work promoting my services with a new studio and continued producing and voicing in my own studio in Dorset.
Working With Armin van Buuren
An unreal opportunity arose when I got asked if I would do some imaging for world-renowned Dutch DJ Armin Van Buuren. We initially met before one of his gigs at the old Opera House (now the O2 Academy) in Bournemouth. I was charged with developing the imaging for his radio show which had millions of listeners all around the world. One of the biggest challenges of my life, this was more than a job. It was working with my ultimate trance music hero! Needless to say, he was extremely happy with my work and 14 years on our working relationship is as strong as ever. I respect Armin’s work ethics, passion and dedication and value our professional partnership.
Currently: A British voice on a global platform
More recently I have been focusing purely on voiceover side of things. Tooled up with high-quality recording gear my work is versatile and spans radio and TV commercials, promo and imaging, live events, continuity, IVR and corporate gigs. Clients past and present include : BBC, Paramount Pictures, Sony, Red Bull, Virgin Media, Superdry, o2, Nickelodeon, Nivea, Coca Cola & Centre Parcs.
OK so it’s Not a ‘traditional’ career – I often pinch myself and thank my lucky stars. However, I work hard and absolutely love the job I do! I’m always keen to talk to people about new projects, remain flexible and always happy to go that extra mile. I may be a British speaking national, but I also count myself as an international Voiceover. Having my own studio within the grounds of my home means that I can be at the Mic 24 hours a day 365 days a year so available to any time zone. If you are looking for an authentic, British male voiceover get in touch!