April 9, 2015 could have been the worst day of my life, instead it’s turned out to be one of the best day’s of my life. (with apologies to American Authors).
That was the day my radio contract at Brisbane’s News Talk 1116 4BC wasn’t renewed, even though it had a few months remaining. “That’s business” I was told by management.
This decision has changed the course of my 30 years plus radio career. In my early 50’s I found myself needing to look at other revenue streams. For years I’ve always had a small business of voice over work bubbling away in the background, on the back burner just in case this day would come.
It’s proved to be better than any insurance policy.
Up until that point I had been working day and night on my successful Talk Back Show on Nights from 8 till Midnight, 5 days a week. 20 hours of talk radio is a lot of air time, this format is a hungry beast and needs constant feeding as anyone who’s been there and done that will attest.
It means lot’s of sacrifices in your personal life.
My wife had been a radio widow at Night for 7 years…seeing each other for a matter of hours per week as our busy lives crossed over. Her on day shift as a Teacher Aide at a local primary school and me disappearing in the afternoon. On top of that I only saw my grown children on weekends. Plus your social life is nearly non-existent.
Have you noticed the best previews and openings all take place during the week?
I wasted no time on tea and sympathy after my services were no longer required on my top rating programme, instead busying myself with building my business which had been idling and turning it into a profession.
I’ve always had a passion for doing voice overs, since my first full time gig at 4KZ Innisfail in the late 70’s. Here was the opportunity to turn that passion into an income.
First things first, I let all my existing clients know that I was serious about doing this 24/7. I found them to very supportive and understanding.
Secondly it was time to expand my client base and grow this business into something I would be proud to put my name too.
Special shout out to my mate Dennis on the Gold Coast who knows everybody worth talking to in this biz. You find out in these situations who your real friends are…meanwhile the others will scurry away like roaches when the fame and money of radio is no longer there. I’m pleased to say most of my friends have remained true, so I must be a decent judge of character.
I knew with any business you need all the usual suspects to make it work.
So I found a bloke in Logan who made our excellent business cards complete with old fashioned microphone and cool headphones for the new logo.
And so Rojo Voice Productions was reborn.
A business partnership with my wife of 30 plus years (a rare thing in itself in this industry) that was named using the first two letters of my son’s name and the first two letters of my daughter’s name to create Rojo.
It also has an instant familiar feel to it because of one of this countries biggest advertising agencies, Mojo…whom I have had the pleasure of working with on various projects over the years. Next we needed a website, so I approached a high spec tech to help me out on this and he’s done a marvellous job, thanks Peter. Check it out at: walterwilliams.com.au. The latest weapon in the armoury of this voice over business is the need for a social media presence. Thanks to Joslyn for creating a Face Book page which looks amazing and reflects the website. Please like and review by searching: rojo voice productions. You’re also welcome to follow me on Twitter @waltdevoice
I knew that if I was going to be taken seriously as a voice over talent, not just some bloke stuck in a cupboard with a doona over his head (no names, no pack drill) I had to improve my existing recording studio. I had already converted the front room in my 1930’s timber Queensland home into a studio, so I installed some acoustic treatment wave panels and bass traps. Now I’m handy with a staple gun too!
I’ve always said if you’re going to do something do it right.
All or Nothing as the Small Faces once sang.
I already had a Mic Thing Pro which is one of the best reflectors in the business, so I added a Kaotica Eyeball to the beautiful Rode NT 1-A microphone to really cut out any external noises. Always keen to go the extra mile for our clients we wanted to take the room to another level, so just recently built a room within a room.
Rojo Voice Productions now boasts it’s own soundproof Voice Booth. Thanks to my mate Gary for sourcing this one, it’s taken months, but it’s been well worth the wait. This booth features not one but two windows is fully lined with it’s own lighting and hooks up nicely with an Avid M Box2 into the Toshiba computer and onto Sony Sound Forge Audio Studio10.0. The whole thing is monitored through a pair of very cool black and red Fostex PMO.4n amped up speakers mounted on Auralex foam.
For the first time in a long time I’m really enjoying what I do without the daily stress of commuting for 2 hours, and not knowing what your job future holds when radio is constantly eating itself with mergers.
Don’t get me wrong I love radio, always have, always will it’s just now I can stand back looking in and not worry about ratings or networking.
Towards the end of my radio days I was heard on at least 11 stations across Qld and New South Wales.
Along with my producer Olympia, I created radio history by being the only Brisbane show to be networked into Sydney and across the Blues turf.
In that time on air I’ve filled my shelves with trophies and awards for broadcasting, news reading, and voice overs, all of which I treasure.
Staying in touch with my radio mates is important to me and I’ve built up a pretty good network of friends in my inner sanctum over 3 decades.
Friends I’ve made for life and who’ll be there for me when I turn 55 this October.
To reinvent yourself you need self-belief and others willing to believe in you as well.
Here’s to a future filled with good things and many more happy days.
Thanks for listening, you stay classy and safe.
You can find out more about Walter Williams here.