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The Evolution of the Announcer Voice

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Chances are, you’ve never seriously thought about the importance of the announcer voice. After all, it’s been used in broadcast media for years. Announcer-speak has, however, also been getting a lot of hate in the voice-over community. Something about the style not being touchy-feely enough to engage listeners…

BUT…

The announcer voice has evolved over the years to adopt a more friendly and conversational tone. As opposed to old media announcers who would read through a script in one breath, modern voice actors add a certain twist to this style.

Before you learn how to cultivate an announcer’s voice, you must first learn how it came to be.

But if you prefer to watch a video instead, click here:

The Mid-Atlantic Accent And The Announcer Voice

If you like old documentaries, chances are you’re familiar with the announcer voice. A few notable features of this voice-over style are:

  • High Pitch

The actor’s pitch is usually a little higher than the normal speaking voice.

  • Staccato Tone

Each sound the announcer makes is distinct and separate from the other. Think of it like a machine gun; you can hear every single shot even though they are continuous.

  • Soft Vowels and Missing Consonants

The announcer would soften their vowels and drop their R’s (think cah instead of car). It was a fancier way of speaking back then…

This announcer-speak style was popular in the early 20th century, but it vanished for obvious reasons.

For one, the recording equipment back then had some limitations that forced announcers to use a higher pitch. Each word had to be pronounced clearly or the mic would not pick it up.

At the same time, the Mid-Atlantic accent is attributed to that era’s brand of societal elitism. As we said, it was fancier to drop your r’s when speaking, for whatever reason. Since the rich and powerful consumed the most media, they cultivated their way of speaking into broadcast media.

But times changed, and broadcaster felt the need to adopt a more relatable and empathetic voice for the radio. The mid-Atlantic announcer voice vanished because it sounded cold, calculating, and distance.

And with the death of one accent, came another…

The Authoritative General American Male Voice

The general American announcer voice evolved out of the need for Americans to forge their own identity.

It was invented as a way of rejecting elitism.

However, every region and state had its own affectations and colloquialisms, meaning it was necessary for broadcasters to create a standard announcer voice. Such a voice ensured that all American listeners could understand the message.

Features that mark the general American announcer voice include:

  • Rhotic

Announcers pronounce the “r” in words like motor and car.

  • Unrounded vowels

Words like ‘rod’ and ‘lot’ are pronounced like ‘’rahd’’ and ‘’laht’’

  • Soft but Commanding Tone

The general American announcer voice was also dominated by a masculine presence, which was supposed to make it more authoritative. But just like the mid-Atlantic accent, the American announcer-voice suffered a decline as well.

announcer voice for voice actors

Enter NPR radio and more democratic announcer voices.

NPR and the Voices of Democracy

Eventually, the masses stopped trusting the general American voice, mainly for its overly authoritative tone. It was emotionless, disembodied, and stood as a representation of a distrusted political elite class.

Broadcasters suddenly had to cater to an audience with the desire for emotive content.

A short guide to emotional ads. 

Radio listeners welcomed a more vernacular way of speaking, which was less authoritative and more authentic in its approach, casual even.

Some of the features of the NPR announcer voice are:

  • Soft Tone

The tone is conversational and friendly.

  • Long Pauses between words and sentences

This allows for a more dramatic, hence emotional, delivery.

  • Vernacular Accent

As opposed to sounding general, the NPR announcer voice spoke directly to audiences in a language and tone they understood.

  • A strong emphasis on certain words

This allowed announcers to deliver important information and have it stick with the listeners.

The NPR trend in the announcer voice was aided by technological advancements and the democratization of information.

Today, it’s possible for a voice talent to set up a home recording studio and deliver very specific results to clients. There is market research information freely available, meaning brands have an opportunity to speak directly to their consumers with a conversational announcer voice.

Current Announcer Voice Trends

The demand for more localized content has sparked a desire for announcer voices marked by local accents and dialects.

The market for non-English speaking announcer voices is on the rise.

Even with the advancements in A.I., voice-over clients still seek a human touch in their campaigns. The modern announcer voice is adaptable, has tonal variety, and is emotive in that it makes the audience feel something.

A global market needs a native announcer.

Even English speaking audiences want an announcer voice that gives them a local perspective. Customers are no longer going after brands, its the other way around.

For someone to listen to your content, you need to create it in their accent or dialect. Therefore, an American company advertising in the UK would do well to hire an announcer with the local dialect.

Here is an article on French dialects and the importance of knowing your audience. 

Listeners also want to relate to their peers

It’s never clear what millennial and gen- Xers want, but they’ve always made it clear that they wish for something relatable.

The announcer voice used to be an authoritative (and older) guide that delivers information to consumers in the most neutral way possible.

Today, listeners want someone they can imagine having a conversation with. Times change and different audiences demand different things.

Senior citizens and baby boomers also want something relatable

While it was largely ignored before, marketers have begun to recognize the rapidly growing influence of this demographic.

Baby boomers might be far from outpacing other generations, but they still hold a reasonable amount of the world’s wealth. Based on this information, you should look into the type of announcer voice that best communicates with senior consumers.

Generally…

Listeners prefer a natural announcer voice to synthetic voices

You don’t need a survey to prove this fact. Everyone (including those unfamiliar with Skynet) are distrusting of A.I and robotic announcers. While there is a rise in computer-generated voice-over technology, there’s also something more powerful and commanding about a natural announcer voice.

People want emotive content

…and only real voice talents can inspire an emotional connection.

Modern announcer voices need to match the brand and add a dose of personality to the mix. The voice also needs to sound inspirational and should speak to the aspirations of the target audience.

What Caused the Changes in Announcer Voices?

From the mid-Atlantic to the NPR announcer speak, it is clear that broadcast media keeps changing its approach. Here are a few reasons why:

The availability of personalized products and services

These days content and product marketing are about connecting and engaging the customer. The creative industry is working overtime to ensure that their message connects with a matched audience right from the get-go. An appropriate announcer voice allows consumers to connect when watching ads.

Voice Recording is affordable

One of the reasons old-fashioned announcers spoke the way they did was the technical limitations of the recording equipment they used. Such gear was expensive to acquire and needed a specialized workforce to operate.

These days, it’s different, audio recording equipment is affordable. You can set up a home recording studio with just $500. Your Phone or iPad can also get the job done even better than those old-time studios.

The announcer voice has become more realistic

If you listen to an old-timey announcer voice and compare it to a contemporary example, the difference is clear. Listeners want someone more approachable, relatable, and trustworthy. So, broadcasters and marketers also seek an announcer voice more aligned with today’s world of convenience and accessibility.

How To Develop An Announcer Voice

Now that you have a brief historical perspective let’s have a brief look at how you, too, can develop an announcer voice.

One thing to keep in mind is your voice is the only one gifted to you.

There’s no way to turn a mousey voice into a glaring baritone. However, with some understanding and technical assistance, you can work your style and sound into an announcer voice.

Control your breathing

Breathing techniques are crucial to controlling your voice. Breathe from your diaphragm. Keep your shoulders and chest still as you inhale deeply. Only your stomach should contract and expand as you breathe.

This exercise gives you more control over the larynx pushing more air through, thus adding amplitude to your voice as you speak.

Vocal optimization

Pay attention to your posture as it’s key to controlling your breathing. When you do breathing exercises, you’ll notice that it’s easier when sitting or standing up straight. The same mechanics can be transferred to an announcer voice to make it more natural.

announcer voice for voice acting

With practice, you should be able to adapt your vocal tone to suit the words you speak. Remember, a droning voice will kill your listener’s interest.

Work on your diction and annunciation

Every region has its set of lazy speaking habits that mark normal conversation. You probably don’t notice the number of syllables that you drop or mash together.

You need to eliminate such practices to culture an announcer voice.

You’ll have to record your voice during a normal conversation to identify such issues. Reading from written copy also helps assail such errors. Do away with words like ‘’s’pose’’, ‘’wanna’’, and ‘’gonna’’.

You should also pay attention to plosive consonants (T, P, K, and B sounds) and fricative consonants (soft C and S sounds). Tongue twisters are the best devices to help you with that.

Here is a guide on speech pattern fundamentals and how you communicate. 

Know your tech

Microphone types and audio recording techniques can lend more power to your announcer voice. Directional mics, for instance, feature a proximity effect that emphasizes even the low frequencies in your voice.

Condenser microphones (have large diaphragms) that amplify the sound quality to capture your voice’s natural resonance. You can add reverb, compression, and echo to the audio samples using free audio editing software. Feel free to experiment on your audition samples to see what works best.

To Sum It Up

There are a lot of stereotypes about announcer-speak. That its monotonous, boring, and any other word that implies the uselessness of the announcer voice in modern voice over.

But now that you’re armed with a historical perspective, the future of the announcer’s voice should be clear: People want real and relatable voices.

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