Howard Cogan (JACK FM voice) kindly lent his time for an interview, and NO….we didn’t bother requesting any songs.
Let’s begin! Howard, please tell us a bit about yourself.
I currently spend most of my days in a small room talking to myself in a straight jacket, and sometimes the material gets broadcast on JACK FM Stations usually located near Motel 6′s just off the interstate. I also do some promos for Modern Family on ABC cause they told me they really wanted NO VO on the promos so I was the next best thing. For some reason I am still the voice of Quiznos in Canada and I used to be one of the promo voices for CTV up there until I moved to California and they forgot about me. I am also currently heard on my neighbor Scott’s door bell (which links to his answering machine)
1. Which production system do you use and why?
I use protools 10 and not just for the free easy tech support LOL, it also really pisses off Mike Crank at Jack FM LA who uses adobe audition on his calculator i think. Steve stone was a big help to me by sending me a template for my processing etc as well. I hate hardware and prefer plugins and yes I BUY them. so being on the standard was originally important, not so much anymore, but why learn something new when you can just let your brain rot.
2. What are your favorite plugins?
Trackplug (?) as well as the good ol’ L1 from WAVES.
3. What gear do you use (microphone, pre-amp, booth, …)?
I use a Seinheiser (you try spelling it) 416 mic, a Brent Averill preamp and a big knob and a black AC cord.
4. What is the best voice processing trick or voice-over technique anybody should know?
Getting the mic out of your mouth.
5. When it comes to VO work, studio & gear, what are your most ingenious methods/discoveries for saving time and cash?
Getting rid of most the of the hardware and processing. I think we are getting used to a cleaner more digital sound these days. Old school processing starts to sound dirty to me. Funny…..a lot of VO people I run into use ProTools and then bounce it!!?? The export to mp3 waay faster. I also like my web interface where I can upload my files from my website in a millisecond or 2. I also use 2-track….one to record clean and one to record with a bit of processing depending on the job. And soon I’ll be using Twisted Wave on my iPhone from a public bathroom near you!
6. How do you schedule your work (priorities…..)?
Funny, but I actually put every piece of copy into a session in my calendar. It forces me to give everyone time……I self-direct most of the time. I will listen back to each sweeper and only send the crap.
7. What do you love about working as a freelance VO talent?
Being anonymous and getting the same lousy service as everyone else.
8. How did you get started as a VO actor? What was your first gig?
I went to an agent in Vancouver who told me how much i sucked, then came back a year later with same tape and he said i improved everything they said needed improving. Did a few beer ads in Canada and some fast food stuff as kind of a non-announcer announcer…..which makes no sense, I know.
9. Who are your VO idols/mentors? Who influenced your work as a voice-over artist?
I really love and respect the old school guys. I was fortunate to meet Don LaFontaine before he passed away. What really impressed me about him, beyond the the work we all knew, was his business sense. Speaking of which, I would also love to be as rich as Ryan Seacrest one day, have an outtake tape like Casey Kasem, see Mitch Craig’s original studio, have a pool like Joe Cipriano, and have Ashton Smith remember who I am.
10. What is your dream job?
After processing insurance forms, Seth McFarlane and Judd Appatow’s gigs..
11. Where did you work before radio?
A junkyard (it sucked, it was hot and i stripped cars….but at least I got listen to the radio all day). I eventually got fired after wrecking a datsun pickup IN A JUKYARD – go figure.
12. What would be your 3 main tips for a youngster trying to start a VO career?
- Have a Plan B
- Have a Plan C
- Hope the first 2 fail. (huh?)
How did you land your gig as the voice of JACK FM……nationwide?
My wife was pregnant with my first child, and I was fired with no gig and no income. I pitched Pat Cardinal at Rogers in Vancouver, saying “PLEASE GOD HELP ME.” I did some beer ads that didn’t sound like an announcer and if they were blowing millions on that crap, radio oughtta try it. It seemed like a good fit for the format they were looking for at the first Jack FM in Vancouver (plus i was a personality in that market for years playing New Kids on the Block and giving away cans of Pepsi). Also I attribute it to NOT being on the air anywhere. I was available in EVERY market, THAT was my greatest asset!
People love Jack-FM’s dry, sarcastic demeanor. How much of that is acting, and how much is a reflection of yourself?
I am a horrible actor.
Here’s Howard’s gallery, including exclusive screen shots, and studio pics.