So you want to sound like Ira Glass. Here's a hint: Don't bother. If you really want to have a successful career in radio, you better find your own voice.
The idea that people sound best when they stop trying to imitate someone else is ubiquitous. It's practically a fact. Nearly every radio conference has a session on "Finding Your Own Voice." If you ask a radio pro for advice, they'll almost always tell you to "just be yourself." I've heard it so many times that I was surprised to learn that it sprung from the mind of just one man - David Candow.
Yesterday's Washington Post ran a feature on "The Host Whisperer", the guy who's responsible for much of NPR's sound. David Candow has coached everyone from Ari Shapiro to Scott Simon and his advice is so simple that it sounds like common sense:
- Don't imitate. You'll sound fake.
- Write like you talk. If you wouldn't say something in real life, don't say it on the radio.
- Leave your adjectives at home. Let your verbs do the talking.
- Pretend your having a conversation with someone, not announcing anything.
These rules are a tremendous departure from the "voice of God" newscaster of decades past. And yet, any young broadcaster worth his/her salt swears by them. Well done, Mr. Candow.