This Spotlight will focus on former radio personality, and current voice over artist Neil Ross. Neil worked at KCBQ before moving on to San Francisco and Los Angeles before moving to full time voice work in 1985.
Some notable cartoon work Neil has done is Spiderman, Transformers, Batman, and The Avengers. I thought it was funny because one of my first PC games, and my favorite, was Leisure Suit Larry. Neil was the narrator for two of the game installments. Also, as Back to the Future is one of my favorite trilogies, in BTTF2, Neil provided the voice for Biff’s Casino overhead announcer while Marty McFly is walking up the casino steps.
Neil also has voiced the Academy Awards in 2003, and the Emmys in 2004.
I wanted to spotlight Neil for a few reasons for a while now, but when I found out he has a book, now was the time.
Neil wrote “Vocal Recall: A Life in Radio and Voiceovers” Available here: https://www.amazon.com/Vocal-Recall-Life-Radio-Voiceovers/dp/172156148X
|Neil thanks for taking time to talk about your incredible career.|
What is your current position?
Free-lance voiceover artist
Neil.. how are things with you right now? Life, work…..
I’ve reached the age where, if you’re healthy, you really don’t have anything to complain about. Fortunately, my health is fine at the moment.
Do you have anything you’d like to talk about? Such as stories from radio?
I left the business in 1985, but I still enjoy discussing the good’l days. I also am happy to talk about my VO adventures.
San Diego… Do you find yourself visiting here often?
I always enjoy visiting San Diego. I’ve always said the perfect life would be to work in Los Angeles and live in San Diego. Not possible, of course, but that would be ideal.
Is your job still as exciting like it was day one?
I must confess that radio began to bore me toward the end. Voiceover never has. I guess it’s because, in VO, you’re always being asked to do so many different things. It’s always a challenge.
Is there a favorite place you and your wife like to go out and eat?
My wife is such a great cook that we’re usually disappointed by standard fare. We tend to go out to places that feature cuisine which she can’t duplicate like Indian or Japanese.
Is there something about you that maybe no one knows, but could be interesting?
Maybe the fact that I was born in England and raised in Canada until the age of twelve.
How do you view radio now, compared to the past, then looking to the future?Thanks to the (in my opinion) ill-conceived radio provisions of the Telecommunications Act in 1996, the business I was in, for all intents and proposes, no longer exists. Consolidation and cost-cutting has let to a deterioration of the industry. There’s also so much more competition for the available listenership. When you can call up a song on your smart phone in fifteen seconds, download or stream it on the internet, who needs a DJs? What happens in the future? I haven’t got a clue.
How vital is the connection between an on-air personality and the listener?
It’s totally vital. The whole ball game. A really compelling air personality can forge an intense bond with thousands of people he or she will never meet or see. You have to learn how to talk to them. Not at them.
What is your favorite movie?
My all-time favorite is Lawrence of Arabia.There’ll never be another like it. An epic. And not a single frame of CGI.
With Social Media being so prevalent, tell me the advantages of using FB, Instagram, Twitter to connect with your listeners
I gather it’s a big part of the equation these days, but I don’t think it replaces the bond a superior air talent can forge, just by being compelling on the air.
What is your favorite radio moment?
Anything that makes me laugh or think.
How long were you in radio?
I was on the air for 21 years.
Can you compare San Diego to Los Angeles as it relates to radio and VO work?
From a professional standpoint, the San Diego media market in the 70s was a little too laid back for me. Everyone seemed to just want to go through motions and look forward to the weekend. They always wanted to do things on the cheap. I have no idea if that’s true today. The thing I love about working VO in L.A. is that everybody really hustling. The people are top-notch and highly professional, the equipment is state of the art and well maintained. It’s only 120 miles as the crow flies, but it’s a different media world.
What is the most interesting job you’ve ever had?
Probably announcing the Oscars in 2003, or being on-camera in the movie Dick Tracy.
What broadcasters do you look up to?
Currently, Howard Stern. A total game-changer. Many people inspired me over the years. Bill Ballance, Don McKinnon, Jean Shepherd, Emperor Bob Hudson, Dave Hull, Bob Crane, Gary Owens and many more.
If you could go back in time and work during any era of radio for a few days – which would you choose?
I would have loved being a radio actor when that stuff was happening in the 40s and 50s. Unfortunately they quit producing radio dramas before I was out of high school. I’d also love to go back to KKUA in Honolulu in 1968. I was fresh out of the service and raring to go. The music was so amazing in that era. Seemed like a great new album by a great new group would happen every week. The scene just got better and better. The station sounded great and we were bringing big name bands over from the mainland like The Doors, CCR, Eric Burdon and the New Animals. It was such an exciting place and time.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
My book. Vocal Recall – A Life in Radio and Voiceovers. Amazon, Audible or http://www.neilbook.com
Thanks Neil, I appreciate your time.