Behind the Mic: Kelly Doherty
Kelly Kelly Kelly aka Kelly Doherty is not your average VO talent. You’ll hear her voice on the airwaves, catch her producing radio imaging, see her running the ultimate resource called “The Imaging House” and you’ll probably be at her radio imaging and voiceover conference next year.
What radio VO work have you done in the past (stations/markets)?
Oh gosh. I’ve been so fortunate to voice many legendary stations. KIIS/Los Angeles, KROQ/Los Angeles, WHTZ/New York, Capital/London, Virgin/Dubai, KSCS/Dallas, WKSC/Chicago, WBBM/ Chicago, WIOQ/Philly, WTDY/Philly, OnAir w/Ryan Seacrest, x929/Calgary, 5FM/South Africa, etc. Many of those for 10+ years.
What are you up to presently (freelance/on-staff at a station)?
I’m still voicing many of those stations and lots of others while looking for my next big gig! And I started TheImagingHouse.com which is like Facebook for VO/Imaging Talents and a one-stop-shop for programmers looking for imaging resources. We just launched “Imaging House Radio” which features all things imaging 24/7. It’s really cool! Station launches, jingle packages, promos, sweeps, outtakes, demos from legendary stations, the famous ‘Nine’ tape, the best of Eric Chase, John Frost and other genius producers in our industry. It’s great having it on in the background! Very inspiring! And funny!
What do you love about your job?
It’s an honor having a programmer and producer entrust you with their radio station. I mean- the VO is on 24 hours a day- more than any jock. So, to be THAT person chosen to bring their imaging to life is quite a compliment.
Also- The VO and producer community is so much fun and very supportive. I’ve planned mixers and networking events so everyone has a chance to meet each other face to face. The adrenaline is intense! I’m planning an Imaging conference for 2020 unlike anything out there. Produced by VO/Imaging talent with legendary talent, a one-of-a-kind agenda and lots of inspiration. The goal is for attendees to leave feeling like they can conquer the world!
Check out Kelly’s demos:
How did you get started as a VO actor?
I voiced a Thanksgiving commercial for Safeway. LOL! That was my first spot. Then I tried the Imaging side of things and went crazy as a producer. Shortly after I arrived at KDWB, I was told my voice would never ‘print’ on the air and I’d never be a voice talent. THAT gave me the adrenaline to explore VO work even more. When I sent my demo to Miami- I replaced the station VO with my own and finally landed my first official VO gig at Y100/Miami while imaging their six-station cluster.
What was your first gig? Any memorable ones since then?
LOTS! LOL My first radio gig was KRQQ/Tucson. I grew up in Los Angeles and left the day after graduation as my father worked for General Dynamics which has transferred to Tucson as Raytheon. So I followed. First day there I noticed ‘KRQ’ on the side of a building and thought- ‘Awesome! They have a KROQ here!’ which wasn’t the case at all- but close! LOL I worked for the city newspaper as a reporter/photographer while I was in high school- so I showed up at KRQ telling them they needed me to photograph remotes and sales presentations. I was hired as an intern and then the PD, Mark Todd, went on vacation so I started helping the programming department which lead to production on a 4track. Then the Roland arrived and I remember spending 12 hours producing one promo. I wanted to know that thing inside and out. Totally worth it. ?
Who are your VO idols/mentors?
That would be a long list! First- John Frost. I sent imaging/VO demos while he was at KROQ. LOL- I have several stories about those. Haha The funniest is when he told me to send my demos on longer/higher quality cassettes so he could record over them. LOL Eric Chase is up there with John as far as mentors. Eric gave me my voice. I was driving from Minneapolis to my new gig in Miami and stopped in Tampa where my friend, Nick Daley, introduced me to Eric. I was SO nervous! He had me read on the mic and after a while- he stood in the back of the room, leaned up against the wall listening to my reads and said something like – “I think I know what your place is in VO- you’re the bitch in the radio”. I LOVED it. And that began my witty, sarcastic, bitchy read that suddenly took off on CHR and Alternative stations. It was soooo crazy!! And really fun! My female VO idol is Annie DeWig. By FAR the most heard female voice in radio and TV. She’s as authentic as it gets. When I was at KDWB, she was imaging DC101. We were two of the only female radio producers we knew of and people used to make up stories that we hated each other. Haha We’d call each other and say ‘By the way- I apparently said this about you’. And I’d say- ‘Oh! We’re fighting now in case you didn’t know.’ We had fun. I have a ton of respect for Annie. My VO Idol.
If you weren’t doing voiceover, what else do you think you’d be doing for a career?
I’d be a writer and a photographer. Both are creative outlets for me. Or even picking music for movies- whatever fancy title that is. Every time I pick an obscure song for a promo- it winds up on TV or movie preview.
How has new technology changed the way you work?
The biggest change is supply and demand. The quicker you deliver, the better your business.
A close second is connection. Whether it’s networking, brainstorming, finding the newest/best plugins/gear, etc- connection is key to everything we do. It seems like such a generic answer- but there are SO many specific answers to name. Marketing is another big one. The RIGHT marketing opens doors. Sending your tape doesn’t do it anymore- it’s all about having the right marketing to get buyers to LISTEN to your demo.
What gear do you use on the road? In your studio?
The Sennheiser 416 is my best friend. I call it the ‘Bob Barker’ mic. And the Focusrite Platinum Pro with my secret settings. ? I take my laptop, mic and Duet on the road and a Zoom just in case. There are also some pretty cool iPhone apps to use in case of emergency which work pretty well.
Have you ever had a voice coach? Would you recommend it?
I haven’t. But there are a couple coaches I’m thinking about- Dave Walsh is one of them. I’ve met him a couple times and he has a great reputation in the VO community.
I’ve done some VO coaching myself. I don’t have a curriculum. I just go by what I know and what I’ve experienced as a VO talent. You’ve just got to find the right coach for you. Everyone has a different method. Talk to people, ask around- you’ll find the right one.
How do you schedule/prioritize your work? How much time do you spend auditioning for new work?
I schedule ME first. And then I’m on the mic. The majority of my day is spent voicing, marketing my voice and finding new clients. The other working part of my day is dedicated to The Imaging House. It’s such a great resource for programmers, VO talent and producers. I try to improve the experience every day.
When it comes to VO work, studio & gear, what are your most ingenious methods/discoveries for saving time and cash?
Some talent get so wrapped up in cost that they overlook the simple things and psyche themselves out of doing something they might love. Don’t pay to be on a manager’s list- they should make money by getting you work and taking commission. Don’t pay for coaching if you haven’t started practicing. Find your voice first. Get out of your comfort zone. If you want to do commercials- watch a commercial on TV, rewind, transcribe and play it again on mute while YOU voice it. Really simple beginnings. THEN find your coach and spend money on coaches or workshops that benefit YOU. Don’t waste time and money on something you’re doing just because everyone else is. My pet peeve is other VO talent who preach how expensive it is to get into the VO world. It’s not. And another pet peeve is telling someone they can’t be a VO talent. The talent pool is ENDLESS. Don’t let anyone pigeon-hole you into a format or tell you other formats aren’t right for you. Coaches aren’t program directors. And, these days, there might be 15 different reads per format. Maybe a programmer is looking for something completely different. Maybe your CHR read would be great on a country station. Maybe the NewsTalk station wants a softer read. Your job is not to read minds. Your job is to be YOU and do your own take on VO. And don’t be the cheap version of someone else.
Can you offer 3 helpful tips for newbies trying to make it in the voice-over industry?
I’ll give you five. ?
Network like crazy. You’ll find opportunity but you’ll also find support.
Never stop learning. Sometimes even the best VO talents think they suck. But they never stop learning.
Don’t rush. It takes time to find your comfort zone. Whether it’s radio or TV or even just another radio format,
Stop being so hard on yourself. I’m the worst at this one. And it brings on the depression. I’m learning that progress is better than perfection.
Don’t Ask, Don’t Get. Stop being afraid to reach out to your mentors. They’re human just like you. Ask them questions. How’d you get the KROQ gig- ask them. How do you read for trailers- ask. You’ll gain so much ‘insider-info’ while making a great contact. ? You should be busy getting around the typical obstacles rather than creating your own.
Favorite 2 pizza toppings?
Canadian bacon and Pineapple. THERE. I said it. Mmmmmm! Served. Owned. Bring in the lion. (that’s a frost bit)
If you could invite one person to dinner, living or dead, who would it be?
My future self.
Connect with Kelly and check out her sites: