Thursday, October 15, 2009

The “Joy” of Ed Walker

It was in about 1963…while growing up in the Washington D.C. area when first I discovered the genius of Ed Walker. My ear was glued to a small “Crown” transistor radio ( I can even recall the color as baby blue) as I laughed through the “The Joy Boys” radio show! Oh my head…..what a blast it was to listen!

Upon reflection I now know how radio in that era could be so magical. As I listened, I began to dream of someday broadcasting over the airwaves! A big part of that dream was fueled by Washington D.C. radio legend Ed Walker.

Ed Walker was born April 23, 1932, in the Chicago suburbs. He became a Washington D.C. radio personality in the early 1950’s.

From 1955 to 1974, Ed Walker teamed with Willard Scott (the very same Today weatherman and the original Ronald McDonald!) as co-hosts of the nightly Joy Boys of radio program which was an awe inspiring cavalcade of improvisational comedy radio.

The Joy Boys was spontaneous humor with sketches and characters set-up by Willard...then Ed would follow with a quick wit, character voices and sound effects ALL manufactured in the studio live. He used all kinds of gadgets ...the trash can, shoes on sand, a door opening and closing… name it Ed would capture the sounds!

The “Joy Boys” program began on WRC-AM, an NBC owned-and-operated station, moving in 1972 to WWDC-AM.

Please take a moment to view the YouTube link to the last "Joy Boys" show on WRC in 1972.

It was in the fall of 1973 that I was fortunate enough to work with Ed Walker and Willard Scott. I was a part time on-air jock at WWDC and for many weeks I would follow “The Joy Boys” show. My dream had now reached reality! I recall my first greeting from Ed as one as if we had known one another for years! I went from a bunch of nerves before going into the studio to feeling relaxed and calm once I interacted with Ed. I was thrilled to be performing!

Ed Walker is not only an amazing talent but the world’s nicest, and most generous guy! His infectious laugh and consistent smile is a hallmark. Those of us lucky enough to have worked with Ed, know just how important he is in inspiring excellence and overcoming challenges in life.

In the mid 1990’s, I called Ed to request his help. I had the pleasure mentoring a young student from Emerson College in Boston. He was so excited to begin a career in broadcasting but felt he may never reach his full potential because of his physical challenge. He was blind. I knew if anyone could inspire this young man it would be Ed Walker. So we coordinated a conference. When the young man engaged in conversation with Ed….his face lit up….showing the obvious signs of barriers lifted and an exciting future ahead!

Ed Walker too has been blind since birth.

This year, Ed Walker will be inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in the category "Local or Regional - Pioneer."

On October 3rd, Ed Walker was also presented the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Washington Quarter Century Broadcasters Club.

Congratulations Ed and THANK YOU! It remains an honor to be your friend.

Inside Studio A………..I’m James Herron

Thanks for forwarding my pieces to your friends and linking to your websites and boards.

You can hear Ed today! He hosts a weekly four-hour Sunday night program, The Big Broadcast, on WAMU-FM, featuring vintage radio programs from the 1930s to 1950s, such as Gunsmoke, The Jack Benny Show, The Lone Ranger, Fibber McGee and Molly, and Superman. Walker began hosting The Big Broadcast in 1990 when his friend John Hickman discontinued hosting due to illness. The show started in 1964, the longest running program on WAMU.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Voice Fatigue - BBS Syndrome

I had been finding that some days by 11 am my voice was beginning to fatigue. If you rely on your voice as your livelihood as I do, this can be particularly troublesome.

I first noticed this issue about a year ago. What was going on? What the heck was causing this to occur? Was it something serious? Was it environmental?

My thoughts ran wild with everything from voice polyps; cancer, food and drink issues. I imagined everything and anything.

Scheduling voice over sessions was also challenging and at times an issue since my voice was at its best in the early morning hours EST. Clients on the “left coast” would often receive a request to record as early as possible. Fortunately, I’ve had such wonderfully flexible and understanding clientele.

A few weeks ago I began tests through the hospital to determine the cause of my voice fatigue.

Ever had a tiny scope with a camera stuck down your throat through your nose? Yikes! Actually, with a little Novocain I did not feel a thing. It was weird however. A TV monitor was mounted so the Doctor could view the results of the probing camera and as I could. I never thought I would be viewing my throat, and that's a very profound statement! In a strange way it was rather interesting.

The results were conclusive. I was diagnosed with Muscle Tension Dysphonia a voice fatigue disorder caused by muscle tension.

Listen Sweetheart....I'm in famous company as this is amazingly also called Bogart-Bacall Syndrome.

Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall both suffered from a mild vocal disorder that has been named for them, Bogart-Bacall Syndrome. BBS is now the medical term for an ongoing hoarseness that often afflicts actors, singers or TV/radio voice workers who routinely speak in a very low pitch.

Bacall naturally had a high, nasal voice; she trained it to be lower to get her debut part in To Have and Have Not. You can view her singing through the link on the right.

Apparently, over the years I’ve been unconsciously “training” my Larynx muscles to find a non-normal flexed and tense position as I used my voice. When I relaxed (got a good night sleep) the muscles returned to normal. The tense flexed position would return to my voice as the day progressed.

Fortunately, this is a very common issue and thankfully one that can be remedied through therapy and rather quickly.

I am working with the “Voice & Swallowing Center” and receiving prescriptive vocal exercises. These include a series of “Hum” exercises I follow daily from a CD. The drill is to make the vocal muscle recall that “normal” zone all the time.

If you would like to view a variety of voice issues and symptoms including Muscle Tension Dysphonia check out The Voice and Swallowing Institute of The New York Eye and Ear Infirmary at

Another important fact I discovered is how essential hydration is to sustain a healthy voice. A minimum of TWO QUARTS of water are recommended per day. So drink baby, drink.

Of course yelling and screaming is not a good thing at all.

I’ve taken to using a “rapid hand clap” (picture an prim and proper 18th century French Officer) when I cheer for my beloved Boston Red Sox, Celtics, Patriots or President Obama! I also now use simple hand gestures against those challenging the above mentioned.

Okay I look like a dork…but my voice is happy.

My hope is you find this information helpful. I know many of you reading this are professional actors and actresses, singers, teachers, politicians and other blabber mouths.

Inside Studio A………..I’m James Herron

Thanks for forwarding my pieces to your friends and linking to your websites and boards.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

A Proud “Tree Hugger”

Has it really been 39 years since we first celebrated Earth Day?

I am proud to say that I was among the many Americans who participated in the first demonstration.

On April 22 1970 we gathered in Washington D.C. in support of this National Day of Observance of Environmental Problems. Of course, even in this peaceful demonstration we all received criticism for our ideals and concerns. Much like the debate over Global Warming today, Earth Day was seen as a bunch of hippie “tree huggers” gathered to smoke pot and party. Nothing could have been further from the truth or the facts.

Approximately 20 million Americans participated, with a goal of a healthy, sustainable environment. Earth Day 1970 was held coast-to-coast with massive rallies. Thousands of colleges and universities organized protests against the deterioration of the environment. Groups that had been fighting against oil spills, polluting factories and power plants, raw sewage, toxic dumps, pesticides, freeways, the loss of wilderness, and the extinction of wildlife suddenly realized they shared common values.

In just two short years….by 1972 Earth Day had become a world wide effort to recognize that the need to improve our environment was a real and valid concern.

U.N. Secretary General Waldheim observed Earth Day with similar ceremonies on the March equinox in 1972, and the United Nations Earth Day ceremony has continued each year since on the day of the March equinox (the United Nations also works with organizers of the April 22nd global event). Margaret Mead added her support for the equinox Earth Day, and in 1978 declared:

"EARTH DAY is the first holy day which transcends all national borders, yet preserves all geographical integrities, spans mountains and oceans and time belts, and yet brings people all over the world into one resonating accord, is devoted to the preservation of the harmony in nature and yet draws upon the triumphs of technology, the measurement of time, and instantaneous communication through space.”

At the moment of the equinox, it is traditional to observe Earth Day by ringing the Japanese Peace Bell, a bell donated by Japan to the United Nations. Over the years celebrations have occurred in various places worldwide at the same time as the celebration at the UN.

In 1991 while Program Director of WBOS-FM in Boston and in tandem with Adam Klein (a remarkable Promotions and Marketing director) we sought to bring together Bostonian's to celebrate a Earth Day. Together with the City of Boston we created the Earth Day Concert and Festival held on the Esplanade in Boston.

This would be a FULL DAY celebration of our planet with hundreds of environmental exhibits and FREE music from artists such as Ritchie Havens, Arlo Guthrie, Marc Cohn, Roger McGuinn and so many, many others.

The day was blessed by a wonderful Native American Indian Chief who prayed for sunshine and fresh air. Local and National members of Congress and Senate would speak, as did many wonderful celebrities. The first concert in 1991…gathered between 25 and 50 thousand concerned citizens.

The Earth Day Concert and Festival became an annual event and by 1995….with sun shinning and the air clean more than 150 thousand would attend this peaceful celebration of the Earth.

Sadly, WBOS-FM was purchased by Greater Media in the late 1990’s who’s brilliant leadership decided that the sincere efforts to bring together Bostonian's to celebrate the Earth should become a commercial venture. The President of Greater Media called me a typical “Tree Hugger”. I was so PROUD TO BE ACKNOWLEDGED as a TREE HUGGER by such a pompous ass and was relieved to no longer work this bumbling idiot.

Greater Media renamed the event WBOS Earth Fest. Of course, the music continued to be free and the crowds continued to come…..but the message was muddied among the commercialism.

Today as we observe Earth Day we can be proud of the international grassroots activism linked through the Internet, the over 5,000 environmental groups and the hundreds of millions of people in a record 184 countries and coordinated by the nonprofit Earth Day Network, according to whom Earth Day is now "the largest secular holiday in the world, celebrated by more than a half billion people aka TREE HUGERS every year."

Happy Earth Day!

Inside Studio A………I’m James Herron

Thanks for forwarding my pieces to your friends and linking to your websites and boards.

(stats via Wikipedia)

Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Art of Listening

Do you ever get the feeling that your questions, concerns or worries are falling on deaf ears by those of whom could provide a solution?

Many times you feel like you’re beating head against the wall. It can be so frustrating. I’m sure you can think of many examples. Here’s the classic one for me; You call a business with a concern and are placed on hold….. “Your call is important to us….please stay on the line for the next available operator” ....this then goes on and on….sometimes it’s just unbearable....and you finally give up.

Funny, when this occurs I always visualize a phone bank with flashing lights “on hold” and operators talking and laughing among each other about the latest episode of American Idol or something...all the while completely oblivious to the callers on hold.

A person or business which is accessible and sincerely listens and then is responsive is a rarity today.....and yet there are exceptions!

I’d like to share just such an exception with you.

Webster’s Dictionary defines listening as the following:

1: to pay attention to sound

2: to hear something with thoughtful attention or give consideration <listen to a plea>

3: to be alert to catch an expected sound.

Dr. Larry Nadig Ph.D. a Clinical Psychologist says ~

“Expressing our wants, feelings, thoughts and opinions clearly and effectively is only half of the communication process needed for interpersonal effectiveness. The other half is listening and understanding what others communicate to us. When a person decides to communicate with another person, he/she does so to fulfill a need. The person wants something, feels discomfort, and/or has feelings or thoughts about something. In deciding to communicate, the person selects the method or code which he/she believes will effectively deliver the message to the other person. The code used to send the message can be either verbal or nonverbal. When the other person receives the coded message, they go through the process of decoding or interpreting it into understanding and meaning. Effective communication exists between two people when the receiver interprets and understands the sender’s message in the same way the sender intended it.”

As a Voice Actor I uses many professional resources to market my services. They range from an Agent, Casting Director, WEB Page, Internet Voice Acting Services and of course good old fashioned word of mouth. is a superb on-line service which provides a one stop resource for clientele worldwide searching to find talented Voice Actors. I have been a member of for many years. My business has been sincerely enhanced by the excellent service offered from for both clients and Voice Actors.

Several days ago, made a change to its “home page” which (in my opinion) changed the successful dynamic and “sizzle” of the service they offer. The change involved removing featured talent which included pictures and links and was replaced by a simple informational page.

In fact, the change was such a concern to me, I wrote a lengthy email and then followed it up with a phone call to David Ciccarelli CEO of

I was immediately connected to David without delay or being placed on hold for ever. When connected with David, I was met with gracious concern for my criticism.

We were engaged in conversation for what felt like an unlimited amount of time. David spent the better part of our time with patience listening to my concerns and suggestions. He indicated that the changes had made based on research and testing. He did acknowledged my concerns and sincerely appreciated my suggestions and ideas.

When we concluded the call I had a better understanding of the changes and felt David was very gracious and professional.

I remained concerned about the change to the home page.

I wrote several more emails and included Stephanie Ciccarelli co-founder and PR Director, Laurynda Pasma the Product Development Director in addition to David Ciccarelli. Boy, I really vented my concerns. I shared a few examples of why I remained concerned including a research study I had discovered about "change for change" sake. I guess I was beginning to think my emails were becoming irritating...and was reasonably certain I would never receive a response.

I immediately received a warm response from Stephanie Ciccarelli. She was very gracious to me and while offering support of the revisions made to the home page…indicated that she and the Voices Team appreciated my candor and concerns. Here’s a portion of Stephanie’s comments -

“In fairness to David, you have given him a very narrow window in which to implement any of your suggestions. If you have been following the conversation on VOX Daily, you know that we are considering adding a link to the Featured Talent listings, it's just a matter of where on the home page and how it would appear. In the past, we had used images of people on the home page and know that it works. We're still exploring how we may do this while ensuring that the website performs to the best of its ability for both voice talent and clients hiring them.”

David, Stephanie, Laurynda and entire team could have chosen to ignore my concerns, not taken my call, and thought of my concerns among the more than 107,000 users of Voices as just a “blip” on the screen…and forged ahead with blinders on.

Instead, they choose to do the right thing and sincerely listened.

I’m confident I was not the only Voice Actor from whom they heard with concern for the changes. But I certainly was made to feel I was the most important and thus will remain loyal and grateful always.

The home page has now returned to its original layout.

As you can imagine I highly recommend and wish to commend and thank David, Stephanie, Laurynda for the professionalism and excellence each demonstrated.

Inside Studio A……………I’m James Herron

Thanks for forwarding my pieces to your friends and linking to your websites and boards.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Flip The Help Switch

A few weeks ago I witnessed Brian Williams of NBC reporting that many Americans (and viewers of the NBC Nightly News) were fatiguing on all the bad news heard day in and day out and that viewers wanted to see and hear good news too! Well, NBC took this criticism seriously and began devoting the end of each newscast with a segment entitled “Making a Difference”.

Each evening NBC and Brian feature several stories of “Random Acts of Kindness” from Americans throughout our country. Several times, I’ve been moved to tears at the amazing selfless acts made by our friends and neighbors. (You may view many of the stories aired on "Making A Difference"...see the link on the right).

I got to thinking….what if each day…each of us performed at least one random act of kindness? I’ll bet most of us do so already, but if by making this daily plan paramount ….as routine as your grocery list..... could we change a life?

Eggs, milk, cereal, random act of kindness, laundry soap….

Imagine the possibilities? Imagine the difference we may make in the life of someone in need?

Last week, I responded to requesting an audition for a business in Cleveland Ohio. When I reviewed the details of the project and the business…I noted the client indicated;

(Paraphrasing) “Due to the economy our business is really struggling. This commercial is our last attempt at advertising to hopefully generate enough business to continue to provide our service to our customers and keep our staff employed“.

I could not help but flash to the NBC “Making a Difference” reports and the many wonderful ways people have helped one another.

I sent in my audition and I included a note to the client in which I indicated that my services had been offered at no charge. A few hours later, the client contacted me in amazement. “No one has ever offered such a thing for me… she said. Thank you so much!” Hearing her sincerity really made me feel great, too.

I voiced the commercial with the knowledge that this business owner was extremely grateful for my service and talent…..but was also relying on me to help make a difference with her business.

Maybe you viewed this past Sundays (April 5th) CBS “60 Minutes”. One of the featured stories was that of a public hospital in Nevada which had to discontinue treating cancer patients (without insurance) because of a lack of funding. Believe me, this was truly a heart wrenching story showcasing several (among many) average Americans who literally may die because of they have no way to pay to receive essential treatment!

One of the Physicians who had been treating patients at the hospital (which was no longer offering the service) decided to take matters into his own hands and open his own service for cancer patients. He invited all the patients who had been displaced by the public hospital to receive help at no charge. “Pay what you can” he offers. “We’ll take care of you”. He has jars and boxes throughout the city asking for donations too. It is selfless people like this physician that may be the angels on Earth.

I guess for many of us it takes a catastrophic event such as the collapse of the world economy to flip on the “help” switch inside.

Will you flip your help switch to on?

Will you take my challenge? Make a “Random Act of Kindness” into one of your daily routines?

Let me know your stories too…I’d love to share them.

Inside Studio A ……. I’m James Herron

Thanks for forwarding my pieces to your friends and linking to your websites and boards.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Stay “Cool” Boy!

1961. West Side Story. This film won ten Academy Awards in its eleven nominated categories, including Best Picture. The amazing genius of Leonard Bernstein with his powerful score along with lyrics from Stephen Sondheim are timeless. You know the story of course.

One particular scene will roll around in my head quite often.

To help set the scene.... start snapping your fingers in rhythm …… visualize “The Jets” (ready to rumble) getting antsy...while waiting for “The Sharks” to show up for the fight. An attempt is made to convince the Jets to call off the rumble….but…. to no avail….. so “Riff” tells them to stay “cool”….. to keep it …….“cool”…….. boy.

Enjoy "Cool" from West Side Story the link on the right.

This song brings some rather essential advice for us all really. For the Voice Actor, keeping it “cool” and relaxed may be one of the quintessential ingredients to a creating and achieving excellence.

It’s remarkable what happens to your body from stress and tension. Here’s way too much information for you but important just the same:

Stress can result from many things: a high-pressure job, relationships, financial problems, loneliness, crowds, traffic jams and life changes. Because of the complexity of today's world, stress is experienced by everyone at one time or another. Everyone has his or her own comfort level where stress is concerned. What is considered stress by one may be just a small bump in the road to another.

Symptoms of stress include increased adrenaline, increased heart beat, increased blood pressure, and increased cholesterol levels, changes in blood makeup, and muscle tension.

Stress may create an environment for other illnesses and conditions to progress, such as appetite changes, fatigue, headaches, irritability, insecurities, memory loss, stuttering, teeth-grinding, cold hands, high blood pressure, shallow breathing, nervous twitches, reduced sex drive, insomnia, gas, indigestion, heart burn, stomach upset, withdrawal, anxiety, panic and higher risk of heart attack.

Enough already!! Just reading this can make you tense!

So what can we do to manage tension and stress?

Physicians recommend we best manage stress by regular exercise, meditation or other relaxation techniques, structured time outs, and learning new coping strategies to create predictability in our lives. The management of stress depends mainly on the willingness of a person to make the changes necessary for a healthy lifestyle. We need to keep it “cool” kid.

I like to use (or attempt to use) humor. My late father was the “king” of bad puns…and if you know me well…you know that “wonderful” quality was passed along. …LOL! Seriously, humor works wonders to relax you and prepare you for your project. (Wait “seriously, humor”...isn’t; that an oxymoron?)

And here are a few of the "cool" performers from whom I’ve taken a lesson:

If you enjoy golf…then you know of Masters Champion Fred Couples. As an athlete, he may be the “coolest”! His walk if he hasn’t a care in the world….chatting while walking and carrying a club to goof with….you get the feeling he is out for a leisurely stroll on a Sunday afternoon...he is so thoroughly relaxed. Yet in the heat of competition his ability to take dead aim and make the important shot has been remarkable over the years.

Sinatra! A master at exuding a sense of casualness with perfection. You can feel how much he “loved” to sing and seemingly without a care in the world. He would fill a concert hall singing to thousands and appear to be in his living room...with his feet up.

A relaxed “stress and tension free” environment is essential to help to strive to achieve excellence.

Keep it "Cool" .....Life is fun!

Inside Studio A …..I’m James Herron

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

So You've been Rejected?

I remember like it was yesterday and yet it was some 35 + years ago. Funny how rejection has a way of leaving an indelible mark on your memory.

I had just created a voice over demo and was thrilled to learn that "Marvelous" Marv Brooks (WPGC "Good Guy" and Program Director) had agreed to listen and review it. Of course, back in the day this was analog.... submitted at 7.5 ips as a reel to reel tape .

If you grew up in the D.C. area then you recall that Marv was a bit of a radio legend. He had great voice with amazingly clear dic-tion. Marv Brooks spent years on air with "Good Guy Radio" WPGC (top 40 radio) and then went on to provide voice overs for agency's, the voice of the Capital Center, provide the play by play for the Washington Capitals and served as a radio Program Director.

Virtually all of us were cigarette smokers back in the '70's...and believe me Marv was a chain smoker. One afternoon, I presented my tape to Marv and with his "Kool" cig dangling from his mouth he threaded it on the TEAC...hit play....and away we went. Marv listened...focused... almost no expression . As my demo ended, Marv hit rewind, opened the tape box and placed the tape in the box. (pause) "Well, Jimmy"..he said. "Some people have it and some people don't and YOU don't!"

BAM! Hit me like a ton of bricks. (I know many of you reading this are saying....he was correct! Ha Ha.... very funny!)

I was crushed. What was I to do with this? Was I that bad? Did he mean for me to give up and find something else to do for my life's work? You know the feeling, as if someone had just punched you in the stomach. What started as depression quickly moved into frustration. Then, I just got pissed off! "Who the hell does he think he is?"

I would take his blunt comments as a fact almost made it my mission to prove him wrong.

Several months later, I created a new demo. This time I submitted it to Dave McNamee Program Director of WMOD-FM in Washington D.C. Dave was also a chain smoker. I remember meeting Dave at the WMOD/WOL studios in Georgetown. I told him how confident I was that I was going to be his next hire! (where was the humility?) He smiled...almost in a sarcastic way. Dave threaded it on the tape deck ....listened a bit and stopped the tape. He said. "Thanks for coming in". End of meeting. "Not again!" I thought.

A few days later my phone rang. It was Dave McNamee. He said..."after reviewing your tape....I wanted to let you know.... it was among the worst demos I've ever heard! But. I hear potential and I like your confidence. When can you start?" Amazing.

I'm sad to report both Marv Brooks and Dave McNamee are gone each taken by Cancer. Fortunately, I had the opportunity to let each know how grateful I was for the bluntness, candor, guidance and opportunity each had given me.

Talk about how to stay focused and positive without fear of rejection. Check out these examples:

An account executive I worked with in radio had a jelly jar of pennies on his desk. I remember reaching into my pocket to contribute to his collection. He said thanks but no thanks....that he knew how many pennies were in the jar and that he used them regularly. "I dump them out once a week" he said. "Then I start making phone calls for potential clients. I place a penny back in the jar after I make a call. I won't stop making calls until I've been through all the pennies. If I did not make a sale I'll start the process all over again." I'm not sure I could do that but I certainly admire the strength of character, the will to increase the odds of acceptance or success and to simply move on to the next "penny" after rejection.

And then there's the amazing example of rejection that Steve Jobs received when he presented the idea of a personal computer to IBM. They rejected Steve flat out! The idea of a personal computer appeared foreign to the IBM vision. The company did not foresee computers used for anything but business. Whoops.

Steve Jobs of course went on to form Apple....and the rest is history.

Here are a few favorites quotes on rejection:
  • "Actors search for rejection. If they don't get it they reject themselves!" ~ Charlie Chaplin
  • "Lukewarm acceptance is more bewildering than outright rejection." ~ Martin Luther King Jr.
  • "If one dream should fall and break into a thousand pieces, never be afraid to pick one of those pieces up and begin again." ~Flavia Weedn
  • "Defeat may serve as well as victory to shake the soul and let the glory out."~Edwin Markham
Here's something I think you'll enjoy! Cristin O'keef Aptowicz is a wonderful young poet comedian and author. She recently performed "Notes on rejection" at Brown University . To view her performance on You Tube click the link on the right.

I love to audition and do so every day not just for the opportunity of securing a new project but to keep on my "A game". Frankly, it's a great way to practice. I submit auditions confident I'm ideal for a particular project or part, only to find out that once again... I have been rejected.

Today, I find it much easier to say - "C'est la vie"!

Inside Studio A.....I'm James Herron

Thanks for forwarding my pieces to your friends and linking to your websites and boards.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Summer of '72

It was a typical hot and humid evening in the summer of 1972 . I guess one somehow gets used to the sticky summer weather growing up in Maryland. This particular summer night would bring change to my life forever.

The hot, humid summer evening did not deter the golfers from hitting a bucket or two of balls at Fairway Golf Range. This was the driving range which was owned by my father. It was a popular place to come for serious golfers or just those wishing to test how far they could crush a golf ball!

I worked (slaved) evenings at the golf range while attending college. I think it was the old Ford farm tractor with the ball picker-upper on the front, that made it fun! Chasing gofers (not golfers) and snagging balls as golfers tried repeatedly to hit the tractor which had a screen cage (thank God) surrounding it.

(FYI ~ I think you'll get a kick out of the "Driving Range" spot featured on You the link on the right)

Most of my time was spent hanging-out in the golf cabana checking in golfers and filling buckets with freshly washed balls.

Once or twice a week, a couple would arrive and spend a few hours hitting golf balls. Actually, the truth is, this very fit middle aged woman would hit basket after basket while her husband (who made a striking resemblance to Winston Churchill) would walk his lazy basset hound, smoking a good sized "Cuban". He would never miss an opportunity to strike up conversation with me. His name was Stan McCormick.

Over the many weeks we became friends and would discuss sports, politics, weather, dogs….you name it we talked about it. I do remember laughing a great deal….and that he had the most infectious laugh!

One evening Stan asked me what I planned to do with the rest of my life. I remember saying rather profoundly....“I want to be a professional Actor, Drummer, on TV or the Radio….I think?” I recall Stan as being very supportive and encouraging upon hearing of my dream(s). "Go for it kid!" He said. I later learned from Stan, that he worked in Television and that his responsibility was as Sales Manager for WRC TV in Washington D.C.

Several weeks and many golf balls flew by. Then one evening boom! “You know. Jimmy" (his nickname for me) "…..I may have an idea for you..... I have some friends who just acquired a small A.M. radio station in Laurel Maryland….maybe they need some help?....I’ll call ‘em and let you know.”

Well he did and they did…and I received what so many of us are fortunate enough to get; a break! Think of it. A casual, kind, discussion.....later a phone call.....and my life was changed forever.

"We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give" ~ Winston Churchill

One never knows how, from where, or from whom opportunity will present itself. But don’t think for a moment it’s not out there. Sure as the sun will rise, opportunity is actively searching for its next victim! You may be next! Perhaps you are looking for that first job, that first role ….or you are a veteran actor looking for your next performance…..whatever you’re in the hunt for….be confident …your door will open! But be prepared. Oddly enough, chances are, you’ll be guided to your next opportunity through a most remarkable circumstance.

If we're truly honest with ourselves this comes as no surprise. After all…this is LIFE!!

It’s the people we meet along this remarkable journey that makes it so extra amazing!

Thank you, Stan!

Oh important footnote. Be sure you "PAY IT FORWARD" and help find someone that next opportunity. You'll bring about immeasurable joy!

Inside Studio A.....I'm James Herron

Thanks for forwarding my pieces to your friends and linking to your websites and boards.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Stop! Those 25 Items May Be a Scam

The other day I was thrilled to connect with a friend from high school with whom I had not heard from in more than 35 years!

I find I thoroughly enjoy the various social networking sites. I guess I tend to lean more on Facebook these days….seems all encompassing. I’m still trying to figure out how to best use Twitter. But indeed, it’s really wonderful…..almost a gift….to connect with long lost friends and develop new friendships via Facebook and others sites. The ability to follow friends in daily activities is tremendously interesting. With friends from all over the world and the distance so vast….. it’s remarkable how the technology somehow brings us all a bit closer together.

It’s also richly rewarding to participate in helping others by supporting a good cause. And yet....I’m not sure about you, but I tend to get bomb barded with causes everyday….which has “caused” me to become selective.

A few weeks ago a friend had his Facebook account hacked. The crooks high jacked his identity in an attempt to make money. They created a fraudulent crisis scenario involving my friend. Using his Facebook IM they were contacting any of his friends on line and described his crisis; “He had been robbed….was stranded in London and desperately needed to get back to the states and needed money…he had no where else to turn” I called him at home in North Carolina to check his status and of course he answered the phone. He said he was working to fix the mess these jerks had created. Fortunately, no one took the crooks up on the scam this time…..but I understand others have not been so fortunate. I imagine we should be cautious with "friends", "links" and "games".

This leads me to those interesting "sharing" games most all of us have participated in. You know….25 intimate details about your life etc. They are a blast to read! Learning about your friends foods, music, travel experiences captivating. Certainly, they appear innocent enough? I got to thinking however...….suppose the overriding purpose was to provide hacking information to "would be" thieves?

See if you agree…and check out one you’ve completed or about to do. Many ask for nicknames, pet names, maiden names….and on and on. Perhaps I’m a tad paranoid….but I think a little caution may be in order. Yikes!

Inside Studio A.....I'm James Herron

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Thursday, March 5, 2009

Push and Embrace Limitations

One of my favorite scenes from the motion picture “Field of Dreams” is when “rookie” player “Archie Moonlight Graham” faces awesome pitcher Eddie Cicotte …. after two pitches tight and inside… rookie Graham hears from team mate the great “Shoeless Joe” who says “The first two were high and tight, so where do you think the next one's gonna be? Archie Graham says; “Well, either low and away, or in my ear.” Shoeless Joe; “He's not gonna wanna load the bases, so look low and away.” “Right”… replies Graham. Shoeless Joe; “But watch out for in your ear!”

It's hard to know what our next pitch or project will be. So, what steps can we take to help see what's coming?

In a recent Tavis Smiley interview with Academy Award Winning actor Sean Penn. Sean was asked about his limitations on the roles he accepted. His response (paraphrasing) was to push yourself beyond your own boundaries but that one must be aware of limitations…to rely on the strength of your talent(s)….but don’t be afraid to test yourself outside your comfort zone or limitations.

Catch a clip from the Sean Penn interview using the link located on page right.

I think far to often we spread ourselves thin, muddy the water, blur the image when we try to take on a role or project which we know down deep inside going in... is well outside our strength(s) as a performer. Yes, we should take time to explore, push and test our limitations. It is through testing we break out of our zone and may find a new dimension to add to our talent repertoire. But we must be honest with our basic skill set as a performer. In doing so, success may come a little more comfortably, confidently and more frequently.

It is essential to master those skills and talents found most comfortable within ourselves.

“People who write about spring training not being necessary, have never tried to throw a baseball.” ~ Sandy Koufax

You can tell I’m a baseball nut so I thank you for indulging me.

Practicing ones craft is essential to success. I don’t believe we ever “arrive” at the top of our game. It’s the routine of practicing… over and over…. those fundamentals of our craft that will prepare you for that next excellent performance.

Develop a routine if you don’t have one. Make time to work on your craft every day. Listen and learn from those performers you admire and respect. Master the fundamentals of your skills as a performer and as those skills become second nature, then push yourself and enjoy exploring what’s outside your limitations.

Inside Studio A.....I'm James Herron

Thanks for forwarding my pieces to your friends and linking to your websites and boards.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Lab Results

It occurred to me the other day, just how much my daily routine has changed over the years. A change I am embracing with renewed enthusiasm.

"It takes a lot of courage to release the familiar and seemingly secure, to embrace the new. But there is no real security in what is no longer meaningful. There is more security in the adventurous and exciting, for in movement there is life, and in change there is power." ~ Alan Cohen

In the past, my day would begin with a trip to the city. I'd park the car (okay I know "pahk the cah") in the Back Bay and then enjoy a short (shot) walk to the Boston studio. Up the elevator to the fourth floor. I'm greeted by familiar friendly faces and the busy activities of one of the worlds most sensational recording studios. I check in at the desk, pick up the script(s), head to the lounge/cafeteria where an abundance of food and drink is made available to all. Oh my head....the food! Bagels, beautiful pastries.....on and on. Anyway, I find a comfy chair and engage in some brief discussion with other actors and studio personnel. The wall mounted TV has sports or news tuned in with the sound muted. While reviewing the script for the project for a few minutes, a call comes into the lounge phone. "We're ready for you, James. Studio 3". Once in the studio I am greeted by five or so..clients, the recording engineer, the advertising director, producer etc. Howdy! I say..(a typical New England greeting) ....then go directly in to the voicing booth...headphones....water.....level test......instructions from the Director...and the session begins. Done. I receive kudos from the good group and add my thanks say my goodbyes....grab my coffee to go and head to the car ("cah") for the long journey home.

In just few short (shot) years my routine has dramatically changed.

Today...I'm up generally before dawn (...that is "dawn" as in "Sun coming up" not to be confused with "Fratangelo") with fresh ground coffee perking....I check in with the local TV to learn just how much more snow we'll be getting. Uggh! Then (still in my P.J.'s) I make the long walk through the kitchen and down the 12 stairs to Studio A, my home studio. I check my email, log on to Twitter, Facebook, Linked-In, Plaxo, ..etc etc. Before long I realize I've spent about an hour engaged with the computer! Yikes, time for a break. Up the stairs, more Java, kisses to the wife off to work, let the dog out, put a few more logs in the wood stove. Now...finally.... it's time to record. The morning's 8 a.m. project is a narrative for a University. The client calls and using my Telos phone system I'm now patched into four or five clients and the director. We briefly exchange pleasantries. After some instructions, I record the project. A few quick edits will be necessary but overall the client is delighted. I say my thank you to all, hang up the phone and send the edited .wav files via an ftp. Now..... comes that long walk up stairs to let the dog in. I'm still in my P.J.'s. This is crazy!

I sincerely adore going into the city(s) for recording sessions and of course will always do so for those projects requiring splendid facilities and food! I imagine I love it as much for the interaction of live living and breathing souls as the experience to work with such a pool of talent. And there's nothing like popping into "Mike's" for a cannoli and a pit stop in Topsfield to have lunch with my wonderful friends from the Fire Department.

And yet, I have to admit the home studio offers a unique and wonderful performing lifestyle. My projects have significantly increased in number and type via the new technology even amid this challenging economy. Oh.... and I suppose Facebook and Twitter may have replaced the idle discussion found in the"lounge" to some degree. Next to Hugh Hefner, I may be the only guy working all day in P.J.'s too.

The gift of change I really love comes at the completion of each project, when I'm greeted with an unconditional wag of praise from our wonderful Black Lab!

Inside Studio A...... I'm James Herron