A Face for …

“You should be on the radio.”

I have heard this sentence since childhood, when my voice suddenly and without the typical teenager’s pitch shifts and volume wobbles—the “Peter’s voice is changing, this week on a very special episode of ‘The Brady Bunch'”-type changes—deepened and thickened to a baritone/bass. In the past, I blamed this on my starting theater in junior high school, as that school did not have a stage at all and my high school theater did not have a sound system at all, so I learned at a young age how to project my voice and fill a big room without sounding like I am yelling.

I now realize that this theory, like so many of my theories, makes absolutely no sense.

“You should be on the radio.”

A woman behind me on line said it to me a few days ago. She did not even say hello, which is usually how this moment transpires: A stranger hears me speak and tells me that I sound like an announcer. Some ask if they have heard me on the radio. (This is possible, remotely possible, but not likely.) Some suggest I send a recording to a radio station.

It is always a compliment and I appreciate it. There is no “but” to follow that sentence, even though it probably sounded like I was about to turn it into a complaint. Compliments are nothing to complain about.

When I was younger, say two months ago or so, I did not know how to take compliments for things I have no responsibility for, like my voice or my height, any more than I knew how to accept insults for things I have no responsibility for, like my voice or my height. Perhaps I receive fewer compliments or insults now, or I am simply more grateful for any human contact.

I recently discovered that there are videos online from 1985 of a high school production that I was in. (The fact that the onstage star, my high school acquaintance, is currently the husband of Rachael Ray, a famous television personality, is I think why these particular half-dozen clips are online, as he is the only person in all six clips. Perhaps if she’d seen these clips, things would be different for me …) It is a production of Frank Loesser’s “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying,” which is a musical that must be performed by every high school in the United States once each decade for the school to retain accreditation. (It’s the l-a-w!)

Because I can not sing, deep voice or not, whenever my school was producing a musical I had to find any available non-singing roles and make them mine. In this clip, I am the offstage voice of the book that young Finch is reading.

I was 16 and already sounded like, well, like someone who should be on the radio or someone who should be announcing subway stops. Or someone whose job is recording outgoing messages for funeral parlors—that young me sounds so serious, and it is not, I promise, not because of anything the “role” required. He was, sadly, indeed that serious. Well, that is how I remember me at 16. I had a lot on my mind.

My voice now sounds a bit more lived-in. Living will do that. I have a little more control over it. But my girlfriend tells me that she knows when something has my “alpha male” riled up: She says I sound like a radio announcer or the voice of a book when I feel like I need to make my point in a debate. (Not with her; she established long ago with me that she sees through a lot of my quirks and will ignore those that are unimportant.)

So now when someone at the grocery store tells me that I ought to be on the radio, I refrain from making wisecracks about how adults, unlike children, should be heard but not seen or twist it into an insult about how I am being told I have a face for radio. It is a gift, period.

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I was on vacation last week, hence my sporadic appearances and … what the heck did you do to the WordPress reader? Anyway, this is a revision from last year.

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  1. Martha Kennedy · July 13, 2015

    I have had one other friend in my life who was “born” to be a radio announcer. He ended up an international news correspondent and an anchorman on the evening news. That VOICE. All I can say is you should be on radio!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. lifelessons · July 13, 2015

    You do have a great voice…as does Rachael Ray’s husband. I have a friend I keep saying the same thing to, but neither of you ever listen!!! http://judydykstrabrown.com/2015/07/13/would-practicing-this-prompt-twice-make-me-perfect-nah/

    Liked by 1 person

  3. rogershipp · July 13, 2015

    Well done. Enjoyed.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. nonsmokingladybug · July 13, 2015

    Loved it. Very entertaining read.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. LRose · July 13, 2015

    Voice over “talent”.fr home…I’ll email Qwhen at lsptop and no new reader or phone wjeirdness

    Liked by 1 person

  6. macbofisbil · July 13, 2015

    Wow. I didn’t expect your voice to sound like that. It’s kind of surreal hearing the voice of one of your fellow bloggers for the first time!

    I was told once at about 17 years old that I have a voice for radio as well, it being deep and full of bass, but I didn’t really know if it was for me or how I would get into it because I was so shy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mark Aldrich · July 13, 2015

      I think I’ve heard yours … you have a YouTube channel, right?

      Of course, the recording above dates from 30 years ago (man, typing big numbers like that never gets young!)—I shared some radio work from last year some time ago on here: https://thegadabouttown.com/2015/03/18/a-life-in-comedy. My voice strikes me as a bit thinner now.

      Liked by 1 person

      • macbofisbil · July 14, 2015

        Yes, I do have a YouTube channel (not exactly active on there at the moment).

        Right, you mentioned that was recorded when you were 16.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. abodyofhope · July 13, 2015

    Wow! That was so much fun to watch you performing, Mark 🙂 Wonderful voice, and you are so handsome, too 😉


  8. Anton Wills-Eve · July 14, 2015

    It can work the other way too, Mark. I have an overeducated English voice and the same in French, Italian and Spanish. In each country people mutter ”
    I hope they never offer him a job in broadcasting! ”

    Liked by 1 person

  9. mj6969 · July 14, 2015

    wow! it’s true – you really do sound like you should be announcing … or whatever – not many are remarkably blessed with vocal abilities like that 🙂

    But, compliment as it is – everyone finds their “niche” and decides what’s what. So yes, I can imagine, that when a stranger hears you – and then comments – well, that’s a bit like saying, “apple pie if falling from the sky” 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Pingback: Radio, Radio | The Gad About Town
  11. Pingback: Talk the Walk | The Gad About Town

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