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Developing a natural voice

August 23, 2011 | 10 Comments

To: the Host

I write for a music oriented website. Being a philosophy major has helped me to write with an entertaining and surrealist wit; however, I feel that my speaking voice can come off too dry and unaffected, or worse, sound insincere. I'll need to improve for podcasting, or else I fear I'll lose the audience I've gained through my writing.

Do you have any advice?

I'm a fan of yours, and of the craft itself.

I wish you well,
Gunther McEwan
Victoria, B.C.

When one is young and smart, as you are, one naturally affects a voice of authority so as to hold your own against other young and smart individuals. When I started out in radio, knowing nothing whatsoever, green as could be, I imitated the voice of Edward R. Murrow, the boy broadcaster from North Carolina who taught himself to talk like Sam Spade when he reported from London on the Battle of Britain. I did a pretty good job of it, too. But the voice of false authority teeters on the edge of arrogance, and that puts people off. And the best thing you can do to develop a natural voice is to sing. Sing to yourself, sing with other people, sing along with the radio ----- try singing the blues ----- those simple repetitive forms, making up your own words, bending the notes. It'll help weather your voice and give you more range and warmth. And it's awfully enjoyable, more so than preaching and philosophizing. Everybody ought to sing the blues. It makes you a better person.

     My name is Gunther, and I'm from Victoria.
     I said, my name is Gunther, and I'm from Victoria.
     I do a podcast, and I'll sing this song for ya.


Dear Gunther and Garrison,

Singing the blues may help, but please also consider singing Broadway show tunes.
When our sailing class at the local college goes on cruises, it's inevitable that some get seasick. Singing show tunes seems to help -- perhaps it's the intake of breath, or the mind focusing on something other than vomiting?
On another note, I'm looking forward to "singing along" at the opening show in St. Paul next month. My sister-in-law (she lives in New Jersey) and I are making the "pilgrimage" to see APHC at "home." I sure hope we sing America The Beautiful!
See you then,
Sandy Gilman
San Clemente, CA

Dear Garrison,
I was honored to meet you after your show in Chico on Sept. 24, and being a shy person, I of course found myself tongue-tied and completely unable to express to you how much I've appreciated your show over the last 35 years. I've been with you all along, and actually planned most of my weekends around your show over all those years. I've grown wiser with you, though being a few years your junior I still look to you as a role model. Your perspective, your humor, and your music have been my companion through my entire career. Thanks for bringing a great show to us week after week, and thanks beyond words for bringing it to Chico and sharing your remarkable talents with us in person.
Best regards,
ps..My other hero is a donkey.

I am 35 and have been a fan of your show since I first listened to it in 2004. in my late 20's, I was in a place in life that required a change. Public radio was where I landed.
I was greatly saddened to hear that my local public radio station is dropping PHC due to the budget cuts the station has been forced to endure. WJCT in Jacksonville lost $500,000 this year due to cutbacks. I had heard rumors that PHC exceeded the budget but was hoping that something great might happen to change this. It breaks my heart to think I won't be able to enjoy your show on Saturday afternoons while at home.
Please, if there is anything within your ability, help keep PHC on the air in Jacksonville. We just won't be the same without you.
Very sincerely,
Jim Solari

Can I get a copy of a song/poem sung by one of your recent guests? It was written for a child and the subject was a fish, that was caught but not eaten. There was a repeated line, Deedle, deedle, deedle...

I recently became a god-father and would like to entertain my young god-child with this poem.

Bob Roth

Less singing GK, Let those wonderful guests do it.

To each his own, but what saddens me is that The Writer's Almanac is not carried by radio stations in Utah - maybe that's why the state ranked tops in suicidal ideation.
p.s. If you sing along you might find yourself having a good time instead of finding things to criticize. Life is not about perfection, but to be heading in the right direction.

Oh come on! That is the best part. The dude in the red shoes gets to sing whenever he wants. Gotta get yourself some of those trotters.

I BEG TO DFIFFER, Chris, above' I LOVE Mr. K's voice, LOVE the Hopeful Gospel Quartet. Keep singin'!

Dear GK,

I am a subscriber to the News From Lake Wobegon. I've been a fan since the mid-80s and get the podcast on my iPod every week.

Last January you let everyone know that Pastor David and Judy Inkvist had been separated since leaving the small town for the big city and the Mall of America. It would be great if you would perhaps give us some more on this and whether the marriage was able to survive or if they had to divorce.

I love the show, but know that you are planning to end it soon and I would like to see some of the loose ends tied up just a bit.

Thank you,

Scott Strohkirch

How to groom a voice?
Smoke cigarettes, drink bourbon,
and wait twenty years.

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