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Nashville's political voiceover actors: What are they hiding? -----

Aug 03, 2012 at 12:38 PM | RadioDanny  in Industry

A couple surprising nuggets about the inescapable political ads set to dominate airwaves through the November elections:
1. There are people that actually wish the ads played year round. I'm talking about Nashville voice actors that can rake in $100,000 in a few months.
2. There are things those voice actors won't say.
As the amount of money spent on election campaigns skyrockets, having a golden voice that voters trust has become more lucrative. Just ask Byron Warner, a Nashville voice actor who can be heard in political ads across the country. (Check out some of his work here.)
Warner said he shies away from mudslinging.
"Generally they hire a girl to nail the (opponent). Then I'll come in and extol the virtues of the candidate in a gentler tone," Warner said.
Warner, who charges between $350 and $1,000 per hour, expects to pull in six figures in political work this campaign cycle. He's already done a handful of spots, but August is when things really crank up. "In September it should be just about tolerable, and October will be insane. Just nuts," he said.
Allegiances are common among voice actors. Warner only works with Democrats. "It has nothing to do with how I vote. It has a lot to do with client loyalty," said Warner, adding that voice actors fear being blacklisted by one party if they work with the opposition.
On the other side of the aisle is Nashville voice actor Travis Turk (a video reel of his work is available to the right). After years of being a hired gun who would say "almost anything" for a price, last year Turk drew some lines in the sand for personal reasons. Now he only voices spots for conservative Republicans or independents, and he doesn't do attack ads. The stance has cost him 50 percent of his business.
"I've lost clients, but it's worth it," Turk said.
The flood of money pouring into campaign advertising has made the field more competitive, Turk said.
"There are many more people out there doing voice work than there have been in the past five or so years," Turk said. "I've seen the amount of people doing voice work increase by a factor of five times."
Warner is more than just a voice. The dual-threat does work in front of the camera, as well. While he won't do spots for some candidates with whom he disagrees on abortion, he's got no qualms putting on a lab coat or pretending to be a Colorado hunter or a truck-driving farmer concerned about Denver special interest groups. And he does it all without leaving Middle Tennessee.
"You can go to Colorado in 30 minutes by going to Ashland City and pretending it's Colorado," Warner said. "Tennessee is really good because it has all sorts of terrain."

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