In this podcast interview, Dave Courvoisier talks about his passions for broadcasting and voice overs, his love of the voice over community, the importance of setting standards… and much more! Recorded during VOICE 2010, this was a conversation I’d long been looking forward to having face to face.
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Transcript of conversation with Dave Courvoisier
Andy: Dave Courvoisier, or Courvo, is known by many as the award winning TV journalist and anchor of the CBS affiliate in Las Vegas, Klas-TV. We first met online eighteen months after I read an article he contributed to the VoiceOverXtra site, and he’s generously supported my ambitions on his widely read blog, Voice Acting in Vegas. It’s appropriate, therefore, that in addition to being the co-host of VOICE 2010, he also co-presented the topic “Leveraging New Media to Benefit Your Voice Over Business”. And now we’re in Los Angeles, and it’s great to meet you, Dave.
Dave: It’s a pleasure to meet you, I had no idea it had been eighteen months… you kept track of that.
Andy: I remember the first article I read about you, and you were talking about the work that you were doing and how you were looking to develop yourself… And I looked at you as a TV anchorman… I was new in making contacts with voice overs internationally, although I’d been doing voice overs for four years by that time, and it was good for me to see that people at different stages in their work were looking forward to how they could develop themselves, and so that was encouraging to me. I dropped you an email to say that I’d enjoyed reading that article, and that’s how we got in touch.
Andy: You immediately replied, and that was the beginning of our relationship.
Dave: Well, I enjoy the relationships that are available online, so easily, and you know I think the fact that I’m a TV news anchorman means a lot more in the United States than anywhere else. They give us an elevated status – a bloated, inflated status – here that isn’t commensurate with really, I think, what we deserve… I’ve been doing the journalism online, and the journalism on TV, for so long that I was starting to look for something else to interest me and I found the adjacent area of voice over. It has many similarities to broadcasting and yet it’s another profession entirely and I’ve been just developing it wholeheartedly ever since I got into it. It’s the only way I know how to be, is to be passionate about what I do, and so I jumped into it with both feet – like you have – and started making relationships as well. And right off the bat there were many people who also found me and were generous and beneficial to me, and I always try to pay that back, because people were good to me. I’ve tried to be good to other people
Andy: Yeah. That’s a very incredible aspect of the relationships that the voice overs have in this industry…
Dave: Isn’t it?
Andy: …and it’s just phenomenal. Can I just take a throw back to maybe just give a little bit of background of where you come from. You started with a radio career, I think…
Dave: Started in radio, here in the States we call it Country and Western radio, so it’s a very specific type of music… and I was green, right of broadcasting school, and I always…
Andy: What was your goal at that time? What was your dream?
Dave: I think just to be in radio. I didn’t have any big aspirations to be in TV. I just wanted to be in broadcasting, and like most people in radio they’re in love with their voice and they like to hear themselves talk…
Andy: So that’s the “why”
Dave: …and it was heady stuff then, because I was wandering and struggling with my career, and my life. It just felt like the right direction anyway. But it wasn’t long before I was able to parlay that into a job in front of the camera, on TV, and kept my nose to the grindstone, as they say, and kept rising, rising above each previous job, and moving on to better markets, and found myself in Las Vegas eventually.
Andy: So, having worked on various networks stations.
Dave: Right. The affiliations don’t mean a lot, they’re all pretty much on par with each other, but I’ve worked for ABC, NBC, and CBS.
Andy: And during that time you had some quite interesting journalistic experiences which got you some credit inside the industry.
Dave: Oh yes. I’ve covered some special stories, but most journalists do eventually. I mean I’ve covered some national political conventions, car crashes, airplane crashes, the Pope’s visit. You know… the spectrum of stuff.
Andy: But I think you are especially well known for your human interest.
Dave: Well, I do a weekly feature that profiles disadvantaged children seeking adoption, and it’s become kind of my signature. A weekly feature called “Wednesday’s Child“, and it’s also becoming very fulfilling because now that I’ve done it for almost thirty years, I’m starting to see those children now as adults come back and say to me, “You really affected me. You changed my life in a certain way”, and wow!… That’s very fulfilling. Rewarding.
Andy: So, in fact, I guess most people see… this is maybe thinking a little bit about you as a journalist, as opposed to… as a voice over talent, but in your “day job” – actually it’s not a day job…
Dave: It’s a night job…
Andy: But what is colloquially known as “the day job”, your motivation there is that you can make a difference.
Dave: Very much so. I mean I almost see it as a mission now, because there’s so much about that the rest of the day job, the journalism job on TV, that is very routine, and can be done without a lot of mental application. And so this is a challenge – you know, to me – is making a child’s life come to life on the screen and to bring an appeal to viewers to do something about it. I mean, that’s the best use of TV I can think of, is to coerce someone by pulling their heartstrings to actually do something to help change the world.
Andy: Yeah. And that’s a gift.
Dave: It’s great. It’s wonderful.
Andy: As you said, at the beginning of our conversation, just now, this is… the paying back is something which is obviously part of you…
Dave: Mentoring is an important part. You know, I’m fifty-seven, I’m moving into that…
Andy: Looks thirty…
Dave: I’m looking at… It’s that later period of life, or lose the last third of life for me, and you do reach a point were you realize you have the resources and the ability to actually effect, positively, the careers of others and not only that, but it feels good to do so. And it doesn’t… It’s easy to do, and so I I get the biggest kick out of it. It’s very fulfilling and it makes other people happy, and that makes me happy.
Andy: OK Let’s think a little about voice over for a few minutes. You are an on-camera personality, and things are going very nicely for you in that work, but part of you said, “I want to do voice over”. How did that happen?
Dave: Well OK, I’ve been in TV for thirty years and when you do anything long enough it does become rote, and it also loses its challenge. When it loses its challenge, you become a bit complacent, and when you become complacent you get lazy, and then your on air suffers. You start to look bad because it shows. You have to be genuine on air. People see it, and if you’re lazy and if you’ve lost the energy it starts to show on air and that threatens the job, and the bosses say, “What’s wrong with Dave”. So I started to look for another challenge. I mean the challenge for me was to find a challenge. And I found it in voice over, and I found the community I was looking for in voice over. Whereas broadcasters are very competitive and it’s kind of cut throat business, voice overs – it turns out – is very supportive, and encouraging. So not only did I find the job and a passion, and the people that I wanted, but it was adjacent to broadcasting. Enough so, that the gains I make in voice over apply to my broadcasting job. So I’ve become a better anchor and more energized in my job, and it’s all good. It’s a win, win, win.
Andy: You are using new media…
Andy: You are using the web cam, and I guess some of that… the ideas for that have come from things that you’ve seen people doing in the voice community.
Dave: Well having to run my own voice over business led me into marketing schemes that are applicable to broadcasting – if they’re accepting of it. It’s an older media. It’s a traditional media, so it’s more slow to adapt to new technologies. Whereas me, Dave, the entrepreneur voice actor, has to be agile. So I’ve found these new media techniques and actually brought them into the Newsroom and helped to apply them to the news process. My boss has been very thankful for that, and I think that’s why they have not been very hard on me for dabbling on the side. It’s because I brought benefits to the Newsroom. So they’ve been accepting.
Andy: Have you found any conflict between the two areas? You said that your bosses are supportive, but your voice must be well known by many people. Does that bring a conflict if you’re doing…
Dave: There is a contractual conflict. I mean they own my image and my voice, by contract, for the TV market. And that’s unfortunate for my fortunes in VO, because I’m best known in that market, and so… but I can’t apply that reputation to job opportunities in voice over because that’s a conflict. So, any broadcast or advertising possibilities are a “no, no”. However, I do have working in my contract allows me to pursue other voice acting niches… that’s a lot… that’s a lot that are non-broadcast, non-advertising. E-learning, as you know, and audiobooks, and webcasts. Those are all applicable, and that’s huge still… huge part that I can seek out. And then there’s broadcast in other markets so I mean I could actually do a commercial in Miami, say, or an on-camera in Chicago, and it wouldn’t really affect Las Vegas. So, I tread carefully there, because if I do a political commercial you know, say, in Denver it may get back to Las Vegas, it being a small world these days. So I really watch that carefully and I respect their wishes, because they are very good to me.
Andy: We’ve mentioned community, but one of the aspects of community is that we’re supportive of each other in order to look at standards, so that we can all become better voice over artists, and there’s an organisation – SaVoa – which is very interested in finding those professional standards. And you’re on the Board of Advisors.
Dave: I wasn’t a founding member, but I quickly latched onto this movement because I really believe it’s important and I…. typically how I relate that is to people who are teachers, or engineers, or accountants, or even cosmetologists… hairdressers are certified to ply their trade. But not voice overs – and by way, not journalists either, which I think is a real downside. I think there should be a certification process, or at least a standard of excellence that people aspire to, and so that’s what SaVoa’s about. It’s to set that standard and to raise the industry level of legitimacy. And it’s not a tough standard. I mean most people with a decent audio chain and a microphone, and a quiet studio, can achieve it, and find membership there. I just think in general it kind of knocks everybody up the side of the head, and says, “Hey, you know, do you want to be part of a of a better standard”, and ” Do you want to be considered a professional?”, and “Here’s how you can do it and be part of our movement”. It’s not a union, and agents shouldn’t be scared by it. It’s just a guild. It’s literally…
Andy: Independent. Totally independent.
Dave: Yes, absolutely.
Andy: So if somebody wants to become… if somebody want to be able to show that they’ve reached that accredited standard, and be recognised by people who are hiring voice talents as somebody who is going to be able to deliver that standard, what does somebody need to do to become a member of SaVoa?
Dave: Well there is a nominal fee for a two year membership. They do have to submit to what’s called a peer review of their audio chain and their voice, and that consists of copy that we send them as well as copy… an audio sample that they can provide through their demo – their standard demo. And then that’s reviewed, and it’s not a terribly tough criteria, but we’re looking for… things that might flag an application to fail would be, you know, computer sounds in the background, dogs barking, fans blowing…
Andy: Washing machines, air conditioning…
Dave: Yes… that aren’t significantly masked, and then a good delivery that doesn’t include plosives or overdones S’s, and good enunciation. I mean… it’s all delineated in a document that you can get when you apply, and what we expect.
Andy: And that’s on the SaVoa website.
Dave: Yes. Savoa.org
Andy: OK. So, where do you see the future for you?
Dave: Well, I hope to be so successful in voice over that I can look at my broadcasting job one day and say I don’t need you anymore. That’s hard for me because it is a nice paying job, and I have three daughters that are in college, or heading to college, and it’s expensive. We’re used to a certain level or style of living, and I want to make sure that that’s pretty steady before I make that leap, and it may be a little more cautious that should be, because some people are forced into that leap in and do fine. And I think all the mechanisms are in place for me to do that if it happened. If I got fired tomorrow, I think I’m ready to go full time into voice over and make a go of it, and probably succeed. But being a cautious person who has a family, I’m proceeding in the best way I know how, which is to fire full ahead on voice over until it just becomes so great that I can jump without fear.
Andy: Well, that’s phenomenal. Dave, it’s just been great to finally meet you face to face this week and to be in the same time zone as you.
Dave: Well, it’s just been great, not only to see that – to do the face to face, but hasn’t it been a kick to see everybody? And to just to knock heads, and just to tap a shoulder with some of the best people in the business… on a whim… and say, “Can I talk to you?”… “Sure! Yeah!”. And everybody’s so giving and supportive that way. I love that about this community. And this event makes it just imminently possible, to just immediately interface with some of the best in the business. Wow. What a wonderful experience.
Andy: And as you and Terry Daniel were talking about, the other day, with the “Leveraging with Social Media”, we’re here right now in Los Angeles…
Dave: Because of that.
Andy: … but I’ve realised that when everybody’s leaving here and going home, it’s not like I’m not going to see them again, because I know I’m going to see you guys later this week. OK. It’s going to be in pixel form, but it’s a great community.
Dave: Well, the one thing about online communication is it really does facilitate relationships and it’s immediate, and it’s so wonderful. But it does lack that one texture, which is the face to face. So at some point almost everybody who becomes friendly online wants to meet in person, and that’s the consummation of that relationship and sustains it for many years.
Andy: Yeah. That’s great. Well, until next time, Dave. Thank you very much.
Dave: You bet!
About Dave Courvoisier
Dave Courvoisier is an Emmy Award-winning broadcast TV journalist, and anchors three newscasts daily at the CBS-affiliated station in Las Vegas: KLAS-TV.
In recent years, Dave has augmented his success in TV by following his passion into voice acting. His blog, Voice-Acting in Vegas, is widely read in the industry, and his articles frequently appear on the VoiceOverXtra web site.
He was both co-host of the VOICE 2010 conference, and co-presented the session “Leveraging New Media to Benefit Your Voice Over Benefit Your Voice Over Business”
Social Media VO – “Building Your Voice Over Business Through Social Networking”
Voice Over Xtra
SaVoa – The Society of Accredited Voice Over Artists