CHARLIE VAN DYKE Van Dyke is the sub-woofing authority figure who introduces various segments on KTAR and promotes news shows on Channel 12. He also can be heard doing the same thing in dozens of other cities.
Van Dyke started young. "I clearly recall, at the age of four, knowing what a radio was and thinking it was fascinating," he says. His first air shift came at age fourteen. In the years since, Van Dyke has worked in radio in Dallas, Detroit, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, and Phoenix. His last regular radio gig came at KTAR in the mid-1980s, where he served as host during morning drive time.
By then his freelance business was booming. Today, the miraculous and ever-advancing cutting edge of technology can deliver a Van Dyke voice-over almost anywhere in mere seconds.
Typically, a station executive from another city will fax Van Dyke a script promoting his news team's blockbuster three-part series on cat adoption. Van Dyke will record the spot in his Phoenix office-studio, while the station exec listens in on a souped-up telephone line.
The station functionary, who pays Van Dyke a regular retainer for such work, may suggest changes in the delivery ("Punch up that part about `Homeless felines crying out for love'") or he may not ("Loved it, babe, that's a wrap").
If the promo runs tomorrow, Van Dyke sends the tape via overnight mail. If the cat-adoption story is breaking news, Van Dyke can deliver the spot immediately via satellite to the client.
Meanwhile, Van Dyke has kept an eye on the trend toward "voice acting." "More and more people don't want a straight announcer to read something," he says. "They want the delivery shaped around each piece of copy, with more secrecy or compassion."
Or urgency. Van Dyke also can be heard in some airplane cockpits, as the calm-but-concerned voice of a built-in warning system. He doesn't remember the name of the device. But he does remember the warning: "Dive! Dive now!"
THOMAS C. BASHAM
Another deity-caliber voice, Basham is best known locally for his thundering radio and TV commercials for the Phoenix Cardinals. Played at three-quarters volume on any one of the automobile sound systems along Central Avenue on a Saturday night, a Basham sound bite can kill at twenty paces.
Basham got his start in the theatre, and as a young man studied with fabled acting teacher Lee Strasberg. Later he studied drama and oral interpretation at Baylor University and the University of Southern California. Later still he signed a seven-and-a-half-year contract with Universal Studios, where he worked as an actor on TV series Adam 12, It Takes a Thief and others.
Basham was working in repertory theatre in Los Angeles when a fellow actor MDRVsuggested he could do voice work. He's worked steadily at it ever since, in L.A. and New York, providing voices for cartoons, films and commercials. In Disneyland's Haunted Mansion, Basham's voice does the creepy narration during the spirited ride.
"It was one of those things in life where it felt kind of like a niche," he says. "Without much effort, without a lot of hustling, people just started coming to me."
They still come to him, all the way to Phoenix, where Basham fled the big cities about four years ago, and where he can be heard selling Shasta Pools.
But he is best known here as the voice of the sorry Cardinals. When recording the spots, Basham paints a mental picture of the team's mascot as a bird of prey. "My sense of football is that there is something dangerous and exciting about it, and I want to bring in that color," he says. As a marketing device, Basham's voice far surpasses the team's on-field performance.
LISA MALAY Malay's serious-gal-next-door delivery can be heard as Charlie Van Dyke's female counterpart at Channel 12. She also sells for the Culiver Team auto dealers, UDC Homes, and Camelview Plaza. On weekdays she handles a midday shift on Mix 101-FM. "I liked commercials when I was a kid," she says. "I used to entertain--I thought I was entertaining--my parents. I drove 'em nuts on car trips, reciting commercials I'd seen on TV."
Malay got into radio in her hometown of Kansas City. "It sounded like a piece-of-cake job," she says. "I knew I wanted to talk and try to entertain people or something."
Making commercials is part of the job description for radio air talent. She's done them for her radio employers from the beginning and began to pursue outside freelance voice work about six years ago, during a long affiliation with the sister stations KTAR and K-Lite.