Announcing: Art or Science? Undoubtedly it’s a bit of both, but in the case of Spectrio voice talent Gary Bridges, his science background determined his future direction in more than one way. While studying Marine Biology at Wayne State University, the self-proclaimed “geeky science kid” stopped into the campus radio station during a snowstorm. While he was warming up he made a life-changing discovery: “the people there were having much more fun at school than I was!” The voice bug hit quickly; by the next semester Bridges was doing the overnight shift at oldies station WWWW in Detroit. Thus began a decade of the “vagabond existence” familiar to career radio people, moving from Detroit to St. Louis, Miami, Minneapolis and eventually dividing time between New York and Philadelphia. Bridges’ science background translated into a talent for studying each market, every client, and how people communicated with each other.
During his radio career, his focus shifted between being in front of the mic and behind-the-scenes, and from Album-oriented Rock (writing and producing The Rolling Stone Continuous History of Rock and Roll and working with programming visionary Lee Abrams) to sports, from writing a daily sports report for a very young Bob Costas to hosting programs on New York’s WNBC Radio, where he was a finalist in the New York International Radio Festival for his production of the documentary The Glory Days of New York Baseball; 1947- 1957. Add to Bridges’ scorecard production and writing work with baseball legend Harry Caray, Sports Illustrated’s ‘Golf Plus’ radio, and a daily radio program for 16 years with legendary football analyst John Madden (a period which included “a lot of BIG meals” often prepared by Bridges himself) and a chapter in the book John Madden’s Ultimate Tailgating. Bridges is still heard daily in many commercials, promos and narrations for network radio, TV and film.
Despite his presence on radios in several major markets, many more people across the nation and beyond are likely to have heard Gary Bridges as a voice for the Sesame Workshop series of English instruction to international viewers, and what is certainly a setup for the captive-audience nature of on-hold messaging, as one of the voices of Disney’s theme parks as well as several of the iconic company’s radio and TV campaigns. The world of fantasy is inhabited by the Gary Bridges sound in another realm: as an in-demand voice for political ads (Visit his website, WinningSounds.com, to hear a side-splitting, yet accurate, parody of political advertising as well as many of Bridges’ greatest hits as a multi-talented voiceman).
What is the common thread in everything Gary Bridges speaks? Believability. “The secret to sounding believable is just believing! You have to know the material you’re delivering, and understand it thoroughly. You have to know the intended audience and the importance to them of what you’re saying – then, you just have to tell them. It’s NOT a job of “reading words.” It’s adopting a one-on-one relationship with your potential listener, realizing their needs, and shaping a message to reach them.” That one-on-one relationship also is key to effective on-hold messaging: “If the voice on hold can sound knowledgeable, encouraging, and human – then the messages may give the caller hope that their needs will be met, and glad they called this particular merchant instead of another one.”
Take a listen to Gary’s demo by clicking his name below, and be sure to request him for your next Spectrio on-hold production!