The Voice: Breaking into the biz

The_Voice_Matt_Lepay_200.jpgOne aspect of my profession I have grown to appreciate is those who do their jobs extremely well without the "hey, look at me" mentality that can be too common in the media industry. 

With that in mind, I say congratulations to the Wisconsin Sportswriter and Sportscaster of the Year winners for 2010, Tom Mulhern of the Wisconsin State Journal and Dennis Krause of Time Warner Cable, the Milwaukee Bucks and Green Bay Packers radio networks.

Having known both "Mully" and Dennis for awhile, it is great to see these two true professionals recognized by their peers. Both have won the award before, and with good reason. They do their work with class, and fellow state media types have recognized their efforts.

It is one thing to be noticed. It is another to earn and sustain respect. They are two examples of what is good about the sports media.

While I am at it, add one more honor for legendary Brewers announcer Bob Uecker, who finally was elected into the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association Hall of Fame. Uecker will join Brent Musberger as the latest inductees. And you thought Bob already was in every hall of fame.  I think this should about do it, but you never know for sure.

I transition from state winners and hall of famers to last week's hot media story--Ted Williams, aka, The Golden Voice. In a matter of a few days, Williams went from the streets of Columbus, Ohio, seemingly down and out, to a nationwide sensation.

As you probably know, a reporter for the Columbus Dispatch "discovered" Williams by putting him on a video that went viral. All of a sudden, Williams was on my old radio station, WNCI, where he found he had received a voiceover contract. He also got a national advertising gig. The morning network TV shows fought over him. Oprah wants him on her new network. NFL Films has been in contact, and maybe Williams will have a future in Hollywood.

I have to admit, the man has a stunningly good voice, but Williams also has quite a rap sheet. He admits to having his life derailed by drugs and alcohol. There have been reports of some other legal issues as well, but thanks to last week's newspaper story, Williams has won the lottery.

We love telling and hearing these types of stories, and the man does have a great voice. Yet I must admit this tale raises a couple of red flags. When I first heard about Williams, I thought it was an old fashioned radio stunt. Yeah, call me a cynic, but I have seen stuff similar to this before. Still, this one seems to be on the up and up.

OK, now that we agree that the Ted Williams story is legit, it makes me wonder about all those men and women in the broadcasting world who have been trying to do everything right, have plenty of talent, yet seem to remain in relative obscurity.

Drive around small town America on a given night, and there is a good chance you will hear someone who is calling a high school sporting event who is perfectly capable of doing the same thing for a major college or even a professional sports franchise. I wonder what he or she thinks about Mr. Williams.

I wonder about that young man or woman who is studying acting, trying to learn the craft while working side jobs, trying to make ends meet, waiting for that big break. What does he or she think about the Golden Voice?

Please do not misunderstand. I am rooting for Ted Williams. I have no idea what triggered all of his personal troubles. Someone with his pipes should be able to share his gift with the rest of us. I also know there are many talented individuals without the legal trouble who never have, and probably never will, catch lightning in a bottle the way Williams has, be it in broadcasting, show business or any other line of work.

No doubt Ted Williams' world is spinning right now.  I hope he is getting good advice from people who have his best interests at heart. Maybe the most important lesson in this "feel good" story is that everyone has a skill, in this case a very noticeable skill. But since Ted Williams basically came from nowhere, who is to say someone else isn't next in line, ready to pounce if the Golden Voice's demons resurface?

In other words, in today's multi-media age, any one of us can be replaced by the next YouTube star. I wish Williams the best of luck, and a word of caution. Today's media world can make you an overnight sensation, but it also can be incredibly cruel.

That alone is a sobering thought, isn't it?
ON WISCONSIN