A Galway company is making its mark on Irish radio by bringing some of the world’s best-known voiceover artists to our airwaves. Lorraine O’Hanlon speaks to PF Productions MD Pádraic Flaherty about the company’s expansion plans.
Early in 2011, a homeless man in Columbus, Ohio became an Internet sensation when a local newspaper posted a clip of his considerable talents as a radio announcer online.
Dubbed ‘The Man with the Golden Voice’, Ted Williams has since turned his life around and carved out a successful career recording commercials in the US.
And radio listeners in Ireland and the UK can now enjoy Ted’s dulcet tones, as last year he signed a contract with Galway-based media production company PF Productions, owned by Galway Bay FM’s Pádraic Flaherty.
“It shows you the power of the Internet,” says Pádraic of the now-famous voiceover artist, who he describes as an “inspiration”. “It’s amazing to see something like that; he was homeless for 17 years and he still had it, he turns it on straight away.”
And it’s not just ‘The Man with the Golden Voice’ who Pádraic plans to introduce to the Irish airwaves; he has also signed another American whose voice he “had always admired”.
Ben Patrick Johnson took up the mantle as the ‘Godfather of Voiceovers’ from the renowned Don LaFontaine, who passed away in 2008 and was famous for his epic introductions to blockbusters.
“Ben is just one of those ones when you’re in the cinema, he hooks you into the trailer of the movie and almost sells the movie for you. They’re very, very good like that and great for the market,” says Mr Flaherty, who is also set to introduce “the voice of Sky television”, David Wartnaby, to the Irish market.
Father-of-three Mr Flaherty is also keen to bring such established international voices to the commercial market here and add some variety to the airwaves.
“Irish voiceovers, they’re fantastic… but just because we’re in a recession doesn’t mean that you don’t want that big, huge voice to impress on your project,” says Mr Flaherty.
Despite the economic climate, he feels there is clear growth in the advertising market in Ireland and the companies that are expanding “want more and they want better products”.
For PF Productions’ products includes professional quality commercials for in-store use, which the company supplies to the likes of SuperValu, Centra and Daybreak across Ireland, and “on hold” phone messages for businesses such as car dealerships and hotels, which give listeners information on car brands or wedding packages.
“It works, it’s instant and it pleases people rather than listening to ‘diddly eye’ on the phone,” explains Mr Flaherty.
PF Productions currently has five part-time voiceover artists with voices suitable for different kinds of adverts, including those in the Irish language, and Mr Flaherty hopes to employ three full-time staff by end of 2013, and ten by the end of 2014.
In addition to PF Productions, Mr Flaherty also operates online radio industry portal Radiotalk.ie, which features the latest showbiz, breaking and industry news for radio professionals.
The site includes classifieds and jobs listings, radio airplay charts, listings for voiceover artists and new presenters, and tips from leading programmer Valerie Geller. “It brings the whole radio industry into one,” explains Mr Flaherty, adding that he is hopeful that the site will be expanded to the UK in the future.