The Secret To Golden Voices


An old microphone

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

ABC Local Radio recently published a story that may be of particular interest to AM aficionados. Scientists at the University of Sydney have conducted unique research into the secret of a good radio voice.

Using a high-speed video-endoscopy camera to record the motion of the vocal cords in the throats of 16 male radio broadcasters, the team found the subjects had faster opening and closing vocal folds.

Speech pathologist Dr Cate Madill said this suggests these professionals may have better control of the tension in their vocal folds while speaking.

It is now hoped that the secrets behind the sonorous endowment of presenters ‘on the wireless’ may provide clues on how to train new golden voices.


2 responses to “The Secret To Golden Voices

  1. I have to disagree with the speech pathologist. Unfortunately, her research is 20 years out of date. A good voice is probably the last thing required of a radio person these days…just listen to any station in Australia or NZ.

    Once upon a time, to be able to speak clearly and understand good grammar and pronunciation were necessary qualifications for an ‘on air’ job. The role was about both professionalism and being able to provide the listening community with a good standard of spoken English. Nowadays, it is all about ‘personality’ (whatever that means) and rudeness, aggression and making waves, a pleasant and moderate speaking voice being the last thing a station manager wants. That’s ‘dull radio’ in 2015.

    I recall the NZBC Training Centre in Wellington where I spent 6 weeks in the 1960s (along with other folks, such as Simon Bates who went on to fame with the BBC) undergoing announcer training from Haydn Sherley (then the NZBC Training Officer-Radio). We became proficient in phonetics (so we could read ‘The Cambridge English Pronouncing Dictionary’ by Daniel Jones), had a rapid impromptu speech test every morning, used specialised technical equipment every day, undertook ‘on the street’ training assignments with a microphone and recorder (even the old ‘wire recorders) and generally became proficient in our craft. Many of my fellow trainees and I even corresponded by letter in phonetic language for years after our training. To this day, the phonetics of Daniel Jones stand me in good stead if I need to correctly pronounce a word.

    An radio personality nowadays? If you know everything about the lives of Hollywood ‘stars’, know how to Tweet and use Facebook, have an avid interest in gossip and innuendo, or hold strong right-wing views on politics and can abuse listeners on-air, you are the new ‘golden voice’.

    ‘Golden voices’? Gold in the bank account is the new currency. Just turn on your radio and remember how it was in the ‘golden era’ of radio.

    • Hi Martin, agree with you totally. I grew up with Dougal Stevenson and Philip Sherry, both who had excellent pronunciation. Now the news readers are definitely not employed for their pronunciation! Some have no cadence in their voice at all… oh dear! Paul

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *