Milwaukee Talks: National voiceover artist David Lee
Podcast: David Lee talks about how he developed his signature sound
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Before you read this interview, click on this link to listen to David Lee's demo reel -- just so you know who we're talking about. Since the photo above will probably mean nothing to you -- unless you remember David Lee's career as a WQFM DJ in Milwaukee in the early '80s -- you'll be stumped until you hear his famous voice.
Done? OK, we'll continue ...
Lee's deep baritone voice is instantly recognizable to sports fans, who will recognize him as the voiceover guy for CBS Radio Sports / Westwood One, the company that broadcasts NFL games on the radio. He's also the guy who's voice shouts "Sunday! Sunday! Sunday" on TV and radio commercials. His pipes preview movies and have served as the imaging voice for more than 50 radio stations around the world.
And he's from Wisconsin. Lee grew up in Green Bay, cutting his teeth in radio with Kevin Harlan. He worked as a DJ at Milwaukee's WFQM, eventually relocating to Detroit. It was at WQFM that Lee interviewed David Lee Roth, from whom he took his stage name -- Lee's real name is David Olejniczak.
The 47-year-old Lee now owns David Lee Productions, and works from his home near Pleasant Prairie. We caught up with him by phone shortly after his famous voice presented yet another Super Bowl on CBS Radio.
OnMilwaukee.com: I'm a little surprised that on the phone, you sound like you do when I hear you on the radio.
David Lee: Well, there's a little bit of acting in that. If I really talked that way, I'd scare a few people.
OMC: Can you turn it on and off easily?
DL: Yeah, it's like an actor playing a part.
OMC: How did you develop your trademark sound?
DL: I guess it started back in the '80s when I was trying to emulate a guy named Joe Kelly. He was a DJ way back and did all the concert spots. He was the voice of every hard rock station in America. Kelly was the voice of WLZR. I picked up on him, and the other stuff was mostly being directed toward a certain sound.
OMC: What was it like working in the hard rock scene at WQFM in the '80s?
DL: Back then, it was party central. It was the hair band era.
OMC: Do you look back to those days fondly?
DL: Oh yeah, but I stayed away from some of the pitfalls of the era.
OMC: What happened after Milwaukee?
DL: I was in Milwaukee until 1992, then I went to Detroit where I became the imaging guy and production director of WRIF.
OMC: What's a day in the life of a voice imager?
DL: In the old days, we traveled from studio to studio. If the producer specifically wanted to direct you, you had to go to the studio. If they trusted you, you could do the product in your own studio, and FedEx it to them. Now we send them (the product) via the Internet. I do all my work from home.
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Lee-Monster is easily one of the classiest guys in the business and it was a pleasure working with him at 'QFM. It's always a kick to hear one of his commercials or his football intros here in the South where I'm now living. And Mange, I remember that day of the Diamond Dave visit well, too.
As someone who worked at 93QFM for 16 years I can tell you the date of that picture would have been between July 17th and August 1st 1990. The reason I know is because in the lower right of the picture next to the Turntables is a picture of Lawrencia "Laurie" Bembenek. When she escaped from jail on July 15th 1990 we had the idea of making Bembenek masks to hand out at some of the rallies that were held for her days after she escaped. We had a printer who could turn stuff around in hours. Many people showed there support for her and attended the rallies. We handed out the masks at the rallies telling people that if we all would wear them there would be so many people looking like her she would have a better chance of never getting caught. It was more of a radio stunt than anything but it still was a lot of fun and did get 93 QFM some National press. We had about 1,000 masks made and they were picked up right away. Somewhere at home I still have one. Mark "Mangy Man" Krueger 93 QFM 1981 to March 1st 1996
I love this guys spots. Everything he says sounds like a threat. Makes me laugh and try to imitate him every single time I hear him.
I thought that guy was from here. I remember him on QFM. I also remember him doing a radio spot for "Didy Wash Diapers." Hearing that voice saying "Didy Wash" was quite amusing.
David you are my hero! Keep up the great work.
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