How the WEEI Voice Over Guy Reads Scripts Despite Being Legally Blind
Pete Gustin has a cartoonishly pleasant bass voices. But his eyesight once presented an obstacle to voice over work.
If you listen to WEEI, or even if you just watch a lot of television, you’ve probably heard the voice of Pete Gustin, who does promos and voice overs for the sports radio station. He’s got one of those deep, sonorous voices that’s at once familiar and yet strange to hear coming out of an actual human. (What is Omnipresent Movie Trailer Man doing in that person’s body?) So of course he’s been successful in his line of work.
But actually, Gustin went public today with a big obstacle he faced while breaking into the profession. Diagnosed with macular degeneration when he was eight years old, he’s now legally blind. That makes it impossible for him to read scripts for the voice overs he’s providing.
VIDEO: After 15 years of hiding my “disability” from those in my field of work, I’ve been convinced to finally share: http://t.co/qwBGUOryMD
— Pete Gustin (@petegustin) August 20, 2013
“When I was 21 years old, I was told by a New York voice-over agent that I’d never be able to make it in this business because I can’t read copy off a page like everyone else,” said
Mufasa Gustin in a video he posted to YouTube today describing his journey. Referring to a machine behind his head that’s displaying the words he’s saying to the camera, he continues:
This computerized voice is reading the copy to me in my headphones, and after a solid two years of practice, that’s one of the tricks I’ve taught myself in order to be able to ‘read copy.’ So now it’s been 15 years since I met that agent, and you’ve probably heard my voice at some point in your life.
Watching the video does give the sense that both listening to a computerized voice while simultaneously delivering the words it just read in a cartoonishly pleasing bass tone could get tricky. But based on the accomplishments Gustin lists in addition to his work at WEEI—he’s done Superbowl ads, Playstation commercials, soap opera promos, and appeared on hundreds of radio stations—it seems he’s gotten the hang of it.
It wasn’t easy for me to learn to work like this. It was hard. And it took hundreds of hours of practice. But when you have a goal, when you have a dream, and you refuse to let anything stop you, you’ll do whatever it takes to overcome whatever obstacles are in your way. Whether it’s being born with a degenerative eye disease or just believing in yourself when others simply won’t.
Gustin says he’s recently gotten the chance to try out for the “holy grail” of voice over work: movie trailers. Listen next time you’re sitting through previews and, if he’s lucky, you might hear a familiar voice.