Paul Kurtz is a man of many voices. A familiar voice in Pennsylvania’s biggest city, and way beyond. He’s one of the most recognizable voices on Philadelphia’s heritage news radio station KYW, the voice on dozens of message on hold productions all over America, and once he was even “The Voice in the Jars.”
“We were entranced,” Paul remembers. “We started recording our play by play. We played it back and listened in wonder to the sound of our own voices. We started playing DJ.”
What began as a lark with a cassette player for this neighborhood threesome, would eventually evolve into three distinguished broadcast careers. Terry Smith went on to be a Los Angeles sportscaster and the play-by-play “voice” of the LA Angels team. Mark Concannon became one of Milwaukee’s best known sports anchors. And after attending Temple University as a journalism major, Paul landed his first job was at WBCB in Levittown, Pennsylvania. Only a few years later, he became the morning drive anchor and reporter at WASH-FM in Washington, DC, where he won AP and UPI awards for his reporting.
Eventually returning to his home town in 1984 with stops at WIP and WPEN, in 1985, Paul settled into becoming a veteran news anchor and reporter for one of America’s largest heritage radio news operations, CBS owned and operated KYW. He’s won numerous journalism awards for his reporting there, including a prestigious Edward R. Murrow National award.
“Doing news keeps you constantly busy. I wasn’t looking for something else to do,” he tells us. But one day, someone from a Cable station approached Paul about recording commercials.
One job led to another, but Paul was too engaged to pursue more voice work. While busy writing his first book, 162-0: Imagine a Phillies Perfect Season, his former radio colleague Mark Engleman, now with message on hold company Audio Max, asked Paul to become a voice talent. “That opened the door for me to step away from the live mike and do a different kind of voicing. It was fun. A break from the intensity of news, but also a challenge. I had to change the way I speak, my tone, my approach.”
Eventually Audio Max merged with Spectrio, where Paul continues today as a popular voice talent. “I still have to work at breaking out of my “news voice,” switching back and forth between two totally different styles of voice work. I have to be conscious all the time at not sounding like I’m anchoring. But I like the freedom of doing different things that it gives me.”
So what’s the most “unique” voicing assignment Paul has had to date? He laughs. “Being ‘The Voice in the Jar!’ ” About fifteen years ago, I was approached about recording character voices for novelty cookie jars being sold at Walmart during the holiday season. When you opened the jars, they talked. One was an alligator jar, so I did a Cajun accent. Another was a toilet with a voice reminding you to wash your hands. Another was Santa Claus, saying Ho Ho Ho!”
Paul says being a voice talent is a big departure from what he does on a daily basis. “I look forward to doing different types of reads. I like trying something new, giving a different feel to what I’m reading. When I started out with Spectrio, it was slow but it has been gratifying to watch my assignments grow.”
Paul fits voicing for Spectrio into his free time when he’s not street reporting for KYW four days a week and anchoring on Saturday mornings. He and his wife Kim Glovas, who also works at KYW, have four boys. Paul says, other than playing ball with his kids, the way he did years ago with his old friends, there’s nothing he’d rather do than announcing, which is why he’s Spectrio’s “Voice of Choice” this month.