C.C. McCartney gave samples of his "voice imaging" while was passing through town one evening this summer. His distinctive voice graces radio and TV broadcasts around the world. Photo by Phil Houseal
C.C. McCartney: That "God" Voice
by Phil Houseal
You have heard his voice. But you would not recognize him if he sat down beside you.
I have, and I didn't.
C.C. McCartney was an unobtrusive presence that evening at Hondo's, wearing sunglasses and hat pulled low on his forehead. You wouldn't notice him until he opened his mouth. Then you couldn't ignore him.
"They call us 'the God voice,' the voice that brags about the radio station," he explained in response to my question asking what voice imaging was. He lowered his chin to his chest, took a breath and demonstrated. "Nobody plays more legends than we do... period... KKYX. That sort of thing."
The rolling, golden sound of McCartney and his ilk is the glue that holds radio shows together, or, as he explained, "I am the comma in the paragraphs of television and radio. Those are called voice images. It is sort of hard to explain what I do. But when you hear someone say 'WLS Chicago,' or 'Straight from the heart... FOX news,' that is what I do."
McCartney got his start while in college at a little radio station in Beeville, and admits he knew absolutely nothing. But when his friend, Barry Kaye (also a radio legend) asked him to come down for a summer, McCartney was immediately enraptured.
"I saw all that equipment and thought, wow, this is like Star Trek," he recalled. It didn't intimidate him when the station owner said, "You have one week to sound like a disk jockey or you are out of here."
"Some 42 years later I guess I must have passed that test," he said.
McCartney is now based in Nashville. He services radio and TV clients around the world, painting pictures with his voice. With digital recording and the Internet, he can deliver mp3 files to stations across the U.S., Canada, and overseas. For seven years he hosted a syndicated radio show in Tokyo without setting foot in Japan. When he finally flew over, he "was mobbed" and even made a guest appearance on their top comedy show.
Though he has worked many times on television, McCartney is most at home in a soundproof booth huddled behind a microphone.
"I just like radio a whole lot better, because I can envision the reaction in the theater of the mind," he said. "When I say it, I mean it. I don't read scripts verbatim. I get their intent, then I emote; then I act."
His attention to detail is legendary. He has been known to fly into a town and just listen to the radio for two days before he records.
"I will know how the jocks sound, the tempo, and the feel of the station," he explained. "When I get home, I am already part of the mix."
His sincerity and passion have garnered him top ratings in major cities, bucketsful of industry awards, and now induction as the newest member of the Texas Radio Hall of Fame.
"I am one of the top five disk jockeys in the history of rock and roll radio," he said. "When you hear my voice, you'll know who it is because it's a unique voice. That is not braggadocio. I have a passion for it. Tomorrow I will be better than I was today. And I had better be a whole lot better next Monday, or I'm not going to be a happy man."
Want to hear for yourself? McCartney is as close as your car radio.
"If you get in your car, tune in to 680 AM," he said. "You can hear me in San Antonio. I listened to myself all the way down here."