Sam Pond: More than just another voice on the air

Sam Pond’s voice can sound like eating a buttered muffin while taking a hot bath, but the former voice actor says now that he runs his own creative agency, Pond Radio, he rarely castshimself.

Instead, he focuses on writing and production to develop the most noticeable ads possible.

“When you’re on the radio or doing a TV spot you’re competing with entertainment,” Pond said. “So your message has to be at least as entertaining as what it’s surrounded by.”

Pond, a fourth-generation San Franciscan, has been a writer or creative director with Chiat/Day, Hal Riney and Goodby, Silverstein and Partners. He went out on his own five years ago to build Pond Radio, which represents clients from all over the country and works with talent in New York City, Los Angeles, the Bay Area and elsewhere. He has also created a product called Stroll San Francisco, a collection of 33 story tours in The City.

But he remains his only employee. He says he built the company on the Hollywood production model — staff the project, not the company.

“The most fun part is getting into the studio with really talented actors and comedians,” Pond said.

Even so, Pond did not shy away from casting himself in perhaps his company’s most important advertisement. He wrote, directed and performed in a spot called “Talk Like You Type” for TypingMaster, which makes typing-improvement software.

In the ad, Pond makes a pitch for TypingMaster Pro software, but his language is full of odd-sounding literal pronunciations of typing errors. It sounds like he’s stumbling, and Pond’s trick is how well he makes himself understood even though the message is that if you sounded that way, you wouldn’t be.

The ad won Pond Radio $1 million from Clear Channel, equaling a year’s worth of 30-second radio time on any Clear Channel station in the country.

Pond said he began as an ordinary actor before he fell into voiceovers and eventually creative advertising pursuits. He did a lot of repertory theater and Shakespeare, including performing in Oregon at Ashland’s Shakespeare festival. But soon his voice earned him more and more radio spots as the friendly guy next door or the straight man.

Writing ads came to him as a sideline, just as voice work had, because, he said, young actors are always trying to find new streams of revenue.

“Writing was something done to keep myself sane,” Pond said.

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