Talent of the Month
Those of you who know Tim, know that he is one of the most humble people you have ever met. Even though he is a movie star (The Prairie Home Companion Movie), a network radio star (A Prairie Home Companion), and a local radio personality (mornings on WCCO-AM) and a featured voice on many national advertising campaigns past and present (currently the national Miller Lite series), Tim is always Tim. No pretense. No BS. He just comes in to the studio and knocks it out of the park, every time.
When I first met Tim back in 1983, he was known as the “impersonations” guy. I know fans of The Prairie Home Companion have heard a few of them, but Tim can do hundreds of voices. His George Burns is the best I have ever heard. Well, as impersonations fell out of vogue a bit, Tim adapted his voice career to focusing on realistic, everyday characters and a variety of announcer styles. He can truly do it all.
In the early days, Tim was often hired for bizarre voice over jobs. His reputation was that he could come up with something for just about anything. I remember one session where he had to lend a vocal track to the sounds of an inflatable rubber man getting inflated. He made non-verbal sounds at the beginning and eventually turned those high squeaky sounds into a slick, refreshed businessman voice. The idea was this particular hotel would re-inflate your worn out soul. I will always remember that session, because no one had any idea what that process should sound like, and Tim created a perfect soundtrack.
Back in the analog days, Tim was one of the only talent who could do dialogues with two or more of his own characters. He would lay down the first track as one of the characters, leaving exactly the right amount of space for the other characters lines. He would then cut a second track filling in the appropriate holes for the next character. He might do five or six different characters in one production. I never knew how he would keep it all straight. He sure saved me days and days of cutting tape.
Book Tim. He will make you a star. After all, who knows more about being a star?
Here is one of my favorite Tim Russell spots from the old days (dialogue with David Chase): “Right Front”
Cookhouse Recording Studios
For more Tim, check out Prairie Home Voices