May 2, 2017


My good friend Tom Dheere has written a nice piece on the events of APAC week May 30-June 2, 2017.  He mentions me quite a few times so I will return the favor: Tom Dheere, Tom Dheere, Tom Dheere.

Here’s the link to his article:

I wrote about the week in my last blog which many of you who didn’t read it likely missed.  You can go back and read it or you can just continue reading this. If you aren’t reading this, I don’t think I can do much for you at all.
If you’re coming to NYC, you needn’t wear flowers in your hair as is required in San Francisco. If your hair is a nesting habitat for wild birds or snakes you will be required to wear a hat of some kind unless you go to East Village where birds and snakes in your hair are de rigueur (which is likely French for something or other.)


The first event you should attend happens to have the catchy name of Johnny Heller’s 3rd Annual Splendiferous Narrator Workshop. It’s the third year we’ve done it and we’ve done it annually so…

If you haven’t registered, you should do so very soon as we only have so many seats. Well, we all have one seat but the event space has a limited number of seats and since it’s already built and the construction crews have left, there’s little we can do about it.  You can register by visiting and following the registration instructions. If you can’t register it’s because you are too late and you will need to email me to see if I can get you in.
Here’s what happens: I say pithy things that most of you won’t recall but many will remember as having been humorous and informative at the time.
There will be panel discussions on Performance Prep. On Character Choices. On The Business and a short panel on ACX Issues.  In between these panels will be one-on-one coaching sessions and breakfast and lunch and a raffle of ½ hour sessions with our coaches.
Here’s the roster of swell coaches this year – an absolute dream team of top notch talent – all gathered to help you up your game: Paul Alan Ruben, Sean Alan Pratt, Scott Alan Brick, Carol Alan Monda, Hillary Alan Huber, Amy Alan Rubinate, PJ “Three Dog” Alan Ochlan, Simon Alan Vance, Andi Alan Arndt, Jeffrey Alan Kafer and Johnny Alan Heller.

I know! Right? How did I get so many awesome coaches to agree to do this for the crap money I am paying them? It’s because I have photos of them doing illegal things with people named Alan.


Here’s the annual event that draws narrators like bourbon draws Paul Heitsch and cute puppies draw Sarah Mollo-Christensen.  The Audio Publishers Association puts on a day-long convention with tracks/events for narrators and for publishers. Each session is a panel discussion designed to give insights and information and for panelists to share their experiences for the benefit of attendees. The day is capped by the Listeners Lounge hosted by yours truly where many of the same people who coached you at my workshop will narrate short selections of their work in order to tease you into actually buying the whole recording even though they don’t make any more money on the deal.
(Actually the day is capped by a much-needed happy hour featuring talented people wishing there were more mobile bars and more drink tickets to be had.)

What to wear? Business casual is the way to go.  Not everyone needs to see your many piercings or your tattoo of all the members of In Sync being steamrolled by a cement mixer truck – lovely as it may be.

What to do? When not actively taking notes and acquiring knowledge, you might want to chat.  Try to learn about the people you meet as you already know all there is to know about you.  Get cards and follow up in a week or two with a “wonderful meeting you note”.

MAY 31: HUDSON HOTEL 358 W 58th 7pm
A lovely hotel to be made even lovelier when we take it over. Thank Andi Arndt for setting this up. In the past I found us Irish bars to lurk in but Ms. Arndt is too classy for that and arranged a wonderful experience at this joint.  I think there are mixologists instead of bartenders but there are 3 bars and an outside space and it should be great.
Jo Anna Perrin and I will arrive fashionably late as we have dinner plans but we will be there!


The reason the APA meets where they do and when they do is the BEA – Book Expo America.  New books! old authors! Giveaways! And bits of nice carpeting here and there. Is it worth your while to wander the exhibit?  If you are willing to schmooze, you can meet publishers and create some work. You will get free stuff and more bags than you can fit in a bag and there’s plenty of awful food.
If you don’t want to go, there is always New York City – parks, bars, great food and lots and lots of honking.  Visit places. Do stuff. See things.

AUDIES: The main event of the evening is the Audies at the French Institute Alliance Francaise at 55 E 59th.  All the producers and narrators don gowns and tuxedoes and wonder how come Hollywood stars keep getting nominated even though they never show up. In an effort to move the evening along, the APA combined some categories ensuring that I wouldn’t get nominated for the Steven Jay Cohen production of Huck Finn.  (Am I bitter? You bet your ass I am!)

The Audies are great fun and very classy. I’ve always had a wonderful time.

The Naudies are great fun and not classy.
Let me tell you how they started: some years ago, there was a wonderful Audies After Party at the Hudson Hotel. Then, suddenly – 5 years ago, the party was not going to happen.  So, Jeffrey Kafer, Melissa Exelberth and I found a bar we could all gather in and we called it the NAUDIES. We meant the “not – Audies”. It was and is designed to be a place for everyone who isn’t going to the Audies to meet up and hang out and eat and drink AND as an after party for the Audies attendees. It’s two things at once! Isn’t that amazing?


Here’s where you can hang out and see Broadway shows or you can just get the hell out of town and go home where a plate of eggs and toast doesn’t cost $16.

If you do stay or if you want to get something to eat, here are some ideas:

In the theater district – where most of you will be staying – go west to 10th Ave to get cheaper restaurants.  If you want an inexpensive lunch, there are about 35,000 Thai restaurants with lunch deals at 9th Ave. and 45th Street.  NYC is loaded with Irish bars and every single one of them has the exact same menu.  The wings are not good. Ever. And the fish and chips require malt vinegar – to avoid tasting either the fish or the chips.
Look at YELP for happy hours and lunch deals. There are many. We have every kind of food imaginable.  If you are at 47th and 6th Ave at lunch time, you can choose an amazing lunch from one of 15 different food trucks.  Each one featuring the same hairy-armed smiling guy doing the cooking. He’s amazing.

Avenues go up and down the island and streets criss cross it. NYC is laid out on a grid except for the lower parts of the island which the Dutch people planned so no one except Dutch people know where they are down there.  If you go downtown to Wall Street or to the Seaport, make sure you find landmarks so you can find your way back.  And saying, “I think we turn at the tall building with the wino singing in front of it” is not enough.  Most of our buildings have winos in front of them and they frequently sing.  In fact, bring a Dane with you.  Dane Edna would be my choice.

…chuckle if you got that one. Ignore it if you didn’t…


This is where Broadway shows are. It’s also a horrifying mélange of bright lights, slow moving cell phone watching morons and – worst of all – fake Disney and Marvel characters looking for loot. They want you to get your picture taken with them since nothing says New York City more than a guy dressed in a Batman costume.
You will also encounter fake monks dressed in Tibetan looking robes, street DJs handing out “free” CDs of music you won’t like, nearly naked Hispanic women with pasties and little else -who I have seen posing with children, tour bus operators/guides and, perhaps worst of all, the Naked Cowboy:  A well-built blonde guy who strums a guitar while posing in tidy whiteys for reasons I cannot fathom.  He has spawned a copycat – a very old lady —- very, very old who has breasts that hang to her shoes, a world of hideous make up and a guitar which I have never seen her play. She is doubtless some ones Mom or Gramma and I wish they’d come and get her.

Avoid this area like the plague if you can.
Please do not judge New York on Times Square.  Or if you do, at least visit Central Park and Village and Fort Tryon and Castle Clinton so you can have a better sense of why this city is so awesome.  Go to the Brooklyn Bridge.  Walk across it. Now you’re in Brooklyn! How cool is that?


Whilst perusing Facebook seeking commentary from Peter Berkrot that I can make fun of, I frequently come across posts from narrators sharing what seems, to them, to be horrific phrases their authors expect them to narrate.

Here’s the thing.  There is no question that some authors are not good writers. Yet you, dear narrator, are being paid – or expect to be paid – to narrate their work.  While their strangled prose may be a source of amusement to you and to us, it is their work and if I can see that you are making fun of it, guess who else can see it?

Yep. It’s a small world out there and it gets smaller when we keep posting stuff. That’s fine. But when you disparage the book you are being paid to narrate, that’s not fine. When the author learns that you are making fun of him (and nothing is private on the internet – especially not now!) he might not be willing to rehire you. Or, if that doesn’t bother you, he might tell his friends who are also authors not to hire you because you don’t respect them.
Even if the author is terrible, do the best you can and do or don’t work for them again as you choose. Don’t leave that decision up to them.  Turn down bad work but don’t lose work because you belittled a horrible sentence on social media.

If you want to share an awful thing, share an awful review. They’re always funny.  If you must share a bad sentence – say that you had trouble with a word –not that the author blows.  These things will come back to you. If you don’t mind ruining a relationship with an author and perhaps all his author friends – who might be planning to have audio versions of their work produced as soon as they see how it goes for him – then keep posting stuff like that.

Paul Alan Ruben says that from the narrator’s viewpoint there should be no difference between a Pulitzer Prize winning book or a complete piece of crap.  It’s not our job to deride but to act.

So Don’t.  Be smart in your posts.  And this is coming from me and I say lots of absurd things.  Just be aware that more people follow and can see your posts than you imagine.  It’s not that Big Brother is watching, it’s that the entire Big Family is!


See you in May!






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