Paul McLane is U.S. editor in chief of Radio World.
Voice talent Joe Cipriano, familiar voice of many radio stations, and heard regularly on CBS, Fox and TV shows like “Deal or No Deal” (not to mention promos for another program much in the news lately, “Two and a Half Men”) says he’s been invited to audition on-air for the chance to become the new announcer for “Wheel of Fortune.”
He’s drumming up interest and letting radio stations know he’s available for phoner interviews about “what it’s like behind-the-scenes at ‘Wheel of Fortune’ and my experiences working as a television announcer in Hollywood.”
He recently taped two weeks of the program. Radio World profiled Joe some years ago and thought this sounded interesting; so we dropped him an e-mail to ask a little more about it.
Cipriano, a former radio air personality in L.A. and Washington, said it must be difficult for the producers of Wheel to find a new voice to replace the late Charlie O’Donnel, who died last fall. “Charlie O’Donnel was legendary and the ‘sound’ of the show for the past 20 years,” he said.
In preparing for the guest slot, Cipriano did his best to immerse himself in the show and its history. He relates the story of how show creator Merv Griffin wanted a new guy named Sajak to take over as host in the early 1980s. When the network said no, Joe relates, “Merv believed Pat Sajak was the future of Wheel and he said, ‘If you don’t want Pat, you don’t get Wheel of Fortune,’ and he shut down the show.”
Cipriano said several announcers are trying out for the permanent Wheel gig.
“When I was brought in to do two weeks on Wheel, the producers and director said, we don’t want you to ‘do Charlie O’Donnel,’ and I took that to heart. … Charlie was fun, he was a funny guy, not just a big voice, and that’s hard to impersonate.
“My intention while auditioning was always to have fun and be me, but to honor the show ‘Wheel of Fortune,’ because it is a legend. People tune in to ‘Wheel of Fortune’ to play a great game, we all play along at home, they want to see Pat Sajak because he’s funny, he’s sharp-witted … They love the relationship between him and Vanna and they love Vanna’s personality and the beauty of the gowns.”
Griffin “always updated the show and changed with the times,” Cipriano said. “My intention as the announcer of Wheel of Fortune was to make it sound like 2011 … 2012 … 2013 and beyond.”
Go get ’em Joe!