Frank Block has been the voice of many things.
His vocal talents have been employed to promote everything from restaurants to canoes. He’s narrated more than 450 audiobooks about vast array of topics including music instruction, history and health and wellness to biographies about Terry Fox, Chief Dan George, Tommy Douglas and Donald Trump, to name a few.
Salmon Arm residents may be more familiar with Block’s voice from Salmon Arm Silverbacks home games, for which he shares public address announcing duties with Myron Crown.
Block is a professional voice actor.
“I’ve been doing it kind of part time for the last seven or eight years,” said the Tappen resident. “My day job was actually in finance, the last three and a half years, and then recently I decided to pack it in there and retire from banking and just do voice over work full time.”
Block got into the profession through hockey. Not by playing, but by doing public address announcing for his son’s minor hockey team in Alberta.
“It started off as me being a volunteer dad for my son’s minor hockey team and playing the music for their hockey games when my kid was five years old,” said Block. “One dad said, ‘Frank, you’ve got the microphone with you, why don’t you just announce the goal?’ That led me to getting into public address announcing for hockey games.”
Soon Block found himself announcing for hockey tournaments, junior hockey clubs were reaching out to him, and he began doing on-air commentary for the Alberta Junior Hockey League. All of this eventually led to a part-time gig announcing in the Saddledome for the Calgary Flames.
One of Block’s favourite experiences from that time was announcing for the Big League Experience, during which minor hockey teams received the full NHL treatment and more, complete with spotlights as they took the ice and Block announcing their names.
“One of the thrills was after one of those games I went back to visit the kids and see if they had a good time,” said Block, “It was ‘They love it! and ‘You’re the best announcer in the world!’ It was really cool.”
Later, Block and his family moved to Saskatchewan. There, he made the acquiantance of Saskatchewan-born hockey great Metro Prystai who played for the Detroit Red Wings and the Chicago Black Hawks from 1947 to 1958. The two wound up collaborating on a book, The Metro Prystai Story: A Legend from the Golden Age of Hockey, written by Block.
“And then I did an audiobook from that one, and that led me to doing more audiobook work and getting into voice-over,” said Block.
While in Saskatchewan, Block also worked in radio. He moved to the Shuswap about four years ago, he said, to be close to his daughter, son-in-law and now grandson, who live in Vernon.
Along with picking public address announcing with the ‘Backs, Block has been very busy lending his voice to various commercial and book projects.
“Every job I’m finding is very unique,” said Block. “There was one actually I did for a Toronto video company, putting together an annual report for a local charity, food bank and homeless shelters they have. It was an eight-minute long video – it was really cool and really heartfelt. You can really get invested in these emotionally.”
As the name of his profession implies, doing commercials and audiobooks requires much more than simply reading a manuscript. With such jobs, Block explains, you need to know what the client wants, how they want a person to sound and what the underlying message they’re trying to convey is.
“If there’s a video game they’re looking for you to audition for, and all they say is something about ‘battle scene’, they’ve got the words there for you but those words can be interpreted very differently,” said Block. “What accent, what countries are involved? Are they trying to be quiet so their enemies don’t hear them, or is it over the top because they’re in a tank and they’re being bombarded by shells? It really makes a big difference.”
Block said he loves the variety each job brings.
“One that was kind of cool was for Nova Craft canoes…” said Block, lowering his voice to a low, relaxing tone. “That was kind of a whisper, it was very quiet, you’re out on the water, it’s serene, it’s peaceful.”
To learn more about Frank Block, visit frankblock.com. Books narrated by Block can be found on audible.com.
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