Joseph A. Batzel was born in Pittsburgh, PA and traveled around the world with his family as they accompanied his father on military assignments. His family eventually made their home in Fort Walton Beach, FL. During his high school and junior college years, Mr. Batzel discovered his interest and talent in drama, musical theater, and broadcasting.
He attended Brigham Young University on a theater scholarship and earned Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Theater and Cinematic Arts. He is an Educator of 42 years, primarily teaching in Florida and Utah, with students in high school, college, and the university setting.
He has worked as a professional actor, director, casting director, associate producer, and writer for stage and film. He has participated in over 250 major projects including features, television, industrials, stage, and voice-over.
Joseph also is a professional audiobook narrator of 15 books. His latest audiobook narration, Redeeming Grace, from the Western series Redemption Tales by author George McVey, was recently released.
As a writer, Joseph has been an independently published play critic for several Utah newspapers.
Mr. Batzel has traveled extensively throughout the United States presenting workshops at various conferences representing the state of Utah and the International Thespian Society. He also has been a workshop presenter for book trailers, acting for stage and film, and proper film audition technique. Additionally, he has been a coach for professional stage and film acting and voice-over talent; he has also been a guest director of musicals for independent children’s theater organizations. Joseph has also been a previous workshop presenter at both the Spring and Fall League of Utah Writer’s conferences.
He has been a CEO of a film company and founder of a non-profit organization for the preservation of the Arts.
He is presently working for Utah State University as an adjunct professor teaching courses in Creative Arts and Public Speaking for the last 18 years.
Mr. Batzel resides in northern Utah with his wife, Alice, a published playwright, journalist, and freelance writer. They are members of the League of Utah Writers and the Brigham City Writers Chapter.
How did you get interested in audiobook narration?
I became interested in audiobook narration listening to Jim Dale narrate the Harry Potter’s series of books. I had been a voice actor for over 25 years with 100 voiceover credits in my career. I was so impressed with Dale’s performance that I wanted to create characters vocally as he did.
How did you get started doing narration, and what were your first days like?
I spent years studying voiceover training at the university and professionally. I got an agent to represent me, and the rest is history as the saying goes.
You are a trained dialectician. How do you become a dialectician? Does it require a degree or just experience?
A dialectician is a trained vocal artist that can recreate dialects from different parts of the USA and foreign accents from different geographic countries. Some people can create the voices by ear while some are trained phonetically. I had the luxury of receiving both methods of training by an excellent professor who studied at the Sorbonne in Paris.
Besides having an M.A. in theater, you are a university educator. What do you teach and where?
I have been an adjunct instructor for the last 18 years teaching courses in Film, Public Speaking, Interpersonal Communications, and Creative Arts at Utah State University.
You state that you have a wide range of genres that you perform. Can you give us some examples? How does your approach to the narration process differ as you perform various genres?
Yes, I have done Children’s books, motivational, westerns, short stories, and I am working on instructional manuals. My approach is different based on the method of the narration. For example, for motivational books I use a straight narrator’s voice with warmth and emotion, for a short story I become a narrator storyteller, and my western that I just completed consisted of over 30 characters, and I created a unique voice for each character. My children’s books narration must be designed to connect with my young listeners.
What advice did you find especially helpful as you started out performing audiobooks that you like to share with new narrators now?
I think first I would say to be trained on the fundamentals of voice production. Secondly, work with a local professional who can help you with producing a demo that you can use to market yourself. And lastly, you need preparation. There are steps to prepare for each narration you are performing. Work hard! Be professional! Meet contractual deadlines! Have Fun!
What characteristics are necessary for a person to have to make that person an effective audiobook narrator?
I would say you must be self-disciplined because there is no one looking over your shoulder encouraging you to work that day. Another characteristic you must have is exploring and creativity. The narration is your platform to create images and characters from words on a page. Think of the opportunities you have to reach people with just your voice.
What books from your varied audiobook career stand out to you the most?
It would have to be the Western Redeeming Grace that I just finished. The 30+ voices were a challenge, but I was pleased with the results.
Do you think an audiobook narrator needs to enjoy the book she or he is performing? Could you make a book you truly hated seem likable to an audience?
I do think you have to enjoy the book, but I must admit I have taken on a few books just to see if I could make the text enjoyable for the listener.
What is your favorite part of audiobook narration?
It has to be the creative part of using my voice to bring the written word alive for my listeners.