Wanz, The New Voice Behind On Being's Closing Credits

Friday, January 17, 2014 - 4:27pm
Wanz, The New Voice Behind On Being's Closing Credits

On Being gone hip-hop? Well, not really. But our closing credits gain a small bit of street cred with this behind-the-scenes look at crafting the show.

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Lily Percy (@lilmpercy),  Senior Producer for On Being
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Michael Wansley aka Wanz perfoms with Macklemore and Ryan Lewis live at Nova's Red Room at The Cullen Hotel in Melbourne, Australia.

Credit: Graham Denholm License: Getty Images.

You may have heard a new voice for our credits. It's Michael Wansley, better known as Wanz. There's a story behind it.

Last fall, only a few months after Krista Tippett Public Productions was born, our staff gathered together for a critical listening session. The goal? How can we make each episode an improved experience for the listener. One of the things that became apparent is that we wanted a different voice for our closing credits.

“Not a public radio voice” was thrown around the most. What does that mean? Basically, anyone who sounds like they would be featured in an SNL parody.

We listened to a bunch of voices, including actor Jeffrey Wright, Downton Abbey’s Dan Stevens, and Mark Wheat from The Current. Wanz (upon the recommendation of Graham Griffith) won the day. Better known as the man behind the chorus of the Macklemore & Ryan Lewis hit “Thrift Shop,” Wanz gave us a good range of takes. We included this version at the end of last week's show on Haitian Vodou:

After our head of content heard it, he wondered whether it was distinctive enough, if we were featuring the personality of the artist. It was the opposite of what we wanted. It was too serious. I rounded up our producers again. This time to listen to more of Wanz's takes, beginning with a British accent:

A lot of fun but not quite right. So when I told Wanz to improvise, his first instinct was to turn our credits into a song:

That moment of improvisation captured what we were aiming for perfectly: something fun, something memorable, and, most of all, something that will actually make you stick around for our show credits.

In case you’re interested, here’s the unabridged recording of the full session with Wanz. That distant voice you hear in the background? It's me directing by phone from our Minneapolis studio while the hip-hop artist was at KUOW's studios in Seattle:

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Lily Percy is senior producer at On Being.

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