The Big Purple Guy Speaks To Taji

The Big Purple Guy Speaks To Taji

January 1, 2010  |  Articles, Interviews

Hello Friends, Readers, Peoples of the World,

Welcome to the first article on my new revamped and revitalized blog Taji’s Voice Emporium. There are a few new features so take a look around and if you get a chance send me an email or leave a comment and tell me what you think of the new layout.

For the first post in the new location I have decided to interview one of the most recognized voices in the English speaking world. You might not necissarily be a big fan yourself but I’m pretty sure that someone in your house was pretty addicted to his voice and in turn his show for a few years.

In fact my 2 year old daughter is watching one of his episodes as I type this.  He’s done a duet with Dolly Parton and his current job has taken him all around the globe .

Introductions

First I would like to start by thanking Mr. Wendt for taking the time out of his hectic schedule to answer my questions. And Congratulations on your recently getting married and still coming through with the interview questions. As you guys know I live in Cairo, Egypt so its usually difficult to conduct voice interviews over skype because of the difference in time zones so this interview was conducted over email.

Mahmoud Taji
For the sake of my readers who have not done the research I have into your history. How did you first get into the voice over business?

Dean Wendt
I first got started way back in college in Illinois. I went to the University of Illinois in Champaign/Urbana. Started working at the college radio station and then naturally started doing commercials. I used to have a radio station I made in my room growing up and my mom will tell you that I knew what I wanted to do since I was 5. It’s true.

The Mysterious Mr. Wendt

Mahmoud Taji
If you are still a little confused as to who Mr. Wendt is… could you please tell my readers what your full time job is these days?

Dean Wendt
Sure. I am the voice of Barney the Dinosaur. The purple guy. And I LOVE it!

This is Dean with his Daughter Christy in one of the times he gets to wear the suit

Mahmoud Taji
How did you get the job? Could you tell us about the auditioning process and the day you got the news?

Dean Wendt
Well, I was working at Radio Disney at the time. There were auditions and everyone dj I knew thought they could do a Barney impersonation. You have to understand dj’s. There isn’t a modest one in the bunch, or at least any I worked with. They would be walking down the hall declaring their imminent departure from radio to be Barney. I thought, well, I can do a pretty good one. I was traveling with Disney a lot at that time so I didn’t have any way to go to the audition. I sent a cd in of my best work. And then waited. For a year. Then I was asked to audition again, but again I was out of town. I thought, this is it. I’ll never get another chance. They took my cd again and I waited again. It was a couple months later that I got a call to come in and I met with one of the producers of the show. She asked if I would meet up with the music director to record something. I had no idea that he had brought all of his protools gear, mixers, mics and set up a studio in an apartment. He lived in Florida but was staying not far from the Barney offices. I met up with him and soon was standing in a closet in this apartment with a microphone and a little tv in front of me. It hit me at the point that I wasn’t sure if these people really WERE from Barney! I just believed anything they said! Who would make that up? Anyway, I did what was to be my last audition and then waited… again! My daughter was sick when I got the call that I got the job, so all I remember thinking was I had to hang up and go take care of her. It sunk in later that night and I have loved it ever since.

The Addictive Element

Mahmoud Taji
I have to say that I am more of a fan by proxy… I think the second word my daughter spoke other than Baba (Dad in Arabic) is Ba’ny… I don’t know what it is about the big purple guy but he’s(at least in my experience) like heroin to younger children?

Dean Wendt
I’ll try not to be too corny here, but Barney is love. He is unconditional love. It doesn’t matter who you are, where you come from, or how old you are. Barney accepts everyone. Kids I think look at Barney and see their best friend. I really do think it is as simple as that.

Mahmoud Taji
Could you run us through the usual production steps of the Barney & Friends Show at Hit Entertainment?

Dean Wendt
Well, it is so glamourous! I sit in a little room with two monitors, one quad split and the other program, and do what I have always done there…wait! Just like any show, it takes a long time to do. Plus there is added time with the costume. It gets hot in there you can imagine.

Mahmoud Taji
What is the recording schedule like at Hit Entertainment… how often are you in the studio

Dean Wendt
I record live every show. People always ask me why we don’t record and playback with the actors, but Barney is a very ad lib role. I like to throw things in or change things here and there. Plus, the guy in the suit and I try different things and such. You have to when you get into 9 or more takes!

Mahmoud Taji
What about your co-stars Julie Johnson and Patty Wirtz do you guys ever get to record the sessions together (this questions depends on Question 5).

Dean Wendt
We all record the shows live and every once in awhile we will record the tours together or special events. I love it and I know they do too. It’s so much easier acting off of somebody.

Family Man

Mahmoud Taji
I know you’re a family man and I can see from your website that your children are a big part of your life. What is their reaction to the fact that their dad is the voice of Barney?

Dean Wendt
They think it’s cool I worked at Radio Disney! No, I think they love it. Their friends love it, I can tell you that. We’ve had many tours for their friends up at the set.

Mahmoud Taji
Do you have any favorite movies or shows from B & F that stick out? I personally like the land of make believe. My wife and I were just as transfixed to the screen as our daughter was.

Dean Wendt
There are so many! I do love Land of Make Believe. We shot that all on location at Universal Studios in Orlando. I also like the shows we did when Selena Gomez and Demi Lovato were on. Those kids were so much fun. I always knew they’d make it big. And boy, did they!

Mahmoud Taji
Could you tell me more about the B & F tours and shows abroad… do you travel along on those trips and if so … where has the road taken you?

Dean Wendt
I just record the shows. But usually they send me out to the big cities for interviews. Barney has been all around the world. Tours in Singapore, South America, Dubai, Europe, Korea, etc. All over.

Mahmoud Taji
Any funny incidents during the show’s production or on the road that you would like to share with my readers and I?

Dean Wendt
That’s a tough one! I don’t know what I can tell you.

The Technical Side Of Things

Mahmoud Taji
What about studio equipment… as someone who’s worked on the Radio Disney  and must have handled microphones and a few of the recording equipment directly … are you a studio equipment buff/geek?

Dean Wendt
I used to do production for radio stations all across the country. I LOVE doing production. One of my favorite things to do. I used to have all of the outboard stuff but pretty much do everything in my mac now.

Mahmoud Taji
Do you have a home studio of your own? If so what is your setup?

Dean Wendt
Very minimal setup. Neuman mic. I use Protools 8 and Logic 8. Final Cut Pro HD. Simple but I am a perfectionist when it comes to the actual sound. It is the production person in me.

Pay To Play…with Barney!

Mahmoud Taji
I see from your personal website that you are a member of bodalgo.com a Pay to Play website… do you have experience with any of the others? Voice123, Voices.com VOplanet?

Dean Wendt
I am a member of VOplanet. I love them and I love Bodalgo. I tried Voices and Voice123 but way over crowded.

Mahmoud Taji
I recently suffered a terrible cold. As someone who’s voice is almost a staple of modern day Americana how do you take care of yourself and voice?

Dean Wendt
It’s tough with kids! I love using the zinc lozenges from GNC.

End of Interview.

I hope you enjoyed this first post at Taji’s Voice Emporium’s new location. If you have any questions please leave them in the comments section.

Taji


3 Comments


  1. Congratulations on your new site, Taji. The Emporium never looked better! You’ve re-imagined yourself and set a new standard.

    I think there’s a lot to learn from the choices you made from a design and content point of view. Perhaps you could share some of your insights in one of your next contributions.

    e.g. what platform did you use to create the site and why; which aspects did you have to outsource and what did you handle yourself; based on what did you pick a host for your site; what have you done to optimize the site for search engines; what was the biggest obstacle you had to overcome and how did you do it; what tips do you have for those of us with similar ambitions and a shoestring budget?

    With so many questions, I could almost interview you for my blog, but only if you agree to wear a purple dinosaur costume singing the Barney song in Arabic 🙂

    I look forward to a new year at your Emporium Taji. You’re off to a terrific start!

    • Hello Paul,
      Thanks for being the first person to comment on my blog in the new location. Always wanted it to be a friend.

      Now regarding your questions… I’ll write a post about how I put the site together. So no purple suit or Barney song in Arabic necessary.

      Thanks for all your encouragement and all the best in this new year!

      Taji

  2. Really nice job Taji, and thanks for the interesting interview. I’ll look forward to future posts.