During recent years Karen Saltus has taken several giant steps in letting go of the past and creating a unique job, one that works wherever she travels in her motorhome.
“That’s part of what this journey is about,” Saltus, 55, told the News Telegram.
“Letting go of those things that I have no control over or letting go of patterns of behavior that I have that are not to my benefit.”
Letting go has been a common theme for Saltus over the years; letting go of her marriage, her numerous jobs at several radio stations in Boston, her love of the New England weather to move to Arizona, and finally, letting go of a home with a foundation to begin a new journey of traveling around the country working full time as a freelance voiceover artist all from a three-and-a-half by three-and-a-half-foot custom sound booth that is located in the back of her RV.
It was eighteen years ago that the Shrewsbury, Massachusetts, native left her job in radio to become a full-time voiceover artist and in October 2011 she decided to put her job on wheels so she could see the country as she makes some cash by reading prompts for telephone companies, commercials, and audio books.
The hippy-esque décor in her home, which she lovingly refers to as the Voxmobile, looks like a small but serene place to practice her new mantra and her work, reports the News Telegram.
She said that as far as she knows she is the first and only person to do voiceovers full time entirely from the confines of a mobile home.
When it comes to her work, she likes a challenge. And it seems that challenges find her in all different aspects of her job — from pronouncing names to avoiding noisy planes.
“If it’s fiction, who cares if you pronounce it incorrectly, but when it’s a real person, it’s like, ‘How do you find that?’ I sometimes just go on YouTube and see if there was something where they were introduced or someone was talking about them, where I could hear a pronunciation. Otherwise you just do your best,” Saltus says.
“I love medical and technical narrations because they’re challenging, especially pharmaceuticals.”
At least researching how to say a complicated name is something that Saltus can control.
However, she can’t control those natural sounds that one may hear at a campground like chirping birds, roaring weed whackers, and drunken neighbors sitting around a campfire.
“In St. Augustine, (Florida), I lived one mile away from St. Augustine Airport, which is not a busy passenger airport, but it’s a busy commercial airport, so there were military helicopters, sight-seeing planes, and pilots practicing for air shows…” she says.
“The sound booth does not block out that noise completely, so you wait. Breathe. Go for a walk.”
For Saltus, this is just another balloon.
A majority of her work includes being that pleasantly mechanical woman who says, “For English, press one or say ‘yes,’” but she has also done some more stimulating work such as the audio version of Mariana Pastenak’s tell-all book on her close friendship with Martha Stewart among other audio books and commercials for companies like CVS and Verizon.
However, Saltus’ favorite project was when she did some work on the Playstation’s Grand Theft Auto games. It seems that the more out of Saltus’ comfort zone a project is, the more she enjoys it.
Saltus plans to head to Maine for the remainder of the summer.
She has deemed it useless to make plans for October since it’s too far away, but she worries that her love for the change of seasons may keep her in the Northeast. Regardless of her travel plans, she does not plan to stop using her voice anytime soon — on or off the job.
“My speaking voice and my narration voice are different,” says Saltus. “When I talk to people, I’m a little more nasally, I’m a little more up and down and every now and then the New Englander in me comes out.”
The man who follows the crowd will usually get no further than the crowd. The man who walks alone is likely to find himself in places no one has ever been.