Throughout her professional career, she has been called “Rockin’ C.W.,” “Sister Mary Carol,” “Mackenzie Jacobs” and “Brook Stevens.”
These days, the former radio disc jockey goes by her real name, Carol Walker.
Walker has started Babblin’ Brook Productions — a reference to her Brook Stevens character, which was her identity on Gillette airways.
Babblin’ Brook Productions is a voice-over business.
After getting laid off from the country radio station, Walker stayed in Gillette. After a series of setbacks, she is back doing what she loves: Using her voice to inform and entertain.
“It’s so much fun,” she said. “It’s like I’m not working.”
Walker does radio commercials, voice parts for television, cartoon voices, celebrity impersonations and books on tape for local clients and work she gets through Voice123, a company that matches businesses with voice talent.
Walker’s studio is in a spare bedroom in her downtown Gillette house. She has three soundproof boards that look like room partitions. The boards block noise from other parts of the house if, for example, someone is watching television or a fan is running.
On her desk are two computer monitors. One is the screen on which she records her voice. The other serves as the mixing board.
She also has a microphone, microphone stand and microphone filter that stops the “pop” sound when Walker prounces “ps” and slurring of the “s” at the end of words.
“We all speak with slurring,” Walker explained.
Then she grabbed the microphone and sang “Happy Birthday, Mr. President,” like Marilyn Monroe.
Walker can do Monroe, Amy Lee of Evanescence, Celine Dion and Julie Andrews. She can speak English with French, British and Spanish accents.
She can do a handful of Hanna-Barbera Productions and Looney Tunes characters: Yogi Bear, Bugs Bunny, Sylvester the Cat and Tweety Bird.
Walker nibbled on an invisible carrot: “What’s up doc?,” an imitation of Bugs Bunny.
Now 50, she grew up in North Hollywood, Calif., the daughter of entertainer parents. Her mother was a singer and her father, who died when she was 3, played wind instruments for “The Lawrence Welk Show.”
Walker describes herself as the girl who wore glasses and braces and always carried a book.
Yet at home, she dreamed of being an entertainer.
At age 5, she used a hairbrush or a mirror as a microphone. She dressed up in her mother’s negligee and danced in the living room.
In high school, her mom enrolled her in singing and modeling lessons, where she described learning to sing high soprano and act “like a lady.”
“My mother said I was talking since I was in the womb,” Walker said. “I got it from her. I talk a mile a minute. I wanted to get paid for it.”
Walker realized her voice was her talent and decided to pursue that professionally.
“I didn’t have the big boobs and blond hair, but I had a voice,” she said.
Walker attended college at Los Angeles College in Van Nuys, Calif., and worked at the campus rock station as “Rockin’ C.W.”
DJs usually use pseudonyms on air.
“It’s for your protection,” Walker said. “People will stalk you. And I’ve had three. You have to be very protective of your identity.”
To date, Walker has worked about 25 years in radio. She has worked in rock, country, Christian and rap formats in California, Nevada, Ohio, Indiana and Wyoming. She has worked with cassettes, 8 tracks and turn tables. She has hosted morning shows, played bit parts for other morning DJs, announced the weather and answered telephones.
She started college several times, with family commitments forcing her to stop, before finishing a program in Ohio in 2005.
Walker’s longtime role model is Barbara Walters, who stuttered and spoke with a lisp but became one of the most successful broadcasters in the United States.
She’s now 82.
At the University of Nevada in Las Vegas, Walker told a school counselor she dreamed of being the next Barbara Walters. She was in her 30s and the counselor said it was impossible.
“She’s still going strong,” Walker said about Walters. “Do not tell me I can’t do it.”
The radio business can be brutal.
One day you’re on top, and the next day, station management is changing formats to adult contemporary and laying everyone off, she said.
Radio station ownership these days is consolidated among a handful of companies. To save money, a DJ at an oldies station in Salt Lake City could be asked to prerecord programs each day for broadcast in Minneapolis and Seattle.
In 2006, Walker was laid off from a station in Fort Wayne, Ind., after it had been sold to a new company. She had been Brook Stevens, one-half of the country station’s morning program.
“As voices, we are getting to be a rare breed,” she said.
An old college instructor was keeping an eye out for jobs for her. He asked her if she had ever heard of Gillette, Wyo.
“Is that where they make the razors?” Walker replied.
But she drove across the country, moved to Wyoming and continued working as Brook Stevens on a local radio station.
She grew to love the town.
But 18 months later, she said the radio station cut the budget and she lost her job.
“I’ve always been greeted with open arms,” she said. “I fell in love with people here, and I got connected here. I wanted to establish my roots here.”
Walker experienced setbacks and had medical issues, resulting in four surgeries. She was unemployed, disabled and wiped out financially.
Babblin’ Brook Productions
Walker saved money and recently bought the equipment for her business to begin. She joined the Campbell County Chamber of Commerce.
Her business angle is her originality. Other commercials are recorded by the same voices that do the news, weather and music.
“What it’s targeting is a different voice than what’s on the air,” she said.
She believes listeners can tune out when they hear the same voices all day.
“I want to make a difference by adding character to those businesses,” she said.
Walker still admires Barbara Walters, but no longer dreams of replacing her.
She has a new dream.
Walker, who is deeply religious, would like to start a radio station for troubled teens.
“My passion is helping teens,” she said.
The dream is a satellite radio program with music, a theme for each program and call-in questions from teens.
It’s expensive to rent air time, about $10,000 a month.
“I have a champaign dream with a beer pocketbook,” she said.
Once her voice-over business becomes profitable, Walker wants to begin saving for satellite radio.
“I love a challenge,” she said. “I’ve always been competitive, whether with my grades, acting in high school or on drill team,” she said. “We were on drill team for three years and were always No. 1.”
“I want to establish a connection and make a difference,” she said.
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