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Interview with Burton Richardson, 'Family Feud' Announcer


Burton Richardson

Burton Richardson

Courtesy Debmar-Mercury

About.com: And then came Family Feud.

Richardson: Yes, in 1999 I began working on Family Feud, and I've had the opportunity to work with three different hosts, Louie Anderson, Richard Karn, and John O'Hurley.

About.com: And soon there will be a fourth host, Steve Harvey.

Richardson: Right. The interesting thing there is that I did announcing work on The Steve Harvey Show, but I've never met him because my work was done in post production. So I'm looking forward to meeting him and working with him, assuming they keep me on the show!

About.com: Is there a learning curve for you at all when a new host takes over the show?

Richardson: No, not at all. What I do is basically the same. I might announce the name differently, just to keep it fresh and distinct, but my job is the same no matter who is hosting. I come in, and do about twenty minutes of warm-up with the audience, welcoming them to the show and teaching them what they need to do; when to applaud, when to cheer, that kind of thing. And between takes I get to entertain them. The crew brings out the soundtracks on CD and I do a little singing then.

About.com: Is there a difference in the way you approach announcing a prime time game show versus a daytime or syndicated game?

Richardson: Not really. The Price is Right had their nighttime specials which were done a little differently, with more prizes and excitement, so everything was kicked up. But the announcing is really the same. In the case of The Price is Right, even with the added excitement, they want the show to appear as much as possible as the same show viewers know and love.

About.com: Speaking if Price, they put quite a bit of focus on their announcers, and even more so lately. Is that something you'd like to see more of on other game shows?

Richardson: Yes I would! Audiences like to see other players on the show; it gives the host another person to interact with on a familiar level. Most of us who do voice work are talented in other areas, so there's talent there that remains untapped. I get to do fun things on Family Feud every now and then of course - on the Halloween episodes I do a little Count Dracula and that kind of thing. I would love to be more involved in the show though.

About.com: As game shows continue to evolve, do you think we'll ever see a return to simpler games without all of the extra drama and glitz?

Richardson: The simpler games will always be around because they're the ones that people love to play along with at home. If you're watching Family Feud or Jeopardy! you can jump right in and start playing the game instantly. It doesn't matter if you walk in halfway through the game while it's on television, you can just start playing. And that's the hallmark of a show like Family Feud.

With reality-type game shows, the core theme is that the participants will get something out of it at the end. Someone wins a prize, someone gets a lot of money, and there might be some theme that will hook viewers emotionally. But viewers can't really play along with those games. Some shows are hardly game shows. For example, Deal or No Deal is a prize show. You do something that will earn you money or prizes, and that's all there is to it.

About.com: The thing I've noticed with Deal or No Deal (and my readers will be tired of reading this by now) is that people desperately want to play the game, but they aren't actually watching it on television.

Richardson: That's interesting. A successful game show engages the audience. If it's too easy there's no challenge, and it's not compelling for many people. There's too much of an element of luck rather than gaming or skill. In the end people like to be challenged.

About.com: Burton, thank you so much for your time today! It was a real pleasure to speak with you, and I hope we'll be hearing your voice on Family Feud for many years to come.

Richardson: Thank you Carrie, I enjoyed our conversation.

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