Stay Home with Radio Now, I want to hear your voice 〜 Part 01. Live with Sta Suzumura Radio. Voice actors and radio. Kenichi Suzumura, who is currently in charge of the personality of the 3-hour live broadcast in the morning, is an inseparable person when talking about that relationship. Calling himself a “radio-specialized voice actor” and having experienced many long-running programs, we asked him what “radio should be” in this era. “I love live broadcasting, both listening and doing. Because it’s the best flower of the radio.” More than 25 years after his debut, Kenichi Suzumura continues to be a top runner as a voice actor. He has many faces, such as artist activities, producing improvisational plays, and being the CEO of a voice actor agency, and is actively involved in nurturing the next generation. We asked him to look back on his life as a voice actor with Gio. Selected for FM morning band program Suzumura’s thoughts on the real pleasure of radio. TOKYO FM / JFN’s “ONE MORNING” personality.
It’s been a year. I think it’s unusual for a voice actor to do a morning show, but how did he come to accept this job? “At one point, I was asked, ‘Would you like to do it?’ Originally, radio was a job that I really liked, and as long as I was doing radio, it was one of my big goals to be a part of the band program, but I was surprised that the opportunity came so quickly. Actually, someone who was involved in the radio before recommended it. It wasn’t something that just happened out of nowhere, it was a relationship that was connected to me because I was doing radio. On top of that, there was an audition, it was the first time for me, but the result was that I passed, so I’m here now.”
Connections with people are important. “I really think so. I think that the morning band program is definitely not a job for newcomers who have just debuted, so I thought that the things I’ve been building up one by one have come to fruition, and that’s why. I was very happy when I got the offer.” But you have to be prepared to take on an informational program from 06:00 to 09:00 in the morning, right? “I had to change all my habits, so it took courage and determination. Even if something happens, it’s destiny, and I think that I’m here now because of that, so I’m the type that doesn’t have many regrets. However, I was very worried about this radio, the last thing that pushed me was the thought that if I didn’t do it, I would regret it for the rest of my life. I was already an AM person (laughs). A person who has been doing AM for a long time suddenly became an FM, I certainly thought.” There are not many differences from AM. In general, there is an impression that FM with good sound quality is good for music because of the difference in frequency. “I had to change all my habits, so it took courage and determination. Even if something happens, it’s destiny, and I think that I’m here now because of that, so I’m the type that doesn’t have many regrets. However, I was very worried about this radio, the last thing that pushed me was the thought that if I didn’t do it, I would regret it for the rest of my life. I was already an AM person (laughs). A person who has been doing AM for a long time suddenly became an FM, I certainly thought.” There are not many differences from AM. In general, there is an impression that FM with good sound quality is good for music because of the difference in frequency. “I had to change all my habits, so it took courage and determination. Even if something happens, it’s destiny, and I think that I’m here now because of that, so I’m the type that doesn’t have many regrets. However, I was very worried about this radio, the last thing that pushed me was the thought that if I didn’t do it, I would regret it for the rest of my life. I was already an AM person (laughs). A person who has been doing AM for a long time suddenly became an FM, I certainly thought.” There are not many differences from AM. In general, there is an impression that FM with good sound quality is good for music because of the difference in frequency.
“Yes, I think FM has something to do with ‘musical sauce’ and BGM is laid out throughout the program. That’s why there’s something like ‘This BGM makes the conversation feel like this.’ Read as many e-mails and messages as possible, and the personality’s impressions of them are also musical. How did you perceive the e-mail? I feel like my claim doesn’t come to the front. Of course, I think there are a lot of amazing people who have their own opinions and can understand them musically, but…” So, will the skills you have cultivated in AM radio come to life? “In ONE MORNING, the time divided very finely. AM has a culture of “filling in the gaps by talking (laughs)” Thinking about it, it felt like my head was spinning for three hours. “That’s why I’m so busy (laughs). The author will narrow down the emails to some extent, but I want to decide which ones to read by myself, and since it’s a live broadcast on weekday mornings, there are e-mails that suddenly come in on the day. This is it. I’m going to compose all at once in the CM how to introduce in 3 minutes. That’s why it’s actually a very difficult program.” It ends at 9 o’clock in the morning, so I can get work done after that… (laughs). “Well, I can go straight to the post-recording!” It’s been a year since that lifestyle, but have you gotten used to it? “I’m not used to it (laughs). I really feel that it’s hard to get up in the morning. I usually get up at 4 in the morning. I really have the cooperation of many people, including my manager, and I’m living.Furthermore, at the end of last year, there was a live countdown broadcast (ONE LOVE 〜 Connect with Voice 2019 > 2020〜).”
How was that? “Oh, it was cold! We were still wearing windshields, so it was better, but the audience must have been cold. But I’m glad that so many people came. The countdown was fun, and I was overwhelmed with emotions. There was a live broadcast at the time, so I went to sleep at the hotel right away, but it was hard to wake up! On that day, I think I was doing radio in the most difficult state of my life (laughs). I accepted the offer because I thought I would be able to do it myself, but don’t underestimate me, I’m in my 40’s! Live broadcasting is tough, but I think it’s the best part of radio. Live broadcasting is exciting because you can think that this person is talking somewhere on this planet right now. That’s why I like listening to live broadcast (laughs).I think it’s a medium that makes you feel closer, but you can feel it most when you’re live. I think I’m able to do a 3-hour live broadcast because the real feeling of being there supports me. – Suzumura-san, who grew up, what program was the turning point for you? “There are many, but the first ones were ‘Mitsuo Iwata Kenichi Suzumura Sweet Ignition’ (Radio Osaka) and ‘Cherry Bell Co., Ltd.’(2013-2015). Both of them started around the same time, but at that time, it was one thing for young voice actors to appear in Aniradio.
It was also around the time when they started to gain status, and it felt like, ‘Once you start gaining popularity, you can have a radio show. It was a program.’ You were able to have a program, not a role. However, as soon as I started, it was exhausting, and I wanted to quit. I had this image of radio in my mind, but it didn’t go as I expected, and every week I felt sick to my stomach (laughs). Mitsuo Iwata and Takahiro Sakurai, who are our partners, had already done more programs than me at the time, so the theme was how to catch up with them, so I thought, “What should I do?” I thought too much that it would work. But it was solved by something stupidly simple. When I went drinking with Iwata-san and staff of “Sweet Ignition”, I became silly and talked about what kind of person I was. Then, from the next week, it suddenly became easier (laughs). What is it? If it’s funny, you can say it’s funny. If it’s not funny, you can say so, and that’s all. Once I got that feeling, radio became a lot of fun.”
Are you trying too hard? “That’s right. As a result, I understood the meaning of the word personality. Once I realized that it didn’t matter, radio became simpler and more interesting, and the second turning point was the program Unison! Until then, I always had a partner, but this program was all about talking alone, and it was broadcast live from 01:00 am. In other words, it was the star of the radio show. It’s fun when it starts, late night radio is the best! I even wondered if he would let me do it for the rest of my life. The team is also very good, especially the session with author Takashi Ifukube went very well. The method of inserting the material was also the best, and the return of how to receive it and cook it was also engaged. I want to praise myself (laughs). Ah, it was really good to be able to do the program of “What kind of place was that good?” When I started the program, I had the slogan ‘Radio of Radio’. When I told Ifukube-san that I was going to do it as it was, he organized it so that I could do it all, and I think it was good that was able to push straight ahead. But it was three and a half years in which I gained valuable experience, so I guess you could call it a turning point.
“ONE MORNING” seems to be a new turning point, and when I listen to it, I really feel like I’m walking along with the radio (laughs). It’s like an amphibious mobile suit (in “Mobile Suit Gundam”). It’s Z’GOK. But, even if you look around, I don’t think there are many voice actors who can do the morning belt, so let me have a big experience. I’ve received it, and I can proudly say, “I love radio.” I was surprised that even Suzumura-san had a period when he was worried. “I knew I was going to put out a personal radio, and I was prepared for it (laughs). Well, there are tons of times when we talk about the same thing, but radio is a form dialogue. One of the people who made me realize this was my sworn friend, Iwata-san. – But maybe because we’re both getting older, we’re talking the same thing every time, and during this time, I thought it was really bad (laughs). However, the content of the talk has not changed at all between now and in the past! By the way, from Suzumura-san’s point of view, if someone has a great personality, who would it be? “What is it? If you talk about it, just return it. For example, if someone says, “The fried egg you ate yesterday was delicious,” you can say, “I ate it yesterday, too.” Even if you don’t try to forcefully change the story from there and spread it, if you answer simply, from there “What will you enjoy it with? Soy sauce? Ketchup?” is a chain of stories. That’s what we do on a daily basis, and that’s what radio does. When I realized that at the end of my twenties, my way of life was decided.
After all, Takahiro Sakurai is amazing. His skills are completely different from mine. There is a time, in terms of MC in the TV industry, it feels like Tamori-san. He has a great ability to respect the other person and speak as if he or she is standing up. My style is different, so I don’t do it. But if you can do it, I think it’s an amazing ability. If it’s not Sakurai-kun… I think all the young people these days are amazing. I was in my mid-twenties at first too. I was given a chance to do a radio show in Baba, but it ended quickly. At that time, I really thought I couldn’t speak, and after that, as I said, I struggled. But today’s young people respond with a pop when I talk to them, they’re dumb, they’re mushy, it’s amazing1 When, even if you look at the industry as a whole, being able to speak is linked to being a star. Even though I had such a hard time showing my belly, it feels like everyone is doing it quietly. Well, everyone may be having a hard time together, but…” Yo!
Well, young people these days! I say that, but there are times when young people are rather amazing (laughs). “It’s absolutely amazing. (Looking at the cover of Vol. 12) Nakamura Shugo-kun is really amazing. He can talk freely, he can turn around, and he can beat blur. Blur is impossible. There are times when I’m playing music, and that’s cute (laughs), but I think it’s amazing.” People these days can look up anything on the Internet, and thanks to their parents, they are familiar with old music. That’s why they catch it properly. There are a lot of people who want to be voice actors now, but people who have a high catch ability and are looking for a way to output it are the ones who sell well, I think.” Before becoming a voice actor in the sister magazine “TV Guide Person Vo. 56”, Hayashibara, you said that you listened to Megumi’s radio for a long time, but what are your memories of radio? “Hayashibara Megumi no Hearation”(9-15 years). I listened to it a lot. After that program, there was ‘Seishun Rajimenia’ (Radio Kansai), and I was looking forward to listening to it on Saturdays. Hayashibara’s radio was really interesting, and that’s why I admired the voice acting industry. For example, stories about going on a launch trip, and what I heard on the radio sounded like a lot of fun. Because I was listening to that radio, I expected that voice acting would be an industry for people who get along well, so I entered the industry.
“However, when I think about it now, the reality is no different from what I imagined at that time. That’s why I thought that Hayashibara-san was sincerely telling the listeners the truth. One of the good things about radio is that you can think like that. I think it’s wonderful because it’s a medium that conveys reality to listeners and gives them room to imagine.” – That’s what lead to dreams. “Yeah, that’s right. I first became aware of the work of a voice actor through radio. I love a radio drama program called Adventure. It taught me that voice actors have jobs like this, and when I was in junior high school, I listened to them every day.” – Come to think of it, voice actors and radio go well together. I can do radio dramas, I can talk, and I have a good voice. “I think so. There is a connection between radio and voice actors, and even now there are quite a few voice actors doing radio programs, so I feel that there is a high degree of affinity. – Do you ever feel “Radio is said to be an old medium, but it is also the easiest medium to listen to, so I don’t think it will disappear. I think that the definition of radio as “a program that comes on” is collapsing.
Web radio has become commonplace in the last 10 years. That’s a revolution, isn’t it? I think it’s a wonderful place to be able to listen to it anytime as long as you have an internet environment. However, as I said earlier, I believe that the essence of radio is live broadcasting, and being able to feel the moment in real time thrills me. In that sense, broadcasting station radio will remain, but live distribution has become popular again.”The number of live broadcast programs has certainly increased. “This is a way out, isn’t it? Anyone who wants to do something like the late0night radio that I dreamed of as a child can do it without being bound by the framework of a broadcasting station. Then you may be asking, “What is radio?” “That’s why I think the radio industry should also recognize it without confronting it. Instead, the radio stations operated by broadcasting stations must work harder. There may be a sense of crisis, but I think we have to do radio stations in a different way to before. It’s an old tradition to get in the way there. Because that’s what radio is like. But we should get rid of that and think about doing more things. Instead of letting each other pass each other’s good points, there must be more that we can do, and I think we should be flexible about that. If we don’t do that, the radio industry will be in trouble.
If each becomes interesting, it will be a pleasure for listeners! Finally, let’s change the topic completely. Have you started something new or your recent boom? “I’m growing cucumbers (laughs). When I was doing ‘ONE MORNING’ remotely from home, when I watched it just before the broadcast, it was on the opposite side of the net where I wanted the cucumber vine to get involved, so I wanted to let it go. When the broadcast ended and I saw the crane, it was already entwined in the net…. I felt that life is amazing (laughs).” It’s alive (laughs). “I can’t help but look forward to seeing it every day. If things go well, I want to harvest them and eat fresh cucumbers and green soybeans to enjoy the summer.” Edamame and cucumbers are the best while drinking beer in the garden. “Oh yeah. The veranda has also been cleaned and a chair can be placed, so it’s nice to eat there. I leave it on the veranda. It’s a small veranda, but I’m happy to run around.” A deep love for the radio that feels like’s talking. He thought that his “likes” and positive mindset were what drew him to various jobs. Suzumura-san has that much human power and continues to be loved. It was an interview that made me feel that the new ideas born from him might change radio in the future.