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Everybody knows about the Shadow Government that is working silently behind the scenes, pulling strings to overthrow the Constitution. A million movies have been made about it. More obvious, yet more obscure, is the Shadow Media. Oh yes, it’s all around us—literally in the air. Resonant disembodied voices that echo from speakers everywhere, beguiling, cajoling, persuading, brainwashing—mellifluous pipes enunciating in service to an economic, not a political, goal. In bending us to their will, the voices of the Shadow Media want nothing more than to send us obediently to the mall for the Summer Crazy Days Sale.

Carroll James knows these voices. He has seen the faces they belong to. Bravely, he has compiled their names and telephone numbers and indexed them with audio examples. He has made this daring collection available on compact disc under the deceptively cute title The Producer’s Handy Dandy. And he has lived to tell the tale. Because, more amazingly, Carroll James is one of them.

James is a dean of the Washington/Baltimore voice-over community, and The Producer’s Handy Dandy is aimed at ad agencies and producers wishing to hire any of the 71 top golden throats of the local airwaves he has assembled.

While Paul Anthony may be the most familiar and visible voice—he’s the debonair chap begging you to spring for the tote bag during PBS television fundraisers—to read the credit list while listening to the Handy Dandy is to constantly slap one’s forehead in constant recognition: Ah, so Ty Ford is the Mattress Discounters man! Betsy Ames is the Safford Lincoln Mercury gal! Walt Teas explains The Learning Channel! Mike Lewis is the voice of Eyewitness News! And Mike Pengra is the guy who says “This is PBS!” Knowing this, of course, does no good. Resistance remains futile. The voices will carry.

The Handy Dandy is James’ attempt to keep local producers from going to L.A. or New York for trained talkers. “When you compare [the Handy Dandy] to things that have been put out in other major cities, we really come out on top from the standpoint of good, solid, professional sound and variety,” he insists.

Those eager to lend their voices to the cause should know that there is a waiting list to become Dandy-fied. And that the Shadow Media still abides by affirmative action. “We’re a little bit short of women,” says James. “We want some more African-American women. And younger women.” Well, certainly. Suddenly, the voices make sense. If you want me, I’ll be recruiting for the cause.—Dave Nuttycombe

Producers and agencies interested in a copy of the Handy Dandy may fax a request on letterhead to (301) 588-8323. Smooth talkers may call (301) 588-8324.