The Incredible Story Of The Blind Man Whose Voice You Hear On WRIF
This is a story about someone you may not have thought much about, until now. Pete Gustin has been the voice of RIFF since around 2009. Here’s where the story becomes very unique and inspirational…Pete is blind. He told me he started losing his sight around the age of 8, due to a degenerative eyesight disease called Stargardt disease. He said his sight was bad in his teens, manageable in his 20s, before he had start using a cane while walking in his late 30s. He said about five years ago he completely lost all vision.
His journey as a voice over talent began around 1995. “I started actually as an intern in Boston my freshman year of college, in 1995. I tried to apply to be an intern at a rock radio station in Boston, but they didn’t want me, never called me back. I ended up getting an internship at a talk radio station, which ended up being good cuz there were just a lot more opportunities for me to do talk stuff. I got hired by that station. I graduated Boston University early and got hired, um, right out of college to be the imaging director for WEEI and WRKO”
While doing traffic reporting and the like, he said he started doing voice work in 1999 as the imaging director for WRKO. That’s when things really started for him in this tough field.
I asked him what it meant to be the voice of a heritage station like WRIF. “I actually feel like it’s part of my identity at this point. I’ve been doing it for so long.” He told me veteran radio programmer, Buzz Knight suggested him for the job. He had some smaller market stations on his resume, but RIFF in Detroit was his first major market one. To say it was the perfect match is an understatement. “I grew up in Boston listening to the rock stations there and just have always been into the rock scene.” He went on “To work with the station that wasn’t just rock, but was the frigging RIFF was like, is this real? Is this really gonna happen?”
Well, it did and it’s been great! I love sending things off to Pete to voice. He “gets” me and my deprecating sense of humor. I can’t recall ever sending anything back to him because it wasn’t what I had envisioned in my mind went I sent it off. He knows how I think and is the perfect rock voice.
By the way, he just doesn’t voice the RIFF, he has a lot of clients. How many? “Like a lot. I think that there’s, uh, over 300 people that could message me in any given day. Those are the people that I’m on retainer with. Between radio stations, streaming services, television stations. I work individually for the NHL and MLB, and NFL as well. Yeah, if everybody decided to hit me up all at once, I’d probably get like 320 emails immediately.”
Watch below as Pete shows you how he “reads” the scripts he’s sent. This is fascinating.
What else does he do? Funny you should ask. He also surfs. Yes, that’s right. “I, um, am a surfer. I didn’t used to be. I didn’t start surfing until I lost my eyesight, and I thought it would be an interesting sport to try and pick up. I wasn’t able to play, you know, the office softball league anymore cause I couldn’t see the ball to hit it or catch it or anything. I used to play ultimate Frisbee. I couldn’t do that. I used to play pickup basketball. I couldn’t do that. I was very into a lot of sports. When I lost my eyesight, my choices became kinda limited, so I picked up surfing. I also do wakeboarding and wakesurfing and ski board, all the beach board activities. I’m also an avid skater, skateboarder, uh, surf skateboards.”
He also shoots guns. Yeah, I’ll let him explain this one too. “Sounds weird for a blind guy, but I take a coach and he helps me line up and shoot at targets, which is a lot of fun. I swim and I am an avid weightlifter, and oh, I write books. I’ve written two number one novels on Amazon and one that debuted at number five, which bummed me out cause I thought that was like my best book.”
Pete recently voiced the Kid Rock concert spots. That’s what sparked this idea to tell you guys more about him. I texted Pete’s story to Rock and he was very impressed. I thought I’d share his story with you too. My hope is that you’ll hear his voice on WRIF for years to come!
Listen to Pete in his own words below. It’s fascinating!
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