From stage to sound booth, opera singer Bruce Paulsen brings vocal talent to radio announcing

Bruce Paulsen began announcing at WCNY-FM after a diverse career led him both on and off the stage.

“When I was in fourth grade, I wanted to be Johnny Cash,” said Bruce Paulsen, classical music announcer at WCNY-FM. “Back then, I started talking with a fake low voice. But it turned out to be where I live.”

Paulsen, 63, started studying voice in high school, but quickly discovered that he wasn’t suited for the popular rock operas of his day and transitioned into singing opera. With a bachelor’s degree in opera and a master’s degree in theater, the radio personality keeps his on-air sessions lively and colorful, often gesturing at the microphone even in an empty room.

Having only been in radio for seven years, Paulsen’s vocal career initially took him to the Chicago Lyric Opera and Chicago Symphony Chorus where he sung onstage behind rock star classical names such as Luciano Pavarotti and Plácido Domingo and under the baton of conducting greats like Sir George Solti.

After stints at various jobs, Paulsen said he has found a home at WCNY on the air.

“It utilizes what I know about music,” he said. “I had the language background, plus the theatrical background, so it all came together.”

Paulsen’s familiarity with radio began at a young age because his father worked as a radio engineer for a time.

“He was never on the air. But because he worked in radio and television, he would sometimes comment on what he was hearing,” Paulsen said. “So I grew up admiring certain people, certain voices.”

His voice, distinguishable for its depth and resonance, has made an impression on local listeners.

“In line at the grocery store, in line at the library, sometimes in the theater when I’m attending a performance, someone will tap me on the shoulder and say, ‘You’re him, aren’t you?’” says Paulsen. “It’s funny because they don’t know my face, but they recognize me when I speak. It’s wonderful.”

Bruce Paulsen mans the microphone from 6-10 a.m, Monday through Friday on WCNY-FM, local FM station 91.3.

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