When Ted Williams goes to work, he heads to a freeway exit ramp in Columbus, Ohio. In his hands he holds a weathered sign that says, "I have a God-given gift of voice." He's not kidding. When a reporter from a local paper recently rolled up to talk to the homeless man, Williams might not have known it, but he was on his way to finally getting back behind the mic.
The Columbus Dispatch posted the video interview with Williams online, which then led fans to share it on YouTube and rally on blogs to find him a gig. Not only does Williams have a fabulous FM voice, he tells videographer Doral Chenoweth that he also has some radio experience but hasn't worked in the field because of past problems with drugs and alcohol. The keyword here is past. Williams reveals to the journalist that he's been clean now for two years.
Whereas a few years ago Williams' story would likely have remained a local one-off feature, his tale has become known around the world as the YouTube video spreads via Twitter, Facebook and other social media. And it's already having an impact.
Radio and voiceover offers are starting to roll in for Williams. His first spot is as a guest this week on WNCI's Morning Zoo (based in Columbus, Ohio). The radio station says on their Twitter page that they're going to try to help Williams find some work.
Perhaps the most interesting part of this story, aside from a homeless man with a million dollar voice, is the Reddit pledge to help Williams. Contributors to the online news site are committing to buy Williams a phone, give him a suit, and the list of offers goes on and on (including voiceover gigs).
There's not a whole lot of information about where Williams is now, but if the web community has any influence they're going to make sure he gets off the streets forever, throws away his sign, and uses his voice to build a better life.