new voices on the metro

17 August, 2006

Have I missed discussion of the new Metro car voices of the last few weeks? IIRC it started with our “crime emergency,” when they put the “if you SEE something, on metrobus, or metrorail, that you…SAY something” announcement on 90-second repeat. It started coming out in other voices, and then the on-train ones did too. After all the hoopla last fall or whenever it was about new metro voices, I would have expected a little more fanfare. Maybe they used B-reel from that competition? The runner-up voices?

I do wonder why Metro uses mostly (only?) female voices for these announcements. There’s all kinds of research into listening to and taking advice/commands from voices of different genders; as you would expect gender is very important in determining perceptions and responses. (Well, maybe you wouldn’t expect that, but after a decade or two of working to get heard generally as a brainy female, half of which was spent being a woman in science, it seems obvious to me…) Are they unfamiliar with this phenomenon? Isn’t it relatively common knowledge? Or am I just too accustomed to being around feminists/sharp folk who observe the world around them through this sort of lens, for whom such observations are a half-step or so up from “men and women are different, yo”?

Yesterday I did hear the old voice…but it had been juiced up electronically, somehow, to sound Just A Bit More Insistent. I have to say it did get my attention (if for no other reason than I wanted to figure out just what they had changed). I wasn’t the only one: yesterday I saw a tourist child worriedly admonishing her younger sibling — “Get in! The DOORS are CLOSING!!” — mere seconds before the train said it. It was the kind of moment that, were it visual, I would have wanted to take a picture.

UPDATE: ‘Course, today WOULD be the day I’d hear a male-voiced announcement on the way in.  (I think the guy was an employee and not a recording, however.)   And the train’s voice was the same old female voice it usually is.  I guess yesterday was a test, or some kind of Laurie Anderson-esque malfunction…


One Response to “new voices on the metro”

  1. From what I recall from reading about the auditions way back when, auditioners were asked to record a friendly, a polite, and an authoritative version of “The doors are closing”. [Since I couldn’t find the article, this’ll have to be left as hearsay.] This was the first indication to me that voice acting is not for me, since I’m not sure how much I could get across in multiple readings of “The doors are closing”. Evidently the winner is fabulous, since her authoritative version really does strike fear into the hearts of girls.

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