The Speakers: how two people became the voice of 110 airports and the NYC subway

Very interesting article on the voices we hear at airports and on the NYC subway. The one I always notice most is Court Square in Brooklyn. You can tell the station was renamed just by the voiceover since the timing is a little rushed with the new name. I had to look it up to make sure and yes, it was 23trd Street-Ely Avenue at one time.





Airports trigger anxiety. Subway systems cause paranoia. We all know the statistics: it’s riskier to get in your car than it is to board an aircraft or take a train. But our collective memories of bombings, hijackings, and poison gas attacks often turn public spaces of transport into psychic mine fields. Stuck in limbo between the here and there, pushing through a crush of strangers, we are totally vulnerable and alone. Except we’re not. There’s always the voice.


You know, the one that tells us that “smoking inside the terminal is prohibited,” and that “unattended baggage will be removed immediately,” and that “the next stop is Times Square.” It’s sort of irritating, yet something to cling to, as familiar and pervasive as the smell of Cinnabon or axle grease.


It may surprise you to learn that these announcements are not only real people, but for the most part the same two people. They are Carolyn Hopkins and Jack Fox, two cheerful, church-going retirees who also happen to be longtime buddies.


The story of how they came to conquer the sound systems of the majority of major transportation centers across the country is groovier than you’d expect. It has roots in the music industry, and features a homespun business that was able to grow beyond its Southern roots and go global by capitalizing on a weird technological niche.


The next stop is Louisville, KY.


Not Jon Hamm?

Hmmm, I thought for sure it was Jon Hamm supplying the voice for the new Aleve commercial. According to Stuart Elliot, it isn't the Mercedes-Benz pitching Mad Men star:

Rather, it is the voice of William Moses, also known as William R. Moses, who is familiar from his roles in television series like “Falcon Crest” and, most recently, “The Secret Life of the American Teenager” on ABC Family.

Mr. Moses was selected for the Aleve spots, says Barton Warner, vice president for United States marketing and new initiatives at Bayer Healthcare, which sells Aleve, because “of his smooth, soothing vocal qualities, which align well with the message being conveyed in the advertising.”

Robert Downey, Jr. Named New Voiceover Announcer For Nissan


Nissan is rolling out their new advertising campaign this weekend called “Innovation For All” –replacing the “Shift” tagline that has been used for eight years. “Innovation For All” will be launched with a series of five TV commercials with actor Robert Downey, Jr. at the helm as the new voiceover announcer.

The campaign, showcasing the full-line of Nissan products including the zero-emission, 100% electric Leaf, will debut on August 28 during the ESPN College Football Show with the commercial “Innovations” described as “a celebration of Nissan’s current innovations, including smart phone apps, recycled materials, air purifiers, the Juke — the world’s first Sports Cross — and the 100-percent electric Nissan LEAF.”

A spot dubbed “Polar Bear” and dedicated to the Leaf will hit the airways on Sept. 9 when viewers will watch as a polar bear “journeys from the icy Arctic through forests, highways, train tracks and over bridges to the big city and then on to the suburbs, where the animal finds someone who is trying to help – the owner of an all-electric Nissan LEAF.”


How People React to Male vs. Female Voiceovers

The results of an AdweekMedia/Harris Poll, conducted last month, give reason to believe gender stereotypes are alive and well in the way many people react to male and female voiceovers in commercials.

On the question of which sort is "more forceful," 48 percent of respondents said a male voiceover is, vs. 2 percent saying a female voiceover is. (The rest said it makes no difference.) The pattern was just the opposite when people were asked to say which is "more soothing," with the female outpointing the male by 46 percent to 8 percent. There was no significant gap, though, on the question of which is "more persuasive." Eighteen percent said a male voiceover is, while 19 percent said a female voiceover is.

Elsewhere in the same survey, respondents were asked to say which sort of voiceover is "more likely to sell me a car." The male was the bigger vote-getter here, 28 percent to 7 percent. The same was true on the question of which is "more likely to sell me a computer," with 23 percent picking the male voiceover and 7 percent the female voiceover.


SAG near videogame deal

Source: Variety - By Dave McNary

In a sign it may be moving toward a videogames deal, the Screen Actors Guild has scheduled a series of member meetings about the talks.

SAG had no comment about the Sept. 8 caucuses in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco. The guild disclosed the meetings Thursday in a message to members, saying only that it would provide an update on the negotiations.

SAG has kept mum about the talks, which launched several months ago. People familiar with the bargaining have indicated negotiators have been making progress in recent weeks toward a tentative deal, which would replace the pact that expired last year.

If the vidgame deal is concluded, it will be the sixth SAG contract that's been wrapped up since April -- including commercials, feature-primetime, TV animation, basic cable animation and basic cable live-action, the last of which was ratified Wednesday with 93.7% support.

AFTRA agreed late last year to a one-year extension on its vidgame pact with a 3% increase in initial compensation for all session fees and a 0.5% gain in health and retirement contributions. That deal will expire at the end of this year.

The SAG contract covers performers for such publishing giants as Electronic Arts and about 70 other gaming companies. The SAG and AFTRA deals in 2005 gave members a 36% increase in the base rate of $556.20 per session for vidgame voiceover work.