Monday, November 15, 2010
Talent: The Subway Announcement Lady
The nytimes.com ran a story Sunday about Carolyn Hopkins. Hopkins has been recording subway public-address announcements for 15 years. In all that time, she has never ridden the subway.
Mrs. Hopkins works from a windowless room in her house with sound-absorbing material on the wall — a tapestry, hung like a painting but covering foam. The microphone and recording equipment came from Innovative Electronic Designs of Louisville, which developed the system that plays her voice in the subway.
What you hear, standing on the platform, are a series of short takes, each no more than a few words, strung together by the computer. “Ladies and gentlemen” — one take. “There is Brooklyn-bound” — one take. “Local train” — one take. “Two” — one take. “Stations away” — one take. The longest take is 16 words: “Please stand away from the platform edge, especially when trains are entering and leaving the station.”
You can hear her saying much the same thing in Chicago, Washington, even Paris (where she is the voice that speaks what little English is spoken in the Metro). But subway riders are not the only passengers she talks to.
She has recorded announcements for the Staten Island ferry and most of the major airports in this country, including La Guardia, Kennedy and Newark Liberty.
“Once we walked into the John Wayne-Orange County Airport in California. I had completely forgotten that I’d done the announcements there, and it hit me like, ‘Oh, O.K.’ I was telling myself to watch unattended bags. That’s always a good one.”
She is 62 — “I’m not a young chick anymore,” she told The NYTimes, “but I try to keep my voice from sounding like it’s aged.”
Read more and listen to an example of her work here.
Posted 12:08:00 AM