The new voice of the MTA sounds like a New Yorker, but enunciates well

Posted On Wed, May 16, 2018 By

Posted On Wed, May 16, 2018 By In Policy, Transportation

Photo via Richard Yeh / WNYC

Queens native and Metropolitan Transportation Authority Rail Control Center announcer Velina Mitchell is the new official voice of the transit authority. The 25-year MTA “insider” was chosen when Sarah Meyer, the NYC Transit chief customer officer, first heard Mitchell read a public service announcement. Little did Mitchell know she was auditioning for a much bigger role. Meyer told the Daily News: “She sounded like a New Yorker, but she was also warm and she enunciated very well.” The MTA is making an effort to improve communications with their riders by playing Mitchell’s announcements in stations as well as in four new train cars.

Mitchell is not new to the game. Mitchell is supervisor to the 35 “dedicated announcers” that are stationed in some of the city’s busiest transit hubs, like Grand Central. According to a New York Magazine article, Mitchell works on adding emotion to the announcers voices without panic. She also works on getting native New Yorker natives to not drop ending of words, changing “runnin'” to “running.” And, perhaps most importantly for the job, she provides common talking points.

Giving the example if a pack of wild dogs were loose in a station, “If service had to be suspended, that’s what we’d be talking about. Not the dogs.” And by no means is a train ever delayed by a “fire”: Blame “debris on the tracks.”

Ironically, Charlie Pellett, the Bloomberg Radio anchor and the very familiar voice to all those who have ridden the NYC subway saying, “Stand clear of the closing doors, please,” is British. But there is no trace of his British accent in his voice, or any real accent at all. And don’t worry, Pellett will continue to say what he says best.

Adding Mitchell to the mix is an effort to tune riders back in. It turns out, the more we hear a voice, the more we tune it out (you don’t say!). So Mitchell will remind riders to not hold the train doors and not stand too close to the platform edge.

Just as Pellet was known as a friendly guy (he said about his announcements “I mean it in a nice way” explaining that he is probably stuck on the exact same train as you are). Meyer said: “We gravitate towards kindness and we want to make sure this new personality of NYC Transit is one that is empathetic and understanding to what is a complicated transit system.”

[Via NY Daily News]


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