"Stand clear of the closing doors."
That voice is incredibly familiar to anyone who lives in — or who's even visited — New York City. So the New Yorker interviewed the man behind it.
Charlie Pellett is a longtime news anchor and reporter at Bloomberg Radio. He grew up in London, and to rid himself of an English accent he listened to radio announcers. That served him well in his career and as the voice of a New York institution.
He practically stumbled into his position as the voice of New York City's subway system. After two of his coworkers took on the task of improving the MTA's announcements, Pellett was enlisted to record a sample. The MTA heard the tests and chose Pellett as the voice of the closing doors, and he's held the gig for more than a decade.
Washington, DC's Metrorail voice won the gig in a contest
Then there's the voice of DC's public transit: Randi Miller.
In 2006, while Miller was working at a Lexus dealership, her bosses encouraged her to enter a contest to be the voice of Metrorail, since she often paged customers at work. She won, and she says that people occasionally feel they know her from somewhere, but they can't quite place her. Notably, she wasn't paid for the gig (though it opened doors to other voiceover roles).
Oh, and she rarely rides the train herself.
Chicago's CTA voice was inspired by the Disney Monorail
In 1997, Lee Crooks was inspired by the announcements on the Disney World monorail when he auditioned to be the voice of Chicago's CTA. He still isn't used to hearing his own voice when he rides the train. Occasionally, he's played around with performing the announcements with a strong Chicago accent (though for the real sessions, he adopts a clear and unaccented tone).
What do all the voices have in common? All the actors struggle to accept that, after a few contract signatures and recording sessions, they've become the official voice of their city's transit system. But you can bet they all stand clear of those closing doors.