I have a little known dream: to be the voice of the NYC Subway system. I would settle for NJTransit. I can totally say “The next station stop is Secaucus Junction. WHEN LEAVING THE TRAIN, PLEASE WATCH THE GAP” in a soothing and informational way.
Someone has to be those voices, afterall. In many cases, the voices are from unknown persons even though their voice itself is famous. And boy are they soothing. They’re the Morgan Freemans of transit. In the case of NYC, the voice is a Bloomberg radio announcer. Which makes sense. Very New York. Very radio voice. One voice is heard EVERYWHERE, including airports. Her polite, Midwestern accent is definitely calming for any American traveling abroad.
But in some cases, that voice is a celebrity. Recently, in a promotion for a new show set in Queens, Awkwafina is now the voice of the 7 train – which connects Manhattan with Queens. It’s pretty funny stuff. In Vancouver, Seth Rogan is the voice of the Skytrain.
Fun and joking aside, the transmission of information through an urban system such as transit is fascinating. It must be clear, understandable, perhaps calm, and informational. Physical signage that shapes wayfinding has a whole art and science behind it. One of my favorite things ever is in the Copenhagen airport painted lines on the floor leading directly to each individual place. Just follow the yellow painted road. What if there were an art and science behind aural information dispersal? I’ve heard somewhere that commands are given in a male voice and information in a female voice. But I can’t find any article or supporting evidence. It would be something interesting to studying, especially for understanding any hidden gender biases we have as a species.