Carolyn Hopkins and Jack Fox: The Voices at 110 Airports and the NYC Subway

Carolyn Hopkins and Jack Fox are two cheerful retirees who also happen to be longtime buddies and the (mildly authoritative) public announcement voices heard at 110 airports and the New York City subway. The Verge has a great article profiling the two friends:

Conspiracy theorists will probably be delighted to learn that a smallish, 100 person company out of Louisville controls the announcement systems in just about every important public space in the United States. They do it for 110 airports including JFK, LAX, and Chicago O’Hare, all 26 buildings at the Capitol, the Mayo Clinic, the Kennedy Space Center, and the New York City subway system, just to name a handful. (The NYC MTA has a host of other voices for specific platform announcements; for instance, Charlie Pellett says, “stand clear of the closing doors.”) They also work worldwide, from China to Iceland and everywhere in between.

The company responsible for the voices, IED, short for Innovative Electronic Designs, is the preeminent supplier of what’s known as an automated paging system: networked, computer-controlled equipment that controls audio notifications for big complexes. Though competitors exist — Biamp, and QSC, for instance — IED is the main US player in this specialized sector. The company was founded in 1978, but its genesis really occurred in tandem with the birth of rock ‘n’ roll.

Hopkins’ voice isn’t what you’d expect from a paging system. It’s neither robotic, nor elegant and actressy, but rather, mirthful and folksy.

“They said, ‘Can you do a certain voice?’” Hopkins, now 64, remembers. “They wanted a veryhappy smiling voice! And I tried it.” The gig continued, and Hopkins was called back every time they created a new system.

Definitely click through the article and hear the two interviews with Carolyn and Jack embedded in the article.

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