MAX voices

Beaverton Transit Center. Doors to my left and right.
Please look both ways before crossing tracks.

Puertas a mi izquierda y a mi derecha.
Por favor, mire hacia ambos lados antes de cruzar las vías

Question: Who does the voices for MAX train announcements?

Hat tip to AJH1993 for bringing this up and requesting the info (and to whoever it was manning the TriMet twitter account that provided the names. The pics, background info, & audio clips I found by Googling). I’m posting about it here since it’s relevant to the scope this blog covers, and in the event anyone wonders in the future, it will be easier to link here for reference than it would be to dig through the busy TriMet twitter.

Jodi Lorimer

Jodi Lorimer – picture from her book’s website

Jodi Lorimer’s voice is the one you will hear most when riding MAX. Jodi announces the name (and door side) for each stop, welcomes you aboard, advises you to please use caution when crossing tracks, requires you to move for seniors and people with disabilities, tells you when it’s the last stop in Free Rail Zone and that this station at the end of the line, and thanks you for riding TriMet. You probably read that paragraph in her voice.

Her voice acting resume is extensive, covering both local and national work. An audio sample of the range of jobs she’s done (not including the MAX announcements) is available on her Voice Professionals page, so for all those times you’ve been riding the train and wondered what it would be like to hear the female voice speak in a French accent about boiling lobsters that have been hypnotized by an Indiglo watch (wait, was I the only person wondering that?) now’s your chance.

Hear more of Jodi

Jodi is also an author. Her book Dancing at the Edge of Death examines the spirituality and mythology of the labyrinth, and she narrates the book’s online trailer.

Finally, at her agency’s website, another voice demo is available. Which then begs the question, why do we not use the clip beginning at 1 min 6 sec on our trains (and a follow-up question – who does use that clip?!)

Enrique Andrade

Enrique Andrade (picture from Portland Story Theater’s website)

Enrique Andrade is the voice of the Spanish announcements on MAX. Readers of Portland Afoot may remember the Street Talk interview or wiki entry on Enrique from this past April. His work with TriMet also includes the narration of the Spanish-language version of “How To Ride”:

Outside of TriMet, you can hear Enrique doing work for Travel Belize, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Winco, and others.

Bill Stevens

No picture available, so instead, here’s a Yellow Line train

You may have noticed that not all of the announcements in English are done by Jodi (e.g. the external announcement “This is a Yellow Line Train to Expo Center” is a male voice). These alternative English announcements are done by Bill Stevens, who I had the least amount of luck finding information about online.

The story behind why Bill instead of Jodi did these announcements is quite interesting – evidently the Ambassador Hotel complained that Jodi’s voice was too loud, so TriMet brought in a male voice actor. Even though the decibel level is the same (and the decibel level that played Jodi’s voice was acceptable for city limits), the lower frequency of Bill’s voice was perceived as quieter and therefore satisfied the complaint. (source – TriMet Twitter)

You can hear some of Bill’s voice demos at his page on Voice123 as well at In Both Ears (who appears to represent all three of these voice professionals).

And there you  have it – the names behind the voices of your MAX commute. This is all, of course, working under the assumption that the APACU hasn’t fallen over and died, in which case the announcements are instead done by your friendly neighborhood rail operator.

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14 responses to “MAX voices

  1. Question (maybe for an upcoming post): As a daily Max rider, there is only one piece that I’m truly confused about. Some parts of track have what looks like a double track (inner set of tracks). It usually lasts for about 100 feet or so. See an example here: http://g.co/maps/muhfy . What is that?

  2. Thanks for putting faces behind the voices. I remember when the announcements were in the voices of TriMet employees. I especially liked the voice that said “The doors are closing!”

  3. Bill Stevens’ voice also used to be used when the had a lot of information to get announced in a short amount of time on the train. Like for instance, before the green line opened up, he would announce the stops for Gateway, Rose Qtr, Interstate Rose Qtr, Galleria, Library, PGE Park, Beaverton TC, and Millikan Way. He also used to announce “For your safety, cross only at designated crosswalks” up North on the yellow line. Most of the announcements, like you said, have been re-recorded by Jodi Lorimer.

    Some of the useless information you acquire from riding MAX so much for so many years :)

    • Oh that was Bill Stevens as well? I wasn’t sure if it was the same person.

      • I also hear him doing radio commercials daily. He is also the voice that says over the radio (for ClearChannel stations at least), “This is the weekly test of the emergency alert system.” He does ads for Fred Meyer very frequently and you’ll usually hear him at least one time sometime throughout a radio’s commercial break.

        I occasionally hear him on the TV too! :)

  4. Do you know about the streetcar. They sound slightly different to me.

  5. Just to let y’all know, I looked up the “Ambassador Hotel” and there is no such hotel in Downtown Portland. What is referenced here is probably the Ambassador Apartments across the street from the SW 6th & Madison St station. Just wanted to clarify that.

  6. You’ll be interested to know that the voices for automated announcements on the bus are computer generated. I can’t remember the name of the program they used for it, but I do remember that it was selected because it was freeware.

  7. Pingback: Throwing my free time under the bus | mass comm sandbox

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