18 December 2007

Foiled Again: NPR's Tweed Wall Of Silence

I'm a radio nut. I love me some radio. I'm a fan of WNYC —or NPR, whatever you wanna call it.

I love the the BBC World Service, I back All Things Considered, Car Talk and Brian Lehrer. I fancy The Infinite Mind, Jonathan Schwartz and Leonard Lopate. I'm down with Soterios Johnson weekday mornings, On The Media and A Prarie Home Companion on the weekends. I usually wrestle with waking up during Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me! and Studio 360. And who could forget This American Life and John Schaefer's Sound Check & New Sounds...

But, as you may know, I simply cannot stand the woman who does the underwriter's announcements.

And to professionally critique and oust this woman, I felt I should, at very least, know her name first. It's only fair; as going on and on about the "woman who does the underwriting announcements on NPR" sounds a bit disingenuous. Journalistically speaking, of course.

So I fired off a harmless, innocently inquisitive email to listenerservices@wnyc.org and here's how it went down:


-----Original Message-----
From: Gotham City Insider
Sent: Tuesday, December 11, 2007 1:47 PM
To: WNYC Listener Services
Subject: A Simple Query

Who voices all your announcements / commercials?
Can you tell me her name?
Thank you, kindly.



Dear Gotham City Insider,

Thank you for writing to WNYC Radio about our underwriting announcer.

Unfortunately, it's our policy to not share this announcer's name or contact information, in order to more strictly adhere to our guidelines for underwriting announcements as a public radio station. These guidelines include using no superlative, qualitative or comparative language in underwriting announcements, and the announcements can not contain inducements to buy or calls to action or mention price, discounts, or sales. By the same token, we prefer for the announcer to not be known as a "personality".

However, the announcer is a colleague of ours at the station, and we would be more than happy to pass on any feedback about her performance. So, please feel free to forward any correspondence to this email address, or to:

Listener Services
WNYC Radio
One Centre Street
New York, NY 10007

And thank you for taking the time to be an involved listener!

Warm regards,
[redacted]
WNYC Listener Services



Hmmmm...
Why is NPR hiding this woman in the shadows, I wondered.

Was it because others before me have inquired about her insane, robotic cadence? Is that why she is shrouded in mystery? Is NPR afraid of making public this overenunciating freak?

In addition to prohibiting the mystery announcer from using any 'superlative, qualitative or comparative language' do they also prohibit her from speaking like a mammal?

Perhaps employing the inflection of an emotive human being could somehow be misconstrued as an inducement to buy or a call to action?

I smell a conspiracy. A big, fat rat.

Why else would the kind WNYC Listener Services person send me 10,000 words on why no one is allowed to know this announcers name?

Perhaps she's actually a robot? That would explain everything, really. An NPR announcer droid where they simply enter the daily underwriter announcements and this cyborg spits it out?

God, it's all making sense now!


Soterios Johnson gets in early to fire up the announcer for another days broadcast

168 comments:

Anonymous said...

i'm trying to find out this woman's name too! Ugh I cannot stand to hear her too-close-to-the-mike announcements. Keep digging!

KS said...

I came upon this web-site because I googled "WNYC announcer" because I enjoy this announcer so much. I have no idea what it is - but I can't get enough of her. I find your posts and equally enthusiastic negative response fascinating. As someone who is very involved politically (for grins won't mention of what persuasion), I often run across vigorous disagreements, but they tend to run across many policy and inclination issues. To disagree so vigorously with a stranger on such an obscure subject is, as stated, fascinating. Well, I hope you get over your displeasure with our friend. KS

Gotham City Insider said...

"To disagree so vigorously with a stranger on such an obscure subject is, as stated, fascinating."

Its not an obscure subject to me because I am also a voice over artist and I tend to listen to radio a bit differently than most. Not unlike how chef may notice the subtle flavours others may not. And yes, her over enunciation drives me INSANE to this day.

Anonymous said...

She absolutely is a computer program. Ever listen to your Apple speak text - same cadence.

kensch said...

OK GCI - I get that it is less obscure to you. Still - for what it may be worth - I find most radio announcers vanilla and un-noteworthy. I find this one fascinating and endlessly enjoyable to listen to. And I find my level of interest (and your disdain) both strange and interesting. I actually look forward to hearing her. I don't get your "too close to the mike critique". I DO get the "computer program" critique, but I find that more stylistically unique than mechanical. I've asked her name too and didn't get the courtesy of a response. BTW - I noticed recently that she has a script that had more than one "and" in it. She pronounced one "and" and one "aynd" (like Upstate NY or maybe Mid-west). She also seems to pronounce Frence extremely well. Finally, she also lately seems to have become somewhat more conventional.
Well, I hope you get over this distaste.
Happy listening.
KS
PS - do you ever catch Betty Nguyen on CNN? If so, any reaction?

Gotham City Insider said...

I've worked in NYC radio all my life and I was groomed early on to sound like I was from Anytown, USA. Voice coaches give classes on Accent Reduction & Modification. Its one thing if a certain accent is called for in voice acting but when it comes to radio announcing which is an entirely different arena, accents are frowned upon, albeit somewhat surprisingly. Working at a NYC station I figured a regional NY accent would lend credence & credibility to my pitch, making it sound like it was coming from a real New Yorker. But, nope. They didn’t want that. Many station would rather you announce with absolutely no discernable dialect. Leave the interesting and quirky voices, styles, pronunciations and accents to the DJ's and the hosts but when it comes to announcing commercials and selling products they want you to sound warm, happy and plain. Not like a Noo Yawka, not like Oh Yaah Fargo Ey? none of that. I think this NPR girl takes it to the next level and sounds like a robot from a different planet.

From what I know, and have learned, NPR has some very strict underwriting policies. The girl we are speaking about is referred to as their “underwriting announcer.” Its obviously a back office co-worker who they groomed for the position. Due to these strict underwriting policies you never hear the NPR hosts “selling” anything. And I remember as far back as college radio at NYU when we weren’t allowed to make any claims or speak in a tone that could be construed as a “call to action” and that is precisely what our friend is doing but she is taking it to a retarded level and speaking like a robot devoid of any emotion reading text like its data input for her computer brain.

NPR basically explained to me why she talks like a robot in not so many words: “Unfortunately, it's our policy to not share this announcer's name or contact information, in order to more strictly adhere to our guidelines for underwriting announcements as a public radio station. These guidelines include using no superlative, qualitative or comparative language in underwriting announcements, and the announcements can not contain inducements to buy or calls to action or mention price, discounts, or sales. By the same token, we prefer for the announcer to not be known as a "personality".”

They WANT a robot. Get it? I wouldn’t be surprised if they TOLD her “talk like a robot. No emotion at all” because emotion is BAD when it comes to the guidelines for underwriting announcements at a public station.

the new objective said...

I also came to the post while researching this enigmatic voice-over artist. I have often thought that she must be a robot as well. And her foriegn accents are quite flawless, which makes it all so much stranger. My reaction had been "how is this woman on the air," and "I really think she's a robot, no wait, no.. yes, no..." but now I almost enjoy 'her' enunciation. It's kind of funny, at this point this shadowy announcer is more distinct as a personality than a more emotive reader might be. I particularly hate the add about Disney's the Little Mermaid, btw.

Gotham City Insider said...

I delved a bit further a few days ago and I think I may've figured out why she sounds so robotic...

WNYC in the News; the FCC and Underwriting on Public Radio

Anonymous said...

Hi

I work at WNYC. The voice of the female robot is an announcer that you've heard many times before in the course of their usual programming. It sounds robotic because they always start with the same 2 second drop-in "Support for WNYC is provided by" which is always the same. Also you should be aware that NPR and WNYC are not the same thing. WNYC pays NPR for their shows same as they do for PRI or other content providers. That's their only affiliation with NPR--no one at WNYC works for NPR.

Gotham City Insider said...

Woah.

Holy doublespeak, Batman!

In 92 words you've managed to say absolutely nothing at all.

Do you work for the White House?

The drop-in you speak of which prefaces all the underwriting announcements has nothing to do with her droid-like cadence. But, thanks for playing!

Anonymous said...

Woah, dude.

I'm the batman doublespeak guy that works at WNYC (and I've also been a guest on the Lopate Show). I can't stand the robot-like voices either. I think they strive for that type of professional entertainment. However, it's not a robot--it's real humans who record these underwriting credits. Like I said, that's WNYC's schtick. They've determined (right or wrong) that that's what the people want to hear. What else do you need to know?

Gotham City Insider said...

Haha! It's all good.

I'm confident you realize just about everything on my blog is penned with a wisp of sarcasm.

That said, I actually published a follow up to this article a few weeks ago in which I stumbled upon the conclusion that WNYC specifically uses your fembot colleague to do the underwriting announcements specifically because of the temperamental FCC. Which made a lot of sense, actually, after further researching the FCC's insanely intransigent rules for underwriting on public radio.

Surely you can't expect me to believe WNYC decided SHE is what people WANT to hear!? I'd dare say that is quite improbable as her voice has the same staccato stream as Dr. Sbaitso, the old school MS DOS-based artificial intelligence program; which is far from engaging or enchanting.

I would safely surmise your humanoid colleague was chosen (or instructed to) for her ability to speak sans human emotion to allay the notoriously fastidious Federal Communications Commission.

WNYC in the News; the FCC and Underwriting on Public Radio

Anonymous said...

I'm aware of the FCC pay-off (bribe?) regarding the ambigious funding credit but I can assure you that it doesn't figure in to the fembot voice. Every weeknight between 11 and 12 on the AM station, NYC broadcasts the audio portion of the Jim Lehrer Report complete with public tv underwriting credits which go much further in the hyperbole department than you're typically allowed to in public radio. As mentioned before, that two second drop-in is always EXACTLY THE SAME so I think that adds to the robotic nature of the funding credit. The male and female announcers who do the funding credits can also be heard in other on air capacities at the station such as doing news, hosting shows, etc. The suits at NYC aren't deliberately trying for a robot voice thing but because of their slavish devotion to vanilla professionalism, the tone of the credits are what they have determined are appropriate for the listeners and more importantly the advertisers (sorry-- "underwiters").

To the batcave!

Gotham City Insider said...

No, no, spin doctor ;), I am referring to ONE and only ONE voice/announcer. Said announcer is a woman. I have an inkling that she may or may not be of Asian persuasion. And I have never heard anyone speak with such an insane cadence, ever. (save for a computer)

I know no other underwriting announcers or these other late night announcements you speak of. The woman/announcer in question can be heard throughout the day. She is not the voice of another show. Her voice is only heard for these underwriter announcements.

Her soulless inflection has absolutely nothing to do with this two second drop-in you keep alluding to so STOP! Her bizarre style has EVERYTHING to do with the way she pronounces and over enunciates every single syllable of every single word. Like a speech therapist on heroin.

I am rattled by the fact that the FCC investigation had nothing to do with the need for a robotic voice. This is very disturbing. Are you telling me this woman CHOOSES to speak like this?! Are you telling me WNYC tried out some other people and chose HER!?! I can't imagine she has many friends if this is how she speaks when the microphones aren't on.

Stop spinning and making fog.

Are YOU the announcer?!??!?!!

Anonymous said...

And it's not just her hyper-enunciation, it's that ever present hint of a smile. It sends me straight, and with great speed, up the wall and onto the ceiling. It's not uncommon for an announcer to add bit of a smile, but "she" finds something nearly chuckle-worthy within everything she "reads." Am I alone in hearing this? (Well, yes, I'm often alone when I hear it, but I mean...)

Even if she is one of us flesh 'n blood types, she is most certainly and without a doubt a c-c-c-omputer.

Z

Bix Gomez said...

I also came upon your blog by googling "WNYC announcer".

I don't know what it is about that voice.

On the one hand, I find it nearly unbearable -- yes, maybe too close to the microphone, too intimate perhaps. She sounds a bit nasal -- perhaps she is feeling a bit under the weather? Do I want to offer her a tissue? Or, since she sounds a bit "too close", do I subconsciously feel in danger of catching her cold?

Now that I know there is a growing community of WNYC Announcer Obsessives, I can not wait to hear that voice again, and be driven up the wall one more time!

Blueplate said...

Strangely, NPR itself does not have such a restriction. They provide the biography of their funding credits reader, on their website:

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=2101277

They even used him once (by name) in a news story on "All Things Considered".

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=1777328

Anonymous said...

No, we're not talking about Frank Tavares.

We're talking about a woman. She sounds Asian. Definitely not Frank. I think thats a very old link.

Anonymous said...

Ugh, I cannot stand that woman's voice. Part of it is the false "hint of a smile" (which is also what drives me crazy about Clayelle Dalferes on QXR). That in combination with the maniacal, robotic quality of her voice---so much like that voice who answers when you call certain automated numbers, like Orbitz or directory assistance..."ahhhI'm sorry. I didn't understand you." How can the people at the station bear it? Has she taken over? then again, they do also have the dreaded "The Takeaway....."

Anonymous said...

The other night I was watching "Forgotten Ellis Island" on PBS and thought I heard that same voice. The credits listed Mary McKitrick, and some of the samples on her website sounded a lot like what you've been describing...

Gotham City Insider said...

Hmmm, good work. I'm going to investigate this Mary McKitrick. She does sound a lot like the WNYC girl but the vibe I got from the poking around I have done with NPR is that its one of their own - someone who works there. I'd be very surprised if they were paying a VO talent to voice their not-for-profit spots. The voice of NPR is probably the voice of the night receptionist or something.

Gotham City Insider said...

Spoke with Mary C. McKitrick. Its not her. Foiled again!

MCM Voices said...

I got wind of this thread and read it with great interest, thinking about the announcements lady at our local public radio station who also sounds like a robot, emphasizing completely random words as if she had no idea what she was saying. “Right on” I says to myself as Gotham City Insider echos all my own sentiments about this species of announcer. I’ve even been thinking lately, how can I get them to can that woman and hire me instead? I can sound impartial while still giving meaning to Stoneyfield Farms yogurt!!!!

And then I get to the end of the thread and find that SOMEBODY THINKS I SOUND LIKE ANNOYING WNYC ANNOUNCER LADY!!! OMG!! Oh death come close mine eyes and where is thy ruddy sting??? It was like expecting a kiss and getting an enema! Oh ye of anonymity – show thyselves, and I will engage you!! Put ‘em up, put ‘em up!!!

Mary McKitrick

Mishahu said...

Excuse me? Mary McKitrick sounds robotic? Do you have cotton in your ears? Her well nuanced narrations are a pleasure to listen to and her character work is nothing less than wonderful.

Drew Hadwal said...

For shame “anonymous” for using the cloak of obscurity to malign my good friend and colleague, Mary McKitrick! To this I say, “Cry 'Havoc,' and let slip the dogs of war; That this foul deed shall smell above the earth…” You’ve certainly managed to foul the air in this place with your lurking cowardice. I suggest you quietly slink back into the primordial ooze from whence you came.

DB Cooper said...

Mary doesn't need me to defend her, heaven knows—but I must say if you want someone to narrate excruciatingly technical medical texts, and make you relaxed because you can tell she "gets it", there's no better person than MCM.

She's got a pretty spiffy VO palette. You can hear the whole spectrum on her website. Anonymous apparently didn't do much listening.

Thanks for the press, though! I'm just glad you spelled her name right.

Liz de Nesnera said...

Mary McKitrick, an awesome voice talent who voiced parts of Forgotten Ellis Island, is an amazing voiceover artist! MCM rocks!

Yep...good SEO for Mary!;-)

Gotham City Insider said...

Ok. Enough.

Edo Peters said...

Luckily, talent still gets recognized... and Mary is amongst the very best in female voiceover talent; period. Could it be possible, Gotham City Insider, that her client specifically ASKED her to voice the work that way? In that case (of which I'm pretty sure BTW) she did a fantastic job. Just ask Mary and she'll deliver. By all means... DELIVERY is what makes voiceover artist stand out from just voices...

I credit her for her versatility. She's awesome!

Hail Mary! ;-)


Regards from sunny CuraƧao,
NETHERLANDS ANTILLES

CCP said...

NOW you cry "enough" when the attention is turned back to you? It's not very gutsy to take potshots at people from a wall of sarcastic anonymity. Insider or not, your comments and the many "me too" comments that follow just smack of schoolyard bullying and simple jealousy. I'm happy to come here and defend a VO talent who didn't ask for your snark and didn't deserve it... and I join my friends DB, Edo and others in suggesting that you and your posse owe the NPR talent AND Mary McKitrick an apology for your boorish commentary.

Congrats "Insider" and posse. You just made fools out of yourselves for the entire world to see, anonymous or not.

Gotham City Insider said...

Yawn. Any of you guys know a good remedy for recurring hiccups?

Balcony Gal said...

The cure wouldn't be needed if you, as a fellow voice talent as you say you are, hadn't brought it up in the first place. As a VO, you should certainly know that a client won't use your voice if they didn't like it or if they didn't have reason. And if they want you to sound a certain way then you do it. Or do you not understand the voice over world?

Of course I, too, am a fan of MCM. She has a voice that can do wonders.

Gotham City Insider said...

Wait, Mary McKitrick gave me the hiccups?!

Bix Gomez said...

OK, so, we have established that WNYC voice is not that of Mary McKitrick. I do agree, however, that she does sound a lot like Mary. Mary is obviously more experienced, she has a slightly higher voice, more expressive. But the mystery remains -- who is the voice of WNYC?

Anonymous said...

I, too, have always had the impression that it was someone plucked from the back office. Someone hyper-aware of her own voice, but who never took that next step to train as a VO artist. The kind of person whom small-town drama teachers are always telling, "Hey, you have a great voice. You should do something with that!" And when the station manager starts trolling the accounting department for a new underwriting announcer, says, "Yyyyeesss! I cccann ddoo thattt."

I actually don't hate her voice like Gotham City Insider does. But I do find it hypnotic, and not in the best way. I have a long drive to and from work, and I am exhausted both ways. That voice makes my eyes do cartoon swirlies when it comes on, and I am almost sent into a deep sleep behind the wheel. Weird.

ariodante38 said...

I stumbled upon this site because I, too, had to believe that there were others driven up the wall by this underwriter announcer's affect...it has gotten to the point where I can't listen to WNYC because hearing her oddly cheerful, strangely mechanical iterations of underwriter blurbs every ten minutes has simply become too irritating. I was literally guffawing in shock while out in public and listening to WNYC on the headphones at the sheer bizarreness of her renderings. Too many hours of Morning Edition and All Things Considered were spoiled by the relentless interspersing of her robotic tones. She sounds like a nice enough sort, just not in front of a microphone. Yet whenever I give WNYC another try, there she is again, still doing her thing....

Anonymous said...

I cannot believe I’ve finally found this thread, having conducted several fruitless searches of the WNYC website and the web in hopes of satisfying my morbid curiosity concerning WHO could possibly fabricate this annoying style of pronunciation. It’s like chalk on a blackboard, especially in the confines of a car. Her clipped treatment of web addresses ending in “dawt cuom” and “dawt ork” simply drives me round the bend. My family laughs because I have to flip off the radio, change the channel, or scream with my fingers in my ears until she is off the air. This is dangerous behavior for anyone operating a moving vehicle. I adore WNYC and have been a longtime member, but I cannot understand why they retain this individual in this capacity, or don’t just tell her to get over herself, already. I wouldn’t want to be responsible for yet another out-of-work NYer, but as the “underwriting announcer,” she does the station’s underwriters a disservice, because everyone is tuning out when announcer girl chimes in.

Thanks for the opportunity to vent on this. I feel better already.

Anonymous said...

And yet she persists. In fact, I think the station has increased the number of spots in which this hideous voice appears. Why? WHY? Unless....unless it is purposeful. Yes. That's it! A fiendishly clever plot to take over the entire city.....

Yonkers Sidecar said...

I'm so happy I'm not alone. I was reassured when Leonard Lopate had Deborah Winger as a guest last summer, and she asked about the underwriter announcer: "Is that a computer?" apparently, she hates the voice as well. It is absoultely the most annoying voice I've ever heard on WNYC (or anywhere). The sticky staccato quality of her voice--as if you were sitting inside her mouth--is absolutely unbearable. I have a physical reaction when she comes on the radio. I can't reach the dial fast enough to turn down the volume.
FELLOW LISTENERS: How can we make this stop? Should we start writing to WNYC? Let's start a campaign...we have to stop the insanity.

Anonymous said...

Let's everyone email Jennifer Houlihan the Director of Publicity at WNYC:

jhoulihan@wnyc.org

Direct her to this blog so she will see just how many of us feel the same way!

I can't imagine we are alone.

Yonkers Sidecar said...

I sent a comment to WNYC (but not to the publicity person Anonymous mentioned, as that address was posed after I'd already sent the e-mail to WNYC Listener Services.)

I heard back from them today:

"Dear Carolyn,
We understand that you do not like the voice of our current female underwriting announcer. Please know that all feedback, whether positive or negative, is valuable to us; your comments have been recorded, and I will pass them along to our senior staff. The tone and pace in which they are read are to adhere to the guidelines set forth by the FCC, stating that underwriting announcements for for-profit sponsors do not use superlative, qualitative or comparative language; contain inducements to buy or calls to action; or mention price, discounts, or sales. You may also notice that the character or tone of underwriting announcements matches the character of our programming.

Regards,

Sara-Rivka Davidson
WNYC Listener Services"

Yes, yes...we understand the underwriting announcement issues...but I would rather hear a robot than this woman's voice!

I'm at my wit's end.

Anonymous said...

Me too! At least you got a reply from WYNC, Yonkers Sidecar, albeit one that more or less dismissed the complaints about this announcer's work as a trivial idiosyncracy (as though they know far better than their listeners what belongs on the radio; meanwhile this whole episode is throwing that assumption into grave question); my e-mail messages to WYNC have gone unanswered. It really is very frustrating. Had Brian Lehrer on this morning, his progran is absolutely indispensable radio, and robot announcer came on every ten minutes, a painful, jarring nonsequitur disrupting brilliant programming. I am less likely to patronize the underwriters after she describes them. Fortunately, the "character or tone of underwriting announcements" do not "match the character" of WNYC's programming.
But apparently WNYC management cares not a whit about our opinions, because they know better than do we, the lowly listeners.

John said...

I found this blog while searching for the woman's name that you've been "discussing". I absolutely LOVE her voice. It's nice to hear a clear, serene sounding voice during my commute to and from work. I only wish more people had an almost flawless speech cadence in this epoch of language butchery and fragmented thought. Hopefully I'll have the pleasure of complimenting her directly someday.

Anonymous said...

John: I am sorry but you are quite obviously eihter directly related to the announcer, a close friend of hers or a WNYC employee. But, thanks for playing!

John said...

I'm not related to, or even have a clue who the woman is, and I'm not affiliated with WNYC or any radio staion. I do have a music career (including vocal) that spans over 40 years of both classical and contemporary genres which included road tours with notable artists. So you can assume what you like, but I trust my "ear" and still think that her voice is praiseworthy. BTW, I don't just play, I succeed.

Tracey said...

I am so glad I found this blog. Our whole family comments on this announcer. My teenaged daughter was firmly convinced the announcer was hearing impaired because of her monotone delivery. I don't mind the cadence as much as the whispering snake-like hiss at the end of every other word. It reminds me of Ka from the Disney movie The Jungle Book. My husband has a wonderful ability to tune out things that to which he doesn't want to listen. What a gift! I still don't understand why the secrecy behind her identity. How can revealing who she is represent a violation of the FCC rules....I vote "Robot"

Jim Garber said...

Man, I hope no one does find out who this woman is. If i were her I would fear for her life. :-)

I always wondered if she talks that way to her family or if it is indeed an affect... you know..."How was your day, dear?" and then ... the voice...

At first I did like and and was intrigued but now I do cringe... still sort of interested how a human can talk that way.

Yonkers_Sidecar said...

Oh, Glorious DAY! I woke up today to notice that woman's voice has been replaced by a man's voice! "IS it true?" I thought...I continued listening...it IS true! She's gone. I heard one announcement in her voice between 7 and 9 a.m.
I can't tell you how much better my morning went!

YAH HOO!

Anonymous said...

Let's hope so.... in the past, though,
she has apparently gone on vacation
for a week or two, rendering her relatively
absent from the airwaves, only to return...
I am very concerned that her dulcet tones
will be all over the new WQXR as well,
which would be most unfortunate,

Gotham City Insider said...

OK wait wait wait. This is BIG news; HUGE news if it is true. Can we get some more confirmations? If so, I think we need to throw a party for everyone who posted comments to this entry. We were obviously instrumental in her being demoted back to the mailroom or ad sales where she should be seen and not heard.

Gotham City Insider said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gotham City Insider said...

Did We Depose The Droid?!

Anonymous said...

I, too, had gotten my hopes up, and then, I heard it. The voice. She's baaaack....

Anonymous said...

As I'm sure we're all aware, she's been back with a vengeance since early this week. I just love the way she says "pee-nest" for "pianist" in those current announcements. Was hoping against hope over the last few weeks that we had finally been heeded--and was absolutely reveling in how spectacular WNYC sounded sans her robo-tones every ten minutes--but clearly she has fans in high places at the station. Sigh.....

Anonymous said...

Wow. I can't believe I found this discussion. I commute to and from the city in my car and this woman's voice is the most irritating thing I've ever heard.

There are three components of her voice that are particularly grating, and unprofessional. They have nothing to do with the FCC guidelines for underwriting announcements:

* Her proximity to the microphone. She is eating it. Back off, sister.

* Her pronunciation. Whoever praised her earlier is on crack. "Dot Org" is repeatedly pronounced "Dot Ork". Words with consonants that run together are spread like peanut butter. "James Smith" becomes "Jameszzmith".

* The 'smile' in her voice.

Though I don't do it for a living, I have done enough voice-over work for this to drive me up the freaking wall. I mute my radio whenever her voice pops up. She's probably a very nice young woman, but please - put her back behind a computer.

One of the few blights I can find on an otherwise fantastic radio station.

Anonymous said...

I think she is an voice actress who does foreign accents as part of her repertoire.

i found a candidate on voice123 who lists wnyc in radio her experience.

Jayson Elliot said...

I'm glad to find that I'm not alone in my inability to listen to this bizarre underwriting announcer.

It's gotten to the point that I mute the radio whenever she comes on, waiting a couple minutes before daring to listen again.

I used to skip over her on WNYC podcasts, but I've just given up and stopped listening to their podcasts, since there are so many others out there that I can choose instead.

I was a regular subscriber to public radio when I lived in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Chicago. In the eight years that I've lived in New York, however, I've stopped giving money to public radio. I just can't send money to a station that would force an announcer like that on its listeners.

I know it's not an FCC thing, because no other public radio station I've listened to has had anyone like her. She simply does not know how to speak on the radio.

The day she is gone from WNYC, I will give the biggest donation I can afford on the spot.

Anonymous said...

WNYC is set to take over WQXR. Will her grating tones be omnipresent on that station as well?

Anonymous said...

her hideous tones continue to dominate the wnyc airwaves. and if possible, she's even worse. i cannot listen to this station any more. i pray she won't be part of the new wqxr. I can't imagine sponsors want that voice to be representing their product. perhaps the only way is to contact the contributors.......

Tony M said...

Absolutely atrocious! This woman is the bane of my aural existence and I'm happy to learn I'm not alone.

Besides what everyone else has already mentioned, the robotic down-beat. on each and every. single pause. is. enough to. drive me. insane.

AGGGHHHHHHH!

Anonymous said...

She seems to have added a babyish tone to her stylings, making her constant interruptions not only annoying, but downright demonic. Like Damien. Could she be someone's demented offspring?

Sarah said...

My boyfriend found this post for me because of my constant complaining about this woman. I mute the radio every time she comes on!! I'm not sure if anyone has said something similar, but I think she sounds like she's holding her breath or something. And also she's sort of nasally...and I agree with the person who said she sounds hyper aware of her own voice. She sounds nice though, so I feel mean. But it is really driving me crazy...sorry nasally robot.

Anonymous said...

I hate that voice with every fiber of my being.

Anonymous said...

"That voice" is a quite extraordinary, nails-on-the-chalk board combination of overly miked, earnest, smug, and ignorant--except to the management of WNYC, which apparently thinks it is reaching some kind of meta-demographic of young, diverse hipster with "that voice" (NOT!)--meanwhile we all suffer/cringe/guffaw/turn down the radio (my preferred option when the dial is accessible), and it's such a shame because WNYC is such a treasure otherwise.

Gotham City Insider said...

I heard "The Voice" in an old-school radio commercial "skit" yesterday on NPR. I forget what it was for but keep your ears open for it. It's hysterical.

Anonymous said...

Is this the voice of the 'datapipe.com' and, more recently, the Austria vacations spots?

Anonymous said...

I sort of fell on this thread because a friend of mine was amazed at how much "icky went in to the posts" about the underwritter for WNYC. My response: NO WAY! How can people hate someone without even knowing who they are, what their beliefs are, what they look like, etc. She could be a mother, or a teacher, or, well, anyone. BUT, I guess not having a face to put to the voice makes it much easier to make fun and critique someone. I've heard the old adage that there is a reason that people are in radio and not TV. I can say that the young woman you all despise so much is a kind, caring individual that never puts herself before others. If you know her personally, then fine, let it rip (but if you do know her, I assure you, you would have nothing but glowing things to say about her) but if not, find something more important to care about. Like maybe, oh...the things that the personalities actually talk about on the radio. I, however, have nothing but great things to say about her.

Anonymous said...

Ah, robot voice defender (or perhaps you are the Voice herself???). Please understand, we have no quarrel with the person behind the hideous voice. She (you?) may well possess those attributes you list so glowingly. But I think we can all agree that one essential quality for radio is a decent voice. And she (you?) has (have) an incredibly annoying speaking style. Grating, even. Dare I say maddening? Surely, a person with the sterling qualities you describe would not want to torment WNYC's listeners any further.

Anonymous said...

I want to echo the previous poster's comment. I don't think any of the complaints here are busting this announcer as a person - she is probably a lovely human being who is charitable, considerate and kind.

And that has nothing to do with the fact that she has no business announcing on the radio. See above for the complaints on her delivery. I wish her all the best in the world, but PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, WNYC, TAKE HER OFF THE AIR!

Anonymous said...

I am a long-time WNYC listener. Does anyone remember the previous announcer? I do because some years ago when she was replaced by this current voice I was upset to hear her go. She was a voice of a strong, confident authoratative woman. Not a girl voice like this current one and she was neutral in a good way. It was really something. I was impressed with her quality as I'm a v.o. professional too.

Julia said...

I found this post when I googled WNYC underwriter announcer. I am so glad that I am not the only person who cannot stand the sound of this woman's voice. I have to turn the radio off during her announcements. My theory is that she must be responsible for corporate underwriting and securing underwriters. She can't be hired just to do the voice overs.

Anonymous said...

The effect of this girly's voice on my ears is the aural equivalent of digging a fingernail into my gums; delicious pain. Come on, you KNOW she's cute as hell. I think we cyber-stalkers ought to be ashamed that we can't figure out which deep, dark, deserted subway stop she frequents.

Anonymous said...

IMHO, all her cadences are the same--clipped and downbeat at the end of the sentence, repetitive, and lacking in variety with lots of dead sounding spots. It's really time for someone new.

Anonymous said...

Wow, Stumbled across this forum in searching for her identity, and I'm amazed at so many negative reactions!

I actually confess to having a huge radio crush on her lovely voice! I love the "smile" that other people perceive, and apparently despise...

I think of it as her "Mona Lisa voice"

WNYC lady, are you single? :-)

Anonymous said...

Somebody, please: Instead of pledging money to WNYC this go-round, offer the station your voice talents gratis. Gain great voice exposure, save the station some money, save listeners' sanity.

Mark said...

Count me in. Can't stand that creepily manic yet auto-piloted delivery, and I too rush to turn her down, and sometimes off, whenever she comes on -- seemingly every 3 minutes.

But I really hope that -- for all the jokey banter on this thread -- you guys are making a point of letting them know how seriously annoying you find her. At least 3 longtime listeners I know now refuse to tune-in because of her, so the station should know that she's actually become something of a liability for them.

Gotham City Insider said...

I did donate this time around - just because aside from her, I do love the station and always give when I can.

That said, I have sent this thread to several of the hosts, several times but I have never heard anything back.

Maybe we should all start emailing them and cut pasting the link in the messages.

http://www.gothamcityinsider.com/2007/12/foiled-again-nprs-tweed-wall-of-silence.html

Mark said...

Will do. Thanks much for the shared venting outlet. And to think... here we all were, believing ourselves to be quite alone, going slowly bonkers in our own little auricular hell!

Anonymous said...

She has made only occasional appearances--perhaps one announcement per hour--for the last week and a half. What a blissful, aurally satisfying interlude, as the high quality of WNYC's programs have flowed unimpeded! Oh, that this might be the wave of the future!

Major Relief said...

YES!

GCI, seems like you finally managed to breach that Tweed Wall! We hereby collectively award you the Aerial Achievement Medal, Sir.

Anonymous said...

Uh-oh! Spoke too soon. She's back with a vengeance (sob).

Anonymous said...

She's baaaaaack.

Anonymous said...

Yep. Like a goddamn phoenix.

Martal said...

Dear fellow wall climbers - Be sure to let both the station and the community board know how unhappy you are that she's back:

listenerservices@wnyc.org

http://www.wnyc.org/about/cab/feedback/form

And if any of you can stand to listen to her long enough to compile the list (my own absolute limit is 2 delirious gushes before I hit 'mute'), we should warn their ill-served underwriters that she's causing us to tune them out.

Anonymous said...

Not only is she back, she seems to have spawned! There appears to be a second droid in the mix. I fear the worst----WNYC has been taken over. By aliens. Save yourselves!!

Gotham City Insider said...

Someone must have either gotten her wet or fed her after midnight! aggghhh

Anonymous said...

She (they???) are worse than ever. Cannot listen to the station. Why won't they stop?

Anonymous said...

it is the same person who did the voice-over for that gevalia coffee tv ad 5 years ago.

Anonymous said...

gevalia coffee person

Anonymous said...

The voice is worse than ever. Why, why, WHY????

Anonymous said...

Wow... I cannot believe out of all these comments, only 2-3 people like this woman's voice. Well, you can increase that number by one because I absolutely love it in every way!

I wish I had a "War and Peace" audio book with her voice... that would be heaven! I would listen to it every night before bed to put me in a relaxed mood.

FYI... I am NOT being sarcastic. I love this woman's voice and have also been trying to find out who she is. I hope we can find out soon to put an end to the mystery. I have to say that she really does sound a lot like Mary McKitrick. I wonder if there are legal reasons why Mary can't admit to it? Who knows...

Keep up the good work, WNYC voice lady! :)

Johann said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Oh, great. Now she's getting her family to write in.

Anonymous said...

Wow, Johann, I couldn't disagree with you more. And it would be one thing if she had a distinct accent - Hispanic, French, Southern US... anything. Instead, it's just a random mangling of consonants all over the place with that irritating 'smile' in her voice.

It's not provocative; it's amateur. There is a difference.

Haddy Nuff said...

But she IS provocative, Anon, and that's the problem. She's a breathy, smiley, silky-voiced 'little-girl' temptress that acts all fake-jazzed about flooring and 'Shakespeare in the Park' like it was chocolate ice cream or a Disneyland thrill ride, for Pete's sake. It would be creepy enough on commercial TV, but on WNYC....!!! Though, to be fair, it's not her that we should be berating, so much as those that pay her to so shamelessly... fain dementedly... froth about their ill-served sponsors.

But I'd grown weary of hearing about the state-of-the-world anyway, both micro and macro-cosmically, so now happily listen to my favorite music of the last few decades on Pandora instead. Buh-bye, WNYC! You really blew this one.

Anonymous said...

Ha ha ha ha ha. I too Googled WNYC female announcer and found this and it is all the more amazing to me for the following reasons: I thought I was the only person who thought this and I was doubting my criticalness. I actually CALLED the station a year or two ago to ask and they didn't return my call. then I posted on the site "Who is the robot voice?" So I really cracked up when I read at the top of this thread the word robot! I too said for sure it's got to be an Asian woman. And also, I thought it was an amateur not professional. It just shows you how alike people react and it must be true that for every 1 person that calls in to a radio talk show, there are 100 at home with the same opinion that never calls. I was not repulsed by the voice but I thought it was extremely odd. I don't hear the smile in the voice, I hear someone overenunciating but I'm imagining someone sucking their own big wet lips and cranking each word out at a very even pace; very... robotic! I knew it's a human being not a robot, but to me, too, it seems to follow the cadance of the text to speech voices on computers; too evenly spaced. Regarding Asian, if you live in NYC and speak to Asians or blacks or whatever,eventually you can tell, regardless of how well someone has gotten rid of their accent. I bet it's the shape of their mouth or whatever. You just can tell. Side note: since that call a year ago, she's changed her roboticness a bit. Listen you'll see. It's a little less robotic and more lilting. Also regarding WNYC's statement about lack of inflection how to they justify all their ads for that Tomato sauce and cereal!? Even a robot can't evade that issue! Well I guess when you think charity=radio station, we all get what we deserve. Charity is for poor people. Not for another segment of "The Delicious Dish!"

Anonymous said...

During my mother-in-law's long final illness my wife and I visited her frequently in Queens (from San Francisco) and I often had a hard time getting to sleep. I listened to WNYC well into the morning hours with good earphones, and each time the woman in question was on air I was mesmerized. I don't know if my reaction was positive or negative, but I was definitely fascinated. I'm very sensitive to the quality of voices, and no voice I can think of has ever had this effect on me. That is why, two years after my last visit to New York, I've found myself thinking of that voice when I should be working, and Googling "WNYC female announcer".

I don't like the nastiness of the "get her fired" faction here. I prefer her unique vocal quality to the run-of-the-mill radio voice; it's strange and almost magical. There ain't enough magic these days.

Anonymous said...

I understand the fact that you like her voice; but you need to understand that many of the qualities you find 'magical' make other listeners want to poke their eyes out. I literally couldn't tell you who underwrites WNYC's programming these days, because I jam the volume down as soon as I hear her voice.

By the way - the 'robotic' quality that I think many of you are picking up on is a result of editing in Pro Tools (or whatever they use). They pull all the 'air' out of the sentence phrasing, so it sounds run-on and mechanical. Which means you get an even more rapid-fire version of her mispronunciation of the English language. :-p

Dittohead said...

"..... I literally couldn't tell you who underwrites WNYC's programming these days...."

Totally! Neither are they getting a penny out of me (or many others, apparently) while she continues to single-voicedly ruin so many people's 'listening pleasure', squeezed-in sneakily as she now is either side of promos, so we get zapped again just when we think it's safe to turn up the volume, oh Mercy!

But those in charge obviously agree that she's 'magical', as in love with her unendurably treacly effusions as she clearly is herself . "Why? why?? why???" is right, as an earlier fellow sufferer so succinctly put it.

Anonymous said...

I cannot abide the Voice. It's like she holds her breath, and tries really, really hard to enunciate, but in a really fake, horribly irritating way. Once again, I did not donate to WNYC (ok, ok I gave to WQXR, but on the condition that they NEVER, EVER USE HER!!!). If I were one of the businesses that underwrites WNYC, I would not want that horrid voice speaking for me. Why must they do this to us? WHY? Is she related to someone? Does she have incriminating photos of someone important?

Anonymous said...

I have no idea why WNYC continues to employ this hideous excuse of a voice. I haven't donated to the station since she began and don't intend to again until my ears have healed. I have to admit that she has gotten better, but that's not to say she's anywhere near becoming bearable.

Philip said...

A new poster here, after googling WNYC announcer. I have also left messages on WNYC'S web site asking who on earth is this automoton they employ. I do like fembot even better. Needless to say, no response. I believe it is a synthetic, computerized disembodied voice.

And speaking of voices (not to change the subject), am I the only person who cringes when they hear Anthony Dias Blue on WCBS radio as he butchers the French language with his unremittingly American accent?

Frank B said...

I googled 'npr underwriting ad' and ended up here. I was thrilled to see that there are others who feel the same way! That woman drives me NUTS! She is beyond "robotic." It's ORWELLIAN! I can't STAND her! And she comes on so damn frequently, I want to throw my radio into the wall! Too bad, because I really like some of their programs, eg, Jonathan Schwartz. I wrote WNYC about this over a year ago, and got the exact same response. I'm convinced that they are hiding something (like maybe this woman is some exec's daughter?), because other non-commercial radio stations don't have such strict guidelines with their announcements. And let me repeat...i HATE this woman's voice!

Anonymous said...

I was so relieved to see all these posts about that hideous voice! I was beginning to thing I was going nuts! "Is it ME?" I kept asking myself. That woman (or robot)has the most irritating voice I've ever heard. I start muting even BEFORE she comes on! I can sense when they're going to run a spot. But lately, I've tuned out completely. Too bad, because NYC has some decent programming, like "The Moth" story hour, and Jonathan Schwartz.
I've written to the station twice, and received exactly the same response you did.
(Frank, Massapequa NY)

earshot said...

Wow- this dialog has been running for three years. Too funny. I must say though, I find her voice strange and sexy. Her enuciation is over the top which makes me think maybe she went to an all-girl prep or charm school.
There is a new membership spot being aired in which she 'acts'. A man is reading personal ads out loud to find her a mate. After she passes on the first two, the man reads one from an WNYC sustaining member, she replies, 'ooooooo, mama liiiike'. Very dorky but hot. My endless search for a visual sent me here.

There are 3 images I imagine.

1. I have also long pictured someone asian for the reasons that have already been sited (most likely).

2. Young bookish and pale. Horn-rimmed glasses on a long thin nose.

3. My favorite-- Sean Young in Bladerunner.
(robot, yes, but extremely humanoid)

Anonymous said...

She is UNBEARABLE. The companies who give good money for her to announce their products should know that I would never, ever purchase anything she peddles, including a pajama gram! She is clearly someone's relative, or she has compromising photos of someone.

Anonymous said...

I inquired about this and she is one of their many employees in another area so she was not just hired to be an underwriting announcer. I wish she could learn about basic cadences by even listening to the male underwriting announcer who they use a bit less than her. He is also another employee there which I learned from inquiring too. One of the most annoying things is her abruptness at the end of sentences. Anyone else notice that?

Christina said...

This has been making me want to hit my radio with bricks for years now. It comforts me to know that there are so many of you out there who die a little inside along with me every time she comes on.

The smile.... it kills me. It comes from nowhere. Make it go away. It's like one long, moan from a half-deaf person hunched over the microphone on the verge of saying HEEEE HEEE HEEE, TEEE HEE at us. I feel like she's speaking to us like we're her baby robots. This is her attempt at cooing.

I've lived elsewhere, but grew up in NYC. Noone in my public radio travels has sounded this absurd, and previous announcers have always been unabrasive. Whose daughter is this? Someone high up.

She is driving me to madness. When I develop eye twitches, I'm going to flip out.

In Solidarity...

Anonymous said...

Are we talking about the same person--I find her voice very pleasant and pleasing to listen to. It is the ONLY way I can listen to underwriter after boring underwriter. And what do you critics of her "cadence" expect? Unbridled passion and excitement about the Mormon Church, MOMA, and Tekserve? The person reading sponsorships should be unobtrusive and non-offensive. She does her job very well.

Anonymous said...

Oh god! I thought I was the only one driven to homicidal distraction by the sound of that yucky voice! Each time there's a break, I desperately turn off the radio. But she never lets up. It's a nightmare. Maybe the next time there's a fundraiser, I'll tie my donation to a promise that she'll be replaced. Fat chance of that!!

Still boycotting said...

Anon asked "And what do you critics of her "cadence" expect? Unbridled passion and excitement...."

I think you're misunderstanding our problem with her delivery; well, in my case ex-problem, though I check-in periodically to see if we've finally, FINALLY, been heard!

When we say 'robotic', it's not that flat emotionless monotone that the word generally suggests, so much as the artificiality of Synthesized Speech; in this case speech that has been specifically designed to come across as unswervingly cheery and upbeat (think Amtrak), but - to me at least - sounds both fake and creepilly winsome. The fact that this is clearly a real person (if Pro-tool edited, as one poster suggested), and no doubt a genuinely nice and sincere one at that, doesn't unfortunately diminish my and fellow sufferers' inexplicably visceral aversion to her voice, speech patterns, enunciation, and pronunciation.

Maybe a trained psychologist could explain these polar opposite responses to her? Anyone? I'm just as puzzled as Anonymous here, who - let's face it - must be very much in the majority, otherwise our aural nemesis wouln't still be there after all these years, chipper and nerve-jangling as ever (sob/scream).

Anonymous said...

And what do you critics of her "cadence" expect? Unbridled passion and excitement about the Mormon Church, MOMA, and Tekserve?

No. We expect her to pronounce English correctly (it's one thing to simply have an accent, which is fine - it's another thing speak in a lazy and inconsistent manner behind a microphone). WNYC is the flagship public radio station in the largest city in the United States, and it is inexcusable for its listeners to be subjected to someone who can't inflect punctuation or even pronounce consonants properly or consistently. This is a city full of voice talent; I'm sure WNYC could find someone to do the work pro bono.

Please, guys. Put her back behind a desk and away from a mic.

Anonymous said...

I'm so incredibly happy I found this post. When she says "pajamagram" I want to SCREAM. It is nice to know I'm not alone. No offense to this lady, but she has no business speaking on-air like that.

Martin said...

"...This is a city full of voice talent; I'm sure WNYC could find someone to do the work pro bono."

While I'd insist that he be paid, and paid well, I nominate our gracious host GCI, himself a doyen of the airways, without whom there'd have been nowhere for people to vent since... Crikey!... Dec 17 2007 , so we'd all still be tormentedly thinking that 'it's us not her', as I and my co-equal half did until I happened to google "Please, God/s, make her stop!" (kinda) and was immediately brought to this howling, hair tearing, ear bleeding, eye gouging, wall climbing group lamentation - an oddly reassuring testament to our mutual sanity, given the intensity and frequency of this woman's (voice program's?) syllabic assaults and her (its?) effective highjacking of our favorite station.

The pain remains, alas, but the anguish of thinking that one's utterly alone in that suffering is mercifully gone. For that, we thank you, Sir!

Frank B said...

I think it's time for some action on this issue! I've been missing some very good programming at WNYC because I've deleted their station from my digital radio. If I hear that woman's voice one more time, I'm going to chop my radio into little pieces and send it to WNYC. I will continue sending them letters, and so will my friends. If enough people express their loathing for this woman, maybe we can get her off the air and behind a desk in a back room. AHHHHH! she makes my brain explode! She is so abrasive, I can't even bear THINKING about her voice!
Actually, there's another robotic--and strangely familiar--underwriting voice on WFUV 90.7 FM in new york. God! I'm wondering if it's the same one! Or maybe they're cloning?

Anonymous said...

Her "Pajamagram" spot could be used as an enhanced interrogation technique. Today she did one about teaching languages to "middew school studunts." Maddening.

Jed said...

I used to be horrified by this particular announcer's voice as well. But a few things have changed and I find myself liking her these days. For one thing, she's just gotten better. She's also a much better voice actress than announcer, and she's kind of won me over with the dramatic fundraising spots she does. And then there's something even less tangible, maybe to do with time and the way one gets to know and like the things around them over time. That doesn't happen always, of course, and shouldn't – so the fact that it did in this case leads me toward concluding that there is just something special and interesting about her voice. No doubt she has some serious prononciation and elocution issues, but perhaps WNYC was smarter than many on this thread have given them credit for. Perhaps several concerned staffers simply agreed: this person has a really interesting voice that I can't get out of my head. And perhaps they decided to go a little against the grain. If so, I applaud them for a decision like that. I've done a lot of work with VO & VO artists in my time, so rest assured, I'm not deaf to what's "wrong" with her mic style and her general delivery. But you know, WNYC has pretty good audio standards and talented people who do the tracking, editing & mixing there. They're clearly often at the edge of what they can accomplish resources-wise, and you can hear little live-mix SNAFUs pretty often. But generally speaking, their use of microphones and recording gear – even ProTools – hasn't ever made anyone else on the station sound anything other than professional in my experience of listening for over ten years. So why IS she so close to the mic? The answer, my friends, is obvious – they want her their. And they'd only do that if they really thought her voice was great. Now, you might disagree. And I would have been with you a couple of years ago. But you know, that's how a lot of people felt about Dylan's voice at various points during his career. Looking back , it's pretty clear that his ton & delivery are strong points. (I don't suggest that she's like Dylan, or even the Dylan of the VO world – it's just an analogy.) While I'm here, I'll also say that some of the comments about her are clearly over the line. (Don't make me list them out.) Finally, if you think you know anything about VO or audio and you confused this woman with Mary McKitrick, well, you should think twice about any audio-related opinions you hold. It's kind of hilarious actually because one person who was really dissing WNYC Lady for her mic style confused her with McKitrick, while the very things that poster was complaining of are not present in McKitrick's recordings at all. A tip of the hat, though, to GCI for making a place for discussion of an interesting subject.

Anonymous said...

Ooooohhh. So what we perceive to be a hideous, grating, maddening, horrible annoyance is actually true genius? Only the truly perceptive can see Robot LAdy for what she is? The Bob Dylan of underwriting announcers? Nice try, Robot Lady relative. (and soterios johnson is also annoying, btw.)

Frank B said...

I understand why they can't show enthusiasm for an underwriter;s product, but there is no excuse for airing a voice that's devoid of personality.
God! I'm ready to strangle that woman!
AND....she's not on every helf-hour. I swear--she must come on every 10-15 minutes. I don't even bother muting anymore--I just turn off my radio. They will NEVER receive a dime from me.

Anonymous said...

I don't care about any of these comments...I love her voice! I'm dying to see how she looks :)

Jack the Hack said...

Re : "...I'm dying to see how she looks :)"

Here you are, Friend. It took a little doing, but this is a pic of her downloaded at some risk to me and my family from WNYC's own files :

http://fc03.deviantart.net/fs70/f/2011/173/f/2/robot_woman_by_nahom1-d3jpbmb.jpg

It perhaps helps explain why the station is so bizarrely secretive about who 'she' might be, and how come she's been able to work around the clock, 7 days a week for several years now, with only that brief maintenance break during the Summer -- your loss being our painfully brief gain.

Scott Goldman said...

I too, am relieved to know it's not just me. I've hired voice talent professionally for national advertising. And this woman is painfully, unbearably, unlistenable. I'll concede that she's reduced the monotone, ever so slightly, in recent months. Perhaps as a concession to US. But she also has a nasal quality that sounds like she's plugged two fingers up her nose just before approaching the mic. I can't grab the radio buttons fast enough to turn her off, and I've probably damn near caused some car crashes trying. Many of us hate her, some find her delightful. But it seems if more than a small percentage of your listeners are so disgusted by this voice (which, I'm sure, belongs to an altogether delightful human), then swap her out for someone we can tolerate. And while we're at it, let's retire Diane Rehm. It's too bad she suffers from a spasmodic voice disorder. But why do we have to suffer through it, too?

Jed said...

Ok, I realize this is probably a joke for two people, if that... But I will say that, despite my respect and affection for robot lady, and my respect for the audio folks at NYC, her delivery is still not making me want to buy any "fence post oak" or go to "Montefior".

Anonymous said...

Jed, not only "fence post oak" and "Montefiore" have you heard how she says"Interactive Brokers.com?" The way she says that -- so elongated -- is almost bizarre. I think maybe the engineer is also speeding her up and slowing her down to make these announcements fit alloted time frames which could mean she's not getting the timing right and they make her sound even more robotic by shortening or extending her words digitally.

Anonymous said...

My story is like many here. Every time NYC's dewy, clipped, over-enunciating, fem-bot announcer comes on the air, my hand shoots out wildly at the controls. Get it off! Just get it off! Nothing personal against the woman, but her delivery must tap into some reptilian, shrill frequency. I no longer live in NYC, but on trips to the city I still tune into the station, and each time I have the same extreme reaction. My mother says it doesn't bother her (though she's a contrarian) so I wondered if it was just me. Finally googled it and came upon this thread. It's comforting to know that others share my exact reaction. I personally wouldn't go so far as to cut off donations to the station, but then again I'm not listening to it every morning anymore. It's bizarre that WNYC is so unresponsive to complaints.

Anonymous said...

in -- ter -- ak tiv brokers

Anonymous said...

I was so glad to find your blog re: the "support comes from" lady's voice. I am not alone?!?!
I don't live in NY but I like to listen to WNYC and I just CAN'T with that woman's voice talking all over every 15 minutes or every time I open up the stream on iTunes. So nasally and slow and just...UGGGGHHHH!!! Gross!!

Anonymous said...

The name of the announcer is Lorraine Mattox. Believe it or not, she is the redacted name in your original post - SHE is Listener Services. So the very same Tweed Wall of Silence... IS the robot voice.

In other words... some of the conspiracies on this thread were RIGHT! The robot voice does have an agenda...

Anonymous said...

If this is the young woman who does announcements between programs, with a slight nasal intonation that does suggest a bit of a cold, then you're all nuts: her voice is incredibly and inexplicably attractive. I'm not being sarcastic. I noticed her somewhere in the last year and enjoy every syllable.

Anonymous said...

I'm positively tickled by the polarized and impassioned opinions of this announcer. I, too, found this thread because I was curious about who she was, and now I'll have to google Lorraine Maddox to see if that writer was serious. I don't mind her voice, but I'm always intrigued by it: she has a bit of a speech impediment in the way she "gargles" her Ls, and I agree that she overpronunciates, but her voice is also incredibly smooth. I definitely don't hate it, but nor do I understand why she - of all possible announcer candidates - was chosen as the voice of NPR. Thanks for this thread - the internet is a wondrous resource.

Mack Intosh said...

Very funny all these posts. If that creature is NOT a computer then she's in worse shape then her poor listeners , forced to endure the torture.

If she is a bot, DELETE *.*

WNYC should be ashamed.

TJ said...

Oh my, I've finally found this blog! Like so many other people who've written here, I've been trying to find out for years who this person is. Why do they keep her anonymous? She's allowed to go among us, doing her mischief, unconfronted. The trouble is, the more I listen to her... and believe me, I leap to the mute button of my computer the instant there's that telling pause in the programming when you know she's on her way... the more preoccupied I get with how much I can't stand her. I've even developed a pretty good imitation of her voice to drive myself and my husband crazy. Try it. You really have to sit on the W's and pop your lips as you do so: "DUBB BL YOU nyc". And yes, as others have remarked: the smile.

Cece Cutler said...

So relieved to see that I'm not the only one who can't stand her voice. I've heard any number of mispronunciations of really basic names and words (e.g. Beethoven was pronounced "Bay TOVn" with a strong accent on the second syllable rather than the first). The final syllable in her production of "Manhattan" is also very strange; normally, speakers have a glottal stop followed by a syllabified nasal, but she pronounces the whole vowel plus the nasal. Every time I hear her, I think that she's either a BOT or heavily sound-edited to fit the time slot - as others have suggested. She's really dreadful. Makes me want to tune out every time I hear her.

Anonymous said...

Dear Followers of This Discourse,

Please allow me to celebrate the fourth anniversary of Gotham City Insider's original post to weigh in on this vitally important issue. Robotlady (Lorraine Mattox?) just gets worse and worse and WORSE. To my astonishment, not one observer so far in this thread mentions that THE UNLISTENABLE VOICE displays a relatively new element. Now her speech, at least in more recent underwriting spots, features an odious clicking noise with virtually every syllable. It sounds as if she just got braces on her teeth. Or perhaps her dentures wagged loose. And either of these might also explain her tortured pronunciation. I never liked this voice and long wished WNYC would replace her, but these snaps, crackles, and pops drive me stark raving mad. Because I hear them so clearly, and because they irritate me so profoundly, I suspect that WNYC doesn't filter her underwriting credits through any sound refinement device whatsoever, Pro Tools or otherwise.

I feel pretty confident that one may also hear this woman's voice in fund raising comedy skits. Other posts here mention them. All readers surely remember the one in which she says, "So YOU'RE the new student Dr. Frankenstein sent over!" And then in another she appears with Jack Webb as if in Dragnet. And in another with Isaiah Sheffer: "YOU'RE on Facebook?" I don't find these terribly objectionable except in endless repetition. Note that Lorraine Mattox plays Belle in an enactment of A Christmas Carol. I found a person named Lorraine Mattox, originally from Miami, Florida and now in New York City, on Facebook.

Four years of listener inquiry and criticism had no positive effect on WNYC. We still hear THE UNLISTENABLE VOICE every twenty minutes
--- more now than ever and with her clattering dental work besides! I say lobby all underwriters to pressure WNYC about this. Corporate underwriters surely give more than most individual donors and likely exert greater influence. Failing that, how about Occupy WNYC? From Manhattan with an explosive T, B

RUCB_Alum said...

I, too, think that Lorraine Mattox is the WNYC underwriter/fundraiser skit voice. She plays Belle and Martha in this year's production of A Christmas Carol. (What a gas it must have been to perform with Murray Abraham!) Re-broadcast today at 2pm on WNYC-AM.

I love her diction. I like her tone. The clicking noise not so much. Where does that come from? Is she just too close to the mic which is then capturing the interaction of her tongue, lips and teeth as she forms words? My ear detects a foreign language speaker who is overcompensating but I could be wrong.

Merry Christmas!

RUCB_Alum said...

She has a name and a face! Go to wnyc.org and watch the video of A Christmas Carol.

Gotham City Insider said...

I dunno; I've heard that name mentioned before and I watched "A Christmas Carol" but couldn't really tell if that was 'her'.

RUCB_Alum said...

I'm convinced it is Lorraine's voice. Same voice that does the "It's like a furniture store but you have to put the furniture together yourself with these little tiny wrenches....and they have meatballs."

Her performance on "A Christmas Carol" and those promos don't have the the same production as the underwriting announcements, so maybe that is what is causing the difficulty in hearing that it is her.

BTW, I contacted the BL show producers to not wasted the 'outing' of LM and make a show about it. Tomorrow is listener topic day...I might call in to find out if they care about it.

Anonymous said...

Y-y-you mean...I'm not alone??!?!?!?!

So funny that people have been driven mad by this woman for years now. I shoulda done a search on "wnyc announcer" years ago! Lookit, I don't want to get this woman fired but I literally TURN OFF THE RADIO whenever I know there's an underwriting blurb coming at the top of an hour, because I simply cannot bear to hear her goofy, glottal enunciation of "dot.org"! Or anything! She highlights every syllable with the same no-attack attack, lke she's reading a pronunciation or transliteration of English every time. It's almost intrusively affectless, as though she were trying to be the very embodiment of most of NPR's milquetoast programming.

Steve Post, that you were with us at this hour!

Anonymous said...

I know that the comments are coming back at me. I don't care. I know that many will think I am clinically insane. I don't care. I know I am in the minority, I still don't care. I love the woman's voice. So much in fact, I look forward to hearing the commercial spots. I want to try and guess which one is coming up next. I have favorite ones which contain certain words I love to hear. Some of my favorites are, "Follies" "Man hat tan", anything "dot calm" and "slash lays a mee". You all know what I am talking about. I would have this woman record my answering machine message at home. I would invite her to record audio books and be the voice for all the computer voices we hear, "You've got mail!" and the rest. I'd be so happy that I did get mail knowing it was her that told me so. One of many things I try to do is hear her take a breath between phrases. It is as though they record a sentence at a time and splice them together as to not have her inhale the entire segment. Amazing. I knew she was not a robot when she was getting over a cold and her voice tone was deeper. I liked it. Her tone is so inviting, it is precious and kind, as if she were a lullaby come to life. Her pronunciation is so wonderful, I love to her the way she accuartely produces each sound, such discipline. As a spoof, I imagine her on a "COPS" show where she was a police officer taking down a drug dealer who is yelling all sorts of gang slang and she clamly says to the perp, "Support for your local Police department comes from honest, law abiding citizens, who believe that everyone has the right to a productive and just world, please put your hands behind your back."

Anonymous said...

I am absolutely amazed, relieved and frustrated beyond belief to find this discussion!

The relief is that I'm discovering I'm not alone in my involuntarily-cultivated abhorrence of the WNYC underwriting announcer! Funny how my loathing for "the voice" has developed. When I first started listening to the station, I didn't even notice her. Then, one day, I found myself remarking how perfect, clear and crisp her diction was. However, to "hear" her is to hate her. In short order, as I became more and more aware of her omnipresence throughout the broadcast day, I found myself gagging with disgust at the mere sound of her voice.

Like many of you, I tried all kinds of tricks to combat "the voice." Everything from screaming/shouting/singing/chanting over her voice overs to trying to train my mind to ignore her audio assault. I've written to the station to complain and have received the same standard form reply as to the reason for her robotic-like delivery. However, like many of you, I'm now at the point where the only way I can stand to listen to WNYC these days is to make sure that I always have my remote at the ready. Thus, whenever I know "the voice" is about to begin her assault, I am able to quickly mute the broadcast. Similarly, when driving, I am always poised to silence WNYC as soon as the fembot announcer comes on. This constant policing of the radio station really makes me wonder why I even continue to listen to WNYC. If it weren't for the superior programming, I would certainly ditch it in a heartbeat!

BTW, the "frustrating" and "amazing" parts of having stumbled across this thread is that I see it was first started in December 2007 yet, as I write, we are now at January, 2012. Notwithstanding the span of time, our complaints continue but the hideous WNYC underwriting announcer prevails. Why???? In what other business could this much tangible consumer dissatisfaction be so ineffective in prompting change? How sad. How very sad. Perhaps it is time for an Occupy WNYC protest?

Anonymous said...

I'm in heaven. This lady's voice has driven me batty for years. I am not even fearing the upcoming pledge drive because in the past few months I've gotten so used to quickly shutting off the radio when her voice comes on, and often leaving it off. I can't get over her "safe" nasally tones that vacillate among condescending, childish, up-with-people enthused, best-friend-4ever syrupy, and come-hither/slutty.

But until today I never knew there was a whole institution of folks who share my dislike/frustration. Finally, a club I want to belong to!

I wrote WNYC several times, threatening (and following through) on withholding my pledge, and was surprised at their long and thoughtful (though ultimately unfruitful) emails. Now I realize they must have a set of polished response letters just for the complaints they get about this woman.

ANY other WNYC reporter/announcer, or any NPR host (many of whom have various speech impediments [with careers in RADIO--go figure]) would be preferable to robot lady.

New Yorkers continue to be my favorite people, largely because they call a spade a spade.

God I wish the spade lady at WNYC couldn't talk.

And, karmicly, I have no [other] ill will for this woman, and am reluctant to be so mean (she must feel like sh*t when/if she reads blogs like these). I wish for her a happy and fulfilling life, and am sure she has some wonderful traits. I have a feeling she might be pretty. But jeez... a new job, please?

Anonymous said...

I am so happy I was not alone in the search for Lorraine Mattox. At first I never thought much of her or her voice but after being an avid WNYC listener for years is gotten beyond annoying.

The IRONY in this original blog is that the blogger's first email to "listenerserives@wnyc" is that the person who responded probably is Lorraine Mattox, the woman is asking info about. I noticed this b/c on another website I saw her sign an email response to a WNYC listener who emailed the same address as our blogger, BUT then she signed her name, whereas in response to our blogger she remained anonymously "Listener Services"

Check it out: http://maplewood.southorangevillage.com/discussion/32974/a-language-peeve/p2

Anonymous said...

Lorraine Mattox's voice and I am convinced that this voice belongs to Lorraine) can now also be heard on some of the promo spots produced for WFMU/91.1 in Jersey City.

This is either a boon or a bust depending on your point of view.

I think it's a plus. The mechanics of her promo recordings have changed. Fewer clicks and pops but the clear timber and diction that we all love and hate. Way fewer creative pronunciations, too.

This is rucb_alum, again. The validation schema wouldn't take my responses so I couldn't use my standard ID.

Jaxon said...

right up your alley:
The NPR Name Song:
http://youtu.be/3T1z6RH1Sq4

Anonymous said...

No joke: I think they may have finally dumped her as the underwriting announcer. Today I was commuting in and EVERY single underwriting announcement was either A) a different woman doing the announcements or B) a COMPLETELY different EQ and mic placement/choice for the same person, who must have received major league elocution lessons.

I'm going with A. It really does seem different enough that I suspect they've made a change; particularly because the appeal to underwrite programs on WNYC by contacting the corporate giving director was also with the new voice.

Anybody else notice this??

Anonymous said...

but . . . she's . . . GONE!

and the new voice doesn't say "DYE-VERSE" for "diverse." So whatever else she does, I may forgive her.

Am I wrong? Has she just had some coaching so that she now sounds like a different person? Has another pod burst, launching forth another alien clone?

rucb_alum said...

Seems like a new voice is in training. Won't say that Lorraine is gone for good but enjoy the respite.

Anonymous said...

My favorite is the way her voice drops to end the sentence after the first item on a list, as if there were a period there instead of a comma. Then she picks up with the rest of the list as if she's reading a new sentence. She also murders the pronunciation of some of the sponsors' names. I amazed that WNEW can get the sponsors to renew. Her Hispanic pronunciation is impeccable, delivered with relish and what seems like relief. My guess is she's a Latino. On the plus side, her natural tone quality is beautiful, if it could be trained by someone who knows how to read a line.

Anonymous said...

Well, that was a nice break. Unfortunately, she's back.

rbrb said...

I found this page from my own search for WNYC underwriting announcer, being somewhat curious. Now, however, seeing all this invective about her way of speaking, I can certainly understand the station not wanting to give out her name. Gangs might gather with torches outside her home, demanding that she move further from the mic, and avoid the "annoying smile" in her tone. I, for one, find her voice pleasant, and quietly understated compared to the stronger voices who do the actual news and other programming. If WNYC is paying attention to this blog, I'd send them a compliment for keeping her on. If they want, they could have a couple other voices announcing underwriters just to give some of these disgruntled listeners a break, but I think she hits it about right, in a fairly thankless task. The obsessive complainers should just get a life - it's no big deal. Now, I'll move on and do the same.

Nick Caputo said...

I somehow suspected I wasn't the only one suffering from "the voice" for what seems like an eternity. I also rush to mute the radio whenever I hear it, but it still haunts me.

As much as I enjoy many of WNYC's programs, I'm appaled at the sound of the artificially sweetened, mechanical voice that was likely created to appeal to a demographic audience. Perhaps one day we'll all be freed from this ongoing horror!

Anonymous said...

Recently, theyve been using the male announcer (also robotic, but minus the extreme creep factor and the maddening poppping p's). I started getting my hopes up, only to have them cruelly dashed when I heard those dreaded tones....and once again, the mad dash to turn the radio off!

Anonymous said...

Oh well. She's still there. Fun to word search this set of comments for "up the wall" or "brick". Misery loves company.

I've written the station on those couple of short breaks where we thought she was gone, in order to tell them when they were doing something RIGHT. But they replied that she was just on break, and coming back. And she came back.

She's awful awful awful.

Like some have suggested, I'm contacting some of the underwriters (TechServ, some of the not-for-profits) to see if they can pressure the station to at least put some other announcers into the rotation.

Just to be able to have 1 hour of Morning Edition with a max of 2 or 3 of her spots would be heaven!

Anonymous said...

[I think it's really funny that to post on this board, you have to type in the displayed words, to--wait for it--PROVE YOU'RE NOT A ROBOT!)

Why doesn't the robot lady have to prove it?? Maybe she should be locked out of the recording studio if she can't prove it on a daily basis?

Anonymous said...

She is not a robot. She is painfully human—painful to my ears and my sensibilities, at least. She is definitely too close to the mic—we should not hear the release of every single word-final consonant, especially those vile, nauseous, bilabial plosive releases…but we do! Her voice is both breathy and nasal, though variably so, as is clear when her recordings are edited together into a string, this variation being a dead giveaway that the voice is pure affectation. Interestingly, breathiness and nasality induce comparable acoustic effects: a low-frequency prominence (related to timbre, not pitch). What’s worse is that all her breath intakes have been edited out, making the whole ordeal of listening to her even more unbearable. My emails to WNYC pleading to switch her to a desk job have gone unanswered. I should emphasize that my distaste for the acoustic assault that is her voice is not a case of “familiarity breeds contempt”: Lisa Ledin does the station breaks at KAZU in Monterey, California (near to where I used to live), and her voice is a sheer delight: bright and fresh and clear, and yes, with a pleasant hint of a smile which is acoustically cued by a slight rise in the second vowel formant. I always loved it when she came on the air!

So, I can tell you the “what” by readily quantifying the spectral properties of her voice; it’s my field of study. Were I better versed in evolutionary biology, perhaps I could offer a “why” as well: why does her voice evoke such a primitive flight response?

Anonymous said...

That voice is the reason, the ONLY reason, I stopped listening to WNYC. I used to listen to it all the time, and now I simply don't, because of that voice. I'd tried other remedies: at the gym, for instance, I would have my headphones on and I'd play a little game - as soon as I heard the "Support for WNYC comes from" I would go for the volume control on the little radio strapped to my arm in order to cut off the voice from my headphones before the actual name of the sponsor was spoken. That was my little way of "punishing" them for subjecting listeners to that intolerable sound and cadence. Eventually, though, even that was insufficient, and I simply "fired" WNYC from my life. And, in the end, I'm happier for it.

Anonymous said...

This 'voice made for print' has bugged me for years, but mostly because I struggle to hear a clear indicator of human vs machine.

The comments about retained speech impediments make me wonder if some of the over-pronunciation and unnatural cadence could be the result of coping with other challenges.

I guess I don't find her anywhere near as annoying as the smarmy voice that comes on at the end of This American Life and other programs distributed by "PEE ARE EYE Public Radio International" - that guy drives me up a wall ... am I the only one?

Anonymous said...

This 'voice made for print' has bugged me for years, but mostly because I struggle to hear a clear indicator of human vs machine.

The comments about retained speech impediments make me wonder if some of the over-pronunciation and unnatural cadence could be the result of coping with other challenges.

I guess I don't find her anywhere near as annoying as the smarmy voice that comes on at the end of This American Life and other programs distributed by "PEE ARE EYE Public Radio International" - that guy drives me up a wall ... am I the only one?

Anonymous said...

Her 'voice made for print' has bugged me for years, but mostly because I struggle to hear a clear indicator of human vs machine.

The comments about retained speech impediments make me wonder if some of the over-pronunciation and unnatural cadence could be the result of coping with other challenges.

I guess I don't find her anywhere near as annoying as the smarmy voice that comes on at the end of This American Life and other programs distributed by "PEE ARE EYE Public Radio International" - that guy drives me up a wall ... am I the only one?

Anonymous said...

Well, I guess I'm in the minority on this one. I simply love this woman's voice. I crave it. I stop everything I'm doing when I hear her speak. Her perfect pronunciation is to die for. I'd like to meet her and I'd pay her very well to have her read the telephone book to me.

Anonymous said...

She's on the Verizon am radio commercial now post sandy annoying voice close mic talker pronounces "o" like a black or asian with big clicking lips, like the word "skoo" can't quite say school.

Anonymous said...

It is Lorraine Mattox. Check out her IMDB page. She's an actress who grew up in Florida with parents who emigrated from Peru. If you check out her audio reel, you'll see that she can actually speak like a human being. Whatever the problem is, it seems to have more to do with the direction or lack thereof that she's getting when she records these announcements. Someone needs to seriously explain the copy to her. It's not just a string of words to be enunciated properly (even there she fails often to do that).

Unknown said...

First, thank you for identifying the source of the mystery voice that has intrigued me for years.

It's surprising that you focus your annoyance on the announcer, who is clearly performing precisely to spec. It think it's more the spec which you find disturbing, which beyond the performance seems to include a postprocessed temporal compression of the gaps between words, in order to present the maximum material in the minumum time period. When you occasionally hear her without this compression, she sounds quite human indeed.

One other point: it would be a mistake to interpret the concentration of criticism in this blog to be representative of the larger population, as blogs tend to accumulate the disaffected.

Anonymous said...

I just spent a week in Miami, including some long days listening to their NPR station (WLRN). I had completely forgot what it is like to listen hour after hour to pleasant voices and not have the urge--the NEED--to jump up and shut it off, the way I do at least 4 times hourly for WNYC. I keep a remote control in my hand whenever I listen in New York.

That woman's voice makes me want to throw plates at the wall. I have called her horrible things I have never called anyone, loudly and repeatedly, until she stops talking.

I REALLY wish the station would do something. It's THAT bad.

Anonymous said...

I just spent a week in Miami, including some long days listening to their NPR station (WLRN). I had completely forgot what it is like to listen hour after hour to pleasant voices and not have the urge--the NEED--to jump up and shut it off, the way I do at least 4 times hourly for WNYC. I keep a remote control in my hand whenever I listen in New York.

That woman's voice makes me want to throw plates at the wall. I have called her horrible things I have never called anyone, loudly and repeatedly, until she stops talking.

BKNY JC said...

You found her! It is completely her.
http://voice123.com/lorrainemattox

The smiling baby robot is human!

Man, can't she get an acting job or something to get the hell of WNYC? I told my girlfriend about how LM hurts my brain. At first the girl said "She has a nice voice". After several more readers in the hour my gal said "Arrrrrgh, she's terrible!"

I wish there was the equivalent of DVRs that bypass commercials as I can't always get to the radio fast enough to turn her off. Ahhhhhhhhhhhh she's on again right now.

cornellcrawford said...

It's Lorraine Mattox, definitely. There's a voiceover demo reel on her IMDB profile.

MOST. ANNOYING. VOICE. EVER.