Hold On, Please: Five New Messages for the Airport Train

“The doors are closing.” The baritone voice kept stating the obvious, growing ever more bossy as passenger after passenger squeezed onto a train at Denver International Airport Sunday night. “YOU are delaying the departure of this train.”

“Oh, shut up,” said the man who’d just pushed his way aboard the crowded car.

His beleaguered fellow travelers cheered.

That bossy voice belongs to Alan Roach, a former Denver sports announcer who moved to Minnesota last year. Its female counterpart belongs to former 9News anchor Adele Arakawa, who retired to Phoenix this summer.
They are only the second pair of announcers in the 22-year history of the airport train; the first were Pete Smythe, the folksy personality who’s flown up to that great radio mike in the sky, and Reynelda Muse, Denver’s first female African-American anchor, who relocated to Indiana soon after being chosen for the august honor at DIA.

Adele Arakawa, gone but not forgotten. - KUSA
Adele Arakawa, gone but not forgotten.
Those instructions are part of “Train Call,” a piece commissioned by the city in 1994 for $29,700 from Denver-based sound artist Jim Green; the work also includes the merry music of dozens of chimes. Since the airport secured the rights from Green to record new messages, various celebrities have welcomed visitors to Colorado — but so far, only four voices have issued those bossy orders.

With their last announcers departing the station, airport officials will soon choose a new voice for the train, perhaps even hold a competition to get just the right Colorado representative, one who might even stick around the state. But first, the messages themselves could use some work. Of course the doors are going to close; that happens all the time on elevators, and riders don’t need a huffy reminder to avoid being chopped in two.

The airport should ditch those bossy announcements altogether, and instead create more welcoming, useful introductions to this city. Here’s a starter set of five: