Who's on Board to Be the New Voice of the Airport Train?

Who delayed the departure of this train?
Who delayed the departure of this train? Westword
Who's the boss? When it comes to the stern voices at Denver International Airport advising that "YOU are delaying the departure of this train," it could be Alan Roach, the former Colorado Rockies announcer, or longtime 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 mic in the sky, and Reynelda Muse, Denver’s first female African-American anchor, who relocated to Indiana soon after being chosen for the august airport honor.

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 Colorado and their big expansion plans passing through Denver City Council, airport officials can now turn their attention to choosing new voices for the train, finding the right people to represent the state — people who might even stick around.

And so this week, the airport announced that it is now looking for "The Voice." Here's the fine print:

The airport is launching a competition among local television and radio station personalities to select one man and one woman to be the new voices of the "Train Call" on the train that takes passengers to the concourses.

The airport is seeking initial nominations from Denver television and radio stations. From there, the airport will form a selection committee made up of representatives from airport, art, tourism and local government stakeholders. This committee will narrow the pool of candidates to the top men and women, and those finalists will be featured on a website that will open for a public vote. Upon approval from the DEN CEO, the man and woman with the most votes will be invited to a professional recording session and become the new voices of the airport train!

Who is eligible?
· The contest is open to full-time reporters and anchors who cover news, sports or weather at any Denver television or radio station
· Candidates must have at least seven years of experience in the Denver media market and be a respected personality within the Colorado news, weather or sports communities
· Candidates must exemplify Colorado and reflect Colorado values that would represent the airport, city and state well
· Self-nominations will not be accepted! Nominations must be submitted on behalf of each station’s management.
· Official rules are posted at

What do you need to provide?

To participate, please email a headshot, a short bio up to 150 words, and an audio MP3 file containing a reading of the full script below to [email protected] by 5 p.m. on Nov. 30. Please include the subject line “Train Call Nomination.” Participating stations may submit multiple nominations and are encouraged to provide both male and female candidates. Additional details about online voting will be released later.

Audio script

“Hello, and welcome to Denver International Airport.”
“Board here for all ‘A, B and C Gates'”
“The doors are closing, please keep clear and hold on for departure to all A gates”
“Please hold on, we are approaching the station for all A gates”
“A train is arriving. Please keep clear and hold on for departure to all B gates”
“Board here for all A gates, terminal, ground transportation and baggage claim”
“This is the terminal. All passengers please exit and follow signs to ground transportation and baggage claim”
We're a bit disappointed to see that the audio script includes most of the same dull messages that have marked "Train Call" since the airport opened in 1995, though we're also thrilled not to see "YOU are delaying the departure of this train."

But perhaps the airport is saving that for the finals.

We recently came up with our own suggestions for five new, much more useful train messages:
5. "Welcome to Denver. Remember, the air is dry here; you’ll want to stock up on lip balm and tissues in one of the many convenient concessions stores that cram the airport."

4. "Welcome to Denver. Yes, recreational marijuana is legal here...but the nearest store is miles away. Check the trash bins right outside of security for a quick fix, since outgoing travelers may have had to surrender their stash."

3. "Welcome to Denver, the Mile High City, and we had that nickname before marijuana was legalized. Back then, alcohol was the vice of choice...and at 5,280 feet, it packs a big wallop. Find out how big by stopping in one of our many fine airport bars. Don’t you wish there were more?"

2. "Welcome to Denver. After exiting the train, take a look at the Great Hall under the iconic tent roof before grabbing your bag. Now imagine it after a $1.8 billion renovation. Don’t miss the inlaid floor: That art piece by Jaune Quick-to-See Smith and Ken Iwamasa is definitely going, but imagine how much space that will free up for T-shirt shops."

1. "Welcome to Denver...ish. Yes, the airport is still 25 miles from downtown. Sorry about the cost of the cab ride, but you can always take the A Line. Just beware of the doors on that train...."

By the way, after we first shared this list in October, a former airport employee assured us that #4 is absolutely true...
KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun