Tourists and other travelers arriving at Denver International Airport quickly learn not to delay the departure of the train, and to “hooollld on, please.” 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, over the past 23 years, only four voices have issued those bossy orders.
The first two were folksy broadcaster Pete Smythe, who passed away in 2000, and Reynelda Muse, Denver’s first African-American anchor, who retired in 1997 and now lives in Gary, Indiana. Their voices were replaced by those of Adele Arakawa, the KUSA anchor, and Alan Roach, the former KOA sportscaster and announcer for the Denver Broncos who left Denver last June to become the PA announcer for the Minnesota Vikings. And now Arakawa, too, is leaving Colorado; she’s retiring at the end of the month and moving to Arizona.
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So is it time for another train-gang change? “We are working on that internally right now,” says airport spokesman Heath Montgomery. “No decision has been made yet.”
But any potential announcers who plan to stick around Colorado might want to think twice before climbing aboard; these gigs seem to guarantee imminent departure.
For the record, here's the airport's description of "Train Call": "In contrast to conventional public announcements, this public art project commission was awarded to Jim Green for his creation of a series of musical chimes greeting travelers throughout the underground system in "Train Call." Constructed from traditional folk songs such as "She'll Be Coming 'Round the Mountain" these chimes function as melodic preludes to voice messages. Voices of local celebrities Adele Arakawa, Alan Roach and Mayor Michael B. Hancock deliver announcements in the train cars and on station platforms. The artist's intent is to humanize the traveler's experience."
What voices would you like to have humanize your next traveling experience? Share your suggestions in a comment.