Alan Roach Still Along for the Ride at Denver International Airport

Who's delaying the departure of this train?
Who's delaying the departure of this train? YouTube
Alan Roach was headed to Europe for a vacation before moving on to a gig in the U.K., announcing the first-ever Major League Baseball games in London, which pit the Red Sox against the Yankees for two days starting June 29.

But the game already seemed over as he boarded the train at Denver International Airport: Who was that imposter making announcements?

In 2007, Roach, who'd just moved from Coors Field to announcing for the Denver Broncos, and then 9News anchor Adele Arakawa replaced the original voices on the train, now-deceased radio personality Pete Smythe and Reynelda Muse, Denver's first African-American anchor. Ten years later, after Arakawa retired and moved to Arizona and Roach became the Voice of the Vikings in his native state of Minnesota, the airport decided to replace this second pair, running a competition for the new voices of "Train Call."

Just one problem: Roach still lived in Denver, where he does announcing duties for the Colorado Rapids and the Avalanche.

Roach campaigned to keep his job and woncurrent 9News anchor in a final public vote. Last spring, he and fellow victor Kim Christiansen, current 9News anchor, went into Roach's own studio to tape new messages. (Not the bossy "YOU are delaying the departure of this train," though: That's been canned.)

click to enlarge Alan Roach's handle and heart are in Denver. - TWITTER.COM/MILEHIGHROACH
Alan Roach's handle and heart are in Denver.
But now, just a year later, Roach heard some other male voice advising passengers. Had he been replaced?

No, no, no, responds Emily Williams, airport spokeswoman. The message that Roach heard was a temporary one, recorded earlier in June by an airport employee testing a few new messages that might help get people moving better on the train. The new messages are just part of the airport's efforts to get things working more efficiently during the airport's "busiest summer ever," Williams points out. For example, the airport is adding a "stand here" floor marker on the terminal station platform to encourage people to stand close and reduce boarding time, since train passengers exit on the other side as they head to baggage. On the arrivals platform in the terminal, she adds, the airport has added additional "wayfinding signage." That's definitely a greater good, since passengers arriving in the terminal land in a confusing maze of construction.

While travelers will just have to put up with the terminal construction (for years, since that project has been delayed), airport officials think they can at least alleviate train crowding. "I think the big thing we learned with the test messages was about timing. Now we’re directing passengers to move to the center of the train even before the doors close, which helps move additional passengers onto the train," Williams explains. "Additionally, the new platform message informs folks who see the door closing that the next train is arriving soon, so you don’t have to run and force the doors open — which impacts timing throughout the entire train system."

The interloper's voice has been silenced, and Roach and Christiansen will soon be back in the studio, recording a few new permanent messages.

But not too soon: After his MLB work in England, Roach is booked for a top-secret announcing job. Then he'll be heading back to Denver for the Rapids and the NFL pre-season and won't delay the departure of this train.
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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