After Denver International Airport announced the ten finalists for its new train voice contest on February 12, 104.3 The Fan host Darren "D-Mac" McKee ripped Fox31 anchor Jeremy Hubbard's candidacy, and his own exclusion from the competition, resulting in a hilarious Twitter war between the pair. And now, with the February 25 deadline for online voting fast approaching, the campaigns for the various local TV (and radio) personalities have gotten increasingly desperate.
Most of the pitches are supposed to be funny, and some of them succeed. But others have blown past amusing and wound up feeling downright embarrassing.
As we've reported, "Train Call," as the announcements were originally dubbed, dates back to DIA's opening on February 28, 1995. In the beginning, the audio was part of a public-art piece designed by Jim Green, and the original voices were Reynelda Muse, the first African-American TV news anchor in Denver, and twangy radio announcer Pete Smythe.
Following Muse's relocation to Indiana and Smythe's death, the pronouncements were re-recorded by 9News anchor Adele Arakawa and sports announcer Alan Roach. But after Arakawa retired from 9News last year and moved to Arizona, the folks at DIA figured it was the perfect opportunity to recruit fresh voice talent. Problem was, Roach, who was bounced from his regular gig at KOA radio in 2015 and ended his Mile High Stadium announcing job for the Denver Broncos the following year in order to take on the same role with the Vikings in his home state of Minnesota, still lives in Colorado and made it clear that he wants to remain one of the DIA trains' voices.
For this reason, Roach must now win a vote of the people in order to keep a position he already has — and he's got to do so by besting a murderer's row of prominent local broadcasters, including Altitude TV's Vic Lombardi, Denver7's Mike Nelson, 9News's Gary Shapiro and Hubbard.
Meanwhile, the female candidates are 9News's Kathy Sabine and Kim Christiansen, CBS4's Kathy Walsh, Denver7's Anne Trujillo, and Denise Plante, the only person among the hopefuls to be better known as a radio star (for KOSI) than as a TV notable.
Plante makes this point in the following video, in which she displays so much excitement over the possibility of taking the prize that we hope she was given a sedative afterward:
CBS4 is trying for a softer sell in regard to Walsh.
Below, view a clip shared on Twitter by Walsh's colleague, Britt Moreno:
I respect this woman as both a professional and a family lady. She’s incredible. She turns a good phrase and makes me laugh! Please vote for the incredible @WalshCBS4 to be your airport voice! pic.twitter.com/bFitEa6UmR— Britt Moreno (@BrittMorenoTV) February 22, 2018
Denver7 has gone the opposite direction for its two nominees, Nelson and Trujillo. In recent days, the station sent the pair to the airport to gin up support, complete with signs that said "Vote for Me" — a tactic that probably violates several local panhandling ordinances. Fliers shouldn't be surprised if they show up again over the weekend wearing Hare Krishna robes and passing out pamphlets.
Those of you who make it to the end of this video definitely have strong constitutions:
Still, Hubbard remains the man who appears most driven to achieve train-voice supremacy. Each day since he was pummeled by D-Mac, his station, Fox31, has included a photo of him along with a headline about the competition in the top-stories section on the home page of its website, and he's taken part in multiple photos and videos hyping his prospects.
But by far the best advertisement for Hubbard comes by way of Alice 105.9's morning show, which stars Westword profile subject Jamie White. The folks at the show put together a Hubbard-pimping parody song that begins with the lines "When you ride the DIA train/Imagine Jeremy Hubbard's voice/You melted Jamie right before my eyes."
Here's the song — and apologies in advance if you bust a gut laughing.
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As for 9News' Shapiro, he's calling in a ringer. Earlier this morning, he tweeted, "I think I'm ready to be the new voice of the DIA train. But just in case, a veteran is going to run me thru some drills. Adele Arakawa joins us at 8:35 am on Ch. 20."
Shapiro strikes many observers as a dark horse in the male voice contest; Roach and Nelson are considered the favorites. But Sabine, his 9News colleague, is widely considered a lock among the female vocalizers, which may be why she's taken a decidedly low-key approach to the matter. Her main online comment has been a February 12 Facebook post that reads, "Wow! Kim and Gary and I got nominated to be the voices on the #DIA train! Pretty cool! I guess if you’ve been here for 25 years you either get renovated or something like this!"
Sabine concluded with "LOL." But will any of the eight Denver celebrities be laughing when they find out they came up short?
Click to vote for your favorites. The deadline is 11:59 p.m. on Sunday the 25th.