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February 2, 2006

Washington, D.C. Metro 'Doors Closing' Contest Announces Winner: 'This is the most exciting thing that has ever happened to me'

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Just announced and featured in today's Washington Post Metro section front–page story by Lyndsey Layton is the winner of the Washington Metro System's "Doors Closing" "Voice of Metro" contest.

She is none other than... drum roll... Randi Miller (third from either side in the photo above, where she's pictured inside a Metro station with four other of the contest's 10 finalists).

In her day job she's a lease retention manager at Lindsay Lexus in Alexandria, Virginia, where she doubles as the voice on the dealership's intercom system.

Other than that she's a complete amateur in the voice business.

I wonder if she burst into tears and started screaming like when Miss America hears that she's won?

Ms. Miller triumphed over 1,258 other contestants, including many voice professionals, in a competition in which a committee of Metro managers listened to all 1,259 audition recordings, narrowing the field to 10 finalists (seven women and three men) from who Ms. Miller was selected as the grand champion.

Linda Carducci was selected as the runner–up "in case Miller is unable to fulfill her recording duties," reporter Layton noted.

You know, the unexpected emergence of the kind of news that ends up on the Smoking Gun, like the "before–they-were–famous" gigs of such luminaries as Barbra Streisand, Vanessa Williams and Madonna.

Never heard about those?

Just as well.

Let's move on.

Ms. Miller's recorded announcements will be played 33,017 times a day and over 700,000 daily Metro riders will be listening.

So she better be good.

If you're busy and don't have time for all this nonsense and just want to hear what the new 21st–century "Voice of Metro" sounds like, OK: I feel your pain.

Here she is: "Doors opening...."

Those of you not in such a big hurry to get nowhere fast can read all about it in the Post story, which follows.

    Metro Chooses New 'Doors' Voice

    A 44-year-old Woodbridge woman whose only broadcast experience is the intercom at the car dealership where she works was selected yesterday to be the new voice of Metro.

    Randi Miller was chosen from among 1,259 contestants across the country who competed to record the "doors closing" message that plays each time a train leaves a station in the nation's second-busiest subway system.

    "This is the most exciting thing that has ever happened to me," Miller said as she stood inside the Gallery Place Metro station moments after a Metro manager unsealed a red envelope and announced her name, setting off flashes from news cameras.

    "For the last week, I've been dreaming about winning this thing. I guess dreams come true."

    Miller, a lease retention manager whose smoky alto draws compliments whenever she pages someone on the public-address system at Lindsay Lexus, was encouraged to enter the contest by her boss.

    She will not be paid for the recordings, and at yesterday's ceremony there was no sash or tiara -- just the satisfaction of knowing her voice will be played 33,017 times a day.

    "Randi's was the voice that commanded attention but was warm," said Doris McMillon, a former local television anchorwoman and one of the judges.

    "We liked her sound. She has great pipes."

    They also selected a runner-up, Linda Carducci of Vienna, in case Miller is unable to fulfill her recording duties.

    Metro officials said they decided to make a new recording for the "doors closing" warning because the existing recording, made by District resident Sandy Carroll in 1996, had become stale.

    "The message and the door chime have become a little like the yellow signal on a traffic light," said Jim Hughes, Metro's deputy general manager for operations.

    "The purpose of the chime is to tell people to step back, that doors are closing. But our customers hear that, and they run to get on a train... It's got to be a different voice, something that sounds different, because right now it's background noise."

    Miller's recordings will be tested on a small number of rail cars by late February and then expanded systemwide by spring.

    The new message is one of several things the transit agency is doing to try to improve the way people enter and leave rail cars and circulate inside stations.

    Metro is also redesigning the interior of new rail cars, taking out some seats and moving handrails, to try to speed up boarding and exiting.

    Soon after the agency announced in December that it wanted a new recording, Metro received unsolicited calls from broadcasters offering their services, and the idea of a contest was born.

    Transit officials were taken aback by the level of public interest in the competition; contestants entered from as far away as Seattle.

    A committee of Metro managers listened to all 1,259 audition recordings and narrowed the field to 10 finalists: seven women and three men.

    All 10 were white, despite the region's diversity.

    Debra Johnson, a Metro manager who helped choose the finalists, said the panelists were given no information about the contestants except their names.

    "We didn't know if they were white, black, purple or green," Johnson said.

    "When we were listening, we were only focused on whether it was clear, whether it was audible."

    Miller, who does not regularly ride Metro, acknowledged the irony of her working for a car dealership.

    "Maybe I could record something like, 'Thank you for riding Metro. But wouldn't you rather ride in the luxury of a Lexus?' " she joked.

    As she rode a crowded Red Line train yesterday, her accomplishment began to sink in.

    "Can you imagine having 700,000 people hear your voice every day?" asked Miller, who planned a celebration dinner last night with friends at a restaurant.

    "Very cool."

    When the other passengers in the train learned Miller had won the voice contest, they offered cheers and laughed as she offered a live rendition of "doors closing."

    Rhonda Carpenter was getting ready to exit the rail car but paused to congratulate Miller on her newfound fame.

    "Be hearing you!" Carpenter tossed over her shoulder as she stepped off the train.

********************

For some reason a superb epigram by Degas (yes, the painter) just came to mind: "Some forms of success are indistinguishable from panic."

Look at yourself and your life for a moment and think about it.

But not for too long — you don't have the time.

But wait a minute: suddenly you realized how silly you're being.

Great!

Because your reward for having read this far — or being as indolent as you apparently are, with not very much to do, apparently — is to be able to listen at your leisure to the contest's 10 finalists and see whom you would have chosen — had anyone cared enough to ask.

February 2, 2006 at 12:01 PM | Permalink


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Comments

Well, this is how pathetic I am - that was the most fun I've had all day. The winner did indeed have a low, lulling voice, but I'd have voted for Carol Rabel - she sounded the most pro. I felt like I'd want to do what she said and wouldn't resent being told. Carducci was really strong too (sounds like I'm talking about a shortstop), but not enough edge there. I might not worry enough about my foot getting stuck in the door or something. The winner had a slight hard quality in her er's and or's. See? Now this is what happens to you when you're musically inclined and trained. You can't just let sounds wash over you, noooo, you pick everything apart. Train whistles and garbage truck beeps and car horns - everything. Oh, listen to those parallel fourths; oh, that reminds of me of Boulez, etc. Anyway, it would be kind of cool to have your voice irritating millions.

A brief aside. How exactly did "cool" insinuate itself back into the lexicon of the up-to-date? I mean, "cool" used to be hip, as in hipster, as in way back when, when Miles Davis was cool, Charlie Parker was cool, Maynard G. Krebs SAID cool. Then somehow or other "neat" kind of took over and nobody said cool. Then one day I got up and things were cool. Only you can't say "cool, man." "Man" is de trop, apparently.

Posted by: Flutist | Feb 2, 2006 9:58:22 PM

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