Join 3,501 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


"Fullerton is next. Doors open on the right at Fullerton."
February 4, 2013 2:32 PM   Subscribe

Lee Crooks, from the Milwaukee burbs, is the voice of the Chicago Transit Authority's buses and trains. Here's his personal site, with samples (a CTA sample is included in the "Narration" section of his audio demos.) A Tribune piece from when he was more reticent about his identity.

Carolyn Hopkins is the announcer of "inbound trains to the Loop," if you were wondering about the female voice as well.
posted by andrewesque (51 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite

 
Maybe eight or ten years ago they updated the way that a lot of the stops on the near north side are referred to on the train PA-- 'This is Chicago and Milwaukee' instead of 'This is Chicago,' etc., which is more accurate and probably much more helpful for people who aren't 100% sure where they're going or already are, or whatever, but I will always, always miss hearing Lee Crooks smoothly intone 'This is Grand' twice a day. He sounded so content.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:36 PM on February 4, 2013 [23 favorites]


ALSO!

Here's a (forum copy-paste of a) 2006 Daily Herald article about Don Nelson, the voice of Metra.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:41 PM on February 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's too bad about "This is Grand." but I like how excited he sounds about "and the Thompson Center!" at Clark and Lake. You should check out the Thompson Center! They have a Taco Bell!
posted by theodolite at 2:42 PM on February 4, 2013 [5 favorites]


I will also admit to purposefully mishearing him whenever I'm on a train approaching its terminus-- Supposedly, he says 'This is O'Hare, as far as this train goes,' but I prefer to hear 'This is O'Hare, as far as this train knows.'
posted by shakespeherian at 2:44 PM on February 4, 2013 [8 favorites]


I'm sure he's a swell guy, but I genuinely dislike those recorded messages. The El used to have conductors - like riding the train! Fun times, never to return.
posted by facetious at 2:45 PM on February 4, 2013


While we're at it, here's the voice of the MBTA, Frank Oglesby Jr.

I never realized those automated announcements came from a human. Now I no longer have to wonder how much effort it took to train a voice synthesizer to properly pronounce Quincy with a 'z'.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 2:48 PM on February 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm sure he's a swell guy, but I genuinely dislike those recorded messages. The El used to have conductors - like riding the train! Fun times, never to return.

I've never lived in Chicago without the recorded announcements, but I'll take them any day over the DC Metro's garbled driver announcements (is this Pentagon? Pentagon City? It doesn't help that it's dark inside the station and I have to hunt for a pylon...)
posted by andrewesque at 2:48 PM on February 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


When they added the recorded voice in the late 90s, I kept hoping they'd get celebrities to do different lines. Like Oprah on the Blue Line, Harry Carray on the Red Line (he was still alive), etc. But instead, we got Mr. Crooks. Now, I kinda feel fond of him, and I miss his precise enunciation now that I'm in New York. And being told on which side the doors open. Are you reading this, MTA?
posted by eustacescrubb at 2:49 PM on February 4, 2013


Maybe eight or ten years ago they updated the way that a lot of the stops on the near north side are referred to on the train PA-- 'This is Chicago and Milwaukee' instead of 'This is Chicago,' etc., which is more accurate and probably much more helpful for people who aren't 100% sure where they're going or already are, or whatever, but I will always, always miss hearing Lee Crooks smoothly intone 'This is Grand' twice a day. He sounded so content.

Anything and everything L related can be found on Chicago-l.org, including sound archives!
posted by kmz at 2:54 PM on February 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


YESSSSSS
posted by shakespeherian at 2:56 PM on February 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


If this post was a chick, I would totally make out with her.

I live in Chicago, and hear that message all the time. Thanks so much for this.
posted by timsteil at 2:56 PM on February 4, 2013


I like how excited he sounds about "and the Thompson Center!"

Considering that Big Jim is not among the four out of the state's last seven governors to serve time, I would say it's worth some excitement. Some of our governors are not corrupt! And there's a Taco Bell!

Fun times, never to return.

One of those things I'll sacrifice in order to have a working transit system.
posted by dhartung at 2:57 PM on February 4, 2013


shakespeherian, I miss that too, they should have made a special case for that stop.

What I don't miss are all the tourists and suburbanites who thought that "This is Chicago" was the funniest thing ever, because, like, no shit we're in Chicago, hahaha! Every fucking time I went past that stop, I swear to god.
posted by enn at 2:58 PM on February 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


Huh, they're replacing Chicago Cards? I wonder if I'll get a Ventra card here in Fort Worth to replace the Chicago Card Plus I still have a ~$16 balance on.
posted by kmz at 3:03 PM on February 4, 2013


Wait, replacing? I've seen those Ventra things but I thought it was going to be a like third-party option that covered RTA and such as well. I didn't know Chicago Cards were going out.
posted by shakespeherian at 3:06 PM on February 4, 2013


There is still definitely a conductor on the Blue Line in the mornings who gets on the PA to tell people at every stop whether or not the train is going all the way to Forest Park. He is very insistent and speaks very clearly.
posted by burden at 3:23 PM on February 4, 2013


Bank-issued debit and credit cards can be registered with the CTA and be used as Ventra Transit passes.

That's... maybe good? Or bad? I don't know?

current Chicago Card Plus owners and people with registered Chicago Cards will receive Ventra cards without paying the five dollar fee other riders will have to pay for their first Ventra card

That's good, anyway, I guess....
posted by tzikeh at 3:27 PM on February 4, 2013


Some of our governors are not corrupt haven't been indicted yet!

Fixed that for you.
posted by Bummus at 3:32 PM on February 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Fullerton is next. Doors open on the right at Fullerton."

You have no idea how many times I read that title trying to figure just what Chicago was going to do to Fullerton next.
posted by librarylis at 3:40 PM on February 4, 2013


Anyone here ride Metra Northwest from Ogillvie to Harvard in the late 90's and remember the one conductor who would always announce "Pleasantville" whenever Park Ridge was the next stop outbound? That guy was awesome. I miss that guy.
posted by Hey Dean Yeager! at 3:41 PM on February 4, 2013


Related (the third-party hosting links of the recordings in that FPP seem to be dead, but they're still up on her site)
posted by figurant at 3:52 PM on February 4, 2013


Toe-curling local TV item about the UK equivalent.
posted by Talkie Toaster at 3:58 PM on February 4, 2013


One guy I get a few times a week on the Brown Line likes to chat us up, especially if the train is packed.

"Doors are closing please. Step all the way in. If you cannot fit there is another Brown Line train immediately following this one. Please step away from the doors. Are you listening to me? Doors are closing. Don't you want to get to work?" He's very polite about it.

He also states the train only goes as far as lie-berry then becomes an Orange to Midway.
posted by MarvinTheCat at 3:59 PM on February 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Huh, I never noticed the Quincy pronunciation, but it's the same sort of thing at Merchandise Mart. I rode the brown line for years until one day I was like wait, what is this "Merchandize" you're talking about?
posted by gueneverey at 4:02 PM on February 4, 2013


Oh I also love the way Lee Crooks pronounces 'Liburary.'
posted by shakespeherian at 4:07 PM on February 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


This guy is cool, but he's no Peter Cetera. /o
posted by mubba at 4:11 PM on February 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


The "lie-berry" conductor on the Brown Line in the morning makes me nuts. I sometimes switch to the red just to get away from the incessant "lie-berry" thing, which he says like 10 times every 60 seconds.
posted by Mid at 4:23 PM on February 4, 2013


Next is Harold Washington Library, State and Van Buren. Doors open on the right at Harold Washington Library, State, and Van Buren. This is Harold Washington Library, State, and Van Buren.
posted by LSK at 4:24 PM on February 4, 2013 [6 favorites]


I rode the brown line for years until one day I was like wait, what is this "Merchandize" you're talking about?

For the record, I say "merchandice", but "Merchandize Mart".
posted by hoyland at 4:26 PM on February 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Maybe eight or ten years ago they updated the way that a lot of the stops on the near north side are referred to on the train PA-- 'This is Chicago and Milwaukee' instead of 'This is Chicago,' etc.

One of my favourite features of the El is the repeated stop names that are nowhere near each other. They named the stations highly logically and then failed to notice the massive flaw in this plan.

(Now I'm trying to think of other examples of stations in the same system sharing names and am failing. Metra has two Lake Forests.)
posted by hoyland at 4:35 PM on February 4, 2013


And while we're still at it, here are the two women who are the voices of the TTC. Far from being trained voice artists, they're both TTC employees - and admin assistant and communications manager, who were auditioned from inside, taken to a recording booth, and from there to a couple million pairs of ears a day.
posted by bicyclefish at 5:00 PM on February 4, 2013


There is no such thing as an EL in Chicago.
posted by art.bikes at 5:01 PM on February 4, 2013


Wow, it's great to hear others talk about "this is Grand". I would always laugh to myself, especially during rush hours with everyone packed as sardines. Seconding "this is Chicago". Too funny. I'm genuinely surprised the current announcements aren't computer generated.
posted by marimeko at 5:19 PM on February 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


You have no idea how many times I read that title trying to figure just what Chicago was going to do to Fullerton next.

DEEP DISH PIZZA PLEASE
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 5:20 PM on February 4, 2013


gueneverey: Huh, I never noticed the Quincy pronunciation, but it's the same sort of thing at Merchandise Mart. I rode the brown line for years until one day I was like wait, what is this "Merchandize" you're talking about?

Sorry. My remark was in reference to the automated announcements for Boston's subway system.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 5:29 PM on February 4, 2013


Here's the voices of the MAX in Portland.
posted by Artnchicken at 5:50 PM on February 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


London: "Mind the gap."

Chicago: "Watch out for the urine over there!"
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 5:54 PM on February 4, 2013


My favorite Boston T anomaly was the add-on female voice that said "Mass Eye and Ear Infirmary!" in a super-nasal accent at the Charles/MGH Red Line stop.
posted by mykescipark at 7:21 PM on February 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


I remembered when the changeover was made from "Liberry" to "Library."

I also remembered when this stop existed, and it still irks me years after the fact that a perfectly cromulent stop is mothballed because of pointless reasons. Yes, the idea for a superstation was sound, but the execution has left a big, big gap in the subway.
posted by stannate at 7:58 PM on February 4, 2013


For some reason I get a kick out of his pronunciation of Geothe ("Gerta").

If I get up early enough (around 6am), I can catch the Howard-bound Red Line with the driver who actually sounded happy. He'd be all, "Welcome to the Red Line!", "Have a wonderful day!" etc. When you are half-asleep and catching the train at dawn that kind of cheerfulness is really, really annoying.
posted by Misty_Knightmare at 8:34 PM on February 4, 2013


There's a driver on the (Portland) Max green line who tells us the weather and wishes us a pleasant day at work as we cross the river toward Union Station. I'm very fond of him. He's like an airline pilot, but in a train.

There's another driver who uses snarling sarcasm to ask us not to touch buttons we shouldn't, and I am not at all fond of him. He's like a dick, but in a train.
posted by mph at 9:05 PM on February 4, 2013


(Now I'm trying to think of other examples of stations in the same system sharing names and am failing. Metra has two Lake Forests.)

There are two California and Western stops on the blue line. I didn't think it was confusing since they're in such different neighborhoods, but it's really confused out of towners visiting me.
posted by Bunglegirl at 9:05 PM on February 4, 2013


Maybe eight or ten years ago they updated the way that a lot of the stops on the near north side are referred to...

It was way more recent than that. I moved here just about exactly 8 years ago, and it was the old way for more than long enough for me to get really comfortable before they changed it (fie). I'd say it was no longer ago than 5 years.
posted by adamdschneider at 9:30 PM on February 4, 2013


Now I'm trying to think of other examples of stations in the same system sharing names and am failing.

New York City! Jarrett Walker of Human Transit has a good post on exactly this subject in which he points out that the New York City subway, undoubtedly the Big Kahuna of North American metro systems, employs exactly the same naming stratagem (there are multiple unconnected Canal, Spring, 14, 23, 86 and 96 St stations, for instance.) He also points out that Toronto assiduously avoids this, which I noticed immediately when I visited that city.

There are two California and Western stops on the blue line. I didn't think it was confusing since they're in such different neighborhoods, but it's really confused out of towners visiting me.

There are in fact five Western stops on the entire CTA system -- two Blue, an Orange, a Pink and a Brown. The Blue Line is in fact the most egregious with its pairs of identically-named stations, Western and Harlem, due to its rough U-shape. (There aren't actually multiple California stops anymore, though -- the one on the Forest Park branch closed in 1973 and the one on the Douglas branch is now part of the Pink Line.)

You have no idea how many times I read that title trying to figure just what Chicago was going to do to Fullerton next.

librarylis, I actually grew up in Cerritos, right next door! I know I've been away too long when I no longer automatically think of palm trees when I hear "Fullerton."
posted by andrewesque at 9:39 PM on February 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


live conductors are much more fun. I recall stepping into the train in Leiden, and just as the train left the conductor started the announcement that the next stop would be Schiphol Airport. People who know trains in the Netherlands know that this is way, way too early, since it's a 15 minute trip.

But after the announcement, he started to repeat the announcement in English. Well, since the next stop is the airport, that's a nice gesture, right?

And after that he did French. Then German. Italian.

By the time the train rolled into the airport, he was still talking, and people actually applauded him.
posted by DreamerFi at 12:44 AM on February 5, 2013


Now if only they could get him to do the inbound/outbound train announcements they have at some stations. I don't know if it's changed recently, but at one point it was some nasally voiced lady with a strange accent. "An inbound train towards the loop will be arriving shortly."
posted by borkencode at 8:40 AM on February 5, 2013


borkencode: the voice doing the inbound/outbound train announcements is Carolyn Hopkins. I think it's definitely still her, I hear it all the time.
posted by andrewesque at 8:55 AM on February 5, 2013


He looks just how I expected him to look. How weird!
posted by Jess the Mess at 10:55 AM on February 5, 2013


I will also admit to purposefully mishearing him whenever I'm on a train approaching its terminus-- Supposedly, he says 'This is O'Hare, as far as this train goes,' but I prefer to hear 'This is O'Hare, as far as this train knows.'

There's enough of a beat between the two statements that they almost sound unrelated. As such, I always heard it as the start of a second message. And from there, I kind of took it as "As far as this train is concerned." So, I would generally append "...you are an asshole" in my mind.

"This is O'Hare. As far as this train goes, you are an asshole."
posted by SpiffyRob at 10:58 AM on February 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


And as far as the Metra goes, the pre-recorded statements that they started playing at stations a while back are hilarious for at least two reasons.

METRA COMMUTERS. YOUR ATTENTION PLEASE.

1. "The next Metra train approaching your station will be a Metra Express Train and will NOT stop."

...ever?

They also rarely start playing this one early enough before the sound of the oncoming express train would drown it out (at least at Winnetka, where I heard it most frequently) so you usually get "METRA COMMUTERS. YOUR ATTENTION PLEASE. The nextEEEEEEEERRRRRRRRRRRRRRROOOOOOOOOOOWWWWWWNOT stop."

2. "A Metra inbound train towards Chicago will be arriving in approximately: One. Minutes."

Stupid robot! One minutes!
posted by SpiffyRob at 11:06 AM on February 5, 2013


The guy who does our train announcements in NYC is actually a Brit who practiced his way into a general American accent. Good on him. Most Brits I know who try to mimic it just can't do it and slip into some sort of generic Southern-sounding thing.

There's two separate male conductors I've heard with very distinctive voices in NYC and they've been around for seemingly years. One is now on the A line at 8:50 weekdays at my station, and he reminds me of one of my relatives whose natural accent is very Alabaman but sounds a little bit off when he code switches. This conductor over-enunciates to the point where his cadence resembles that of the hen in the Foghorn Leghorn cartoons. He's very polite, but man, it's just a weird sound and I know he doesn't talk that way around the people who know him.

Then there's the guy I've heard several times on the 1 line who sounds like he's reciting Shakespeare. It's amusing to hear him announce that we're at 59th Street. "Ladies and Gentlemen, we are... at 59th Street. Upstairs is Central Park. And! The Time Warner Center. Here, you can transfer to the A. The C. And! The B and D trains on the lower level. Step in! And stand clear! Of the closing doors, please." The punctuation marks are there on purpose, because you can hear them and he manages to get that all in before he drives on. It's hilarious. The New Yorkers have heard him and are blasé, but the tourists seem to love it.
posted by droplet at 8:03 PM on February 5, 2013


« Older Ben Goldacre has been talked about here before. Th...  |  "Organized crime gangs have fi... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments