The man who voices subway announcements is the first person many hear in the morning and the last person many hear at night, but that’s about to change because there’s a new voice coming to the subway.
Life-long New Yorker Velina Mitchell knows what it’s like to ride the subway. She’s hoping to be a calming presence for commuters with her new announcements.
“I hope it just feels real to them,” she said at the MTA’s Rail Control Center. “The whole thing is to make it a pleasant ride for the customer and if it helps them pay attention a little bit better, saying, ‘Oh, I can recognize that, that’s a New Yorker, she’s here for me.’ That’s what I really want.”
Hailing from Corona, Queens, she’s a regular rider of the No. 7 train. And if her voice sounds familiar, that’s because the 25-year veteran of the MTA has already been broadcast across the subway system.
“I already do this as a living for New York City Transit,” she said. “I speak to the subway platforms every day, so when there’s a delay, you’ve probably heard my voice before.”
The MTA wasn’t even looking for a new voice for the subway system, but when they heard Mitchell’s voice come over the announcements, they knew she was the one who could cut through the normally noisy commute for New Yorkers.
“We heard her talking and we said, ‘That’s it. She’s the one,'” MTA spokesman Jon Weinstein said. “She’s the voice that we want to put into the system and what was really important to us was having a life-long New Yorker.”
The MTA started rolling out the new announcements last month and will continue expanding the reach over the coming weeks. But the secret celebrity has already heard her own message loud and clear during a recent commute.
“Now I know how artists feel when they hear their record for the first time, so when I heard my announcements for the first time it was awesome,” she said.