Next time you go to the airport, listen up.
Not just to that guy seated next to you in the gate area making a deal on his cellphone. But to the recorded announcements on the public address system.
Some airports are customizing their public address messages to make themselves stand out against the general sameness of air travel and to improve communications with travelers.
To accomplish the goals, airports are finding distinctive voices for the routine announcements, injecting some fun into those announcements and using celebrities for specialized messages.
At Boston, Joe LoGiudice, an airport supervisor and part-time professional voice actor, is the "voice" of Logan airport. He delivers not only the routine announcements in the airport, but provides the voice for recorded telephone information and for the airport's low-power radio station.
Meanwhile, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino and Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., have all recorded personal messages welcoming visitors to the state.
Most airports these days use generic-sounding automated voices or recordings made by professional voice actors to deliver security messages and general information. Typically, an airport will hire an agency that produces radio and television commercials to record the announcements. The "talent" is generally a professional voice actor. A few airports use computer software that can generate announcements in several languages.
In Tennessee, the Nashville International Airport partnered with the Nashville Convention & Visitors Bureau to enlist Nashville recording artists to record terminal announcements.
For example, says Emily Richard of the Metropolitan Nashville Airport Authority, country artist Lee Ann Womack greets visitors this way: "This is Lee Ann Womack inviting you to relax and unwind in one of the airport's many restaurants. Thank you for choosing Nashville International Airport."
Charlie Daniels, Wynonna Judd and members of the Sugarland and Lonestar bands have recorded announcements for the Nashville airport.
"We now have the recording labels and business managers of artists contacting us to provide terminal announcements," Richard says. "They know this is a great way to get their artist's voice and name to millions of visitors."
At Yeager Airport in Charleston, W.Va., Gov. Joe Manchin's recorded voice welcomes visitors. Amanda Wilson, a radio veteran who works for the airport's advertising agency, voices most announcements, and she adds a little bit of fun.
Wilson urges people to "have a fantastic day" while alerting them to security measures. She slips in a few one-liners to keep folks on their toes.
For example, in the standard announcement warning travelers not to accept any packages from an unknown person she adds, "Especially that shifty-looking guy over there."
The Transportation Security Administration prescribes wording for security announcements, but the agency says it's willing to work with airports that want to customize the delivery.
Blue Grass Airport in Lexington, Ky., has received permission to replace the recorded announcements supplied by the TSA with the voice of Ray Holbrook, a longtime local radio and television personality.