April 30, 2001 -- When Perfect Paul talks, people listen. But his delivery’s far from flawless.
“We kept receiving insistent complaints that this voice was irritating, was not good to listen to,” says Joanne Swanson of the National Weather Service’s Voice Improvement Project.
Perfect Paul is the name given to the computer generated voice you hear on weather radio. He has been delivering forecasts since robots replaced people on the air in January 1997.
Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week the National Weather Service fills the airways with the latest weather conditions, forecasts and severe weather watches and warnings, all transmitted in Perfect Paul’s voice on select frequencies.
But rather than give Perfect Paul speech lessons, government-run NOAA Weather Radio has launched a talent search, of sorts. The National Weather Service is looking for a robotic voice with more personality, a more natural sound.
Vote for Your Voice
And it wants you to speak up.
“Perfect Paul is based on technology that is all computer driven,” says Swanson, “the new technologies are based on human voice.”
The service is auditioning five new voices on its Web site and is asking for listener comments. “Linda,” “Paul,” “Donna,” “Art” and “Craig” are vying for the job.
You can go to the site, and if one of these robots catches your ear, click below the name and register your opinion (see Web links, right).
Officials say they’ll make their decision by the end of June, then award a contract, and they plan to have the new robot voice working by the end of the year.