'Voice of the MBTA' Frank Oglesby to be phased out for automated system
BOSTON - Stepping onto a Forest Hills bound Orange Line train, Frank Oglesby was greeted by a familiar voice: his own.
Oglesby has been doing voice over work for the MBTA for decades and earned the title as the unofficial "Voice of the T." But work is underway to phase out the iconic baritone voice for an automated text-to-speech system.
Oglesby's journey with the MBTA started in 1985 when he served as an assistant to the General Manager. It wasn't until a decade later when the T needed some internal voice over work done for a training video and Oglesby was asked to step in. When the MBTA revamped the Red Line around 1995, they needed someone to voice station stops. Oglesby was asked to step in front of the microphone. His voice has been used on the lines ever since.
"It feels like background that has always been there," said Oglesby. "I don't remember what it was like without it."
Oglesby officially retired from the MBTA in 2016 after 31 years of service. He continued to provide voiceover work to the authority and recorded his last set of announcements in August of 2020.
The MBTA said it has started phasing out Oglesby's voice as it transitions to an automated system. The MBTA said the change will allow them to provide real-time information to passengers in a way pre-recorded messaging does not.
An MBTA spokesperson released a statement reading:
"The MBTA is grateful for Frank Oglesby's service. Audio announcements are a critical part of the information that the MBTA provides to riders. In the past, having a pre-recorded voice for the MBTA made sense - the information provided to riders was much more limited. At the time, the MBTA had very few applications driven by real-time data. That is no longer the case as the T modernizes its systems."
Passengers are on the fence about the change. "I can't really imagine a T ride without his voice because I have been listening to it for so long," said one passenger at the State Street station.
"I have been riding the trains my whole life. I know that voice," said another.
For his part, Oglesby said he understands the change but will miss some of the perks that came with your voice being used in such a public way. "I will miss hearing about what people feel about what I did," said Oglesby. "That is the coolest part of what I did. It's been a good time, and I am kind of sad for the T that that will not continue for them."
Oglesby said he stays busy with voiceover work and acting jobs. "The future is bright," he said. "This is not a gloom and doom kind of thing. Time moves on."
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