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Metro finds its voice through contest


WASHINGTON -- A Virginia woman is the new voice of Metro, but the contest to find that voice was a good ride for two Maryland finalists.

Randi Miller, 44, of Woodbridge, Va., was named the winner of the "Doors Closing Voice 2006" contest Wednesday at the Gallery Place-Chinatown station. Her voice will be heard on recorded safety messages in all Metro trains.

It's an honor without any trophies, just the sly satisfaction that the passenger next to her probably won't match the nearby face to the voice overhead.

Miller was one of 10 finalists chosen from the more than 1,250 audition tapes.

Before the announcement, Maryland finalists Carol Rabel, 58, of Silver Spring and Angela Stevens, 24, of Frederick waited on a mezzanine as buzz about the announcement grew.

"It's kind of surreal," Stevens said before the announcement. "Someone will go home really happy."

Rabel was relaxed. "There's really nothing I can do now," she said.

Virginia won the cross-Potomac rivalry, but there was no gloom or sour grapes from the Old Line State finalists.

Stevens smiled and noted all the new people she met at the contest, while Rabel said competition is part of the voice-over profession.

"Everybody isn't right for every job," Rabel said.

Miller had been told she had a great voice when she paged co-workers on the intercom at Lindsay Lexus of Alexandria, Va. She has ridden the Metro since it opened, she said.

"This is the most exciting thing that's happened to me," she said amid the buzz of the midafternoon Red Line trains.

Metro officials have said they wanted a fresh voice that captures attention, since riders may regard the current, familiar recording as simply "wallpaper."

"We wanted a voice that we thought was commanding and powerful, but not cold and harsh," said Ron Holzer, a special projects officer with Metro.

Judge Leann Landry of Metro picked Miller's voice because she has to hear the announcement "at least 10 times a day" as a frequent rider.

Participants in Doors Closing Voice 2006 were not paid because the contest was for fun and not for profit, a Metro spokeswoman said.

Miller said she will not make a big fuss when she rides the Metro.

"I'll want people to know it's me, but I don't want to make a big deal out of it," she said. "I'll be looking for reactions."

Tom Howell Jr. writes for Capital News Service

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