Baldwin lends voice to city


Jonathan Benavente


By Jack Trainor | Culture Editor

Alec Baldwin announced yesterday he is making a considerable donation to the University of Pittsburgh — his voice.

The “30 Rock” actor said after he performs with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra on April 16, he will then record new audible crossing signals at intersections throughout Oakland at Pitt’s own WPTS the following day.

“The [PSO] performance will just be a warm up,” he said over the phone. “When I knew I would be doing [the audible signals], I had to alter the PSO playlist to preserve my voice.”

The Oakland Planning and Development Corporation reached out to Baldwin after students began complaining that the ghostly, decrepit voice that guides them safely across the street also strikes them with fear.

“I’ve had nightmares about that gnarly old voicebox,” said Shawn Janas, a senior communication major. “It’s turned a safety measure into a hazard. I have to actually plug my ears every time I cross the street.”

In light of these concerns, the city of Pittsburgh and OPDC turned to Baldwin, who famously narrated the children’s animated Thomas the Tank Engine series, “Thomas and Friends” from 1998 to 2003.

“We thought that since a lot of the current students probably grew up with that show, that Mr. Baldwin’s voice would be a welcome and soothing replacement,” Dan Cooke, a traffic engineer for the City’s Public Works Department said.

This will be the first time a celebrity has lent their voice to audible crossing signals in the country. Not only will Baldwin pioneer this celebrity-city government partnership, but he will also give the signals, which OPDC installed in 2012, his own flair.

“The city asked me to not only voice the new signals,” Baldwin said, “but to make them sexier as well.”

Currently, the audible signals just announce the street name when pedestrians can cross.

Baldwin plans to incorporate new words and phrases into the signal, such as singing “cross this way” to the tune of Aerosmith’s “Walk This Way.” OPDC and the city only asked that Baldwin refrain from any accents, a la “The Departed” or “Along Came Polly.”

The added expressions with Baldwin’s soothing raspy voice, he said, are all in order to make the crossing experience more pleasurable.

“The weather’s already bad enough in Pittsburgh,” the actor said. “It’ll be my pleasure to spice things up for the students and the rest of the community who cross the street many times every day.”

This is a satirical story, part of The Pitt News’ annual April Fool’s edition. 

Leave a comment.