Czech actor, who dubbed The Simpsons bartender, new voice on Prague trams and busses

Dagmar Hazdrová and Jan Vondráček

For decades now Prague city dwellers have been used to hearing a calm, modulated and well-known voice citing the names of the various stops on tram, bus and metro routes around the city. Who will have the privilege to be the voice that hundreds of commuters hear every day is decided by a public poll on test announcements read by some of the best actors and voiceover artists in the country.

Jan Vondráček, whose voice many Czechs associate with Moe the bartender from The Simpsons, has been chosen to be the new voice on trams and busses making the rounds in the capital city.

When the Prague Transport Authority conducted a poll for the new voice of Prague public transport last year more than 200,000 votes were cast and the popular actor and voiceover artist won hands down, with 62 percent of respondents, approximately 124,000 Prague commuters voting in his favour.

His voice will replace that of Dagmar Hazdrová –whose voice was used on Prague's trams and busses for almost thirty years.

Dagmar Hazdrová and Jan Vondráček | Photo: Petr Hejna,  Dopravní podnik hl. m. Prahy

The importance of getting “the right voice“ for city transport announcements developed over the years. In the 1960s tram and bus drivers themselves would make the announcement, often sounding grumpy or tired from the routine and frequently mumbling the name of a stop that made it difficult for foreigners and even locals new to the given area to make out where they were saying.

The first recorded announcements were introduced in 1974, first on the Prague metro and later on mass scale in the city’s trams and busses. The recorded announcements have now been elevated to an art, with members of the public themselves helping to decide which of the professional voices tested for the job is best suited for the task.

Jan Vondráček | Photo: Klára Škodová,  Czech Radio

Jan Vondráček is now recording close to 10,000 announcements – over 2,000 for Prague trams and 7,000 for Prague’s busses, which also take commuters to surrounding areas in central Bohemia. The names of the tram and bus stops are recorded with different intonations so they can be used in a variety of different announcements. Vondráček says it is important that his pre-recorded voice contains a “human element”.

“I am glad that I have been given the privilege to give machines a human touch. Because when you think about it, the only human elements on city transport vehicles are the driver, whom you no longer have any contact with, and the voice telling you which stop you have reached.”

The Prague metro has its own hand-picked voice actors. Czech Radio announcer Světlana Lavičková is the voice on Line A, Eva Jurinová, a former anchor at Nova TV, on Line B, and Czech Radio’s announcer Tomáš Černý is the voice on Line C.


Authors: Daniela Lazarová , Klára Škodová
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