The next time you’re traveling through Denver, longtime Colorado news anchor Kim Christiansen will be among the first to welcome you to the Mile High City.
Odds are good you’ve heard “The Voice” reprimanding stragglers squeezing through the closing doors of Denver International Airport’s gate train:
“You are delaying the departure of this train.”
Riding it is unavoidable for most of the airport’s travelers — 61 million of them in 2017. Their volume makes Kim Christiansen (Jour’84) nervous.
Last February, Christiansen, lead anchor for Denver’s 9News broadcast station, won the airport’s contest to become the train’s new female voice, replacing her former 9News colleague Adele Arakawa, who moved to Tucson.
“It’s the most flattering, humbling, exciting thing,” said Christiansen, who is paired with Alan Roach, the former Denver Broncos and Colorado Rockies announcer who has been the train’s male voice since 2007.
Christiansen’s recordings began playing in September.
Since opening in 1995, the airport has enticed several local celebrities to be the voice of the train. Denver anchorwoman Reynelda Muse and the late radio and television personality Pete Smythe did it for years. Colorado Gov. Hickenlooper, Peyton Manning and Lindsey Vonn have supplied guest recordings.
Her new audience: Tens of millions of travelers.
“Having local voices as part of the train call is a great way to welcome visitors to Colorado and locals home,” said Emily Williams, the airport's communications manager.
After winning the contest, Christiansen recorded more than 40 messages at a Denver audio studio. Despite decades of broadcast experience, the former Miss Colorado-turned-journalist
“I walk into this recording studio and here is Alan, the most perfect voice, waiting there, watching,” she said. “It was so intimidating.”
In addition to standard directional messages (“The train is now approaching the A Gates…”) Christiansen recorded announcements for mechanical errors, weather delays and instructions for sudden stops.
Two words in particular caused surprising difficulty.
“I could not get my ‘C’ separated from ‘Gate,’” she said. “I’d never felt so inadequate — and I talk all the time!”
All the same, Christiansen, who has been with 9News for 33 years, loves her new airport role. So does her most important fan: Her teenage son, Tanner, a high school senior.
“He could care less about anything I do, except for this,” she said. “He was like, ‘Mom, you have to get the voice. That would be so dope.’”
Christiansen, who grew up and lives in Arvada, Colo., and was once a twirler for the CU Buffs Marching Band, travels through the airport about four times a year. The rest of the time she is anchoring the 9News 4, 5, 9 and 10 p.m. newscasts. She’s become a familiar face for Coloradans, a reason she thinks won her the spot.
Her train voice partner, Roach, is glad she did.
“She has been a great Colorado story and great Colorado media member for decades,” he said. “She got my vote!”
Email Christie at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo by Glenn Asakawa