NOAA WX Radio....human or synthesized voice?

NOAA WX Radio....human or synthesized voice? Which do you prefer?

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George Tincher

What do you think folks? I have been trying to get myself accustomed to the non-human voices now for several years. Yet I still do not like them. For one, the voices mispronounce community names, speed up suddenly while saying a word (making it hard to understand) and just generally annoy me. But the biggest complaint I have is knowing that a machine is telling me information that could be used to save my life. I don't know how everyone else feels, but I prefer having an actual human voice giving me that type of info. A human can place great emphasis on certain words. And just the tone and level of concern in the voice is yet another source of info alone! Mr. Roboto can't do that. And, does anyone remember the big, deep voice on NOAA in the early-mid 1980's that went over severe weather safety rules? That voice just completely commanded attention! I miss that.

I realize the argument for the synthesized voices is that it speeds up the process of getting the warning issued. And that is a plus. But there has to be a better way which would speed up the process while allowing an actual human being to read the warning. And if not, at least allow real voices to read off the area forecasts, climate data and special weather statements, etc. That Roboto thing doesn't have to be left on to yack day and night! LOL. And the female voice is even worse. I think they call it "Donna" or something. This voice sounds like a frightened Sally Struthers attempting to speak! Unfortunately, my local office chooses to use this one frequently and you find yourself listening carefully as it delivers the info by way of quivering voice.

It seems we keep giving more and more tasks to machines as we become more technologically sophisticated. Technology is good, but where does it eventually stop? I suppose part of my hate for automated voices relates directly to the modern answering services. Even the small businesses seem to all have them these days. You call and are prompted to press this, then press that...and on and on and on! Whatever happened to the days when you would call someone and they picked up the phone and said hello? Why have we become so impersonal these days? LOL.

So, am I the only person who really hates these goofy voices? Or are there others out there who wish we make a return to the days when we received our NOAA WX Radio info by way of real, live, breathing human beings?
Mr Roboto kinda reminds me of a drunken hillbilly sometimes. Especially when it tries to slur through words like Ardmore and Wilbarger. I also like how the OUN NWR says Amarillah and the AMA NWR says Amaril-LOW! Then there was that time I was looking all over the map for Chermaine County in Texas. My favorite is Señor Roboto in New Mexico - when it broadcasts the warnings in Spanish....can Spanish speakers even understand that? Mrs Roboto in Wichita I found useful though, when she would shout "Hello!" every 15 minutes. Really helped me stay awake on a chase in southeast KS once.

What's really funny is hearing non-wx people's thoughts on NWR. Once I was listening to the KATT when a tornado warning was broadcast for the counties north of OKC. After the warning was over one of the DJ's said...."man, you think with all the money the NWS has they could afford to pay someone to say that". I was LMAO after that.....
I voted "human voice", but that's really a preference for coverage for severe weather in progress. As far as normal broadcasts or severe weather info/watches, I prefer Mr. Roboto. Listening to him struggle through county names such as Kiowa and Pontotoc is pricless entertainmant during the down time.
I agree with Shane. For one, a actual human voice would cause people to sit up and take notice. Secondly, the tone and inflection is a very important part of communication. I don't mind the automated speaking for regular products, but for severe products, a human voice is absolutely necessary, IMO.

The real problem with the human voice is under a severe weather announcement, you can hear the stress/excitement which in some cases creates a problem of intelligibility. Around here the new computer voices are in place and sound good.
I think a human voice is preferable but not necessary. Keep in mind that without automation, the recent expansion of the NWR network would not be possible. Offices have 5-10 transmitters and there is no way they could keep with all that. Automation is faster and allows the staff to devote more time to warning decisions and forecasting. While I like a human voice, the new computer voices are pretty good and will only get better. I no longer have much complaint about Mr. Roboto.
I have no problem with the computer voice most of the time. But I definitely support having live cut-ins during severe weather episodes.


Mike brings up a good point. Some offices do a very good job of going live during severe weather outbreaks. It has to be done well, but if done right, is the best way to go.
To me, the live cut-ins give a sense of urgency during severe weather outbreaks. I think once people are conditioned to heating the CRS voices routinely, they have a tendency to pay closer attention to the situation when they recognize a real person is transmitting.

Just my take on it.


Good points folks. I too would love to hear more of the live updates during severe weather events.
Just an inch or two! Then rain is in the forecast, just before Christmas. However it's supposed to snow on Christmas Day, so we stand a chance of a white Christmas :)