Voice of traffic reports calls in
Published: Tuesday, January 1, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 1, 2008 at 12:00 a.m.
Bob Albert is the unseen voice of the traffic reports on WCJB-TV 20.
He is also the voice of traffic on WDVH Country Legends in Gainesville, WMOP and WGGG sports channels in Gainesville, Power Country in Lake City and three other radio stations.
Mitchell Martin and Arlene Schmidt, both of Gainesville, wrote Since You Asked wondering about the voice behind the news, his qualifications and where he gets his information.
"Does he work for law enforcement, on WCJB's staff or what?" Schmidt wrote. "He has a nice delivery and I would like to see what he looks like."
Albert says his baritone delivery has been honed over 25 years in radio, with stints in Chicago, Atlanta, Southern Georgia, Fort Myers and Fort Lauderdale.
He was working at WTRS Thunder Country in Ocala six years ago when friend and colleague Chuck Whitaker offered him a way out of the nomadic disc jockey lifestyle as part of Traffic Team Networks Inc.
The company provides traffic reports for 38 stations along the I-75 corridor from Naples to the Georgia line.
The stations provide airtime.
Traffic Team sells its own advertising in 10-second spots at the end of the traffic reports.
Albert said the company gets most of its traffic information from the Florida Highway Patrol.
Staffers also listen to police scanners and take calls from fire/rescue departments.
Albert works out of a home office in Silver Springs and phones in his reports.
Lt. Mike Burroughs, spokesman for FHP Troop B, said the public has access to the same live crash advisories at www.fhp.state.fl.us.
Travelers can also call 511 for updates or hook into the dispatch system through their cell phones or PDAs to see Google maps of accident locations.
Burroughs said he also does live interviews regularly for stations such as K Country 93.7 FM, Wind-FM 92.5/95.5 and The Sky 97.3 FM.
T.J. Hart, news and programming director for The Sky, said producers read the traffic reports and also get calls from people in traffic.
"We get a lot of information from folks who are pretty steamed up on the interstate," he said. "They can tell you what happened because they've been looking at it."
Albert said I-75 in Gainesville is one of the worst stretches, but the worst is Paynes Prairie between Gainesville and Micanopy, citing FHP and fire/rescue.
"Their guess is it's a long straight stretch. It's boring - no turns, no curves - and people lose focus."
The trick to reporting traffic is to be concise.
Albert said he has to condense a lot of information into 40 seconds.
"Everybody uses all the fluff words: 'It's mean and green. It's slow and go.' That's a bunch of (garbage). I like to explain like you're talking to your mom. 'Be careful here.' 'It's slow there,' " he said.
"The main idea is to inform the listeners, but also to protect the law enforcement because people have a tendency to hit crashes. That's the biggest reward is I'm helping people stay safe."
As a DJ, Albert worked for classic rock and talk radio stations, but spent most of his career in country radio, through which he met the likes of Reba McEntire, Tanya Tucker, Vince Gill and Martina McBride.
He even got on Willie Nelson's tour bus, "which I'll never do again. You open the door and the smoke rolled out like a Cheech and Chong movie. But what a nice guy."
Albert's voice can also still be heard doing ads for car dealerships in the Midwest and "imaging" spots for radio stations WMOP, WGGG, Power Country and 40 more in the Midwest.
"When you hear the big voice guy say, 'The best classic rock, the best new rock,' the guy in between the jocks, that's me."
Anthony Clark can be reached at 352-374-5094 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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