When Marana resident Kay Long speaks, people listen — even if they don’t realize who’s talking.
Long is a voiceover professional.
For years, her talents have made their way into a multitude of mediums, from radio ads and audiobooks to phone menus and talking children’s toys.
Come Friday, Long will serve as the voice of the Sun Link streetcar.
It is Long you will hear announcing each stop, when the doors open and close, and when the vehicle reaches its final destination.
She recorded the prompts at her home studio in Dove Mountain, where she has been producing audio under the business name, Special Kay Productions for more than 15 years.
“I wanted it to be a pleasant voice,” Long said of her streetcar persona. “I wanted to sound calm, to speak clearly. I didn’t want to be over-the-top. People are going to hear this every day.”
Long’s background is in broadcast journalism. She graduated with a degree in the field from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1976.
Long followed her brothers to Tucson — both were students at the University of Arizona — in 1979.
She eventually made her way to Los Angeles to work for a sports production company called New Focus, then Minneapolis, where she worked for KSTP, the local ABC affiliate.
By the early 1990s, she found herself back in town, first with Family Life Radio, then as an on-air traffic reporter for Metro Networks, a company that provided live traffic reports to several radio stations in Tucson.
Special Kay has been her primary source for income for six years.
In addition to the national spots and regional recordings, Long has created tracks locally for the likes of Precision Toyota and the Tucson-based medical translation company, CyraCom.
She’s also the voice you hear making announcements on Sun Tran buses all over the city.
Kay said she is on-call for whenever new routes or stops are added.
“Every time I am behind a bus, I imagine what I am saying at each intersection,” she said.
Long doesn’t get downtown too often. She doesn’t have a favorite restaurant along the route, but her husband, who works on the UA campus, is a regular at the Auld Dubliner.
“When he eats lunch with his friends there, he tells everybody that his wife is the voice of the streetcar,” she said.
Long plans to make a special trip to ride the streetcar with a girlfriend.
Of all the voiceover work she does, she said she prefers the type of prompts she recorded for Sun Link.
“They are short and they suit my voice,” she said. “It’s that clean, crisp professional sound, but also conversational.”