After more then 30 years on the job at the MBTA, Frank Oglesby Jr. is retiring — but don’t expect him to take it easy.
The transit agency veteran wore many hats over the years, though his most well-known contributions to the system are the prerecorded voiceover messages that have played for riders on the system for more than 20 years.
Oglesby, who had a passion for voiceover and broadcasting since he was 15 years old, will continue to do some audio work for the T on an as-needed basis. But the now former deputy director of The T’s “The Ride” program will pursue his childhood dream, full time.
“There’s all kinds of uses for voice talent – audio books, apps – all kinds of stuff,” Oglesby said when reached by phone, his voice immediately recognizable. “There’s room for a lot of us now. Back when I started to try and break into it 35 years ago, there were just a few people who owned the [voiceover] market. Each market just had a few people, and clients would use them to death. It’s very different now.”
Oglesby said his interest in voice work first started as a high school student, when he idolized legendary announcer Ernie Anderson and first started to dream about becoming a radio DJ. He started visiting stations and reaching out to those in the industry, many of whom he said were “very supportive.”
From there, Oglesby matriculated to UMass Amherst, where he was known as “The Voice” — not just for his resonant vocal chords, but the thunderous delivery he employed when broadcasting station announcements for the college station.
“I would say that the station was ‘The Voice:of Pioneer Valley,’” he said, still perfectly landing the baritone-pitch line 30 years later.
And it stuck. From there, Oglesby said he spent his last year of college interning at WCVB, where he said many encouraged him to develop his skills as a full-time broadcaster. Despite the promising accolades,after college Oglesby took a more practical route and starting working as an editorial assistant for the MBTA’s general manager in 1985.
“At that time I was young – callow youth, lack of confidence – you don’t follow through with certain things,” he said. “It felt ephemeral. It didn’t feel real.”
Still, even at the MBTA, Oglesby was known as the guy with a golden voice among his co-workers, leading to a chance opportunity: the agency’s audio/visual department needed someone to do some voiceover narration for the authority’s HR training videos.
“He had heard there was a new guy around, someone who had a great voice, and he asked me if I would be willing to read for him,” Oglesby recalled. “He ended up liking how I sounded.”
From there, Oglesby was the obvious candidate to be the “voice of the T” when the agency got its first trains featuring automatic audio voiceovers. Those cars first premiered on the Red Line in 1994.
Twenty-two years later, Oglesby says people still see his MBTA lanyard, hear his voice, and recognize him as “The Voice of the T.”
“Once I was in a Starbucks with my 15-year-old son, and all of a sudden the barista says: ‘are you Frank Oglesby?’” he said, laughing. “She just got so excited and I look over at my son, and he’s shaking his head.”
Soon, Oglesby hopes to be recognized for more than just his subway voiceovers.
“People haven’t heard my best stuff, I am actually much better than what people hear on the train announcements,” he said. “I am capable of much more than that.”
Godspeed, Frank. Next stop: your destiny.