WASHINGTON DC — WSB Radio Reporter Jamie Dupree is coming back on the air, but with a new voice.
Dupree covers Capitol Hill for the Cox Media Group (which includes WSB-TV and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and is a part of Cox Enterprises). For 30 years Atlanta audiences have heard his voice reporting on Washington politics.
In the spring of 2016, during the wildest presidential primary ride in recent history, Dupree came down with a stomach bug on a trip to England. His stomach recovered, but bizarre side-effects followed.
His voice became wheezy and high-pitched, and he struggled for words. Finally, he couldn’t speak at all.
Doctors were baffled.
But last year, a doctor at the Cleveland Clinic diagnosed his malady as tongue protrusion dystonia. It’s a neurological condition that causes the tongue to involuntarily protrude and the throat to close when the brain sends the signal to talk. The condition is vanishingly rare. There is little understanding of the cause and no known treatment.
Dupree's condition caught the attention of CereProc, a Scottish company that creates text-to-speech technology. Normally, to create a voice, CereProc clients have to record themselves speaking, something impossible for Dupree.
But he had years of audio recordings from his time on air.
So last month Dupree opened his laptop, and typed in his first sentence. His computer read it back in the voice of Jamie Dupree: “My name is Jamie Dupree. This is my new voice.”
So beginning Monday, Dupree will be back on the airwaves with his new voice, dubbed Jamie Dupree 2.0.
His reports from Washington will be pronounced by the synthesized creation of CereProc. Dupree said the voice sounds slightly artificial but is still recognizable as his voice.
“Look, the voice is not perfect,” writes Dupree. “At times it sounds robotic… But I can hear myself in those words. And I think the listeners will be able to hear me as well.”
Cox Media Group