NPR is moving announcer Sabrina Farhi out of her “primary” role reading its sponsorship credits, according to an email to member stations.
In the memo obtained by Current, Eric Nuzum, NPR’s VP of programming, wrote, “You may have noticed a new voice reading some NPR sponsorship credits in January. She is Jessica Hansen, formerly of WAMU [in Washington, D.C.], who has joined us to assist in this work.
“Over the remainder of February, you will start to hear Jessica’s voice more frequently. By the end of the month, she will be the primary voice heard in our on-air sponsorship credit reads.”
“We will be evaluating this arrangement, doing some research and assessment over the coming weeks,” Nuzum added.
NPR spokesperson Isabel Lara confirmed the addition of Hansen and that her role would last through the remainder of February. More information will be available, likely next week, said Lara, who would not comment on Farhi’s future with the network.
Farhi’s NPR bio credits her as “the voice of the NPR corporate sponsorship credits.” An email to Farhi’s NPR email address prompted an auto-reply that said she was out of the office and referred the writer to Hansen “for all funding credit needs.”
Farhi became the voice of NPR’s sponsorship messages in October 2013, taking over for Frank Tavares, who had voiced the credits for 31 years. Farhi beat out 429 applicants for the job, the New Yorker reported.
At the time, Nuzum said: “Out of hundreds of voices, Sabrina’s immediately stood out for its warmth and conversational approach. We think listeners and supporters will find her engaging.”
Farhi has been criticized for having vocal fry, defined by a Los Angeles–based voice doctor as “the low, vibratory sound that comes in some people’s speech, particularly at the end of sentences” that is particularly common among women.
The announcement of Farhi’s hire on NPR.org, accompanied by a sampler reel of her voice, prompted complaints about vocal fry. And founding Morning Edition editor William Drummond said on Current’s The Pub podcast last week that Farhi’s voice is “different in a pejorative sense.”