The Original Telephone Lady

She set the standard for all of us in the IVR Voicing business — best known as the “Time Lady”; for recordings she made for Bell, and for voicing some of the earliest voice mail systems. Jane Barbe was truly a pioneer in the area of IVR voicing, and someone to whom I hold a huge debt.

A Drama major at the University of Georgia, and a former professional singer (she toured with the Buddy Morrow Orchestra), Barbe began reading automated messages for the Audichron Company (now known as ETC), which led to voicing intercept messages and various other IVR platforms.

Her scope of work was international, recording for clients in Hong Kong, Saudi Arabia, and numerous other countries, including handling systems for Australian callers — and perfectly taming her Southern dialect to nail the Australian accent — no small feat, I can tell you.

Jane Barbe set an incredibly high standard of professionalism and helped a tremendous number of companies establish a strong, professional identity by lending her voice to the very framework of a company’s profile: their telephony persona.

Barbe died from complications from cancer in 2003 at the age of 74, leaving behind a strange legacy of telephony prompts which are still in use today and likely will be in perpetuity.

I have to admit to becoming weak in the knees when one of the attendees at the very first Astricon called me “the Next Jane Barbe” — I can only hope to reach her heights and maintain the high level of quality Ms. Barbe established.

Any good Jane Barbe stories or rememberances? Feel free to leave a note in the “comments” section!

Next blog: I’ll discuss some of my biggest, most arduous voice jobs — and no surprise: they’ve almost always afforded the best sense of fulfillment, too!



  1. Great story!

  2. Amy Barbe Said:

    My lovely mother-in-law used her talents to amuse her grandchildren, too. One Christmas when they were very young she phoned them as Mrs. Claus and they were delighted to hear that Santa was on his way. We miss her very much.

    • voicegal Said:

      Amy: How lovely to hear from you, and thank you for that comment. Jane’s impact was indisputable, and she set the standard for all of us who came after her in the industry. To hear that she was an amazing family woman and adored by people who knew her personally surpirises me not. I only wished our “eras” had overlapped and I got a chance to meet her!

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