Marine Corps veteran proud to represent Tampa Bay as the new Voice of TPA
Sean Baker of Temple Terrace has gone from helicopter pilot to audio star as the winner of this year's contest, which benefits the United Way Suncoast.
Templa Terrace resident Sean Baker considers himself an average Joe, but there’s nothing average about his story.
As a retired Marine Corps helicopter pilot who was previously stationed at MacDill Air Force Base, Baker has traveled the world and flown in many harrowing situations.
“I’ve landed a 26-ton helicopter everywhere from the side of a mountain in Pakistan to an ocean carrier in the middle of the water at 3 a.m.,” Baker said. “Some people had a really good day when they saw the helicopter. Others, not so much."
While preparing to fly out of Tampa International Airport on a recent trip, Baker decided to enter TPA's Voice of TPA contest after reading about it in the Airport’s weekly newsletter, On the Radar.
The contest offers one lucky winner the chance to be the voice that greets thousands of passengers each day on the Airport shuttles, replacing the standard greeting by Tampa Mayor Jane Castor for the entire month of July. All the proceeds from the contest entries were donations to the United Way Suncoast to help Tampa Bay families in need.
“I was actually sitting in a lounge at TPA when I decided to enter,” Baker said. “I honestly didn’t think I’d win and I was just happy to know that even if I didn’t win, the money I donated would go to a great cause.”
Baker was informed in June that he had been chosen through a random drawing featured on Facebook Live. After TPA published a story about his win, Baker began hearing from friends, many giving him kudos and some giving him a good-natured hard time.
“Oh there have been quite a few jokes about my winning this contest,” Baker said. “Some of my buddies from the Marine Corps have been joking with me, asking if I’d be too famous for them now. But all kidding aside, others have just been excited for me.”
On the drive to the Airport to record the greeting, Baker was filled with anticipation and questions.
“I just didn’t know how it’d actually go in that audio booth,” Baker recalled. “Would my inflections be right? How would I do following the script with a limited amount of time to record?”
Baker said entering TPA's audio booth felt like being back in the Marines, when he had to have annual hearing tests that were conducted in similar booths. After several takes and a few nervous grins, Baker finished the recording.
On Friday, June 30, Baker was back at TPA to hear his voice featured on the shuttles for the first time. He recalled that as a helicopter pilot, he often communicated using the mic in his headphones, but didn’t quite know how he would sound to others.
“Hearing myself on the shuttles was cool – and my voice sounded crystal clear,” Baker said.
Now a management consultant, Baker helps organizations and businesses build out various processes and make improvements. He frequently travels to and from TPA, primarily for fun.
He said he loves living in Tampa Bay and remarked how easy it is to enjoy a wide variety of activities in the area, from professional sports to amazing sunsets. And now, being the voice that welcomes thousands of people to Tampa Bay each day, Baker is filled with pride.
“Someone can’t really get to or from Tampa without hearing my voice,” Baker said with a grin. “It’s an elite group of sorts – those whose voices have been on the shuttles. It’s easy to miss some of the PA announcements you hear at an airport, but everyone who comes to TPA – no matter what time of day or airline – will be welcomed by me.”