Letters: Voice, Postal Service Michele Norris provides an update to a story from last week, the development of a computerized voice for film critic Roger Ebert. She also reads reactions to Tuesday's stories on the troubles of the U.S. Postal Service.
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Letters: Voice, Postal Service

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Letters: Voice, Postal Service

Letters: Voice, Postal Service

Letters: Voice, Postal Service

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Michele Norris provides an update to a story from last week, the development of a computerized voice for film critic Roger Ebert. She also reads reactions to Tuesday's stories on the troubles of the U.S. Postal Service.

MICHELE NORRIS, host:

Time, now, for your comments. And, first, an update to a story we brought you last week.

(Soundbite of recording)

Unidentified Man: Folks know me as W. Friends call me George. You can call me Mr. President.

NORRIS: That was the computer generated voice of our 43rd president created by the Scottish company CereProc. It's devised a way to use past recordings of someone in order to recreate their voice. We read about CereProc in an Esquire magazine profile of Roger Ebert. The film critic lost the ability to speak after cancer surgery and he hired the company to recreate his voice.

Well, yesterday on the "Oprah Winfrey Show," Ebert unveiled it.

(Soundbite of TV show, "Oprah Winfrey Show")

Mr. ROGER EBERT (Film Critic): It still needs improvement, but, at least it sounds like me. When I type anything, this voice will speak whatever I type. When I read something, it will read in my voice.

NORRIS: Film critic Roger Ebert there speaking through computer generated technology.

Many of you have something to say about the woes of the U.S. Postal Service. We reported on how a drop in mail volume and the recession has the service drowning in red ink. And according to your emails, customer service should be high on that list. We have complaints about packages not being delivered on time, very long lines and surly clerks.

Robert Patterson(ph) of Austin, Texas says he hasn't been to the post office in years. He writes: Why should I when right across the street is a privately run mail center where people understand that if they don't provide good, friendly service, they will lose their jobs.

A suggestion from the Postmaster General to get the service back in the black is to close down some offices and move services to grocery stores or drug stores.

Robin Haddin(ph), a letter carrier from the small town of Huntington, Vermont writes to tell us that our conversation with the postmaster in Asheville, North Carolina, population 68,889, didn't really address what it would mean for rural areas to lose their post office. Haddin writes: There is no supermarket or pharmacy that could take the place of our post office. Currently there's only one other business in town, a country store that sells gas and essentials. She goes on to say that she thinks cuts should be made at the very top. And Haddin concludes: I hope that when these decisions are made, the uniting factor that the Postal Service plays in the civic and social life of the country is considered.

We always appreciate hearing your perspective by email or actual letter. Write to us at npr.org or write to us at 635 Massachusetts Avenue Northwest, Washington, D.C. 20001.

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