NYC Transit Interim President Sarah Feinberg and New York Nico appeared live today on PIX11 Morning News with Dan Mannarino and Betty Nguyen to discuss the launch of subway and bus announcements from iconic New Yorkers encouraging mask usage, social distancing and general courtesy when traveling in the system. The announcements are part of a collaboration between the MTA and New York Nico and can be heard in all 472 subway stations, on subway cars and buses.
A transcript of their joint interview appears below.
Dan Mannarino: Ok, Sarah here we go. MTA announcements making their debut today, with some familiar voices behind them. I want to take a listen to one of them and then we’ll chat about it.
Angie Martinez (subway announcement audio): Hello party people, it’s Angie Martinez. Listen, don’t hold the doors while the train is in the station. This is just a friendly reminder, you know this. Holding the doors can slow down thousands of riders who are just trying to make it home or to work on time.
Mannarino: Radio personality Angie Martinez. Got some big shoes to fill because my MTA ad made its debut months ago, just to say the least. She’ll be joined with a handful of New York’s very own celebrities thanks to a new partnership with self-proclaimed, unofficial talent scout of New York City, Nicolas Heller aka New York Nico and he is now joining us as well this morning. Hey Nico.
New York Nico: How you doing?
Mannarino: I mean, Sarah, first off, I was replaced.
Feinberg: Like I said, you know, this is phase one of a wonderful collaboration, there are more phases to come. So keep working at it and maybe you'll, you know, make it back into the system at some point.
Mannarino: How did you link up with New York Nico?
Feinberg: Oh, you know, working with Nic has been wonderful. So we reached out a couple of months ago and said, look, we've had a tough year, we, we continue to have a tough time, we'd really like to, you know, look at ways to bring ridership back, look at ways to bring a little joy back into the system, look at ways to bring some joy to our workforce. So of course we reached out to the artificial talents got a New York City, New York Nico, and when you're working with someone of this caliber, basically, you just hand over the reins and get out of the way and that's what I did.
Mannarino: Yeah, seriously. Nico, you have been a hero for small businesses during the pandemic, right? We know this. You've launched that campaign to help out the Astor Place barber shop in the village, Frank Sports Shop in the Bronx, among so many others. So how has it been going, how is it going helping so many mom-and-pop shops?
New York Nico: I mean, it's, it's been great. I didn't realize that I kind of had that superpower until a few months ago, but it's just been, it's been great. They need as much help as they can get. You know, I speak to these businesses every day and at this point, they just need they just need to buy time. You know, like, in a few months we're really hoping that things kind of start going back to normal but it's hard because rent is so crazy nowadays.
Mannarino: And you’re a New Yorker through and through. I mean, you got the Yankee hat on so I guess you're a Yankee fan. I mean, you were drinking out of a Zabar’s mug, right? You got that Zabar’s mug handy, right? So you know, you know where to go. Sarah I want to talk about the round of announcements. They feature such an eclectic group of New Yorkers, including some rappers. Let's play another one.
Jadakiss (subway announcement audio): What's up New York? It’s your boy Jadakiss with an important reminder to practice social distancing on a train and in the station whenever possible.
Young M.A (subway announcement audio): If your nose is hanging out, that’s a no, go. Don't get caught mask slipping. Thanks for doing your part to keep New York City healthy.
Mannarino: Sarah, I didn't know you're a hip hop fan. Jadakiss, Young M.A?
Feinberg: I love it so much. I mean, look, we did not take these folks and say, oh please repeat this stuffy message that's been running in the subway system for 20 years -- no offense – what we said is bring your personality to it. We want to hear your authentic voice, we want you to bring a little bit of yourself to the system and just, each one makes me so happy.
Mannarino: I love it, I love it. Nico, how long did it actually take you to connect with the celebrities? Convince them? Did you have to? Was there a convincing thing you had to do to get them to say, okay, I'm on board?
New York Nico: No, I mean, it's, what greater honor than to be the voice of the MTA, you know? So everyone was down and everyone was down to volunteer their time. No one got paid. So yeah, you know.
Mannarino: Give me, quick, give me some other good names. Jerry Seinfeld, right?
New York Nico: Debi Mazar, Whoopi Goldberg, Desus and Mero.
Mannarino: Ah, love them.
New York Nico: Oh, Fran Lebowitz.
Mannarino: Fran Lebowitz!
New York Nico: We got Fran Lebowitz to do a Zoom call with us. Fran Lebowitz does not know how to use a computer. So there’s nothing else.
Mannarino: How’d you do that?
New York Nico: We can't, we can't reveal our secrets.
Mannarino: What’d you say Sarah?
Feinberg: I said Michael Kay, voice of the Yankees.
Mannarino: There you go, there you go. Okay, guys congratulations on the ad campaign, absolutely love it. Sarah, New York Nico, thank you for being here this morning. Happy to lend my voice if you ever need it again. Selfish plug right here okay, I'm on board for whatever you guys need. Thank you guys, both.
Feinberg: We’ll call you. Keep you posted.
Betty Nguyen: She just said don’t call us, we’ll call you.
Mannarino: Sarah, I have your number, I’ll be calling don’t worry. Alright, we’ll be right back everybody.
Nguyen: That was nice Sarah. She slipped that in.