ON AIR NOW

LISTEN NOW

Weather

cloudy-day
82°
Mostly Clear
H -° L 68°
  • cloudy-day
    82°
    Current Conditions
    Mostly Clear. H -° L 68°
  • clear-day
    Today
    Mostly Clear. H -° L 68°
  • clear-day
    91°
    Tomorrow
    Mostly Clear. H 91° L 70°
LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

Wsb news on-demand

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

Wsb traffic on-demand

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

Wsb weather on-demand

00:00 | 00:00

National Govt & Politics
Pulling back the curtain on Jamie Dupree 2.0
Close

Pulling back the curtain on Jamie Dupree 2.0

Pulling back the curtain on Jamie Dupree 2.0
Photo Credit: Jamie Dupree

Pulling back the curtain on Jamie Dupree 2.0

Monday marks the start of a new effort to get my voice back on the radio for the first time in two years, by using a high tech solution, a computer generated voice, drawn from recordings of my old stories, as medical efforts to bring my voice back - to anything close to normal - have not been successful.

It was April 2016 when my voice began to falter, after I got sick on a family vacation; since then, my doctors have determined that I have a rare neurological disorder, in which the signals from the brain are getting mixed up somehow, causing my tongue to push out of my mouth when I speak - it's known as 'tongue protrusion dystonia.'

As it became obvious in the last year that my voice was not coming back, we searched for answers, and finally, high tech guru Mike Lupo at our Cox Media Group corporate headquarters contacted a company in Scotland, CereProc, which agreed to try to build what amounts to a Jamie Dupree voice app.

How does it work? How do I produce stories with it? Why is it even needed? Let's take a look.

1. Let's start with an explanation of what's wrong. Over the past two years, there have been no answers in the search for my voice. What I have is a neurological disorder, for which there really aren't specific treatments, known as tongue protrusion dystonia. When I try to talk, my tongue pops out of my mouth, my throat clenches, and it results in a strangled, unintelligible voice. I've been to Johns Hopkins, Georgetown, George Washington, the Cleveland Clinic, Emory University. The Mayo Clinic wouldn't take my case. Many doctors have frankly admitted my problems were above their expertise. At Easter of 2017, the head of the voice center at the Cleveland Clinic correctly diagnosed my problems, but had no names to offer me in terms of treatment. I have been seeing a doctor outside of D.C. who agreed to try to decipher my case, but we really haven't pushed any closer to a solution. In March, I saw Dr. Hyder Jinnah at the Emory University Brain Health Center in Atlanta - he gave me two Botox shots to my tongue in mid-May, to see if that would slow my tongue, and stop it from thrusting out of my mouth when I speak. It hasn't really helped, so we will try again in August, with a little more Botox. You can hear from my doctor in this report that was done by CNN's medical unit, thanks to producer Sandee LaMotte.

2. Building a voice from the Dupree archives. Since my voice isn't going to re-appear anytime soon, we started looking for high tech ways to get me back on the air. The first step was gathering years of recordings of my voice. I have shoe boxes filled with cassette tapes, reel-to-reel tapes, mini-discs, hard drives, and all sorts of different media storage devices from the first time I went on the radio in 1983, up through April of 2016 when my voice went out. But to build this voice, we focused on recordings from the last few years, which I had saved on our company computer system. Whether it was my reports from Capitol Hill, or from out on the campaign trail, I had hours and hours of material. But what the people at CereProc needed was audio that was only from me - so I spent several very late nights sorting through hundreds and hundreds of my stories to isolate those items which would help build a good voice. Going through all of that audio, it was like a trip down memory lane of what news stories that I had covered in the past few years, where I had been during my campaign coverage, what stories were big, and more. But that audio search was also a sobering personal reminder for me, that what was once normal - the mere act of speaking on the radio - was now impossible. Thus, the need for Jamie Dupree 2.0.

Jamie Dupree
Close

voice13

Jamie Dupree

3. CereProc then goes to work. Once I handed off hundreds of audio files to the folks at CereProc in Scotland, all I could do was wait to see what they were going to be able to produce. "The voice was harder to build as the audio data used to build the voice was not recorded for the purpose of building a text-to-speech voice," said Graham Leary, who was in charge of my voice development. "Normally we would record a phonetically-balanced script, optimized for coverage of the different sounds in English," he added. In other words - they would bring someone in to record 30 hours or more of material, to make sure they get all the right sounds. With me, they had to improvise, but Leary said it worked out okay. "The radio reports are high quality and a suitable alternative - they are studio-recorded, read in a measured, consistent style and don't have any interjections from other speakers, crowd noise, applause etc. that can make audio difficult to work with." Trust me, this is a complicated process.

4. Pairing the voice with a text-to-speech program. The folks at CereProc recommended downloading a freeware program called "Balabolka" to use with my Jamie Dupree 2.0 voice. While the name might be a tongue twister, the program is fairly straightforward. You load a specific voice to be used - in my case, the "CereVoice Jamiedupree - English (East Coast America)" voice. You type in some words. Then you hit the 'play' button. And it plays what you write. Hit another button, and it exports those written words into a computer generated audio file, either wav or mp3. Balabolka is a very powerful tool, and can probably do a lot more than I am using it for - but to see how it easy it was to hit Alt-W and generate an mp3 file with my new voice, it was really quite a surprise. So, when you hear me on the radio with this synthesized voice, it will just be me typing the words, and saving them into an audio file.

Jamie Dupree
Close

voice14

Jamie Dupree

5. How does the voice work? When I type words into the text-to-speech program, it doesn't go looking in an audio vault on my laptop for the exact words that I write, and then put those words together one-by-one. Instead, it searches out the sounds that would be made. So, this is not a question of having me on tape saying every word in the dictionary. Yes, it helps to have examples of me saying "President Trump" or "Congress." But I know there was no example in my stories of me saying "Rudy Giuliani," and yet, that popped out perfectly when I tried out the voice. How can that happen? CereProc uses "neural networks" to generate voices. "The neural networks, which contain between six to 10 layers each, work by slicing audio recordings of words down to phonetics," the BBC wrote in a technical story about my new computer generated voice. This allows the Jamie Dupree 2.0 voice - and other voices created by companies all over the world - to navigate through just about any piece of text.

6. Figuring out certain words and sounds. While I have great praise for CereProc, the Jamie Dupree 2.0 voice isn't perfect. One thing you run into immediately is that certain words and phrases don't sound right - either because they are not pronounced clearly enough, or they seem artificially shortened. So, I spend a lot of time going back and moving words around in my news copy to see if it will sound better. One other way to massage the voice is that there are also a series of XML commands which can be used to emphasize certain words, to change the pitch, or alter the speed. One thing I quickly noticed is that the voice cuts off a word rather sharply at the end of a sentence - I simply found a way to fix that by slowing down the speed of the last word (or syllable) by 1 or 2 notches, to make it sound more natural. But there are some words that just don't come out right, even if they are spelled correctly, so you have to be inventive. "Investigation" just doesn't come out right, no matter what I try. House Speaker Paul Ryan's last name didn't sound good at all - so I wrote "Rye Inn" instead - and that sounded just right. Let's take the word "denuclearize." It sounded awful when written that way - but I found a way to make it sound better, as shown in the graphic below, by making it D-nuclear-rise, and by slowing down the final syllable.

Jamie Dupree
Close

voice16

Jamie Dupree

7. What does Jamie Dupree 2.0 sound like? Listen to this extended 'interview' that I did with the BBC World Service. Some of the words and phrases sound natural and fairly normal - at other times, it gets a bit robotic. But to me, it's still pretty amazing. It is my voice in there. And to be on the BBC World Service was a treat - I got hooked on shortwave radio as a teenager, and loved listening to Alistair Cooke's 'Letter from America' each week. Will this voice solution work in the long run? That will be up to my bosses - and really, up to the listeners. If they can deal with the different sound - whether in a newscast, or a longer form appearance - then I will still be able to deliver the news from Capitol Hill. I fully expect to get a lot of people saying nice things, and I fully expect to get a lot of mean and nasty social media messages as well.

8. Comparing the old, the new, and 2.0 After two years of not having a voice that was ready for a trip to the grocery store - much less going on the radio - it is truly fantastic to have a way to get back on the radio. Yes, the voice is a bit robotic at times. But it is me. I can hear myself in these words. So, let's look at how I sounded before, what I sound like now, and what Jamie Dupree 2.0 is like.

This news report is from February 28, 2016, at a Trump rally in Alabama. It was a giant crowd, and was one of my favorite reports from the first three months of 2016, when I was chasing the candidates all over the country.

https://cmgwsbradiojamiedupree.files.wordpress.com/2016/11/trump-alabama2.mp3

What do I sound like now? I can get out words that sound okay, but not in any type of rapid fire way. If I am going to speak, it has to be very slow, and with a pen in my mouth to keep my tongue occupied (that is the source of my problem, a tongue which is not behaving properly, as it pops out of my mouth when I speak).

https://cmgwsbradiojamiedupree.files.wordpress.com/2018/06/jamie-dupree-now-voice.mp3

As you can tell from that audio, it is a struggle to say just about anything. So, we go to Jamie Dupree 2.0. It can say anything that I want (though four letter words don't come out very well, just in case you were wondering). But, all I really want is to find my real voice again. Version 1 was better. But Jamie Dupree 2.0 is here, and this is what it sounds like.

https://cmgwsbradiojamiedupree.files.wordpress.com/2018/06/dupree-immigration1.mp3

9. Thanks to Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL). I can't give any rundown on my voice without thanking Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. When she was elected after the death of Rep. Claude Pepper (D-FL), one of my company's radio stations was in Miami, so I got to know her right away when she arrived in Congress in 1989. While Cox Media Group sold our news-talk station in Miami, I still kept in touch with Ros-Lehtinen in the hallways of the Capitol. She would hear me on the radio and happily chirp, "The most connected man in Washington!" When I told her of my voice problems late in 2017, she gave me a hug and said she would help. Her speech on the floor of the House in December drew attention to my problems, and spurred interest from news organizations. That's how CNN's medical unit got interested, and that's how I found my way to Dr. Jinnah at Emory. I can't thank Ros-Lehtinen, Speaker Ryan, and others for their help. It made a difference for me.

10. How do I feel about Jamie Dupree 2.0? Let's be honest. I want to be able to speak normally. Even just somewhat normally. A friend texted me to ask, was I nervous about the new voice? I guess, a little. But if there is one thing that I take from the last two years, it's that I never gave up. I kept working at my job. I kept searching for a medical answer. I'm still searching for that answer. The outlook was admittedly bleak at times, like in April 2017 when the doctor at the Cleveland Clinic told me that no one could even treat my neurological/voice disorder. Early on, I knew I couldn't give up. I have kids who are only 9, 11, and 14. "I think everyone saw how passionate and how badly/deeply you wanted this," my boss told me the other day. "He never let anyone see him sweat," said my friend and colleague Dorey Scheimer.

A few weeks ago, I was asked to come down to our company's headquarters in Atlanta - our CEO Alex Taylor wanted to see me. It turned out to be an event with several hundred people, where I was presented with the "Governor Cox Award," named after our company's founder, Taylor's great-grandfather, James M. Cox. Taylor told the audience that because of my voice problems, I could have given up, I could have gone on disability, I could have quit my job. But I didn't. His words meant a lot to me, and they have been echoed by many inside our company in recent weeks. I want to thank him, and many others for their support.

Finally, I want to thank all the listeners, viewers, readers, and fellow ham radio operators who have sent me expressions of support over the past two years. Your words of encouragement were a great source of strength.

I would also thank those of you who sent me nasty emails, and celebrated my voice troubles. I know you will be back to criticize my new voice.

But you know what? Those jabs make me work even harder to stay in the news arena.

And now, we go onward - with Jamie Dupree 2.0.

Read More

News

  • Authorities were called to a church in Bridgeton, New Jersey, after reports of a man throwing rocks through stained-glass windows, according to news reports. >> Read more trending news  The incident happened at Immaculate Conception Holy Cross Church on Saturday, NJ.com reported. Witnesses called police and described the suspect, reporting that the man had thrown two large rocks through two stained-glass windows at the church. Police said they arrested a suspect identified as Norris Glass III, 40, at a nearby gas station, according to NJ.com. Glass is facing criminal mischief charges after police said he caused $4,000 in damage to the church. >> Trending: Horrified mother watches son, boyfriend drown as powerful rip current drags them out to sea Glass is no stranger to authorities. He was convicted of criminal trespassing in 2013 and pleaded guilty to obstructing the administration of law in 2017, the news outlet reported.  
  • Memorial Day -- it is a holiday many Americans celebrate by spending time with loved ones and enjoying the May weather.  >> Read more trending news But how might some of the more than 21 million U.S. veterans view and celebrate one the country's most somber holidays, which was created to remember the men and women who died fighting for their country? Retired U.S. Army Gen. Bob Drolet told WHNT, 'We're engaged in conflict today in the Middle East and there are people who are giving their lives almost on a daily basis. So you have to have a day where you remember the sacrifices.'  And there are many sacrifices to remember. According to findings from the Pew Research Center, since Sept. 11, 2001, about half of U.S. vets have served alongside a comrade who was killed, with that number rising for men and women in combat.   And because of those firsthand horrors experienced in battle, many soldiers and veterans spend Memorial Day a bit differently than the average American might.   Take Capt. David Danelo, the author of 'The Return' and a Marine Corps infantry officer who served in Iraq. 'I'm proud to be a civilian and I'm proud to be a Marine,' he said.  In honor of Memorial Day, Danelo talked to Legacy.com and said that on Memorial Day, he not only remembers his fallen comrades, but goes to visit the graves of those who may have been forgotten. 'There's one cemetery in Philadelphia that has a Civil War veteran who I'll go see. He’s long been forgotten and nobody thinks about him. I just walk around there and pay my respects to (his) memory.'  The 'Flags In' ceremony is another way a lot of soldiers commemorate Memorial Day: placing flags on the graves at Arlington National Cemetery.  'It's kind of an emotional process to know, 'cause I feel connected to each one of these soldiers that served before me. So it's kind of like a brotherhood thing. We just want to take care of our brothers and sisters, make sure they look good,' Pfc. Michael Samuel told USA Today.  But still, at least for wounded retired Army Staff Sgt. Luke Murphy, there is a feeling that civilians could make more of an effort to pay respects to fallen soldiers.  In a CNN op-ed piece Murphy gave an emotional account of losing his friend and fellow service member Sgt. 1st Class Jason Bishop while serving in Iraq.  Murphy wrote, in part, 'When soldiers die, they don't just roll over and quit like in the movies. They fight like hell. ... And sometimes they lose. The biggest loser is the family, though. ... The next biggest losers are the guys who were with the soldier. Many times they've got survivor's guilt. ... So, what do nonfamily members and nonveterans think about on Memorial Day? Sometimes I think they just don't give a damn.' Murphy suggests that people who want to show respect for members of the military make a donation to organizations such as Homes for Our Troops. That's the program that built Murphy and his family a new home that is accessible for someone with his injuries.   So however you choose to spend Memorial Day, whether by the pool or at a parade, try to remember why the holiday exists. 
  • An Oxford, Mississippi, police officer has been charged with the murder of a north Mississippi mother. >> Read more trending news The shooting happened Sunday afternoon in the 1000 block of Suncrest Drive. Officers arrived to the scene to find an “unresponsive person” who was pronounced dead at the scene. The victim was identified as Dominique Lashelle Clayton, 32. She was the mother of four, according to neighbors. Friends told WHBQ-TV that Clayton was shot in the back of the head during a domestic situation. Her 8-year-old son found her after being dropped off at the house by a family member on Sunday. Interim Oxford Police Chief Jeff McCutchen said the department learned on Sunday that Matthew Paul Kinne, an Oxford police officer, was possibly 'involved' with Clayton. The Mississippi Bureau of Investigation took over the case, and Kinne was developed as a suspect. Dominiques Clayton's sister, Shyjuan, said Kinne and Dominique Clayton had been having an affair. Kinne was arrested Monday night and is being held in the Panola County jail. He is charged with murder. “We will not hide behind our badge,' McCutchen said. 'Dominque was a mother, a daughter, a sister, a friend and a member of our community. This day is about her.” Kinne has been a police officer with the Oxford Police Department for four years.
  • Operating rooms at Seattle Children’s Hospital were shut down after discovery of Aspergillus, a fungus that can cause infections, hospital staff said Tuesday. >> Read more trending news 'Last weekend, air tests detected Aspergillus in several operating rooms and equipment storage rooms at our main campus,' a hospital spokeswoman said. 'Aspergillus is a common mold often present in the air we breathe. However, in rare instances, it can cause complications for surgical patients. Though we believe the risk to our patients is very low, we will be contacting our surgical patients who may have been exposed. The fungus postponed between 20 and 50 surgeries per day, and 3,000 patients were being notified, hospital staff said. A patient hotline has been activated: (206) 987-1061 'Patient safety is our top priority, and we are taking this situation very seriously. All affected operating rooms have been closed and will remain so until we are confident that the areas are clear of Aspergillus. We are postponing or diverting some surgical cases and moving others to our Bellevue campus. We will also perform some cases in areas of our hospital that have been determined to be clear of Aspergillus, like our cardiac catheterization facility. We are working with an outside industrial hygienist to investigate the source of the Aspergillus and implement mitigation measures. We have also reported the situation to the Washington State Department of Health.' Most people breathe in Aspergillus spores every day without getting sick, according to the Centers for Disease Control. “However, people with weakened immune systems or lung diseases are at a higher risk of developing health problems due to Aspergillus,' according to the CDC's site. 'The types of health problems caused by Aspergillus include allergic reactions, lung infections, and infections in other organs.” Seattle Children’s Hospital did 11,498 outpatient surgeries and 4,586 inpatient surgeries across their facilities in the 2018 fiscal year, according to hospital statistics. Seattle Children’s has roughly 50,000 annual emergency department visits and 38,000 urgent care visits across all locations.
  • A controversy over a massive American flag is now reaching a new level as the company responsible for flying the flag is rallying community support to fight the City of Statesville, North Carolina, which has reportedly filed a lawsuit to have the flag removed. >> Read more trending news Camping World posted a message to its Facebook page on Saturday saying the city has filed an injunction against Camping World, fining the company $50 per day going back to Oct. 15, 2018. That totals nearly $11,000. The company said it flies the 40-by-80-foot flag outside of its Gander RV location as a way of paying tribute to the country’s military veterans. The city had compromised last year by allowing an exemption for a larger flag than what city ordinance permits, but not the size that Camping World was seeking. The company chose to fly the flag anyway and Camping World’s CEO has pushed for a change of the ordinance. An online petition has also been started at Change.org in support of the company keeping the flag flying. As of Monday morning, more than 7,900 people had signed the petition.  WSOC-TV has covered the debate for years. In 2015, the state said the store couldn't fly the flag because of a city ordinance.  The city's lawsuit claims a flag within 100 feet of a highway cannot be larger than 25 by 40 feet. The company's CEO said similar flags are up at more than 200 stores across the country, including several cities in North Carolina, none of which have had any problems with them. “I don’t care if it goes to $500 a day. It's not coming down,” Marcus Lemonis, CEO and chairman of Camping World and Gander RV, said. Lemonis said it’s personal to him. “My family has been car dealers, had been car dealers since the 1960s, and our key trademark was always flying our flag in our dealership in South Florida,” he said. “My family is largely immigrants of the country.” Council minutes from October show leaders tried to amend the ordinance to allow a flag of this size, but the motion failed 3 to 5. The City of Statesville sent a statement saying Gander RV applied to fly a flag far smaller than the one the company put up. A spokesperson said the city only started fining the company after asking it to replace the flag several times.
  • A 3-year-old Georgia girl died Saturday after what police described as a heinous sexual assault and beating. The girl, identified by police as Janiyah Armanie Brooks, of Albany,  died at 12:15 p.m. Saturday at an Atlanta hospital, where she had been on a ventilator, WALB-TV reported. >> Read more trending news  Update 7:15 p.m. EDT May 21: A GoFundMe account has been set up in the name of Janiyah Brooks, who died Saturday after a brutal attack and sexual assault. So far, the fund has raised almost $4,000 of its $5,000 goal to help the family of the 3-year-old with burial expenses. The girl’s mother and stepfather were both arrested and are facing numerous charges in the case. Update 10:15 a.m. EDT May 20: Janiyah was unresponsive when Albany police responded to her home one week ago. She had been severely beaten with injuries to her head, ribs and hands, according to police. She also had injuries to her vaginal area. It wasn’t the first time Janiyah had been hurt, an investigation by the agency’s family protection unit and the Georgia Department of Family and Children Services found. An exam showed further evidence of old wounds, Albany police said in a news release. Her parents called 911 around 7:30 a.m. May 13, but they did not disclose the nature of the problem with their daughter. Her stepfather, 20-year-old Gregory Parker, only told officers the girl was unconscious, police said.  Parker was arrested on Friday in connection with the assault. The next day, Janiyah died, WALB-TV reported. Parker was initially arrested on charges of aggravated child molestation, rape, aggravated sodomy, aggravated battery and first-degree cruelty to children. Police have not said if additional charges will be filed in light of his stepdaughter’s death. Original report: Albany police responded to the girl's home about 7:30 a.m. May 13 for an 'unknown problem,' the department said in a news release Friday. When officers arrived, Gregory Parker, 20, said his stepdaughter was 'unresponsive,' police said. Emergency personnel transported the girl to the hospital. Investigators said the girl 'had been severely beaten and sexually assaulted,' according to the news release. 'The child had injuries to her vaginal area, ribs, along with swollen hands and unknown trauma to her head,' the release said. 'She appeared to have old wounds, as well.' Parker, 20, was arrested and charged with rape, aggravated child molestation, aggravated sodomy, aggravated battery and first-degree child cruelty, authorities said. The girl's mother, 19-year-old Crystal Brooks, also faces charges of aggravated battery, battery, first-degree child cruelty and giving a false statement initially, police said. >> Read the Police Department's Facebook post here Medical examiners will perform an autopsy on the child Monday, officials said. Read more here or here.