The Voice of AOL’s Iconic “You’ve Got Mail” Has a Side Gig

Cleveland’s squad of Uber drivers includes a minor celebrity for those of us who grew up using AOL — Elwood Edwards, the voice behind “you’ve got mail.” Born in New Bern, NC, Edwards started his career in television shortly after graduating from high school. In 1985, he moved to Washington, DC, to be the operations manager at a new independent UHF station. That’s where he met his wife Karen, who was a customer service representative for online service provider Quantum Link, which would eventually become America Online. In 1989, Karen overheard AOL co-founder Steve Case discussing the idea of adding a voice to their then upcoming software for America Online. They settled on “you’ve got mail.” Karen had Elwood record the line on a cassette recorder as a test. It wasn’t long before he became the “you’ve got mail” guy. Unbelievably, he was only paid $200 for the voiceover work. To add insult to injury, he was unable to gain a foothold in the voiceover industry. Explaining that he was represented by William Morris Agency in New York, Elwood says he was pigeonholed as the “you’ve got mail” guy, and no other jobs were forthcoming. Making the best of the situation, Elwood accepted a job as a news graphics supervisor at WCKY-TV IN Akron, Ohio, where he remained until he retired in 2014. Today, the 73-year-old drives an Uber part-time, likely making way more than he did for the AOL voiceover.