December 11, 1998 at 05:00 AM EST

The new Tom Hanks-Meg Ryan online-romance flick You’ve Got Mail resonates for Elwood Edwards in a very big way: He’s the voice America Online users listen to roughly 27 million times each day when they log on and hear ”Welcome!” and ”You’ve got mail!” A veteran TV and radio announcer, Edwards was paid nothing when he made the recordings in 1989 (his wife, an AOL employee whom he had met online, brought him to her bosses’ attention), but he has since come to a financial arrangement with AOL that, he says, ”makes me very happy.” His quirky fame has also resulted in some unsavory offers, the most outrageous of which was to do voice-overs for telephone-sex lines. Now the 49-year-old Edwards has his own Web page, which includes his resume and offers business clients customized voice-overs. And in the face of some big-league competition, his appeal endures. Last year AOL began allowing users to opt for celeb voices like those of David Letterman and Rosie O’Donnell, rather than Edwards’ ”default voice.” Sorry, Dave; sorry, Rosie: Less than 20 percent of AOL’s 14 million-plus subscribers have chosen to forsake Elwood Edwards.

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