Finally making progress! I changed audio output from Front, CARD=Device, DEV=0 to just default & it now works. It keeps playing in an unending loop but at least for now I hear the googleTTS message. I also had success on sysdefault, hw & plughw. Is there a guide explaining these options and which one I am suppose to be using? Not clear how to set this up for best stereo performance.
Thanks for your help.