Thursday, May 08, 2008

In which I almost make fun of Diane Rehm

(pssst! It's someone's birthday! go say hi, and tell him to write a new post, in you nicest "Happy Birthday" fashion)


I do love me some public radio.

I do not, however, have to like the people that are ON public radio. More specifically, the VOICES of the people on public radio.

Y'all know of my distaste for having to listen to the venerated Carl Kassell suck spit through his upper plate while giving the rundown of major world events. It's the daggone spit sucking and juicy glottal stopping that prevents me from focusing on the news and instead puts my attention on the pronunciation of said news...but I've gotten used to it. I've heard he's a very nice man, and of course he's got tons of awards and shit, so I'm willing to give him a tiny smidge of leeway, but only for the 3 or so minutes it takes him to urp out the headlines. Any more than that and I'm looking for the Pepto.

OK, so enough about Karl/Carl Castle/Kastle/Kassell. Let's turn now to a local guy, Eric Hodge, who does a GREAT job on WUNC's Morning Edition, but....his voice. It's....grating. It's has this grittyhigh timbre that is like a bee buzzing or a sizzing snare drum sound. Put it this way - It's not a voice I'd want uttering sweet nothings into my ear; it'd make me way more ew-ticklish than sweet n' juicy. I don't know WHAT the problem is, but it's something. Not a something so bad to make me turn off the radio, but a something that prompts me to try to use the bass/treble adjuster every morning while he's on, just to see if it will help any at all.

However, there IS someone who DOES make me want to turn off the radio, bless her. It's Diane Rehm. If you haven't heard Diane, she sounds like she's about a million years old, her quavery voice a fair imitation of Captain Kirk's if Kirk slowed.down.even.further. In my mind I picture her in a mobcap and pince nez, her spindly hands resting awkwardly in her meager lap, her milky eyes blinking slowly as she forces out the next syllable.

To say that her voice was a turnoff for me is a vast understatement, and so I'd turn HER off on a fairly regular basis.

But then, one day, I listened, a little by accident. The topic was interesting, and so I thought I'd just bear with her for a while to hear what her guests had to say, when lo and behold, Diane began to grow on me. She seemed smart! She actually emoted a tiny bit, her normally monotonal voice rising a little from time to time, and I became interested in her. Who IS Diana Rehm, and how on earth did this ancient old crone get to interview such powerful/influential people?

And so I did some research, bound to get to the bottom of this oddity of the radio, this fly in the ointment of my listening pleasure.

And found out that Diane Rehm is 1) not a gazillion years old, 2) not crony at all (aamof - she's pretty stunning IRL!) 3) has something called "spasmodic dysphonia," which almost ruined her career a number of years ago. This spasmodic dysphonia is what makes it difficult for her to speak, why every time she says 'institute' it comes out 'in...sti...i...toote,' why it takes her forfreakingever to say what she's got to say.

And thus, with the spasmodic dysphonia, my option to mock Diane Rehm was swept away in the gusting wind of my shame. Drat her. Drat her all to 87.9 on your radio dial.

Sigh. Guess I ought to go back to my love/hate relationship with Carl/Karl. At least he's seems to be simply getting past his radio prime, instead of having some rare neurological disorder.


Still, why can't we hire people on our NPR who sound lovely, like the BBC's Owen Bennett Jones or Claire Bolderson? I never have to adjust my knobs and gizmos for THEM. Plus which - Owen sounds like he's got a bit of humor, and that's never a bad thing.


So, anyway. Maybe I'm too hard on people for what they can't change. Maybe I'm just jealous that I gave up my little radio career before the first petals of that bud really started to open. Maybe I'd like someone to be mocking ME for my voice, my cockeyed ever-changing accents (Southern when I'm happy, New York when I'm pissed off), my penchant for overemphasizing. Maybe I'm simply an envious, small-minded, picky twitch who only wants things HER way, and preferably with a British accent thanks for ahsking.

I could be, but I don't think so.

Tom Brokaw? You're up next. We need to talk about those "Ls".

No comments: