My annoyance with public radio is about the obvious (strict) time criteria which real time – on-air interviews are obliged to adhere. I acquire, develop, and expand my intellectual and structural capital (intangible assets) by listening to an array of ‘news, conversation, and talk’ programs and podcasts produced by public radio.
Here, I respectfully describe this largely intangible (personal) annoyance. Admittedly, as I have stated here numerous times, I am a supporter and avid listener of public radio programming and the various public radio derivatives, i.e., American Public Radio, Public Radio Exchange, Public Radio International, etc., on a consistent basis since August 1982
So, I begin with the presumption that public radio program producers – schedulers…
• charged with responsibility for programmatic content, continuity, and queuing, i.e., what topics to address, when, and whom to invite and schedule as subject matter experts, and
• the allocation of (on-air, live) ‘interview – speaking time’ to reflect a program’s schedule and (mission) expectations.
The annoyance which I am about to express, which that public radio ‘news, talk, conversation’ program hosts consistently and repeatedly interrupt on-air interviews – discussions with variations of the following phrases, i.e.,
‘…in the 30 seconds we have left’.
‘…with the few seconds we have remaining, there’s another issue I wanted you to address.
‘…very quickly, can you describe’.
I get it, public radio’s news, conversation, and talk programs, are, in a sense, burdened with have strict allotments of time, i.e., schedules they must adhere to. Of course, in today’s various media platforms this variously encompasses time, characters limitations, visuals, and/or number of words per column, etc.
But, it appears through my lens, that interjections that clearly impress upon guests, i.e., ‘let’s speed this discussion up and bring it to conclusion’ levied by radio program (hosts) have become so obligatory they are forever ‘at the ready’ and embedded in most hosts interview repertoire. Simple awareness of why this occurs does not mitigate it as an annoyance.
Its not particularly challenging to distinguish (public radio – television) guests, who perhaps, out of personal unfamiliarity with the subject matter and/or an obligation to ‘hold the conventional party line’ narrative materializes from the same ‘talking points’ likely uttered by colleagues minutes or hours earlier on other broadcast mediums. For the instant interview the guests remarks appear choreographed, shallow, and produce no new or substantive insights or perspectives to the issue at hand. To this, I am confident there are various and respectful strategies which hosts may apply to quickly reframe one interview mode to another to influence a guest to move away from merely regurgitating language previous uttered numerous times in a news cycle.
I am confident public radio listeners recognize that in most instances, on-air guests, particularly elected politicians and/or administration appointees are obliged to inform superiors regarding the topic – subject matter of a pending public interview in which an interviewer and their organization have editorial control. Presumably, most guests find it prudent to engage in some manner of pre-interview preparation. If so, it likely includes focus grouped ‘talking points’ and strategies intended-designed to frame an interview favorable to their prescribed position and otherwise deflect or thwart a host’s questions that reach beyond those parameters. This should come as no surprise, right?
Routinely, the individual which a public radio program producer has secured for an on-air (real time) interview, is a current or former (elected) politician, employed by a previous administration, or a ‘think tanker’ who happens to reside in the same time zone. The invitee, often at ease with media interviews, may have reason to assume the invitation was extended and will manifest as an opportunity (responsibility, mandate) to either find fault with or advocate for a specific (recent) political action, event, or revelation.
This is common knowledge among media hosts, anchors, reporters, and correspondents. No need for pretense otherwise.
Similarly, it is safe to assume public radio – television listeners and viewers (to news, talk, conversation programs) are aware that there are reasons why program hosts are outfitted with an ‘ear bud’ prior to broadcasts. Its purpose is to receive communication from a program’s producer, the rationale for which may vary somewhat, but to be sure, someone ‘behind the glass’ is tracking – ensuring times allotted for each segment are met. Presumably then, this-is-why listeners – viewers routinely hear hosts – anchors informing program guests about time, i.e., ‘in the 30 seconds we have remaining’, or, in my view, more disconcerting, are instances when program hosts essentially ‘finish a guests sentences’ which with significant frequency, the guest succumbs (agrees).
To my chagrin, my ability to acquire new intellectual and/or structural capital is not always geared to a prescribed segment length of 2:51, that may likely be interrupted, commencing at the 2:00 minute mark, with reminders about how much ‘on air’ time is remaining, and for me to learn, particularly in those instances when a guest is not merely regurgitating day old ‘talking points’.
My annoyance may variously elevate if-when I go online to read the transcript of a particular-segment of a previously aired program which I wanted to review. When I do so, I take special note that, in some instances, the segment which I felt was important and relevant and which a knowledgeable and insightful guest was being engaged, the conversation (a.) may have been peppered with time reminders from the host, and/or (b.) had been scheduled to be substantially more brief than a subsequent ‘human interest’ story in the same program (broadcast).
Yes, not being an audience demographic ‘likeability’ analyst, human-interest stories, I presume, attract listener interest, i.e., a shark attack in surfing waters off Australia’s coast, an unusually large alligator resting on a Florida golf course, or a passenger ejected from a commercial airline flight for uttering a phrase that alarmed passengers, etc. I suspect such stories may also influence retention in the context of did you hear about conversations at the proverbial watercooler, whereas, other segments highlighting a national – international issue with substantially greater potential impact may not. Again, I get it.
I sense, correctly, or not, once a radio host interjects (signals) a ‘time issue’ to an on-air guest, the guest, in most instances, responds by attempting to comply, i.e., noticeably faster paced speaking. Presumably this occurs to bring their comments (talking points) to a conclusion, preferably in advance of the host issuing…
a second warning and/or the proverbial thank you….that’s all we have time for now…we look forward to having you back again!
Of course, the presumably ‘cromugenish’ issue I have presented here, does not appear to be applicable to ‘hosted’ (previously recorded) stories which have been edited for time and inserted in a program’s que. It’s the ‘live – on air’ interviews which I respectfully take issue.
Michael D. Moberly January 30, 2018 St. Louis firstname.lastname@example.org ‘A business intangible asset blog where attention span really matters’!