No surprise, this article by Teddy Wayne is making the rounds among podcast and radio folks. A smattering of thoughts:
+ It's actually a pretty good example of a headline betraying the substance of the piece. One of the main problems is that it is framed as a critique when it ends up offering neither the critique that it promises nor the real critique about dominant "voice" and diversity in public radio that's needed. If it had just been billed as a breezy look at where all the Sos and Ums and Ira affectations that do, in fact, pervade a lot of shows in the general public radio universe come from, I doubt it would be garnering so much attention. But the headline and lede seem to promise something more substantive.
+ A more substantive critique of the public radio "voice" - in a broad sense - is absolutely needed! Luckily smart people like Stephanie Foo and Chenjerai Kumanyika and Aminatou Sow are pushing that conversation along. (Thank you Transom.org for being a home to many of those conversations.) We can turn to them, not this article, for the real discussion of how race and class and voice intersect, and what we can do to broaden the conversation.
+ The author writes that many radio folks end up presenting "the suggestion of spontaneous speech and unadulterated emotion. The irony is that such presentations are highly rehearsed, with each caesura calculated and every syllable stressed in advance."
The implication here that the spoken word shouldn't be crafted performance is almost willfully naive. In my mind, the goal of any artist or journalist should be to close the gap between their "natural" voice and their "performative" voice. But the ones that do that best - Tracy Clayton, Roman Mars, Brian Lehrer, Zoe Chace - have WORKED at it. It's a highly refined and practiced and picked-over naturalism.
I wonder if Mr. Wayne thinks that all writers should just sit down and punch the keys on instinct. I wonder if he realizes that no one uses "caesura" in real life. This further highlights that people just don't think of podcasting as a craft. It's the same instinct behind the "I should start a podcast with my friends" craze of the last two years.
Look, this piece is all over the place, but I do think it's worth reading. Which is more than you can say for most Sunday Styles articles.