It’s the NEWS… Bitch!

Training. It’s something you have to endure sometimes if you’re a member of the professional classes and your employer has a training budget. I’ve worked in my business for more than 20 years, yet I had to be trained last week.

I work in public radio and I have taken over a job that involves reading the news in the morning. Sounds like a simple thing, and it is. But I’ve never been very good at it. I fumble words and I talk too slow and “quirky”

Quirky?? That’s what I’ve been told by the person, Marilyn Pittman, who was hired to provide training to me at the NPR affiliate station in San Diego, where I work. She thought my delivery was quirky and conversational.

So she said to me,

“It’s the NEWS… bitch!”

That might make Marilyn sound like a bitch, herself. But she’s not. She’s profane, but good-hearted. Still, she meant it.

It’s the news. It’s not a conversation. It’s not a singing telegram. It’s not a warm greeting. IT’S THE FUCKING NEWS!! So just give it to me!

That means you’re supposed to sound authoritative, energetic and up-to-date. I used to host a call-in talk show, and I tried to be warm and funny and conversational. Maybe that was a bad influence.

Performing on the radio isn’t acting. You don’t tell yourself you’re going to be a gay teenager one day and a 80-year-old Chinese guy the next day. You are yourself. But you bring a different tenor to different stories and to the different roles you play on the radio. Now I’ve been assigned the role of authoritative Tom.

Public radio performance style is not typically authoritative. A public radio guy told me, long ago, you should read copy as if you’re talking to a mouse in the corner of the room. But more recent advice seems to suggest I should imagine standing in the bed of a pickup, talking to a crowd of people.

I don’t know if I’m the authoritative type. But I will be.

Because, it’s the news… bitch.

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One Comment on “It’s the NEWS… Bitch!”

  1. Jeff Says:

    Long time listener, first time commenter…
    I’ve been a big Tom Fudge fan for a long time, precisely because of that conversational tone. There are plenty of other news outlets I could listen to/watch with authoritative sounding anchors reading me the news, but when I listen to KPBS and you’re on, it feels like I’m shooting the breeze with an old buddy, not listening to some authoritarian news anchor that lacks emotion.

    Gotta do what the boss tells ya to, but just wanted to let ya know that some of us enjoy the conversational tone.


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