Have you ever found yourself saying (to yourself or any person standing conveniently close to you), “How the heck did that person get on television?”
I say that to myself, or to any person in close proximity, all the time. “How in the world did that person get his or her charged coupled electrons splayed all over my expensive plasma television screen?”
Yes, I know...I turned it on! But, it blows me away! To be fair, let’s include radio and film in that opening statement.
Now, I am not talking about good looks
or bad looks
here - although there is certainly enough aesthetic ugliness broadcast on T.V. and projected on gigantic theater screens to last us a lifetime. I am talking about just plain untalented, unfunny, uneducated, and unbelievely unappealing, unable-to-put-together-a-proper-sentence people. They have somehow convinced a power-to-be that we, the viewing public, would enjoy watching or listening to them in our homes.
Specifically, I need to focus on news...more specifically morning news “anchors”...in this diatribe of disgust. If I didn’t fine tune it to this genre, the blog administration people would run out of megabytes on their server with this post alone. The movies will get their own Hansen Rant at a later date.
A little history...
I spent fifteen years in radio broadcasting as a morning show announcer, DJ, program director, music director, and chief cook and bottle washer. I did it all for quite a while. Initially, working part time at the shittiest, fly-by-night A.M. and F.M. radio stations. I labored long hours in the morning, the afternoon, and late at night playing the dumbest music and running the nastiest local commercials on the planet. I was subjected to criticism and ridicule from the most vile of so-called program directors you will ever meet. Program directors at tiny radio stations who made Howard Stern’s Pig Vomit guy in Private Parts (played by Paul Giamatti BTW) look like your kindly Uncle Marvin. These small town station guardians of talent scrutinized my on-air work with a fine-toothed comb...all the while, conducting theirselves on the air without any regard for their own rules and regulations. Do what I say, not what I do!
I recall one particular scathing critique session at a small, tobacco-smelling, hind-tit A.M. station in San Luis Obispo with a P.D. calling himself Rockin’ Ron. This was in 1976...I was 26. Rockin’ Ron was a tall, scroungy, goateed creep with shoulder length black hair. He always wore the same dirty jeans, Levy jacket, beat up cowboy boots, and some sort of record company (freebie) t-shirt for Boston, or Foreigner, or Peter Frampton. It went as follows:
Rockin’ Ron: “What the f*** do you think you’re doing?
" (takes a big swig from a 16 ounce Colt 45 sitting on his desk).
Me: “Ummm...what do you mean?”
(my eyes now averted to the five empty Colt 45 cans in the trash can next to his desk. He had just finished his four-hour program).
Rockin’ Ron: “I listened to your entire radio show last Sunday...and I didn’t hear one f***ing set of “the basics!”
Me: (face reddened with a combination of fear and growing anger) “Ummm...I thought I did”
Rockin’ Ron: (takes the second, and last, big swig from the 16 ounce Colt 45) “Do you want this f***ing job?”
Me: (eyes momentarily averted to the empty Colt 45 can crashing into the trash can) “Ummm...yes!”
(I really meant to say NO, but was too scared).
Rockin’ Ron: “Then take these six flash cards with you on your show today...and I don’t want to hear one single f***ing word other than what is written on these cards!”
Rockin’ Ron: (lets out a huge belch, the smell wafting across his desk, making my eyes instantly start watering). “Get out!”
I slowly and sheepishly backed out of his tiny office located in a storage closet near the studio. I could hear Rockin’ Ron fumbling around in the grocery bag that was sitting on his desk...the pop of the next Colt 45 can could be heard from two rooms away.
The six flash cards read: Time, Temperature, Artist, Song Title, Your Name, Call Letters.
These were, and should still be, the Basics
of radio on-air prattle.
Rockin’ Ron, despite his crassness and holier-than-thou attitude, taught me some valuable lessons about broadcasting. “Hansen,” he quipped, “if you can’t smoothly and effortlessly do the basics...then you can’t ad lib, be funny, or anything else on the air”
. And Rockin’ Ron was right! He went on, “And, never say in a paragraph what you can say in a sentence”
. On-air economics was of the essence in those days....and still should be today.
For the most part, our local morning T.V. show “anchors” either have not come from radio...or, in some cases, forgotten what they learned in those paying-your-dues days. They continue to blather on and on (seemingly) without any regard for the listener or the viewer. It is just one big verbal orgy of endless cackling, clucking, fumbling, giggling, and blathering about nothing. And to make things worse, most of them speak in a mind-boggling X-Gen velocity laced with “dudes”, and “likes”, and “ya’ knows”, and “whatevers”. It’s exasperating to watch at times. I thank the big broadcast guy in the sky when they finally go to the teleprompter and start reading a story lead-in. If we’re lucky, some of them have at least mastered the reading part...though not always. When they can’t even get through a short script without stuttering or stammering...it’s time for us to bail. Or, simply change the station.
Yes, I realize I have the right to change the station. These malingering morning misguided (so-called) journalists continually remind us of our right to turn them off if we don’t like it. What a brilliant rationalization. “If you don’t like it...piss off!”
At least most of the local evening
news anchors in Sacramento were apparently (and rightly) hired because they had the ability to read well and to look pretty. They do what they were hired to do...be an attractive talking head. Unfortunately, even these high-paid puppets stray into unfamiliar territory on occassion...ad libbing and improvisation. No...no...no! Don’t do that! Don’t try to fly...your wings are not equipped for flight. You will crash to the earth like Icarus. In fact, you have no wings at all! Read...read...read! And that’s it.
And as for the morning T.V. talk show folk with no talent or ability for such off-the-cuff broadcast frivolity...get a radio job for while, or on weekends. Or, how about this...stop jerking each other off while watching your airchecks. You ain’t all that!
The biggest shame-on-you of all? The higher-ups who allow this to happen. What are they thinking?
There is some degree of merit to having high energy "personalities" on the air...the counter to the alternative of feigned sincerity from the other guys. But, there must be some sort of medium ground to all of this. How about some guidance from the producers? But maybe they need to spend some (more) time in radio as well.
The cluelessness runs throughout the hierarchy of...Good Day Sacramento