Is it Really Your Pleasure?
Public radio is known for its relative politeness compared to other electronic media, sometimes to a fault. My colleague Sonja Lee refers to this as “public radio nice.” That’s when strong words and images would be more effective but they are softened because it wouldn’t sound as pleasant. It wouldn't sound public radio. It happens in news programs, in talk programs, and in fundraising.
A component of “public radio nice” is the phrase “my pleasure.” It shows up a lot in interviews, usually at the end when the program host thanks a guest for being on the air. It’s amazing what some guests get pleasure from talking about. A few examples:
14% unemployment in Racine, WI… “My pleasure.”
The Koreas moving closer to war… “My pleasure.”
Convicted sniper to be executed… “My pleasure.”
Top Kill fails, oil still gushes into Gulf… “My pleasure.”
Failed nation-building in Afghanistan… “My pleasure.”
Maybe these guests really do find it a pleasure to be discussing such issues. After all, they are getting national exposure for being experts in their fields.
I’d like to think that the use of the phrase “My pleasure” in these situations is no more than the guests’ automatic response to the host thanking them for their time, that it doesn't reflect a true sentiment. If so, there’s not much a producer can do when that happens in a live talk show. But why is it left on the back end of edited interviews where it is entirely inappropriate?
Have the editors thought this through? Do they really believe the guest is deriving pleasure from talking about difficult and sometimes tragic situations? Or is this just another example of trying to sweeten the air sound with a spoonful of “public radio nice?”
Labels: Public Radio