Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Trouble With Talk

I was on talk radio today -- the Drew Mariani Show on Relevant Radio. It's not the first time that I've done talk radio, but it is the first time that I've had to take calls and it's quite difficult. You see, you get people calling in and some of them seem to be advice junkies -- people who have read all of the books and articles and could probably tell you more than you could tell them, but who haven't found what they're looking for so they keep searching -- and then you get people who are genuinely hurt and confused and want you to say something that will help them...and you're on talk radio, so you have to do this before the next ad break. In this case, it was a man whose wife had left him for a lesbian relationship and he sounded so vulnerable that my heart broke (cheesy phrase -- I avoid cheesy phrases because I am jaded and post-modern, so if I use them it means I'm breaking down and giving in to sentiment. i.e. I have had an emotion, and I am admitting it in public...very dangerous.) In any case, parenthetical asides aside, I didn't know what to say. It's not that I don't have anything to say, it's that I don't have anything to say that makes good radio -- because any real answer would have involved asking all sorts of questions that are intensely personal, questions that you couldn't possibly ask on the air in front of listeners. Not to mention the fact that a good answer would take hours, probably spread out over several days/weeks.
Obviously not possible; as Marshal McLuhan tells us, "the medium is the message." Talk radio is fast, it's supposed to be controversial and engaging (no bonus points for me here -- I'll never make a good right-wing pundit, though perhaps with some work I could make a decent radio guest). So the question is, how do you give a fast, engaging, controversial answer that will actually do the caller some good?
I don't know. I'll mull it over in my mind, and perhaps I'll come up with something -- if not an answer that would work on talk radio, at least one short and sweet enough to function in the blogsphere.

1 comment:

  1. I know this post was from a long time ago, but perhaps you could say that you would love to give an answer but you're afraid you couldn't do his situation justice in the short amount of time on the radio, and that you would be happy to correspond with him privately by email or some other means. You could also say that you would need some more information that he might feel more comfortable disclosing by email so he recognizes that you are concerned for his sense of privacy.

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