On radio, you are what you speak

Feedback has become an instantaneous reaction to what jocks say and do.

Awais Wes Malik October 12, 2010

Technology has brought the world closer. A little too close for comfort. Gone are the days when the radio jock used to wait by the phone to answer a call on the ‘hotline’ and receiving gratuitous acknowledgement of the sexiness of his (or her) voice.

Through the magic of SMS, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, comment boxes and other tools, feedback has become an instantaneous reaction to what jocks say and do.

And for the most part it is fantastic! You get to interact with a larger group in a shorter period of time. You learn about listeners’ tastes, you quickly figure out which songs rock and which don’t, and you sometimes get help when you’re stuck trying to remember who starred in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

But the dark side of this liberating, get-close-to-me, technology is the liberty which allows just about anyone to criticise and vent — and this, if done constructively, can really help prepare for the next show. Criticism equals learning in my tattered handbook of Radio for Dummies. But the figurative line is being crossed more and more everyday.

This brings me to me something called ‘pseudo socialising’ — the phenomenon in which people talk and react differently when they’re not physically in front of us. For instance, it is far easier to call someone a “douchebag” under the anonymous guise of a text than to their face.

With this in mind, I would like to organise the first Society for the Prevention of Cruelty towards RJs (SPCRJ). Its mission will be to educate the listener so they do not comment on our accents be they fake, burger, ABCD or just plain stupid. Listeners should not ask us about our sexuality no matter how we sound nor should they call us demeaning and hurtful names. The list is long and includes a ban on listeners giving the threat of never tuning in again if their request is turned down and saying things like “stop talking and play a song”.

If listeners think that there are too many adverts, why take the time and effort of texting in? Why not do what I do — flip the channel.

Apparently, this not only applies to jocks it applies to writers as well. There’s a whole lot of blogging going on by anyone who thinks they can write. I’ve seen social commentators get blasted on newspaper sites just for voicing their opinion. Well, of course, that is the whole point of commenting – sharing your opinion whether it is different or similar to the writer’s – but there are two ways of going about things. The right way and the wrong way.

There’s a lesson for both parties here. If you are in the public eye (ear is more appropriate for my field) then be ready for criticism. You think Howard Stern took criticism negatively? He wouldn’t be making 350 million dollars with Sirius if he did. And if you’re a listener and you don’t like something, remember: you have the power to choose. Choose your words wisely or choose to be constructive in your criticism.

Join the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty towards Radio Jocks today.

Donations of goodwill, love, and understanding are welcome.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 13th, 2010.


Dee | 12 years ago | Reply count me in wes.... people don't realize how hard it is to sit behind that microphone in that sound proof room knowing that everything you are saying is being heard somewhere and interpreted (and later judged) by everyone in a different way..... You have always been one of my favorite RJ's.... ROCK ON!!!!
Hassan | 12 years ago | Reply Totally with you WES!! Best of luck with SPCRJ..Its a big thing thing that you have pointed out..Being constructive in our criticism.. but its a very important and needed aspect in our society. Good writing keep it up!
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