National Association of Educational Broadcasters Convention; Broadcaster vs. Educator: A Conflict
I have chosen this specific title because although I came here to Milwaukee with and part of a different fee after I had met a few people here and after I had thought more about the whole subject of education of broadcasting I became aware of the fact that at least to my on puter and here I was a visitor among you that there is quite a conflict between the educator and the broadcaster and so I spend my time since I have been here largely in rewriting and rephrasing my thought. And whether or not you agree with them or at least I think they are what I feel right now. I am a broadcaster a Canadian or American broadcaster spiritually I am closely allied to Mother England materially. I am an American whether I like it or not. I don't need to give you
examples. You know what I'm talking about. Therefore when I talk about radio in 1963 I think about Canadian radio yes but my vocabulary is also your vocabulary and my thought processes evolved out of experiences that are common to all short of the Great Lakes. I would like to start this morning by considering the traditions which underlie educational radio or radio programming for formal instructional purposes and programming which it is hoped will result in the education of an informal manner. All this programming is supported by years of traditions in both broadcasting and education. The traditions of broadcasting relate to the use of radio and of course television too. But I'll make no further reference here to the junior medium. The the tradition of broadcasting relate to the use of radio to communicate to
people the traditions of education relate to instructing people formally or otherwise. The traditions of educational broadcasting therefore should relate to instructing people while they are being communicated to. But I humbly submit that we as educational broadcasters are often saw Zorba with our nobility of purpose that we are unwisely taking the communication process for granted. The result is a conflict of purpose. The original depth of programming is not to entertain nor to edify nor to inform nor to educate. The reason for radio resistance is that it be listened to which implies a listener and this listener is our prime consideration in not helpful terms. We as communicators should make not program decisions until we have thoroughly assessed our listener
ship and the use our potential listeners I'm making of radio. Radio in North America as we all know is no longer an instrument for family or group listening around the big living rooms concert radio today is peripatetic more by pervasive. It is available at the table top level in just about every home usually in each of several rooms 40 million transistors in America are carried in pocket schoolbag purses and bicycles in 55 million American arm Abele the same key turns on the mission and the radio turning on radio is a reflex. It is no longer an event no longer does the listener have to submit his own case to modification by other members of the family in order that all may listen together as is still the case in 9 out of 10 television home. Radio today is a personal
accessory. Your sound is as commonplace to our experience as the sound of passing traffic. And because it sounds as commonplace the listener can edit himself out of the program and still for rating purposes be counted a listener. Most of the time radio today reaches only the periphery of our conscious attention. We are nearly always more potential than actual listeners. Therefore we as broadcasters must use every art of presentation available to us to turn potential listeners into communicants in the act of communication. Radio today is listen to a little and you and I all know that when we are alone we listen to what we want to listen to and not what we think we should listen to. And if by chance we do sample something we've been told is good for us. The moment the program ceases to have meaning for us our mental blue pencil will shut
out the mind even though the ear may still be engaged. Radio today is an extension of ourselves. Even those whose taste is most selective still use radio at some time during the day to orient themselves into their community. They need weather and other trivial but essential information. The same people may use radio at other times to drown outside the often oppressive silence of a lonely house or a lonely car or a lonely occupation. Yet these very same people in the evening make use to listen to radio just as they mightn't chosen to read a book or make love. But even when radio is consciously selected for ground activity it is essentially a personal activity and therefore the mental blue pencil is always shining. It's too easy to find something else to think about. How then can educators ensure that the
listener is kept in the proper perspective. What most broadcasters do to communicate. Well first off we must remember that in radio we communicate by one medium only the medium of sound. The appearance of the script on the printed page the bewitching smile of our favorite commentator the sureness of our conviction that our program speaks with authority are all secondary to the importance of ensuring that the sound we make compels attention Ruben Frank invented the news server that the highest power of television journalism is not the transmission of information but the transmission of experience. I believe that applies to radio equally. I believe that radio can only communicate when the sound it makes compelled the attention of the listener. In other words it is not enough to know that a program contains valuable information.
It's not enough to offer that program to a potential listener in the hope that it's in transit can take grittier the piece of information will make it accept the mind of the program's creator is linked to the mind of the listener by sound and by sound only. Now I'd like to get back to the assumption that radio exists to transmit experience. I'd like to add to that if it were taken from Mark Connelly who said that in radio a word must communicate a thousand pictures. And to do this I am going to play for you the first recording. You're not very good quality of great American broadcast after a first few moments during which you will need to get your ear to the disturbance and the static. I am sure that you will agree that every word in this program contributes to a
very compelling experience.
Now you might say that is a fluke an accident and of course it was what was going on and to say to broadcast it communicate communicate it emotionally. I've heard this now because I've used it in a similar lecture probably five dozen times and each time I hear it there's still an emotional reaction because it is. Something the community now if you are going to try to transmit a reasonably abstract information it's not always possible to be highly highly originated in terms of compelling experience. But it can be done and I would be interested to know if you think this broadcast succeeds.
You are already liberal on the others then. On the.
Now there's nothing accidental of Hugh's expression about that item. The producer was charged with the task of transmitting information in such a fashion that it would compel attention. In other words that the potential listeners would each become wired for sound. Radio today exists as a single sensory means of communication nothing more nothing less. The only pictures radio paint are in the minds of the audience. Even when used as an English school aid with the students captive to their death the educational broadcaster will never overcome the mental blue pencil and lengthy communicate in a picture making vocabulary and by vocabulary I don't mean just the choice of words. I mean the whole sounds. I mean that a lecture from a world famous scientist who speaks with an accent so thick that he can barely be understood is of minimal educational value. There is a basic language obstacle which inhibits the use of the imagination. What matter that a
speaker knows the subject of 100 percent. If he can communicate only 25 percent better to employ a speaker who knows only 50 percent in the same subject but who can communicate the full 50 percent that a superior person present his information in a magazine or journal or have it read by a competent reader. I mean that a two hour discussion programmed on line it is running a real risk in communication no matter what it does for the understanding of the participants and the producer. Only the most articulate and fast thinking speakers under the most ruthless chairmanship should ever be permitted on radio unscripted. I mean that a subject which can be adequately covered in ten minutes should not be spread out over 30 or 30 minute program may communicate to your boss that you've got a lot do but who are you being paid to communicate. And at the same time let me hasten to add that it is equally bad business to attempt to cover a 30 minute update in five minutes.
A little siren and former rock critic of The New York Times said that it is not always the case that people knowing what they like. It's also a case of people liking what they know. This is true and I think it is true that we all tend to resist anything new anything we don't know and have education is to a great extent getting people to accept something they previously didn't know then surely the educator as a broadcaster has a tremendous responsibility to see that he uses every charm of his command to gain acceptance for the new ideas. So as in most human endeavor the problem result self into the human reality is the ability of the broadcast. If we are good broadcasters in love with our work determined to be proud of the sound we create constantly striving to augment the art of communication we cannot fail. But if we are jargon ears purveyors of cliche egocentric report writers executives dedicated to the proposition that delegation makes all things possible then
unvarying Lee we will buy mediocrity. When I think of the shortage of people in both education and broadcasting available to meet today's challenges I find it difficult not to be afraid and you should be afraid to the job facing educators on this continent is wrong. However there is an unexpected problem many of us in radio are not radio oriented. Many of us are married not to the spoken word but to the printed word. Marshall McLuhan one of North America's most foremost communications philosophers introduced this thought for me but in essence isn't it right. How many of you are deaf related when you miss reading an important book and consider yourself as having missed some information or impression vital to your cultural well-being. And yet when you miss a radio program do you feel the same sense of loss. We have a long way to go before we've learned how to use radio to communicate in the full
sense of the meaning of that greatly underestimated were too many of us are jargon to death. We relate like crazy to each other because we like each other and who know who will be in a position to hire who someday. But do we relate to the listener. We don't know. How often do we program primarily in order to receive our colleagues approbation. Do we reject scripts because they aren't typed properly. Are we rigid enough in assessing scholars in terms of their ability to broadcast. Indeed the first time many of us hear the broadcast quality of the voice is when we are committed to its use. And we're getting a studio level scholarship is not communicated on its own. It travels on the wings of sound or pictures or the printed page. In radio it travels on the wings of sound only. We talk about the dialogue and the dialectic. And when we do how often do we see in our
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- APA: National Association of Educational Broadcasters Convention; Broadcaster vs. Educator: A Conflict. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-rr1pmf3n