Particular Pickiness

Dr. Joy Browne is driving me crazy lately.

She’s the US-based radio psychologist whose show I admittedly enjoy.  She describes herself as “Frasier with better legs.”  Lately she has fallen into a habit that I don’t think is working.  Now she routinely puts a caller on hold to continue with them after a commercial or news break.  The concept was a sound one back before listeners’ attention spans blinked like strobe lights.  The idea is that a listener is so hooked on this compelling person’s issue that they will stay through an interruption to hear the conclusion of the call.  This is not so, not in my case and – I’m willing to bet – not in the cases of most listeners anymore.

What I have always liked about Dr. Joy is that she is able to get to the core of a problem quickly and come up with a solution in a non-knee-jerk style and after asking brief but revealing questions whose answers offer the details she needs.  It’s a fascinating and rare talent but it’s no accident that she tends to start her advice with, “My guess is…”   She’s a smart lady and bears the responsibility of knowing that what’s entertaining to us is based on the real-life issues of her callers.

But now she’s behaving as if we all have endless minutes to spend with her and anyone who knows anything about broadcasting knows that’s simply not true.  Recently she even dealt with a legal question that had nothing to do with her area of expertise.  Instead, she asked for a lawyer to call in and provide an answer.  I wanted to yell at my radio!  Such a caller should phone into a legal affairs show!  The joy of the Joy Browne show is that it is what it is and it shouldn’t be something that it’s not, capiche?  Perhaps the issue is a lack of callers.  Then perhaps also, Joy should spend a little less time on her movie and theatre reviews and more time dealing with issues because that’s why we love her. 

Meanwhile, on an unrelated topic (except that it’s also to do with broadcasting) here in this country the new CEO of a legendary department store  has decided that she should become the media and advertising spokesperson for that company.  That’s a major mistake and they ought to have put her voice before focus groups to determine what it sounded like to total strangers, first.  Aging hooker and cigarette-addicted table dancer come to mind.  I have a general (with exceptions) problem with most merchants voicing their own spots anyway, because it’s rare that they do a good job. You know, I’d like to compete in the luge at the next winter Olympics but I’m simply not trained for it.  If you’re asking me if I’m comparing broadcasting to the luge, you’re darn right I am!  Except that broadcasting takes a lot more skill.