2 July 2011

A case of, 'Phone in and give us your opinion, the one we made earlier for you' ?

Sydney's two main talk back radio stations appear to have an increased number of callers that give the impression they are reading from prepared statements that are invariably in line with station agenda.

On air or over the phone, the difference between someone speaking "ad-lib" and someone reading a script or statement can be quite noticeable.

It's also interesting to note, that these nicely spoken callers are allowed to continue without interruption or being subjected to the "talk-over" technique that many shock-jocks use to great effect.

Perhaps I am being cynical or my opinion is colored by the blatant populist agenda pushing that Sydney talk-back is known for, coupled with the knowledge that ever since newspapers first allowed "readers letters" pages, there have been those who are prepared to use a particular medium to tip the balance in favor of a given opinion or agenda.

Whilst researching old newspapers, I came across a lightweight and perhaps not totally relevant example of this ignoble concept. A now defunct Sydney newspaper ran a reader's opinion column and every few years, "someone" would raise the issue of married women in the workforce. Around about 1930 or so, a letter was published from a nineteen year old single female named "Bee Hive". Lucky old "Bee Hive" because she stayed nineteen for the next 25 years! Every few years exactly the same letter carrying the same nom de plume would appear!

Perhaps I should test my theory by calling one of the breakfast programs and reading a prepared statement in support of asylum seekers, and see how far I get before I hear, "Hang on a minute, are you honestly saying...what planet do you live on?...fair dinkum I'm all for free speech but really..."

Wherever you may be - be safe

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