On Losing Your Voice
July 26, 2016
Talking for a living, whether you're on the radio or off it, needs one thing: a voice.
When I woke up on Saturday morning with a sore throat, I reckoned something was probably up. A quick trip to the pharmacy gave me enough strange throat lozenges to get through a 75-minute speech - just - but that was probably pushing things too far. By the time I'd slinked away from the conference later that day, my voice had simply disappeared.
Three days later, I've still not much of a voice. I've a croak that disappears if I raise my voice even slightly.
I've found it quite hard to do much. Telephone calls have had to be postponed; even asking for a coffee in the local shop has been quite difficult. My partner has had the strange experience of me talking to her in a soft female Australian accent, courtesy of an app I found on my phone that, at least, lets me talk.
Losing my voice has robbed me of my identity. My ridiculous clipped British accent, which sticks out like a sore thumb here in Queensland, is virtually gone. A trip to the bank left me unable to communicate much, even to express my irritation at their inability to give me what I wanted.
A lot has been shrugging, pointing, and feeling relatively helpless. I can't wait to get my voice back.
Yesterday, I went for a long drive. I tuned around, as I regularly do, discovering new local radio stations to listen to. Some were in great digital quality; others on a good-sounding FM signal. Each one sounded consistent, polished and professional. Great technology, a decent user experience.
One was literally non-stop music: not even a station ident during the thirty minutes I heard it. Another played me four songs back to back, and a presenter told me what the station was called, and told me it was Slash's birthday while talking over the guitar intro to Sweet Child O'Mine (WHY?! WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT?). Another told me the name of the radio station I was listening to, the last three songs I'd heard, and told me it was now time for the Beach Boys.
During ninety minutes' drive, I learnt nothing about the areas I was driving through; nothing about the country I now call home. Nothing except the station names and the fact it was Slash's birthday. I'm sure the presenters were capable of more.
My presentation over the weekend ended with the three elements that make up the future of radio. The user experience; the right technology; and the very best content. The fundamental piece of radio's future is content that is real and relevant - that gets people listening and makes them want to come back for more.
I can't wait for radio to get its voice back.