Thursday, September 25, 2008

new lows in tabloid radio broadcasting

to take apart and discuss the sad state of Johannesburg's Radio 702, as any of you who have heard it lately will know, would be worthy of a full, somewhat depressing blog of its own. i, like many listeners i suppose, really only switch on to it at every 15 minute marker as they have frequent (although usually incorrect) traffic updates.

i suppose that's why most switch to it, i say, as when you listen to parts around the traffic, it doesn't sound like there's that much of an audience for it anymore. the shows tend to have all the production values and professionalism of a gang of 15 year old kids with a CB set. the advert breaks tend to be loaded with promos for their own shows as well as one downright hilarious one where the talk show presenters hope to hired as TV presenters, and there's a suspiciously large number of "callers" to the shows that tend to be fellow presenters or friends and acquaintances of the hosts.

their content leans towards dreary and dubious at the best of times of late, and those best of times are far and few between. lest we forget the tale of amazon refusing to ship to South Africa anymore because of widespread theft by the South African Post Office. the South African Post Office happened to be running a large advertising campaign on the station at the time and, wouldn't you know, the hosts all of a sudden tried to spin the story into one of how amazon customers were somehow stealing the items that the South African Post Office were not delivering. no, i can't work out how one steals something that they never got to so much as see, let alone touch, either, but it all made sense to the hosts as they lavishly introduced a bulletin sponsored by the Post Office. draw your own conclusions.

so why bother giving them any time at all? because today they really excelled themselves in regards of the dire, questionable content they throw out on the airwaves, and i suspect the dodgy nature of today's folly will be picked up by many elsewhere.

today was a rather big day for South Africa, what with a new President being sworn in and all. sadly, this prestigious event fell at a time when the ever declining Jenny Cryws-Williams was on air. Jenny tends to commit some horrid crimes against the English language ("revert back" and "very unique" are apparently fine in her lexicon), and is solid proof that reading thousands of books does not necessarily mean that one has understood or grasped them. if you are of a mind to do so, by all means hit their web page and download what Jenny refers to as a "pod cast" of their weekly 'Ad Feature'. the advertising expert that co-hosts it with her uses his rather swanky posh voice to get away with all sorts of linguistic folly; a personal favourite being when he once referred to an advert as having "three protagonists". erm, yeah - a story can have but one protagonist, referred to in the plural if the protagonists happen to be a group of people.

anyway, let me set the scene today. it's ten minutes before the new President is to be sworn in, around 3:30pm. Jenny is chatting to the man sent to cover it, the smarmy, aloof, superiority-complex suffering and rather nasal Stephen Grootes. desperate to fill the time with something (anything), the two of them manage to conjure up what they believe is some unusual fact around the incoming President and Vice President. the "fact" would be so banal and insipid that it escapes my memory. Jenny's line after this fact is announced by Mr Grootes was a gem : "and that's the sort of thing which might appear in the Guinness Book Of Records, which as we all know is a great book and a big seller and is always popular as a gift at Christmas.". Stephen Grootes, oddly for some reason seeing Jenny as one of the few people in the world that is his equal and not beneath him, readily and rather excitedly agreed with this.

well, there's one conclusion you could draw from that, in particular in light of the Post Office / amazon theft debacle, but oddly enough i don't think it's the case that someone received a gesture to promote the (admittedly fine) Guinness Book Of Records. i think it's pure and simple the case that the imagination of the two involved is so limited that this was probably the only frame of reference they actually had to discuss something. lest we forget that Jenny, bless her, had a sulking fit of note when everyone she asked solidly refuted her description of the personality, interest free Thabo Mbeki as an (sigh) "enigmatic man" back at his inauguration in 1999.

as i said, draw your own conclusions, but if you are in a position where you have the misfortune to hear 702 on a regular basis, methinks you will soon agree with the notion i have. as for the rest of the station, well, if i get really bored, i might one day compose a few notes on the absurd, hilarious "Comment by John Robbie" section which i usually go out of my way to avoid. it's an oddity to say the least, where the host gives you his concise, well thought out, aloof and apparently valid view on something or other, right in the middle of his three hour show in which he invariably pleads innocence and claims that he "just doesn't know" anything about most of the topics raised.


be excellent to each other and, if any of you know of a more reliable, regular source of traffic news in Johannesburg, won't you be excellent to me and let me know of it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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