Talk Ra­dio

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL - By Michael Walker

Iwas pleas­antly sur­prised shortly af­ter my re­cent re­turn to Saint Lu­cia to find that W-VENT Ra­dio was still on the air on 93.5 and 94.7 FM; it can't be easy for them. As we at IETV have dis­cov­ered to our cha­grin, Saint Lu­cians and Saint Lu­cian com­pa­nies would rather sup­port beer drink­ing and bac­cha­nal than se­ri­ous ed­u­ca­tional con­tent or so­cial dis­cus­sion. I wish them well.

Talk ra­dio presents dis­cus­sion on top­i­cal is­sues. Most shows are reg­u­larly hosted by a sin­gle in­di­vid­ual, and of­ten fea­ture in­ter­views with a num­ber of dif­fer­ent guests. The genre may in­clude an el­e­ment of lis­tener par­tic­i­pa­tion, usu­ally by broad­cast­ing live con­ver­sa­tions be­tween the host and lis­ten­ers who "call in" to the show.

In the­ory, this for­mat should work in Saint Lu­cia. Un­for­tu­nately, most of the shows presently air­ing en­cour­age inar­tic­u­late gib­ber­ish from a co­terie of reg­u­lars more at home in a bar. Many sound less than sober, no mat­ter what time of day they call. Their com­ments are pre­dictable. Sadly, the shows turn out to be a cel­e­bra­tion of the inar­tic­u­late ad­dress­ing an ap­par­ently un­in­formed core of lis­ten­ers.

Tim's guests treat him with cloy­ing fa­mil­iar­ity; you know, the “Tim, my brother, how are you?” type. Oth­ers, full of their own self-im­por­tance, speak with the author­ity of those ap­pointed by public opin­ion to air their in­sight­ful non­sense. Few are lu­cid; even fewer ar­tic­u­late. But there's al­ways Rick, of course; the later he calls in, the longer we have to wait, the more we an­tic­i­pate his con­tri­bu­tion. Al­ways the ma­nip­u­la­tor, he adds zest and spice to the show – un­less, of course, his con­tri­bu­tion is trumped by the un­timely in­ter­ven­tion of Ms Ja­dia.

The po­lit­i­cal hacks, as Rick likes to call them, have a hey­day. Some­how the lines al­ways seem to be open to them. Lord only knows how they get through, but get through they do. And then, of course, as men­tioned ear­lier, there's the gov­ern­ment's spokesper­son, Kenny's per­sonal mouth­piece, who has the gift of cast­ing her spells and caus­ing Tim to bear si­lent wit­ness to gov­ern­ment pro­pa­ganda; he is ap­par­ently im­po­tent to stop her steam­roller at­tacks and of­ten al­lows her to mo­nop­o­lize large seg­ments of the show.

Tim's show is prob­a­bly the best and most popular show of its kind in the coun­try, which is why he re­ceives most stick. There is very lit­tle screen­ing, not of con­tent is­sues, but of con­trib­u­tors. How nice it is to hear a new voice now and then, scarcely more than one a show, in­stead of the tired hacks with their bor­ing, self­im­por­tant hang-ups.

In the USA, ex­press­ing and de­bat­ing po­lit­i­cal opin­ions has been a sta­ple of ra­dio since the medium's in­fancy in the early 1920s; by the mid-1930s, ra­dio priests were reach­ing mil­lions per week. There was a na­tional cur­rent events fo­rum called Amer­ica's Town Meet­ing of the Air that broad­cast once a week start­ing in 1935. It fea­tured panel dis­cus­sions from some of the big­gest news­mak­ers and was among the first shows to al­low au­di­ence par­tic­i­pa­tion: mem­bers of the stu­dio au­di­ence ques­tioned the guests and even heck­led them.

De­spite the plethora of so-called talk shows in Saint Lu­cia, W-VENT does stand a chance of suc­ceed­ing if the sta­tion can at­tract an au­di­ence in­ter­ested not only in air­ing its limited, big­oted, biased be­liefs brought to us in ba­si­cally bad English, but also in par­tic­i­pat­ing in lively stim­u­lat­ing dis­cus­sion. A lot will de­pend on the pre­sen­ters and their ca­pac­ity to en­gage callers and get them to of­fer lu­cid ar­gu­ment for their views.

If you lis­ten to some talk show hosts you'll find that their god is the an­swer to ev­ery­thing, de­spite the fact that in a global per­spec­tive theirs is a mi­nor­ity reli­gion, which is not nec­es­sar­ily a bad thing if the show is fea­tured as a re­li­gious show for a re­li­gious au­di­ence or for those open to mys­ti­cal ex­pla­na­tions. W-VENT is try­ing to reach out to all lin­guis­tic sec­tors; they have pro­grams in Cre­ole, pro­grams in English and bilin­gual pro­grams. As yet, it is early days still, and they are not im­mune to teething prob­lems. Some of the tal­ent is fresh, some old, some re­fresh­ing, some a bit staid. Per­son­ally, I would ap­pre­ci­ate a lot more ed­u­ca­tional con­tent in short, sharp bursts, per­haps the sort of thing that could form a ba­sis for later dis­cus­sion and com­men­tary. Why not, Dear Reader, take a few mo­ments to check the sta­tion out? With your sup­port, it could be­come a vi­brant force for dis­cus­sion and change. Get off your col­lec­tive asses, Saint Lu­cia, and dial in change. VENT a lit­tle!

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Saint Lucia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.