Radio programs with a TV adjunct have become quite popular, with radio announcers now being seen as well as heard, the better for them to provide a more “totalized” service to their expanded audience.
Unfortunately, that added advantage is sometimes being frittered away due to the popularity of a new programming trend—the “blind item.”
Time was when blind items were brief teasers and puzzlers that announcers resorted to from time to time, to “spice up” their news reports and commentaries.
These days, however, they sometimes take up the entire program, with just one or two “blind” puzzlers or ticklers consuming many minutes of valuable airtime.
Worse, the items are no longer about the identities of erring movie-TV stars, but also about political leaders and their spouses, mistresses and sundry other socio-erotic appendages.
Worst of all, the unfortunately popular practice is sometimes being resorted to even by broadcast journalists otherwise famous for their probity and responsible on-mike and on-cam behavior!
Why do even these reputable practitioners resort to such a wasteful and silly practice? Well, it requires no thinking or preparation at all! You just need to know that this star or politician is doing this or that nefarious thing that he’s trying to keep secret and all you have to do is offer a new clue as to his or her identity every 10 minutes or so—and that takes care of the whole program!
Licks and tics
Listeners who want to play your guessing game call or text you by the hundreds, so your show’s popularity is further enhanced. What’s not to like?
Well, a lot. If you’re a responsible broadcast person, you know that airtime is precious and should be used for the public’s good. What good could possibly come from trying to figure out the identity of an errant celebrity, and the nature and extent of his corrupt, corpulent or erotic proclivities?
Unfortunately, some of our best radio-TV practitioners seem to have (momentarily?) forgotten their real responsibility to the public, and have thoughtlessly jumped on the “blind item” bandwagon that’s all the rage on radio-TV today.
If they can’t be depended on to do what’s right, the public should complain, because its time is being wasted on a monumental scale. Astute political commentary has sometimes been replaced by “sightless” and thoughtless “whodunnit” teasers and puzzlers about celebrities and political leaders’ private licks and tics, so we really should protest.
Particularly disappointing is the sight (and sound) of a heretofore acclaimed journalist from the print medium who has now become even more successful on radio-TV. The acclaimed journalist definitely knows better, but has still opted to ride the “blind item” trend and can now teasingly dangle those “whodunnit” clues like the worst of them.
The “clueful” broadcast icon should be reminded that hard-earned reputations for responsible and exceptional work can rather quickly be subverted if they’re breezily and, yes, blindly, taken for granted.