Talking Your Ear Off

Someone told me the other day, after hearing me scold the copier machine, that I should be on NPR.

That might, really, be the funniest thing anyone has ever said to me.  So I laughed.

“No, really,” she said.  “You have the right voice for it. ”  She turned to the young woman who was sitting next to her for confirmation.  “Can’t you just hear her telling stories on the radio?”

Please don’t misunderstand.  Being on the radio is high up on my list of vocal fantasies (yes, there’s a list … and yes, it’s quite long).  But really, because I said, “No, not now!” to the copier?  That’s what it takes to qualify as having a voice for radio?  Had I known this, I’d have auditioned years ago!

The subject of my voice comes up with surprising frequency.  People are always exclaiming over my beautiful voice.  I don’t hear it.  On the phone I am often mistaken for a child.  Telemarketers ask if my mother is home (and I tell them they’d have to call her house and find out).  I am also mistaken for a white person, but that’s not about having a nice voice or a young voice, that’s about how people imagine all black people must speak.  This comes in handy as a kind of easy pass/fail quiz I can give people to measure their PQ (prejudice quotient): When they meet me in person, do they exibit mild suprise and move on (pass) or do they completely freak out, going so far as to refuse to believe I can possiibly be the person they’ve been talking to on the phone (FAIL)?

I don’t hear what everyone else seems to hear in my voice.  I hear a perfectly fine voice, pleasant enough, not grating, sometimes punctuated with what a friend once called an operatic laugh, nothing to get overly excited about. Except that people do get excited about it.  A lot.  A long-ago ex once told me that I had the perfect voice for porn.  Yes, you read that correctly.  He said I had a voice like Snow White, and it would be exciting to hear me saying all kinds of not-Snow-White things.  Yeah, whatever.  That is not on the list of vocal fantasies.  Compared to Snow White porn, how would I not be thrilled to learn that I have a public radio voice?

So … NPR?  PRI?  And (obviously and specifically) Ira Glass?  I’m ready for my close up.

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19 thoughts on “Talking Your Ear Off

    1. I think first I’d want to go for some of the “All Thinks Considered” ladies who sound as though they find every story just a little ridiculous and funny, even when there is nothing even remotely funny about the story. They’re the ones who drive me crazy!

  1. I play a role-playing game, in which we log into a VOIP server so we can talk to one another via headsets, and I was told something similar; not NPR, but that I could do phone-sex (so not on my list of pursuits). Maybe we could team up.

  2. I was just talking about my voice with someone the other day. When I hear it on a recording I actually cringe! I am all too aware that what I hear when I speak is not what others hear. I would do anything to have a sweet little Snow White voice! Lucky you!

    Good luck with your career in radio 😉 I love reading your words, so I’m sure I’d love hearing them also!

    1. F0 is fundamental frequency, which we perceive as pitch. Much of the work I do involves looking at f0 tracks (also called pitch tracks) to investigate intonation in spoken English. Often people with expressive voices have a wider f0 range, which is actually very helpful for study intonanation. (Nothing more frustrating to look at than the f0 of a mumbler!)

  3. It’s getting very easy to create a podcast with online tools or audacity for PCs and then bring them online. Kevin H. can give you some updates on tools- http://dogtrax.edublogs.org/
    And I can hear your voice right here in words. WOW!

    My voice on the phone is always identified as a male. I have conquered the sound of my voice issue by working with digital storytelling. I really like it now.
    Bonnie

    1. Of course you’re right, Bonnie … I think I’m just shying away from putting my voice on the blog. And I, too, think of Kevin whenever I think of cool new teaching (and blogging) technology.

      As for hearing my voice in my words, a friend once told me that I write exactly the way I speak, so I guess you really have heard my voice!

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