Various Thoughts About My Work
(and a few other things)
by Bruce Duffie
First posted in March, 2017, with additions
from time to time
On editing my interviews...
As you may or may not be aware, my full-time employment
from 1975-2001 was with WNIB, Classical 97 in Chicago. Except
for four hours overnight during the week, and four hours on Saturday
afternoons, the programming was exclusively classical music in its
great variety. In addition to my regular duties as announcer,
I also gathered interviews with various musicians for use both on the
air and in selected magazines and journals. In all (through about
2005), I did over 1600 exclusive interviews. A few guests I met
twice, and very rarely even more times. While it was
not the original intent of the management to include atonal or cutting-edge
repertoire, I was able to add that material on my weekend overnight
shifts, and part of those programs were the interviews with composers
and performers of new music.
Preparing and presenting these interviews on webpages
is very different from editing sections for use on the radio.
What sounds good to the ear may not look good to the eye. Hence,
various changes need to be made in order for the resulting impact
to be virtually the same.
Let me state here that it is my purpose and duty to
render the thoughts and ideas of my guests as completely and accurately
as possible. It is also my feeling that I should make the guests
look good. This stands in marked contrast to most other interviewers
(whose usual guests are politicians and business people) who have
an agenda, and usually try to embarrass the guest, often with ‘gotcha’
I have a genuine interest and overwhelming love of
my subject, and I always tried to solicit ideas from my guests in
response to my own inquires and proddings. Occasionally, I would
ask a question which was purposely ambiguous in order to allow the guest
to have the freedom to answer in whatever way he or she chose.
This would, however, come after at least a few questions that would indicate
to the guest that I, as the interviewer, knew what I was talking about,
and that I was interested in knowing what they had to say.
As to the actual editing, when doing it for the radio,
I would always try to select sections that showed my guest to their
best advantage. I would also make sure to end the section on
a positive note.
Let me inject here that when WNIB was going off the
air on its final day, I chose an opera that ended with a positive
sound in a major key — Turandot — and the
final piece of music at 12 Midnight — Lyric for Strings by George Walker
— was also a chosen because of its aural impression,
and the fact that it ended quietly in a major key.
My first thought was to use Adagio
for Strings by Barber, but that piece was so associated with
the movie Platoon and other works
and dates, that I desired something more unique and somewhat unknown
with the same feeling. To read more about the final broadcast,
When editing the spoken words for visual (print) use,
certain mannerisms and repetitions become really annoying, and
when something is annoying, it detracts from the overall impact.
So the phrases ‘you know’ and ‘I think’,
and the interjection ‘well’ were almost always
dropped. I also usually removed the phrases ‘kind
of’ and ‘sort of’ in most instances since they diminished
the thought and derailed the impact. My guests were
strong and vibrant, and there was no reason to veil them in any kind
of namby-pamby cloak. In speech, sentences would often begin with
the word ‘and’, so I would either drop the word, or simply connect
the thoughts into one sentence. Parenthetical material, which is
meant to amplify or clarify ideas, makes for tricky reading, so I would
often re-order the sentence to get the thoughts together.
I hope you notice that in all of the instances I never
changed any ideas of my guests, nor did I put words into their mouths.
Their thoughts are what has come through... at least that has always
been my hope, and what I strive to accomplish. On the rare occasion
that my guest would not answer my question directly — or
at all! — I would change my question in the print edition
so that my guests could answer in the way they saw fit. If there
were any digressions or extraneous portions, those were usually omitted,
and any glaring errors were either fixed or explained. Again, those
instances were very rare.
I did change English-English to American-English,
but mostly only in spelling. ‘Labour’
became ‘labor’, ‘theatre’
became ‘theater’, ‘programme’
became ‘program’, ‘organisation’
and references to a group became singular rather than plural.
‘The audience don’t care’ became ‘The
audience doesn’t care’. This adjustment, by the way,
is only in the text of the interviews. The biographical boxes
and reprints of obituaries were left intact.
People whose first language is not English will often
become quite proficient with English vocabulary, but will continue
to use their original structure patterns. Whereas in English
we put the modifiers first — a lovely blue sky
— others might speak about ‘a sky lovely blue’.
Those quirks have often been fixed, though not in every instance.
It always was my intention to present these conversations
as something to learn from and enjoy. The transcripts are
not of the ‘legal stenographic’ kind.
My guests were not on trial. I was a guest at their concert venue
or in their hotel, or they were guests in my home or studio.
I always treated them with kindness and respect, and allowed them to
express themselves without fear of any kind of accusation or derision.
It is special to be able to do it at all, but I have
managed to do it quite well in both the audio medium and the printed
renditions. Not to toot my own horn, but most people seem
to think I am pretty good at both. I have found it necessary
to look not only at the big, overall picture but also the smallest details.
I’m sure there is nothing new or extraordinary about this,
but keeping that in my mind as I edit goes a long way to strengthening
the impact of each interview.
I know these interviews are
generally long, but they are what I have, and I want to share
what is there. In a radio broadcast, people have to sit there
until it is over... or go away and miss whatever comes next.
On the printed page, readers can interrupt their journey and (hopefully)
come back at some point to pick it up again without missing a beat.
Occasionally I will update the pages with new photos
and links. So even though a date at the bottom might indicate
the page was uploaded before others, that is why later interview
links can appear. I do not do this chore very often, so there
may be links which could be on a page, but are not. However, as
long as there is the possibility of additions or corrections, things
might get improved!
On that thought, it always pleases me to be able to
include links to other interviews within each new one that is posted.
In most cases, these are names that are brought up by the guest,
or appear in the biographies or obituaries. Only occasionally
have I introduced them in the course of asking questions, and in each
case, the reference was, I hope, relevant and logical.
= = = = = = = = = = =
A few pointers for interviewers — suggestions
which I have always tried to follow myself. Obviously, if
you are trying to trip up your guest, to embarrass or make him/her
look bad, these suggestions will not apply. Indeed, these ideas
can even work to your advantage by showing what not to do. If that is
the case, I truly feel sorry for you, and hope your work is discredited
and derided. Objectivity and neutrality seem to have been lost these
days, and while news reporters need not be cheerleaders, they have a responsibility
to present their findings without bias either for or against the
topic and viewpoint of the guest.
That said, I freely admit to being a cheerleader for
my topic and my guests. This is not a bad thing since I am
not a news gatherer, but rather a feature reporter. Since my interviews
were Features rather than News, some of the basic rules and formats
did not apply. For instance, the old adage for news gathering
is to ask these questions: who, what, where, when, why, how,
huh? That last one (which I have added) is usually where I got
the best and most interesting responses.
Know your subject, but don't ever feel you know more
than your guest knows about it. You might, in fact, know more,
but to go into the interview with that assumption will close doors
in your mind, or will hamper you from inquiring further about one or
Don't ask questions where the only possible response
is 'yes' or 'no'. If you box your guest in so that they cannot
make their own reply, you've squandered the opportunity to learn
In the same vein, keep your questions short, and don't
give possible answers. [Poor examples: "Would you rather
do (this) or (that)?" Or, "Is it correct to say such-and-such?"
Or, "When you did this, did you feel (this way) or (that way)?"]
Let your guest respond to an inquiry rather than select from a few
choices you've given him or her. Also, though it doesn't
really apply here, let your guests finish their responses. It's
so annoying when an interviewer interrupts the guest when they are making
their response. This usually happens when the guest is presenting
a view which is contrary to the one held by the interviewer, but the
advice is good for any eventuality. When two people talk at once,
it's impossible to understand what either one is saying. That's
the beauty of the operatic ensemble — two or more people
can be saying their own lines, and it all comes out in perfect harmony...
but that's the topic for another discussion!
= = = = = = = = = = =
The following list appears on a couple of the interview
pages, but since people continue to ask, here is the answer . .
I have done interviews with several musicians
who were born in the Nineteenth Century. My guest with the
earliest birth-date (March 10, 1892) was soprano Dame Eva Turner.
However, composer John Donald Robb (June 12, 1892), though three
months younger than Turner, was nearly two years older at the time
of our conversation. Hence, a clarification is needed when I am
asked who my oldest guest was! Next in birth-order is composer
Paul Amadeus Pisk (May
16, 1893), followed by composer/pianist Leo Ornstein (December
2, 1893), and lexicographer Nicolas Slonimsky (April
27, 1894). Then comes mezzo-soprano Sonia Sharnova (May
2, 1896), composer/critic Virgil
Thomson (November 25, 1896), and composer Vittorio Rieti (January
28, 1898). The order continues with composer/pianist Ernst Bacon (May 26, 1898),
followed by composer Marcel Dick (August
28, 1898), conductor Werner Janssen (June
1, 1899), and composer Alfred Eisenstein (November 14, 1899). The
remaining four are composers Elinor Remick Warren
(February 23, 1900), Otto Luening (June
15, 1900), and Ernst Krenek
(August 23, 1900), and finally publisher Hans Heinsheimer (September
The rest of my guests were born in the Twentieth Century.
Perhaps, if I have the opportunity, I might interview someone
born after January 1, 2001, and thus have conversations with people
born in three different centuries and two different millennia!
Though there is no clerical error involved, and it is not my intent
to pad my statistics, somehow the film Mr. 3000 comes to mind.....
= = = = = = = = = = =
Many of my guests are mostly or completely unknown,
and in an odd way, that pleases me very much. If someone who
is little-known becomes more-known through my efforts, then I have
succeeded in bringing forth something special to the composite knowledge
of mankind. A lofty statement, certainly, but when one thinks
about it, each of us is asked to push our tiny segment forward, and my
task seems to have been to enrich the musical world through discovery
of interesting items. Yes, I have also presented some of the best-known
and most popular figures, but, as John von Rhein mentioned in a Tribune article about the station,
he admired my collection of ‘oddball’ composers and performers.
Many times, after doing a program featuring one of them, I would get
a call or two asking why this person was not better-known. The
callers would remark to the effect that the music or performing artistry
just presented could certainly stand up against the output of the well-knowns.
Editing these interviews from a quarter-century ago
or more, I often find interesting sidelights and tidbits that either
amplify ongoing ideas, or give new insight into little-explored or
un-spotlighted areas of the subject. It is truly amazing that
these thoughts would be found in the most remote places and come from
such unlikely sources. This is why I do what I do, and I hope that
others both enjoy and are enlightened by it all.
= = = = = = = = = = =
Despite the fact that my early exposure to great music
was on radio (mostly WEFM, the station sponsored by Zenith in Chicago),
and that I built up a huge collection of recordings on LP and open
reel tape, and that I made my living at another station (WNIB, Classical
97, also in Chicago), I maintain — and have
said openly many times — that the real place to
hear great music is live in a concert hall or opera house. The
collision of these two worlds becomes the so-called ‘pirated’
performances. Usually operas, these gained wide circulation
amongst the cognoscenti, and in my teens and twenties I found a number
of people who traded copies of various things with me. However,
once I became a professional radio announcer, I was very careful
NOT to use any of this material on the air. First of all, the
sound quality was often poor, and even though those of us who obtained
these performances understood this, the casual listener would not
be expected to be aware of the reason(s) for presenting something
in poor sound. Besides that, broadcast rights were very tricky,
and I did not want to involve the station in anything which would have
caused legal problems. It is a thorny issue, and the musicians
I have spoken with have not come to any kind of consensus about it.
Many of them collect copies — not just of themselves
but of others, both past and current — even
while decrying their use and existence! I remember specifically
one top record executive remarking on the Texaco Opera Quiz that he
does, indeed, collect them, but would immediately bring suit against
anyone who tried to distribute copies of one of the artists on his label!
These days, though, I am not involved in the day-to-day
broadcasting activities, I am posting interviews with my guests
and illustrating the webpages with photos of the artists and their
recordings. I find things on the internet, but try not to use
any copyrighted material, and I eschew the placement of images of pirated
recordings on my sites. The commercial recordings are fair
game, especially since I am giving them free publicity, but usually
not the broadcasts and in-house items which seem to abound.
= = = = = = = = = = =
A few random thoughts.............
Whoever named the Butterfly committed a spoonerism.
I think that every time I see one flutter by, no matter what the
articles on its etymology say.....
Technically, I was born in Elmhurst on March 11, 1951.
My mother’s doctor was at Elmhurst Hospital, so that
is where she went to deliver me. My father, however, always insisted
I was born in Evanston, since that is where we lived at the time.
With the myriad suburbs surrounding most major and minor cities, I
wonder how often this kind of thing happens... It is pleasing
to me that I am exactly — to the day
— 100 years younger than Rigoletto. Another Verdi
opera, Don Carlos also had
its premiere on March 11, but in a later year (1867). I also
share that date with composer Carl Ruggles (1876) , and band leader Lawrence
Welk (1903). A quick Google search just now also revealed many
others, including Shemp Howard (1895). [Related story... I met
Michael Fine when he was producing one of the recordings made by the Chicago
Symphony Orchestra. I inquired if he was related to Vivian Fine, whom I had interviewed.
He said no. I then asked if he was related to Irving Fine, another
composer, and he said no. Finally, I asked if he was related to Burton
Fine, principal violist of the Boston Symphony. Once more, the answer
was no. He then volunteered that he was related to Larry Fine of the
Three Stooges.] More March 11 birthdays... Astor Piazzola (1921),
Mercer Ellington (1919), and Henry Cowell (1897). When I interviewed
Geraldine Decker, we
had a great laugh that she, also, was born on March 11 (1931).
They left out the letter ‘D’
from the name Arizona. I’ve never been there,
but I know it’s quite arid in the South West...
There are three major musical works in three different
languages, all of which the public quite often mistakenly adds the
word ‘the’ before the
name. To wit, Messiah,
Pagliacci, and Winterreise. Each one is named
as just shown, NOT The Messiah,
nor I Pagliacci, nor Die Winterreise.
What is with this overwhelming compulsion to cite
the excrement of the male cow?
English is not the easiest of languages… It can be
understood through tough thorough thought though.
= = = = = = = = = = =
[September 1, 2017] While there have always been
doomsayers and other prophets predicting the end of time, in the
past twenty years, there have been three distinct events which many
people truly believed signaled the End of Days. Obviously, they
were wrong, but it is interesting to make note of them...
(1) Y2K. In anticipation of the numbered-year leaving
the 1900s and moving to the 2000s, the hue and cry was heard all
over the world that the computer systems could not handle that change,
and all our electric and electronic grids would fail, and we would
be destroyed. Much time and effort was put into correcting the
problem, which apparently worked.
(2) One version of the Mayan Calendar simply stopped on December
21, 2012, and many people felt this was to be the last day of Earth. Another
version which carried on for many more years was later discovered, but that
did not seem to prevent a few people from weeping and wailing and gnashing
(3) On November 2, 2016, the Chicago Cubs won the World Series.
= = = = = = = = = = =
[December 26, 2017] A number of people have asked
me about how I selected which interviews would be used on the air,
and when they would be presented. These days, on the WNUR series
— and also on the late (and hopefully lamented) series on
Contemporary Classical Internet Radio — there
really is no rhyme nor reason for selection. Programs were prepared,
and now the ones which exist are simply repeated after two or three
years, and usually in a different month. HOWEVER, in my quater-century
at WNIB, I was very careful and rather ingenious about timing. Fairly
early on, I stumbled onto the use of ‘round birthdays’. This
simply meant that when a composer or performer had a ‘round
birthday’ — 50, 55, 60, 65, 70, etc. — they got
a show. Every five years each one would come up, and a few of the
early interviews aired several times. These programs were in addition
to any promotional use — such as when one of their
works was being presented in live performance in the Chicago area, or
in conjunction with a new recording. The advantages of this system
meant I did not have agonize over who had been done and who might be neglected,
and so forth. It also was completely color-blind and gender-blind.
There are only 366 possibilities, and everyone has one whether they
like it or not. It also suited my style, in that I celebrated life
and not death. Yes, I mourned and eulogized my guests when they passed
away, but I did not, thereafter, mark their dates of death with special progams.
What brings all this to mind is a brief article in the
newspaper, which is reproduced at right. Since I am not doing
fresh interviews any more, I wondered just how well I did during the
time I was gathering them, from 1978-2006. So, I counted up
just the composers, and of the 496 names, 62 are women (12.5%), and 15
or 16 are African-American (approximately 3%). The discrepency
is a man named Roque Cordero. He was included in the series of
recordings of music by Black Composers issued on Columbia LPs, but in
our interview he told me quite forcefully that he did not like that label.
He insisted he was Panamanian, not black. There are probably
others — both in general and on my list — who dislike
or even disown one category or another, but that is for another discussion.
As to other minorities, I cannot accurately compute them for various
reasons. First, I am often unaware of their background. A
name might come from a few generations back, or perhaps have been lost
or changed through marriage or assimilation. Further, I have met
a number of composers who belong to countries other than America. How
should I count them? Are they to be lumped into a vague category
of Minority-Citizens? Then, to discount the entire exercise, it
is not my desire nor intent (nor responsibilty!) to ascertain any kind
of pedigree. My interest is their music, and their ideas about
its creation and presentation. Beyond that, I truly do not care.
Their race or sexual orientation or any other factors are not my
concern. As long as they are part of the Classical Music community,
I accept them as such, and will give them their shot (as I like to say).
In truth, I consider all these kinds of labels both insulting
and unnecessary. We are all people, citizens, musicians, etc. Naturally,
I do not want to purposely include or exclude anyone, and without really
paying much specific attention to the matter, I think I have been rather
fair and equitable. Looking at the numbers mentioned above, I assume
that this percentage also holds for the performers... though the women
will have a higher resulting-number since they account for nearly all
of the sopranos and mezzos! As to conductors — which
are even more neglectful of the distaff side — there are
14 women in the group of 224 interview guests, which is 6.25%, plus six
= = = = = = = = = = =
[January 6, 2018] During this Holiday Season,
I was listening to some old favorites, including The Typewriter,
a novelty piece by Leroy Anderson. It occurred to me that it might
not be too many years until that device, which was once ubiquitous,
would not be even recognized by most of the populace. In musical
terms, it would be like mentioning the Ophicleide or the Serpant...
Just a note regarding soft timbre... Throughout musical
history, usually the brighter and louder instruments have won the
battle. However, the actual idea of being ‘loud’
is, ironically, soft-pedaled! There are two significant instances
where the idea (and nomenclature) of being ‘loud’
was dropped. One of the early hammer-struck keyboard instruments
was the ‘fortepiano’ or the ‘pianoforte’.
Forte means loud, and piano means soft,
so it was literally the ‘loudsoft’ or the ‘softloud’,
indicating its ability to be both, contrasting to the plucked-instruments
such as the harpsichord and the virginal. Quickly,
the name was abbreviated to simply ‘piano’,
as we know the instrument today. So, the idea of being
‘loud’ was dropped. The same thing happened to the box which
actually turns electrical signals into sound, namely the ‘loudspeaker’.
We all know it as a ‘speaker’, which, again,
drops the idea of being loud. [You may insert here any and all
puns involving the word ‘allowed’.]
= = = = = = = = = = =
On the subject of things that are obsolete, I have
wondered for a long time if the slide rule was the object which went
the fastest from being absolutely necessary to being completely useless.
Everyone who did any kind of mathematical computation needed
one, and relied on it in every instance. But as soon as the electronic
hand-held calculator came out, the slide rule was immediately pushed
aside, never to return to any kind of use... except as a relic of a bygone
Of course, we can always look back even farther in
time to the abacus . . .
Chinese type (5 plus 2) above; Japanese type (4 plus
Noting the two different systems shown, today, one might
think of the rivalry between Mac and PC, and realize that such dualities
have existed for centuries. Recently, there was the debate between
VHS and Beta video tape systems, between 45 rpm and 33 rpm records in
the late 1940s, and cylinders vs. lateral cut 78 rpm discs at the turn
of the Twentieth Century. There was no real problem with the introduction
of electrical recordings in 1925, since reproducers in the home could
accommodate both. The only real need for new equipment was at the
production end, and the record companies invested in the new system. The
same could not be said for the introduction of stereo in the mid-1950s.
There, the home consumer had to be persuaded to purchase new equipment,
and this was not even a decade after everyone had to abandon their 78
machines in favor of the LP players. A similar upheaval in the music
industry was seen with the advent of cassettes and CDs.
A story I heard many years ago (and have repeated in the hopes
it was mostly or completely true) involves the size and playing-time
of the compact disc. It seems that one of the people who were calling
the shots at the time of its creation was a Japanese man who knew that
his countrymen were mad about the Beethoven Symphony #9. So,
to accommodate that piece of music, the CD needed to hold 74 minutes
of sound. The story may or may not be true, but it makes a good
legend, and I simply choose to believe it.
= = = = = = = = = = =
[June 29, 2018] Alert observers might notice that as
of the end of March, 2018, many of the links to my interviews which
appear in Wikipedia articles have a slightly different format.
Specifically, my name has been removed from the line. For
several years, it was <<<Interview with (name of
guest) by Bruce Duffie, on (date of interview).>>>
Because someone complained that I was spamming, and felt the only
reason for these links was my own self-promotion, that person urged the
removal of all of these links. A discussion was launched, and several
Administrators weighed in with their opinions. Fortunately, enough
of them saw the importance of the interviews themselves, and the complainant
was admonished to cease the battering, and even urged to apologize (which
did not happen). After about a week, the discussion was formally
closed, and the upshot was that I removed my name from many of the links,
and am not including it in future postings. However, a number of
the old-style links remain, so there might be a bit of confusion since
they are not uniform. For anyone who cares to read it, the entire
discussion is reproduced HERE.
= = = = = = = = = = =
[January 3, 2019] In reading some of the comments about
my interviews, a couple people have noted that a few of my questions tend
to pop up with regularity. While this is certainly true, I do hope
that in each case the inquiries come naturally, and at an appropriate place
in the conversation. I never worked with a specific list of questions,
and always tried to discuss the specific strengths of each guest. However,
since all were involved in so-called Classical Music, there were bound
to be common points of interest and expertise. To look at it another
way, when you eat at my restaurant, each meal on the menu will be unique,
but many will have some ingredients in common. Since all are being
prepared by myself as chef, there will be some resemblances and similarities.
I hope this does not discourage anyone from sampling my cuisine.....
It is also interesting to see how various people respond
and react to the same question(s). Continuing the metaphor, there will
certainly be differing opinions from various people to the same item on my
menu. Observing those reactions should not, necessarily, cause me
to change the recipe. Perhaps having a few condiments on the table
will allow for each person to season the dish to their own taste, but this
can only happen when a certain stability is built into the process. Once
again, my goal with the interviews is to allow each guest to express their
own views, and I trust that a few similar questions will get a variety of
= = = = = = = = = = =
A few years ago, I met a fine baritone whom I had known on the stage
for a long time. Warren Fremling has performed in local and regional
productions over the years, and has had a significant impact each time.
Lately, he has been an invaluable help to me by proofreading the
interviews before they are opened to the public on my website. I
am grateful to him for pointing out not only mistakes (of which, fortunately,
there are few), but also for occasionally suggesting better ways of expressing
the ideas. As I have mentioned, I never change the focus nor direction
of the words my guests use, but by tightening and sometimes re-gathering
thoughts, their objectives are made more clear to readers. In several
cases, Warren has suggested slight changes which bring these thoughts into
sharper focus, and for that I am eternally grateful.
In our exchanges, he also has provided me with insights into the world
of professional singing, and his most recent gift to me was a clear and
succinct explanation of the various voice-types, and how they can be viewed
by experts and novices alike. With his permission, it is reproduced
are two things that decide this. The first is color. Richness
in the middle voice is revealing. The second, and much more reliable,
is the location of the bridge or passagio. A mezzo’s bridge is
a-kin to a baritone’s. It’s on the D, a ninth above mid-C (a baritone’s
being an octave lower, obviously). I’ve diagrammed voices according
to their interest and comfort to the listener’s ear – not what the singer
does, but what is natural to the instrument. A soprano or tenor
sound like this: \/ - the bottom is light and the voice sounds more
interesting and easier as the voice ascends. The mezzo and baritone
sound like this: () – the voice is fattest in the middle.
We have some of the low notes of the contralto/bass and some of the high
notes of the soprano/tenor, but you can’t live there. The middle
is where we’re most at home. The contralto/bass is the exact opposite
of the soprano/tenor – the voice gets fatter and more beautiful with the
= = = = = = = = = = =
[February 4, 2019] As the the shortest month of the year
rolls around once again, I am reminded of the one word which I simply gave
up trying to pronounce correctly. I made an effort, but it simply was
too awkward to do both correctly and smoothly at the same time. I could
say Feb-ROO-rary, but it required slowing down the enunciation to the point
where it was simply untenable. [You may insert any kind of joke here,
regarding it not being a ten, or even a nine, but perhaps a two or three at
best...] Imagine, if you will, a car on the highway, and for some unknown
reason it just slowed to a crawl. It would certainly look strange, to
say nothing about impeding traffic and being hazardous. This is not
to say that an announcer mis-pronouncing a word on the radio could be hazardous
in any way, but you get my drift... So if any tapes exist of my work
where I say the name of the second month, you will hear a firm and confident
FEB-you-air-ee. I know it is wrong, and I knew it at the time, and
I make no excuses.
I am sure I made other mistakes, and, indeed, I was corrected on a few occasions.
But by and large, I was complimented by members of the public on my
accuracy and stylistic manners. It was especially nice to hear that
I had pronounced the name of a person or location properly from someone who
was from that particular locale. I want to say, however, that when someone
called to make a correction, my first task was to ascertain if that person
on the telephone was accurate! There were a few occasions when a caller
would berate me and give a different version of the way to pronounce a name,
and when I checked with a known authority, I found that my own rendition was
correct, and the caller had been wrong. It reminds me of the sign which
famously hung in the City News Bureau for many years, which screamed “If
your mother says she loves you, check it out!”
On that particular subject, I remember one evening when we aired a syndicated
broadcast of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. The announcer (who shall
remain nameless) proclaimed the conductor to be Esa-Pekka Sa-LOH-nehn. Well,
I had interviewed the Maestro, and, as usual, had asked him to do a station
break, in which he said his name. His pronunciation was SAL-oh-nehn.
At some point during the evening, I must have said his name myself,
and pronounced it his way, and immediately received a phone call screaming
at me for my stupidity. “If the announcer on the
Los Angeles Symphony broadcast had said it one way, that MUST be the accurate
way!” I tried, very calmly, to explain, but the
caller simply slammed the phone down. The next evening, I brought in
my interview tape and played the station break. I have no idea if that
caller from the previous night heard it, but at least I settled the matter
for anyone who was listening . . . . .
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