Talking Elephants

One of the cool things about radio is Chicago is several of the stations are owned by the major networks.  So are the big four TV stations.  In the vernacular of the business, these stations are called O & O’s, owned and operated, because that is exactly how they are owned and run, by the networks.  And sometimes the programming crosses over.  So the CBS radio station here, WBBM-AM, will run programming from the TV station, WBBM-TV.  They mostly run news shows like the Face the Nation and CBS Sunday Morning but they also run 60 Minutes every Sunday night.  WBBM-AM is one of the oldest stations in the country and they have a special type of broadcast license thats let’s them broadcast at 50,000 watts.  That means the signal travels pretty far.  I can listen to them all the way home to my folks house only getting static the last 20 minutes or so of the drive when the corn is high and blocks the signal.  On Sunday nights, I try to time my trip back so I can listen to 60 Minutes at some point when the signal is clear.  It sounds strange, listening to a TV show on the radio, but with a show like this, the whole theatre of the mind thing takes over.

Last Sunday I was driving down to my parents house (holiday weekend and all) and I tuned into the show.  One of the segments was about a researcher in Africa who’s been studying elephants for 20 years for Cornell University.  Actually she’s been listening to elephants.  Turns out they have a very complex language that we are only beginning to understand.  The really cool thing is they say a lot of things in a pitch we humans can’t hear.  They’re having these entire conversations right in front of our nose and we don’t even know they’re talking.  Makes you wonder about the commentary on the people they see gawking at them at the zoo – look at that guys haircut…what was she thinking wearing those shoes with that outfit?…will someone please find that kids pacifier?!!

In a weird way, I suddenly felt proud of the industry I’d chosen to be in.  Not that I’m ever going to be figuring out what a species is communicating.  But voiceover is all about communicating.  Sure I may be voicing an on-hold phone message or a commercial about the newest juice box, but I also voice e-learning projects so people can learn about new aspects of their fields, documentaries that inspire and inform, and audiobooks that transport the listener to another reality.  In communicating with my voice, I connect someone to something important.  Every species communicates in some form or another.  I’m just jazzed to be one of the communicators in my species.

On Green Jackets and such

Last weekend was the Masters Golf tournament.  I’m a big fan of the event.  Not only did I watch it on CBS and ESPN, but I watched it on Masters.com before the on air coverage started.  Yes I’m one of those people.  I actually like watching golf.  It’s a side effect of growing up in a household of golfers, we all play in some form or another.  It’s something that links us together inextricably.  My Dad taught my Mom, he’d learned it from his Dad, and she got so good she regularly whipped his butt.  They in turn taught us.  Now my brother is teaching his kids and his wife is taking golf lessons.  It’s cool to see that chain continue.

Anywho, I’ve been fortunate enough to attend the event several times.  My Mom has passes that are hers through her lifetime.  That’s how they work, you get to keep them as long as you are alive.  You can pass them to a spouse but not to a child.  They have to be returned to the pool then.  I joke to my Mom that she’s bought herself a few more years of life support with those passes-“yes Mrs. Tierney will be attending the Masters this year”.  For me, going there is a really special treat.  Not seeing the golfers, you can see them at tournaments all over the place, including here.   The specialness lies in the course itself.  Augusta is this really small town and this is their Super Bowl.  The course is right off a main road and you enter a world of green when you go through the gates.  Of course, after checking your cell phone at security.  Every service building is painted green so as not to stand out amongst the trees.  The main clubhouse and it’s outbuildings for the members are all beautiful white with black shutters on every window.  The flowers are explosive.  TV really doesn’t do it justice.  For me, the course was the star, not the players.  Not to get overly dramatic, but I am an actress/drama queen, I was on hallowed ground.  What struck me was how do the players put all this aside and just play their game?  How do they not get all wrapped up into all that it is and just curl up into a ball at the first tee?  I guess that’s what happens when you are a pro at what you do, you recognize your surroundings but don’t let it affect your performance.

Recently I had breakthrough in my own growth.  I realized I was holding the microphone too dear, too precious in my mind and this was affecting my performance.  For various reasons, I was letting this get in the way of just being me in front of the mic.  I’d created my own Augusta National in my noggin.  Not the best of circumstances.  So now I’m working on fixing that.  Maybe I’ll pull out that cute green jacket I own while I practice.