Monday, April 20, 2009

The WFMT/Chicago program announcer's audition

Here in waaaaay too cold Chicago (yes, spring and summer combined last from mid-May to about August 23rd) there is a great classical radio station, WFMT, which does warm our souls. Founded over fifty years ago, the station has never been tempted to become classical lite with a 5o tune playlist the way some classical stations in other cities have. Many of you around the country may actually listen to WFMT via cable or the internet. Besides the classical music, it also is the home of The Midnight Special, a Saturday evening program of traditional American folk music, which has been running ever since the station was founded.

I really don't think the station uses the following script anymore as an announcer audition (and not sure if it ever really was an audition script), but it has been preserved as a bit of fun on the station's website. Most people agree that this script was written by Mike Nichols (of Nichols and May fame, and later, of course, a very famous Broadway producer) when he worked at the station in his early 20's. See how you do on it yourself- maybe your next career is in radio!

(Elaine May & Mike Nichols--apparently propping up a sloshed water cooler friend of theirs)

Btw, this post drove my spellcheck crazy-hehe!

Announcer Audition

The WFMT announcer's lot is not a happy one. In addition to uttering the sibilant, mellifluous cadences of such cacophonous sounds as Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt, Carl Schuricht, Nicanor Zabaleta, Hans Knappertsbusch and the Hammerklavier Sonata, he must thread his vocal way through the complications of L'Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, the Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam, the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra and other complicated nomenclature.

However, it must by no means be assumed that the ability to pronounce L'Orchestre de la Societé des Concerts du Conservatoire de Paris with fluidity and verve outweighs an ease, naturalness and friendliness of delivery when at the omnipresent microphone. For example, when delivering a diatribe concerning Claudia Muzio, Beniamino Gigli, Hetty Plumacher, Giacinto Prandelli, Hilde Rössel-Majdan and Lina Pagliughi, five out of six is good enough if the sixth one is mispronounced plausibly. Jessica Dragonette and Margaret Truman are taken for granted.

Poets, although not such a constant annoyance as polysyllabically named singers, creep in now and then. Of course Dylan Thomas and W.B. Yeats are no great worry. Composers occur almost incessantly, and they range all the way from Albeniz, Alfven and Auric through Wolf-Ferrari and Zeisl.

Let us reiterate that a warm, simple tone of voice is desirable, even when introducing the Bach Cantata "Ich hatte viel Bekümmernis," or Monteverdi's opera "L'Incoronazione di Poppea."

Such then, is the warp and woof of an announcer's existence "in diesen heil'gen Hallen."

1 comment:

  1. I think they do use it. Early on Sunday morning when they give prospective announcers on-air auditions. You can hear the prospective employee read this on the air every once in awhile. You have to listen closely, but you'll hear it.