Columnists Features

Radio etiquette cardinal

Customer Care with NAMUCANA MUSIWA
TALKING to someone that you cannot see is one of the most challenging things in effective communication. I am referring here to one having a conversation with another person on the telephone or making an announcement on radio.
You do not have the liberty or advantage of using gestures and body language to enhance your communication and you can therefore only rely on your voice and tone of voice. You cannot also detect the age of the person that you are talking to. And therefore how you address them may offend them and other people that may be listening to the discussion.
For discussions on radio where the interviewer or announcer has a co-announcer or has guests, that makes it somewhat easy because you can see some of the people that you are talking to. Some of those people could give you guidance or correct you when you are wrong.
Radio announcements and programme are even more challenges when the programme is live and does not allow much room for making corrections. Sometimes one only realises that they have made an error long after the programme by which time it is too late to apologise.
It is important that radio announcers and disc jokeys master radio etiquette and groom themselves to using language that is acceptable and appropriate for radio.
Etiquette is defined by Merriam-Webster as “the conduct or procedure required by good breeding or prescribed by authority to be observed in social or official life.”
It refers to conventional forms and usages: the rules of etiquette. Decorum suggests dignity and a sense of what is becoming or appropriate for a person of good breeding: a fine sense of decorum.
I was appalled the other day when a radio announcer at a private radio station referred to newly appointed Minister of Defence Richwell Siamunene as “the UPND guy” and did not even apologise after he must have realised his error. I noticed in subsequent references he referred to him as the “UPND gentleman”.
I have also been shocked a few times when a radio host has been upset with a caller and told the caller off. This has happened on several occasions and some hosts are actually rude. I have heard a radio host say something like; “Sir, I do not care what you think, that is your opinion, and you are entitled to your own opinion. My stand is ……… And don’t we all know that a radio host is not supposed to express his or her opinion but rather allow guests and callers to speak and express their opinions without being admonished?
A radio host is expected to be polite and well-mannered. They are expected to adhere to certain professional ethics and avoid being emotional.
Beyond just rules for being nice to people, radio protocol and etiquette is designed to keep conversations organised over the radio: making sure speakers are introduced properly and have time to say what they need to say, and making sure the conversation is understandable to listeners. Even when the host has to cut off a caller in the interest of time, there is a polite way in which to do it.
What is also disappointing is the mediocrity that is creeping into the media industry. Some reporters and announcers are too lazy to research and will go into an interview without doing even some limited research about the subject matter.
When some of them read the news, you wonder if they had time to read through the items before the actual news. Some fail to pronounce names properly.
The other day, I heard a news reader refer to the president of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport as Phidelia Muyaba, instead of Mwaba immediately after reading about Ministry of Transport, Works, Supply and Communications permanent secretary Mbololwa Muyaba.
I have noted too, that if there is an event taking place that the radio host has never heard of, he or she will refer to it as happening for the first time in Zambia, without bothering to research.
Our journalists should pull up their socks and bring back high levels of professionalism into the media industry.
Namucana.musiwa@careerprospectslimited.com




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