Dear Radio Presenter, sorry OAP; these days it’s hard to see you as a journalist. ‘Celebrity’ is perhaps, more apt a description.
You give actors a run for their money on the red carpet. You compete with musicians for space in society magazines. You rack up more scandals than the two in gossip blogs.
But that is not what this is about.
I am often worried about your health because you seem to have a permanent cold. What with the way you speak from your nose, trying by fire by force to give off an accent that is neither American nor British nor anything that is identifiable to the literate mind even though we both know the longest you have been abroad is a week holiday in the UK.
What if your accent is confused?
What if nobody is impressed?
What if these hybrid nasal sounds you make in lieu of speaking jar the ears and do not add an ounce to your credibility?
But again, that is not what this is about.
When we were younger, our parents encouraged us to listen to the radio. Next to books, it was the warehouse of new words, of correct pronunciations, of enviable diction. Not so today. You and your colleagues have fouled it all up with your street lingos and social media age desecrations of language. Parents now switch off the car radio when the children are in the car for fear of your strong language, your lewd discussions, your daily contribution to the chiselling away of whatever is left of our moral values.
But that is not still what this is about.
There is a worrying emptiness about our society that is so loud. Even the deaf can hear it. We complain on end about how our people are always seeking for short cuts , how there is now a dearth of creativity and originality, how our lives now seem to be heavy on fluff and very little on substance. You speak of it often on air. But you are as guilty. Your programme is ten per cent sensible talk, fifty per cent music, then you open up the phone lines to allow in a myriad of opinions ranging from the hilarious to the downright ridiculous, to make up the remaining percentage.
What if you were not so lazy? What if your programmes were not so empty, so weak on researched and professionally packaged material that you have now rechristened them shows, not programmes?
But you make like you are a jack of all trade. Your opinions are as tall as the Burj Khalifa. You have something to say about everything, from politics to economics, to relationships. You know it all, an expert in every fields. The solution to all of humanities problems has been vested in you and it’s your prerogative to dispense it. You mount the podium in your studio, a faceless god, and sermonize. Your tongue is sharp to criticize. Your ego is so fragile to admit mistakes.
What if you sound like a broken record?
What if you sound so ridiculous when you pontificate on subjects you know nothing about that one feels pity for you?
The other day you assumed the persona of a health professional and decided in-between bouts of back to back music, to teach your listeners a thing or two about their health. Google and Wikipedia have graciously democratized knowledge and everybody can now offer an opinion on all things. You chose Anthrax as a topic. It is one that provides enough facts to sufficiently alarm your listeners and produce the desired effect especially in this time of Ebola. But then you spoilt it all. You called Anthrax a virus. At first I thought it was a mistake which you would promptly correct. But you repeated it over and over, spewing so much ignorance with so much confidence one would think you had an inkling of what you were on about.
This finally, is what this piece is about.
Disinformation, my dear friend, is a lot more dangerous than misinformation or no information.
When what you say has become an extension of beer parlour gossip, or a variant of the kind of exchange that occurs in the comments section of blogs – a giant heap of garbage – you shape your listeners reality tunnel in ways not conducive for proper reasoning and in the process you contribute in making the society a lot more unsafe.
Sylva NzeIfedigbo (@nzesylva) is the author of “The Funeral Did Not End”