I got a call yesterday from a producer at Island Morning asking me if I’d like to recast Sunday’s Renting Our Children to Multinational Corporations post as a “commentary” piece for the show.
It’s always fun (if mildly gut-wrenching) to appear on Island Morning, so I said yes, and then spent about an hour reworking the post for radio — mostly taking out the long quotes and cutting out extraneous bits to chop it down to 3 minutes of spoken word (for my pace that worked out to 500 words, about two double-spaced printed pages — the original post was 700 words).
It’s interesting to explore what works in print that doesn’t work out loud. For example, the closing stanza from the blog post read like this:
Remember the old days, when absentee landlords owned Prince Edward Island? Here’s how Britannica defines absentee ownership:…originally, ownership of land by proprietors who did not reside on the land or cultivate it themselves but enjoyed income from it. The term absentee ownership has assumed a derogatory social connotation not inherent in its literal meaning, based on the assumption that absentee owners lack personal interest in and knowledge of their lands and tenants.Substitute “our children” for “land” and the words ring more true today than ever.
After I sent in a first draft, my producer made the point that this whole “substitute X for Y” construct doesn’t work in audio, so I reworked the closing to read:
Remember the old days, when absentee landlords owned PEI, and the destiny of the Island was in the hands of others?
When we develop our economy by paying multinationals to move jobs here, jobs that will come and go at the whim of shareholders with no particular concern for the future of Prince Edward Island, we’re simply repeating old mistakes, renting out the energy, imagination and drive of our children for a short-term economic hit.
We all deserve more than this.
A little more over-the-top, perhaps. But I think it makes the point more effectively. Even in print. At least it saved me from reading dictionary definitions on the radio, which is as dull as dull.
When I went in to the CBC studio this morning to record the commentary, my biggest challenge was to follow the stage direction to be more emphatic in my delivery; apparently one has to go completely over-the-top fire-and-brimstone to come off as simply “concerned” on the radio. Anything less and apparently it sounds monotonic and dull.
I think I managed to invoke about 50% more indignation-filled fury by the time we were done recording; which is probably about 50% less than I needed to be truly effective.
And, hey, I’m back in the union again!