FEW GOOD RAD1O-TALKERS A Lesson From G.K.C.
(1Z e age' Ch 004 A.e.fs.
Has it occurred to you how few good talkers there are on the radio? You can almost count them on your five fingers.
A good talker is one who realizes that a talk is not an essay. The majority of talks we listen to are really essays which their authors are good enough to come and read to us. We are always conscious of a script; we can almost hear the rustle of the pages.
With good talkers it is the other way about. Wiea would believe there was a script behind one of A. J. Alan's marks or one of Fr. Martindale's sermons or one of Desmond McCarthy's talks on books? That is why such men have power when they come to the microphone.
An Art to Acquire
The art of radio-talking can be acquired like any other art. It has nothing to do with natural gifts. No man is born to it. The first thing is to see that it is an art. The second is the desire to practise it. No intelligent man who presumes to employ the microphone should be without that vision and that desire.
11 you doubt what I am saying you have only to take an essay by G. K. Chesterton and contrast it carefully with a talk by the same writer, as printed in The Listener. There is as much wisdom and wit in one as in the other, but the manner of presentment is quite different.
Incidentally, the talk will not read very well; that is almost a definition of a good radio-talk, that it reads badly. It was never meant to be read. It was written for the spoken voice. It is almost a definition of a bad talk—and unfortunately of most of the talks—that one waits for them (or not to appear in The Listener.
The True Craftsman
But Mr. Chesterton was a craftsman. He had the conscience of a craftsman and it drove him to work at radio-talking as a craft; to be content with nothing short of perfect craftsmanship in his medium. Another great man who was driven by the craftsman within him to take pains is Mah Beerbohm. Before ever he consented to broadcast at all he made it a condition that he should have six rehearsals of his talk; that a blattnerphone record should be taken of the final rehearsal; and that upon the success or failure, as he judged it, of the record would he decide whether to deliver his talk or not.
The record satisfied him, and he talked, and the result was that rare thing, a real radio-talk, not the mere reading aloud of one of his brilliant essays.
And so Mr. Beerbohm is one of the small band at the moment who has power when he chooses to invoke the microphone.
If men like these think it worth while to take a little trouble, surely the rank and file might try to follow their example? If only talkers would see the thing from the point of view of the listener and not concentrate wholly upon their message.
More Catholic Talkers There-seems a likelihood that there will be more Catholic talkers invited to broadcast than there have been of late. Catholic talkers, with only one exception that I can think of (apart from Mr. Chesterton) have shown themselves to be essay-readers. Their wisdom has therefore been robbed of ninety per cent. of its dynamic. May I very respectfully invite them to ponder on the example of Mr. Chesterton and Mr. Beerbohm?
The Drama Director is a man of courage. He is again casting his bread.
upon the waters. Not content with inviting a plebiscite on the subject of radio drama he is now setting to work to form a jury of two hundred ordinary listeners to sit in judgment on the plays he provides.
The plebiscite succeeded beyond all his
expectations. It clearly established that