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Does NPR have a hiring impediment?

Louisa Lim National Public RadioNATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO- I can laugh at speech impediments with the best of them. But I’m less comfortable if there’s no laugh track. Specifically, when it’s a speech-challenged news reporter, I utterly object to being made to decipher from mispronunciation. On the radio, poor diction is as unacceptable as inaudible recording, and disabled- enunciation is as appropriate as a paraplegic delivering your piano. Take NPR’s Louisa Lim.

Give someone a job they can handle, but don’t celebrate equal opportunity without consideration for the task required.

Louisa Lim can’t pronounce her Rs. Might not someone have thought to counsel Lim fwom puhsuing a caweeuh on the wadio? Dropped Rs represent an alphabet 1/26th deficient. More, if you adjust inversely by Scrabble point value.

Monte Python’s Pontius Pilate of Life of Brian was mocked by the chorus for not being able to say his R’s. And yes, his Roman audience found the hilarity unending. It’s why he was urged to release Bawabas and not Jesus. Gilda Radner similarly mocked Barbara Walters. Mispwonouncing her Rs didn’t keep Bahbwa Wahwah from a lengthy career, but that’s the point I’m coming to.

If speech impediments were congenital, it would still be no reason to exhibit them center-stage like cultural accents.

Aren’t most speaking disorders remedied in the primary grades, given extra attention from speech therapists? Why do the exceptions seem to become Communications Majors? It’s as if students who have reason to work on their locution, end up becoming the professionals.

But choirs don’t tolerate tone-deafness, why would broadcasters burden themselves with mis-speakers?

Louisa Lim can’t say R, but she’s only one of a majority of female voices on NPR hobbled by flawed presentation. Don’t you find that strange? Considering that Amy Goodman’s delivery is criticized for being shrill. It’s as if NPR thinks strong feminine voices would come across as too authoritative, unless a physical weakness is empirically discernible. Would this explain why most the female voices on NPR are nasal, or supported by the weakest lung capacity? Their tiny voices sound like they could extinguish themselves without the next breath. Audiences like it too obviously.

Accents too, foreign and domestic, work to temper the projection of authority. Male presenters traditionally have sported commanding voices. Today, those who don’t moderate for sporting events most often have voices in the higher registers, or modulate their voices with rises in pitch which communicates timidity.

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Comments

Comment from Tracy Whipple   (IP: 24.10.60.66)
Time: August 21, 2012, 9:42 am

While i certainly noticed the impediment. I find Ms. Lim’s voice neither annoying nor adorable. I simply focus on the content of the report & don’t hyper-focus on her soft /r/s. I guess I am blessed with being able to stay neutral and forgive such grievous occurrences, thereby avoiding the more heinous threat to society than ‘the soft r’…’the whiny bi*ch’.

Comment from anony   (IP: 128.135.240.17)
Time: August 29, 2012, 2:11 pm

I agree about both Louisa Lim and Patti Neighmond.
If you can’t say your /r/s, you sound like a small child.
When you can’t say your /sh/s, /ch/s and /j/s without sounding like a drunk, you might want to stick to being a print journalist.

Comment from Dr Piccolo Heintz   (IP: 173.79.253.9)
Time: April 17, 2013, 7:48 pm

I have NEVER understood why radio stations, particularly NPR would even consider hiring someone with a speech impediment. It drives me nuts!!

Couldn’t NPR pay for some speech therapy lessons for Wisa Wim. My skin crawls when I hear her on the radio.

Comment from DD   (IP: 86.151.108.98)
Time: April 27, 2013, 3:51 pm

Louisa Lim you are a typical westerner who is unfamiliar with the Far East culture yet writes with your full curiously, therefore every word of yours is showing a great deal of strangeness you detected in China, you feel strange about them is because you don’t understand them and their culture. As far as I concern, your articles are lack of research and understanding, purely coming from an ignorant citizen/Tourist from the West. I also suspect she works for the CIA intending to bring down Chinese government through her keyboard…In which case, She is no professional journalist at all.

Comment from Adolf   (IP: 67.202.75.54)
Time: December 5, 2013, 1:30 pm

Don’t forget Rob Stein and Carrie Kahn

Comment from Linda P.   (IP: 74.61.0.162)
Time: December 30, 2013, 7:44 pm

And don’t forget Alix Spiegel with the breathy vocal fry and Margo Adler one of several with a very noticeable lithp.

Comment from the listener   (IP: 72.191.38.243)
Time: January 5, 2014, 12:21 pm

Oh, thank you for pointing out this annoying radio voice. Her impediment is annoying and distracting. Its difficult to take someone seriously when they sound like elmer fudd.

Comment from Tim T   (IP: 204.145.116.10)
Time: August 26, 2014, 2:57 pm

Some people have “a face for radio”. Louisa has “a voice for print”.

Comment from Pat C   (IP: 71.184.199.75)
Time: November 18, 2014, 6:31 pm

I’m hard of hearing… I’ve never noticed. Why is it important? Afwaid your kids will grow up to speak like hew?

Comment from Jefferson   (IP: 70.67.244.11)
Time: August 4, 2015, 10:05 am

It’s more of Liberalism the Mental Disorder at work here… Liberalism which puts “Equality and Fairness” ahead of “Quality and Standards”, celebrating the abnormal and Perverse is part of liberalism..

Comment from microdon2   (IP: 173.56.250.129)
Time: February 1, 2016, 5:30 pm

Jefferson (above) hit the nail on the head. The reason it’s so offensive to hear supposedly professional NPR radio reporters \ announcers with speak impediments is that it’s so obvious that it’s Liberal political correctness run amok. “What’s that – you can’t speak properly? Have an annoying lisp or can’t pronounce your “R”‘s? Of COURSE you can work as a radio reporter for us. After all, NPR is INCLUSIVE. And we’re willing to PROVE it by hiring a verbal invalid like YOU.” This is the journalistic equivalent of putting a 5ft Asian guy who can’t jump on the Olympic basketball team. The obvious Liberal message behind it is much more annoying than the actual speech defect. It’s gotten to the point where I turn the radio off as soon as I hear “Peter Overby”. (besides that he takes himself SO seriously, and he ONLY addresses socially serious topics… puke.” Can NOT stand him.

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