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.

(Visited 407 times, 1 visits today)
Eric Verlo

About Eric Verlo

On sabbatical
This entry was posted in Radio and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

87 Responses to Does NPR have a hiring impediment?

  1. Avatar Tracy Whipple says:

    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’.

  2. Avatar anony says:

    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.

  3. Avatar Dr Piccolo Heintz says:

    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.

  4. Avatar DD says:

    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.

  5. Avatar Adolf says:

    Don’t forget Rob Stein and Carrie Kahn

  6. Avatar Linda P. says:

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

  7. Avatar the listener says:

    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.

  8. Avatar Tim T says:

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

  9. Avatar Pat C says:

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

  10. Avatar Jefferson says:

    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..

  11. Avatar microdon2 says:

    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.

  12. Avatar Betsy Friauf says:

    These remarks are narrow minded and mean spirited. Why bother posting your hate? It is not constructive. All these reporters are very good journalists. I admire them greatly for working for one of the best journalism outlets in the world, and for not letting their limitations limit their accomplishments. The fact that they have human flaws makes them better reporters; they know about struggle and can relate to others’ struggles. Remember, Beethoven was deaf when he wrote his best music.

  13. Avatar Nm says:

    Rob Stein, Mo Rocca, David Edelstein can’t speak without impediments.

  14. Avatar Pat McCann says:

    Betsy Friauf – YOU and your liberal, “inclusive at all costs” thinking ARE the PROBLEM. And that you don’t see that is perfect. Yes, Beethoven was deaf at the end of his life – but he produced INCREDIBLE music, in SPITE of his deafness. These reporters can NOT produce professional radio reports given their speech impediments. The fact that so many people online are complaining about it is proof of that. Can you not see THAT??

  15. Avatar Michael C. says:

    I have three question for the haters (Jefferson and pat McCann) 1. Why would RW goobers like you listen to NPR? 2. Do you know the difference between an announcer and a reporter? 3. You know Rob Stein is a successful journalist and you aren’t, right?

  16. Avatar Dawn Ducoulombier says:

    I enjoy listening to real people like Rob Stein, and his quality of program is exceptional. I like his lisp. He doesn’t sound like a child because of his professionalism. Just because people have slight human imperfections also know as simply being human, why should they be excluded from the employment process. I come home and read more about what they report on and find these journalists a valuable source of news and information. One of the reasons I don’t watch television news is because of the fake people hired to deliver the news. Look at the women and how they are required to look, sexy, gorgeous, above average looking people. I will stick with NPR. I also think that these people need to go back to FOX television or CNN, their people comes with no other human imperfections. Find something else to knock down.

  17. Brother Jonah Brother Jonah says:

    Hey, good you found something here. Even though this one is like 6 years ago. I think. And we do roast the Wrong Wing quite often. It’s not quite a secret that you don’t actually have to agree with Eric or me on just anything. The way this post got bumped up to the present is we were experiencing a spam attack.

    In case you want to see some right wing pigs roasting then groovy. You came to the right or perhaps left place.

    There’s another about Glenn Beck that Tony posted like 3 years ago. “conservative hero” which also got bumped up

    I like to judge on ones best work than the worst. For most people that’s a really sweet deal. Including Eric.

    With some commentators like Beck and Romney and Trump and so on, it’s unfortunately the best, on which we judge. Their “best” isn’t really distinguished from their worst. I suppose the difference comes from them being compelled to write what their bosses tell them to write. That and they’re generally Socially Retarded Animated Sphincters.

    And nobody is required to agree with anybody. Even I am not placed in such a place of honor that others have to agree with me. I know that’s hard to believe, being as I am the greatest writer who ever lived and I realize it. But I don’t get conceited even though it’s richly deserved. Because Conceit is a fault and I have none.

  18. Avatar JimmyRiot says:

    Yes most NPR listeners lean left like me, but come on, these guys have a point. I too can’t listen to Louisa Lim’s marble mouth (BBC’s guilty too). Peter Overby I picture looking like the creepy pencil drawings guy from Monty Python, deena TEMPLE raston whisper-rasps like she thinks she’s sexy and doesn’t want the person next to her to hear, like it’s some damn secret. Rob Stein sounds like a squirrel with cheeks filled with stored nuts. Elanore Beardsly has toned it down lately but you still hear the affected Trisha Takinawa (“Asian Correspondent” from Family Guy) voice. Kenneth Turrant? He milks that gravel so insencerely. I know because when it’s live back and forth he doesn’t milk it like when he files a report. Same w deena TEMPLE raston; I’ve heard her speak like a normal person too. Proof that for some reason they do it on purpose because they must think it’s either sexy or appealing. It’s not.

  19. Avatar JimmyRiot says:

    So you’ve got the legitimate speech impediment folks, and you’ve got the milkers.

  20. Avatar JimmyRiot says:

    Sorry to over-post, but I forgot the worst offender, and this will rile some of you up: Diane Reahm. I already know some of you will say “what a jerk, she has medical problems and gets ‘throat treatments'”, BUT I’ve heard her speak at a normal pace plenty of times when not doing her show, proving…..she……is…….capable…….of…….it……when….she….suspects……… won’t ……..come……across……as endearing……….she THINKS…………does………….on….her……show.

    P.S. Apparently she’s very nasty to the help. I could also give a toss about her stupid dog.

  21. Avatar Melisander Wildberger says:

    Though not a “speech impediment” in the usual sense, one wonders how Wolf Blitzer ever landed a job in voice communications with his inability to utter more than three or four words (always LOUDLY) without gasping for breath, which he never does at the end of a phrase, but always at the most awkward points.

  22. Avatar Pat McCann says:

    Latest addition to the NPR speech impediment crew – Alison Kodjak. Hers is more subtle, but just as obnoxious. I wonder what percentage of NPR’s radio personalities are verbally impaired? My guess – 35%. Isn’t that about the level to qualify for federal funding?

  23. Rush Limbaugh and Bill O’Reilly and even well-voice-trained actor who pretended to be a Leader Ronald Reagan had a speech impediment as well. Like most right wing extremists they can’t or couldn’t open their mouths without spewing shit.

    Maybe the NPR on-air “hire” people who, like me, don’t speak like movie actors. But are intelligent and actually know the subjects they report. Because NPR doesn’t have nearly the budget for paying actors to report fake news like FOX or the Talk Radio assholes.

    Michael “Savage” Weiner, for instance, speaks like Beverly Sills could sing (RIP) but he actually thinks he could have a black belt in Tae Kwon Do without taking formal lessons. I checked. Unless he lied (which he does often but particularly) about his real name and birthdate and if he took any lesson at all in Tae Kwon Do he would be listed as such in two repositories one in Seoul and the other in San Francisco of people who have actually partaken of Tae Kwon Do.

    John Wayne took elocution lessons to perfect the accent he used in his movies, was never a cowboy (that’s really hard labor, and low paid) and neither was Reagan or especially GW Bush. Like the Savage Weiner, they spewed simple crap out of their facial orifices and were taken seriously. I would a heap rather listen to somebody who has something intelligent to say and who understands his subject matter regardless of eloquence. In ROTC which I attended and at Military Elitist Academies which I didn’t, the cadets are given elocution training, called “bugling” which means saying something forcefully and clearly enough to allow you to tell those under your command the most outrageous lies and they will believe you. At West Point if you don’t know the answer you fake it, and the part which has a higher grade point is “are you forcible, clear, and sound confident in speech” and not actually getting the correct answer.

    It’s how incompetent fucks like Custer and McCain managed to look competent even though Custer lost far more battles than he won, and McCain couldn’t fly worth shit and probably accidentally broke his final plane in that swamp near Hanoi.

    Revelance? NPR has better sources, as in not habitual congenital liars, and their correspondents and reporters are actually intelligent and not pretending. They also don’t get paid nearly as much as FOX pays.

  24. Avatar Doug says:

    I agree with the blog. Untrained voices like those NPR hires are distracting. In some cases, like Rob Stein, they are blood-curdling. The sound of their voices is like a combination between fingernails on a chalk board and a baby crying. it is impossible to ignore — and i am partially deaf!!!
    I know rob Stein is a talented journalist. He should stick with print and let a trained voice actor read his pieces.

  25. Avatar Allen says:

    It’s not just the NPR people. It goes all the way from the local news stations all the way up to Fox News, NBC News and all the giants. Lester Holt looks like he speaks with a pinch of tobacco in his lip. His tongue is always in the way. Some like Fox’s Outnumbered Lisa Kennedy not only has the lisp but the facial expressions are beyond annoying. You end up losing focus on the subject matter because the lisp and expressions are so distracting.
    I just wonder if there has ever been a multi-million dollar government study done on how many of these women had tongue piercings at younger ages. It seems that I notice the same strong lisps in many of the girls that have these piercings. Does it become a habit after the piercing is removed? The girls say they talk like that because the bar in their tongue hits their teeth. When you watch most of these women they seem to have a problem talking because their tongue is always getting in the way. Plus during the recent years in school, I often heard how cute it was when a girl had a lisp. When did it come to this? How did it become cute now instead of unacceptable? I remember schools used to put kids in speech classes when they had impediments. I don’t even know if schools have that anymore. Millions get pumped into sports and buying computers but yet something like speech therapy gets ignored. I guess it’s a sign of how nobody talks anymore which is why social media and texting is the only ways kids talk to each other anymore.
    Anyway, you’d think the major networks would be more selective with the people they pick to put in front of a camera or on microphone. It seriously does distract people from the major news when you’re drawn to the speech impediment instead. I’m guessing they are all afraid of the lawsuit that would come if they stopped these people from getting their equal opportunity.
    I just wish we weren’t forced to listen to these people because of the threat of lawsuits. I don’t want my kids growing up hearing this and thinking it’s an acceptable way to speak.

  26. Brother Jonah Brother Jonah says:

    Much like texting kills any skills in writing the English language. Chinese is more a written language. I got burned myself saying ni hao mah which is “hello” only more formal. Something in the compound vowel in hao. I think. Never been to China but in the states they’re really polite about non-Chinese people mispronouncing something. My mom was in Taiwan on the island Formosa. Which had a lot of people who were from far flung corners of the old Empire. And the spoken language was many dialects that are as neatly similar as German is to French. She said people would hold out their dominant hand and use the finger as a ‘stylus’ and the palm the slate. And write out the pictographs one by one. And it worked because the writing is standardized. Grimm’s law is the mathematic representation of the decay of language, really evolution into another or several other language(s). The Brothers Grimm codified it, without using a computer. I wouldn’t be able to do it WITH a computer. Some phrases that defeat modern English speakers show a pattern, like the term Spit’n’ image which is three words, not two, and it has nothing to do with spitting. It’s short for Spirit And Image and reflects the Druidic/Pictish religious beliefs regarding reincarnation. Being the spit’n’image of Great Grandpa means you look like him and have his personality as well. Regional or generational differences might not be the sources of the problems, but it pushes it along. If you heard me speaking like this you’d come away with the notion that I was mentally ill and possibly dangerous. And ignorant. The problem is well and thoroughly discussed here, but one thing is left out… a solution. English is said to be the most complex language there is. When the right wing pundits demand that everybody speak english I have to chuckle a bit. Only partly because they don’t actually speak English very well. It’s the blind leading the blind. They complain but can’t force anything. That makes them become crazy. And they take advantage of the Golden Age of radio being long gone. Try finding a new radio that gets the A.M. band. The Music stations from my childhood are flooded with Rush and Mike Savage and other really stupid assholes who have only one redeeming character. They learned Radio Talk. The net worth of that is the number of people who learn how deeply disturbed Right Wing philosophy actually is. Puts me off my feed, yes it does.

  27. Avatar Andrea Cousins says:

    Wonderful to find others who feel this
    way! Women broadcasters with Valley Girl accents, or female gravel voice, or who overintone, like girly-girl
    caricatures. There is a new co-host of All Things Considered whose name I can’t understand and who speaks
    with a terrible lisp. Who is this? And
    why has NPR hired her for radio

  28. Avatar walt says:

    OMG! YES…I’m not alone! I cannot stand it. I am usually a yearly donor to my NPR station but they just keep hiring these people with horrible lisps and I’ve had it. I’m done donating. WTF!? There is so much work behind the scenes to journalism that takes place besides the person behind the microphone so there is not excuse letting these people behind a microphone. Nobody likes listening to it and it’s distracting as hell. Every time one of these marble mouth talkers comes on I change the station or turn off the radio. Now I am revoking my membership and not donating anymore. Thanks for this post.

  29. Avatar Garth Clark says:

    It’s a complete blunder to subject the public to less than normal speech skills within the confines of TV, Radio and other public platforms. A speech impediment or lisp of any kind should be a job disqualifier for anyone who applies for these type of jobs. I can’t blame those who have the lisp however.

    We have to blame those penny pinchers who give them the job. Why would they? There must be a reason why they would pick a lisper over someone who hasn’t got one. Is it because the lisper will work for less $$? Is there another reason why an employer would prefer a lisper vs. linguistic true?

    Could it be a conspiracy on the public? For sure it makes no reasonable sense to put a handicap speaker in a job that requires good verbal communication skills.

  30. Avatar Justabitch says:

    I’m positive npr must be getting a federal grant for hiring the handicapped. I haven’t donated since 2001. Diane Reahm convinced me that if they can’t spend their money hiring capable employees, they don’t need my money. Am trying to listen to Radiolab now and nope, can’t do it, I want to punch these lisping morons in the mouth, SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP!!!
    I still love Mo Rocca and Ira Glass though. At first, the monotones and soft lisps were a pleasant novelty, a pleasant change from the usual shouting on the radio. But now npr just seems stupid for beating listeners over the head with it. I don’t feel one bit guilty for listening without donating. Screw them and their dumbed-down BS delivered by baby-talking idiots. They’re a disgrace.

  31. Avatar Linda Case says:

    I am pleased to find that so many other people out there cringe when hearing these compromised voices. Why is it a virtue to hire such people for radio work.

  32. Avatar toby3536 says:

    Finally found an article that points out what seems like an extremely stupid approach by radio shows and stations. This goes beyond NPR as I’ve heard various speech impediments on commercial radio (SiriusXM included). In addition to the “soft R” I am hearing more radio hosts/personalities substitute a W for L, i.e. pubwic radio. Proper diction should be mandatory for a position in radio where your voice is your tool for doing your job.

  33. Avatar Kat says:

    My partner and I have a theory that in the news/entertainment media and legislative sectors, we have an overwhelming amount of NEPOTISM happening these days, where people are no longer carefully selected for their PERTINENT SKILLS related to their positions. Rather than being appropriately trained and conditioned for the position, they are inheriting them from from family or sexual relations. One very prominent example of this theory is the apparently funny talking Barbra Walters. Her father was an actor. She grew up surrounded by actors. The instances of these people who are afflicted with wonky speech are an interesting cause to examine the speakers family background.

  34. Avatar Carolyn says:

    There are at least 3 lispers. Every time I hear them I think of the Brady Bunch episode where Cindy gets teased by the school bully for her lisp. Then I think of Wallace Shawn as Vizzini in The Princess Bride with his lisp. The worst is a female reporter whose lisp is so bad she sounds like Sylvester the cat from Looney Toons. Then I have to change the station.

  35. Avatar A.H. says:

    I don’t know what today’s theories are on why there are so many people with speech impediments in radio and tv but it seems to have become an epidemic. Almost all of the personalities on tv/radio/podcasts have a lisp. I just don’t understand it.
    I found this post because I’m desperately trying to find out why this is the new norm?

  36. Avatar orphanellie says:

    I asked a speech therapist about the proliferation of speech impediments on TV. She theorized that since the speech therapy department in most colleges/universities is always near the communications and journalism departments, many students who have speech problems then register for those classes and go on to TV journalism degrees. Often their new found confidence is misplaced.

  37. Avatar Sancho says:

    Finally!! Other people who’ve noticed the same pattern that I have. Every time I get into my wife’s car, NPR is on the radio, and it seems like 90% of their reporters have a speech impediment of some sort. So much so that I googled “Does everyone on NPR have a lisp” just to make sure I wasn’t crazy….and it brought me here. Thank you for the reassurance.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *