You Think You Can Be a Talk Radio Host?

I took the most recent issue of The Atlantic to the gym today and finished reading David Foster Wallaces’ “Host”, a long and very detailed article about AM Talk Radio. Here he explains what faces someone who “thinks they can host a radio show.”

“To appreciate these skills and some of the difficulties involved, you might wish to do an experiment. Try sitting alone in a room with a clock, turning on a tape recorder, and starting to speak into it. Speak about anything you want–with the proviso that your topic and your opinions on it, must be of interest to some group of strangers who you imagine will be listening to the tape. Naturally, in order to be even minimally interesting, your remarks should be intelligible and their reasoning sequential–a listener will have to be able to follow the logic of what you are saying–which means that you will have to know enough about your topic to organize your statements in a coherent way (but you cannot do this much of this organizing beforehand; it has to occur at the same time you’re speaking.

Plus, ideally, what you’re saying should be not just comprehensible and interesting, but compelling, stimulating, which means your remarks have to provoke and sustain some kind of emotional reaction from listeners, which in turn requires you to construct some kind of identifiable persona for yourself–your comments will need to strike the listener as coming from an actual human being.”