Thursday, February 09, 2006

An Open Letter to NPR

Dear National Public Radio Drones,

I have made no secret in the past of my philosophical disagreement with the idea of public radio (and public television), as well as my contempt for NPR's method of sanitizing all sorts of offensive ideas by droning on about them in the most boring possible way.

This post is not about any of that. Instead, this is actually intended to help you become better. The radio station with the strongest signal in my town is NPR, so I have a vested interest in improving the quality of NPR, even while I disapprove.

My request is simple: Please refrain from mentioning New Orleans on your network. Please never again say the name of the city.

The problem is that when Hurricane Katrina hit, NPR suddenly discovered, to its shock, that the South consisted of more than just the Atlanta airport and the locale of Deliverance. That early ignorance might excusable, except that all these months later, with nearly daily reporting about the city, your reporters still cannot properly pronounce the name "New Orleans."

Here's a quick lesson: Proper Southern pronunciation is two syllables, /Naw-lins/. Proper Yankee pronunciation is three syllables, /New-Or-Leens/. Yet, still, every day for months now your reporters are pronouncing it with FOUR, count 'em, FOUR syllables, /New-Or-lee-ans/.

I notice that cities in Massachusetts such as Leominster (3 syllables) and Worcester (two syllables) get a proper pronunciation -- but not New Orleans.

Please, just stop talking about it. Better yet, stop reporting on anything south of Baltimore or west of Philadelphia. Please -- you're just embarrassing everyone.

Hugs and kisses,
Prof. Richard Scott Nokes

P.S. -- Please also stop saying the word "funk" or any of its variants (funky, funkadelic, etc.). Somehow it just sounds wrong the way you say it.


  1. I cannot stand NPR. In fact, the only bit of NPR I have ever liked was a SNL skit with Alec Baldwin as Pete Schwetty. NPR folks tend to talk in low monotonous tones and take themselves seriously, unlike English profs.

  2. ah, the time-honoured tra-di-ti-on of adding extra syl-la-bles or otherwise changifying words in order to sound more intelligentisable.

  3. I actually have mixed feelings about NPR. I don't like the "syndicated" material, but I like the local news/flavor of KPCC (the Pasadena NPR I listen to). I am sure that KPCC could probably survive on its own as a college radio station, so it probably doesn't need the NPR affiliation in the long run.

    BTW, are you a baseball fan up for some fantasy baseball?

  4. Sorry, Number One, I'm not into fantasy baseball -- though I am old friends with Voros McCracken, who came up with the DIPS metric for his own use in fantasy baseball.

    So you see, if I actually played fantasy baseball, I'd just give Voros a call for help in setting up my roster, and no one else would have a chance. Not very sporting, so no fantasy leagues for me.

  5. Dude, that's hilarious! Ahem -- I mean Dr. Dude, of course. :)

  6. I suppose I should mention too that our local NPR guys (like Fred Asbell) can pronounce New Orleans just fine. It's the syndicated stuff and the national news that's the problem.

  7. True enough, but but he has an odd way of pronouncing his own name (which, granted, I suppose he has every right to do). But the way he stretches out, whislt simultaneously swallowing the "As" part of his name is just too radio-announcer. Indeed, it sounds (to me, at least) like someone trying to make fun of a radio announcer.

  8. Anonymous7:41 AM

    "That early ignorance might excusable?" Perhaps you should refrain from writing in English if that's the est you can do. :-)