April 01, 2005

The station that you really makes a difference

That time of purgatory has arrived for us National Public Radio listeners: it is pledge time, one of the two periods each year when teams of enthusiastic volunteers and small-town radio station staff and management get up early and come into the studio to gather round the microphone to babble at us listeners to send in money. Don't procrastinate, they babble, this station means a lot to you so send in some money today. But the truth is that the average person, be they station manager or staff member or volunteer, simply cannot sit down at a microphone and talk coherently for five minutes over the airwaves several times an hour. It is an acquired skill. Most people don't have it. And so what you get is incoherent babbling and almost unbelievable logical and grammatical lapses. "On this final Friday of the week," said one staffer this morning on my NPR station. "These levels," said the station manager (he meant the various suggested levels for suggested gifts to the station), "really keep us towards the goal." And my brother Richard, visiting me from England and enthusiastically making notes on fine pieces of American English he encounters, wrote down the classic sentence-oid: "This is the station that you really makes a difference to you." It is the time of year that I really makes a difference to me, I know that. Pray for it to be over. I'd do anything for it to be over. Maybe even send them some money. I'll do that later. Ooh, right now the Capitol Steps are on. Love them.

Posted by Geoffrey K. Pullum at April 1, 2005 11:29 AM