NPR's Jackie Lyden, what do you require by way of fuck-you money?

Because on many a Saturday and Sunday late afternoon I find myself wishing that you’d variously (according to my mood): a) find another job, preferably one that doesn’t involve much speaking; b) otherwise be replaced as “Weekend Edition” host – honestly, just about anyone would be preferable, including the guy who delivers bottled water to NPR’s offices, provided he speaks any English at all; or c) get whisked off the planet by aliens fascinated by your affected speech, constipated delivery and vocal tics, and determined to scan and probe your larynx, pharynx, mouth, sinus cavities and brain until they solve the mystery of just how you manage to be so fucking annoying every time you open your mouth.

Do you recall that segment you covered last week on computer-generated voices? Some expert in the field jury-rigged an A.I. version of your voice, and damn if I didn’t prefer that flat, emotionless, nuance-free 'bot voice to the real thing. Not only was your disembodied voice more pleasant to listen to, it sounded more professional on the radio, too. If only the Lyden program could replace Jackie Lyden; that is one hypothetical instance of tech-mediated obsolescence I would welcome.

So I hope someone shows you this thread so that you might grace us with your reply, so that I and other like-minded disgruntled NPR listeners (I can’t possibly be the only person who feels this way) can start to pass the proverbial hat to collect the funds to send you on your way. I only wish my local public radio stations could tailor their next fundraising drive with special offers to “send us money to bribe Jackie Lyden into taking early retirement,” but that could never happen as you are an employee of NPR and not any of my local public radio stations… but I bet they could raise a helluva lot of money that way!

Sorry, but I just can’t get behind this.

First of all, I don’t really get what it is about Lyden that you don’t like. It’s just her voice? If you want entertaining voices listen to Jim Cramer. If you want actual content that is meaningful and well thought out, listen to NPR. If her voice is the only bad part of that deal for you, tough.

I wouldn’t recommend that you provide a link to the thread, but as it’s your own work, you could C&P it and forward it to the NPR Ombudsman.

I appreciate the work you put into this, and there are certainly radio “personalities” I’d rather have my ears cauterized shut than hear speak again, but I’m having trouble diving exactly what’s so offensive about Ms. Lyden’s speech.

Jackie Lyden sounds nerdy cute to me. There are far worse voices on NPR, especially when Carl Kassel forgets his Poligrip.

Harrumph. I was expecting a flurry of “me too!” posts and a lively discussion of the particularly annoying aspects of Jackie Lyden’s delivery style and voice, but go figure. I certainly didn’t expect anyone to defend her as a broadcasting host.

FWIW (which won’t be much because I’m not an expert on speech patterns, etc.), Ms. Lyden’s speech annoys me because of the following (in no particular order):

  1. It sounds to me like she’s tightly constricting her voice – speaking from the back of her throat, and putting pressure on the airflow from her lungs instead of keeping her pipes as open as possible – in other words, she’s not talking from her diaphragm. (Brass and woodwind musicians, and certainly singers, confront this issue also, and must be mindful of their bodies and not tense up that way. It’s a Zen thing, being that aware of and correcting your breathing, and enforcing that state of relaxation when you’re excited, tense and preoccupied with other things.) The throttled speaking anti-technique of Lyden’s has two unfortunate side-effects: it changes the timbre of her voice and lends an uncomfortable tenseness to her delivery; it also tends to result in her having to take breaths more frequently (and she’s a noisy, conspicuous gasper).

  2. Here’s a clusterfuck of problems that I believe are closely related, so I’m listing them as a group: a) Ms. Lyden sounds like she’s affecting a posh Londoner’s accent, but doing it badly. She’s not British. BION, she grew up in Wisconsin; have you ever known anyone else from that state, or the Northwest for that matter, who speaks or sounds like Ms. Lyden? b) On a related note, she also sounds insufferably precious and smugly self-satisfied with herself, as if she loves to hear herself talk and she’s speaking through a rictus of a grin on her face. c) And she painfully over-enunciates everything to the extent that it actually slows down her words-per-minute delivery. Her speech pattern isn’t one of mellifluous flow, but of chop and staccato, with awkwardly timed weighty pauses and with unnecessary (and affected-sounding) stretchings of odd syllables, especially the final syllables of sentences and very short phrases. She has a tin ear for the basics of phrasing and pacing of speech.

  3. But perhaps the most annoying aspect of Ms. Lyden’s vocalise is the high-pitched ascending twang attached to way too many of her words. To my ear, this is quite distinct from the “Valley Girl” intonational rise blighting the speech of too many people (more often women than men, but plenty of both), in which the speaker ends many non-interrogative sentences or phrases with a rising pitch, as if voicing a question – only with intonational rise it’s a more general affect, applied indiscriminately and often. “Are you going out?” with a hint of rise on “out” is a perfectly normal way to ask a question like that, but “He said he was going out? To see that new movie?.. about terrorists in Tokyo?” is intonational rise, connoting uncertainty, the solicitation of agreement or feedback, or perhaps merely idiocy.

What Jackie Lyden’s voice is doing is attaching a sharply ascending intonation of an “-inggg” timbre to the end of many of her words, often at the end of her [exceedingly choppy] phrasing as well as at the end of her sentences. It totally drives me nuts (and not in a good way); I can only compare the annoyance factor to that of nails on a blackboard, or, perhaps, a dog whistle to a dog. She has the intonational rise problem too to a degree, but it seems to me a fairly minor problem… at least in comparison to her other quirks.
I trust this helps clarify exactly why she ticks me off (even if you don’t agree), and I can only hope that a speech expert of some sort will take an interest in this thread and help clarify, using lots of impressive technical lingo, what it is I’m hearing in Jackie Lyden’s voice.

Count me in as another who has never had a problem with Jackie Lyden.

I am grateful though that Liane Hansen no longer hosts Weekend Edition: I found her discussion to be somewhat fatuous and lame. Then again, I’ve also heard her do quality work on All Things Considered: I guess I just didn’t like her lighter radio shtick.

Apropos nothing, wikipedia says that Hansen is married to Neal Conan. I didn’t know that.

I like listening to Jackie Lyden. You’re on your own here.

I don’t think I’ve ever heard Ms. Lyden, but just about everything The Scrivener says about her could be said just as truly about WQXR’s Candice Agree. WQXR is New York’s classical music station, so those of you outside New York probably haven’t heard her, but she drives me up the wall.

I don’t really mind Lyden, but her voice definitely does have a very distinctive quality to it. I was actually kind of weirded out to see this thread today, because I was thinking about her voice today. I was a bit late coming home from work, and where I would normally hear the lovely Lynn Rosetto-Casper for the entire trip, today I was primarily listening to Ms. Lyden. I’m glad that talented people can find a role on NPR regardless of their individual voices (the actual inspiration for my thought was that Lyden’s voice is much more feminine than I think mine is, and I was wondering if a man-voiced woman would make it on the air, but then I think that Andrea what’s her name, who recently got hired on the afternoon show that I cannot recall the name of, sounds like me. Um. Pretend all that made sense, will you?)

I like Jackie Lyden, but that’s not why I came into the thread.
It’s because of this…

Can I ask that you please refrain from using abbreviations so much? Is it THAT hard to type out “believe it or not” and thus be immediately comprehensible to your audience, rather than forcing some of us to stop in mid-sentence and look up the term?

Hah! Is that what it means? I’ve never seen it before, and when I read it I thought it meant “Born in Ontario”

“Born in Ontario, she grew up in Wisconsin”

And then I thought, what a stupid thing to abbreviate.

Someone in NJ is criticizing someone elses voice? Christ, they could bottle the NJ accent and sell it as a paint remover.

I’ve always thought that NPR goes out of their way to hire on air personalities with speech impediments and weird names for some reason, beats me what it is.

Jackie Lyden’s not so bad, IMHO. The dude who just can’t seem to say “Annie E. Casey Foundation” intelligibly drives me nuts. If I was the ad buyer for that foundation, I would demand a different announcer.

Be careful what you wish for.

Maybe they’ll replace her with Diane Rehm.

About three-fifths seem to be New Yorkers. The rest probably come from eensy, ancient liberal arts colleges that get much of their student body, and all of their culture, from New Yorkers.

Ah, but you see, having the supporters’ slogans read in monotone Mid-Atlantic Adenoidal with occasional lapses into unintelligibility is how they communicate the message, “Not An Ad; We Don’t Sell Ads.”

And…Raymonduh James. Raymonduh James, Dot Com.

I don’t have a problem with Lydon’s voice.

And having a problem with the sound of a person’s voice is hardly rant-worthy.

Anyway, the super-professionalized smoothy-smooth shouting radio announcer voices are the ones that drive me batty. I much prefer a voice that sounds like a real person.

I really can’t stand NPR, but my dad loves it. On a recent, long-ish car trip, he tuned into the Diane Rehm show, which I had never heard before.

Half an hour in I found myself wondering whether the car’s power windows would be strong enough to sever my head.

The NPR voice that really drives me crazy is the Moscow correspondent, Gregory Feifer. You can hear his voice here. It’s the way he ends all his sentences on a down note, or something. It’s so commentator-like and not at all naturalistic. I can’t listen to his reports because his delivery annoys me so damn much, and that’s the last thing I need first thing in the morning.

Nothing to say about Jackie Lyden, except that because of my Gregory Feifer hate, I can understand how someone’s voice might just get under your skin and stay there.

Be even carefuller what you wish for.

For years, I groaned and immediately changed the radio channel whenever Dick Gordon’s ‘The Connection’ came on. Twice a week, for two hours apiece, his droning voice and complete inability to conduct an interview made my local NPR station a no-go zone for me. I prayed for his show to be cancelled.

Well, it was.

And who picked him up? Yeah, my local NPR station. Now I have to switch the dial every single frickin’ day.