Radio Violence
Saturday, June 12, 1999
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(GK: Garrison Keillor, SS: Sue Scott, TK: Tom Keith, TR: Tim Russell)

Our sound-effects man, Mr. Tom Keith, has been instrumental in the recent movement to crack down on violence on radio. Tom has served on the Radio Sound Effects Council that has drawn up new guidelines on what can and cannot be broadcast - for example, throwing men in suits off cliffs - Tom worked for a ban on throwing men off cliffs even though it's one of Tom Keith's specialties. Tossing guys off cliffs is his - it's his - what sunflowers were to Vincent Van Gogh, throwing guys off cliffs is to Tom Keith. But it's violent so we don't do it anymore because it desensitizes children to the pain that would be caused to somebody by throwing them off a cliff as I'm sure you can see by listening to this tape of - (FOOTSTEPS, SLOW) - that's the guy walking over to the edge - let me fast forward this (FAST FORWARD. STOP. WATER FROTHING FROM SHARKS) - whoops, that's the shark attack - let me back up a little (REWIND, STOP. SLOW SPEED HUMAN SPEECH) - wrong speed. Sorry. (CLICK) (TK: Look down there. You see the fins? TK: Yeah? No - No - no, no - don't - no - not - TR CRY FALLING AND SPLASH. WATER FROTHING FROM SHARKS) Wasn't that good? Who else do you know who can do that? But it violates our guidelines on radio violence.

And so does the giant condor. A magnificent bird. Wingspan of eight feet. (CONDOR) We would use it in a sketch with a naked guy tied to the rock. The condor pecks out his liver. Like this.

TK: GUY RISING PROTEST ... TERROR ... THEN A SCREAM.

We feel that that sort of thing has no place in public radio. Studies show that exposure to violence is terrible for a young person, and they also show that violence on radio is ten times worse than violence on TV because violence on radio is so much more real. For example, when we did the sketch about the doctor doing brain surgery, that was real to people.

(RESPIRATOR) (CLINK OF TOOLS)

TK: Retractor ... No. 4 curette ... quarter-inch drill bit ... drill - (DRILL, THEN STOP) - Was that supposed to be on the right side? It was? Okay. Good. (DRILL, THEN STOP) Would somebody mind mopping up this blood on the floor? It's getting pretty slippery. (DRILL ... SUSTAIN ... THEN HE SLIPS, DRILL SLIPS, DRILLS THROUGH BONE, STOP) I said, would somebody mop up this floor? What? What are you pointing at? Where? Euuuuuuuuuu. (DISGUST)

A scene like that can cause listeners to postpone needed surgery, and that's why, under the new code of graphic sound effects, we won't be doing surgery any more. We'll be doing more seagulls and surf. (GULLS, SURF)

Listeners sometimes write in to complain about violence on our show, but you don't know all of the violent scripts that we throw away because they'd be bad for children. For example, the one about the thunderstorm (THUNDER, LIGHTNING) that touches off an avalanche (AVALANCHE) that sweeps down the mountain toward the 11-year-old boy (TK: Help! Help!) and his kitty cat (MEOW) and the avalanche is coming closer (TK: Help! Help! MEOW) and then the anthropologist is driving along in the Jeep (WHEEZY CAR), the anthropologist with his chimpanzee (CHIMP) sees the kid (TK: HELP) and they pick him up (TK: Thanks, mister. We're safe, Puff. MEOW. JEEP REV) and carry him and his cat to safety just as the avalanche hits the gas tanks (EXPLOSIONS) and sets off the blaze that warms up the dinosaur eggs (CRACKING) and these mutant monsters (MONSTER) rise up from the earth and terrorize the village (TK DISTANT CRIES OF TERROR) and dive bombers have to be brought in (DIVE SFX) to launch cruise missiles (MISSILE FLIGHT) but the dinosaurs catch the missiles in their hands (MONSTER) and throw them into the sea and they explode underwater (UNDERWATER EXPLOSIONS) and dolphins come to the surface, stunned, (DOLPHIN) and the dolphins commandeer a submarine - (TK: We're being attacked by dolphins, sir! KLAXON. TK: What??? DOLPHINS. STRUGGLE.) - and the dolphins take the sub down and the dolphins raise the periscope (MOTOR, DOLPHINS) and they see the meteoroid heading straight for the earth (DOLPHINS) and they aim the bow torpedo tubes up and they launch nuclear warheads (THREE BIG UNDERWATER ROCKET THRUSTS) that hit the meteor (BIG EXPLOSION) and deflect it so it hits the dinosaurs (DINOS, EXPLOSION) and it sets off a rockslide and it hits the anthropologist's car and sweeps it off the cliff (CAR ROLLING) and it rolls end over end over end down the slope and blows up. (EXPLOSION) And meanwhile who is standing on that twisting mountain road but that same kid (TK: Help. Help!) (AVALANCHE) and miles from there Buck of the mountain patrol (PING PONG) is playing Ping-Pong with a friend of his, a ranger named Dave, and (PHONE RING. PICK UP. TK: Yeah?) he gets a call from the anthropologist about the missing chimp (TK: Okay. Be right there) And Buck takes off in the chopper (CHOPPER) and he's flying over the wilderness and (TK: Hey. What is that down there? A rockslide!) and he takes the chopper down (CHOPPER) and sees the kid (TK: Help! Help!) and he lifts him out of there. (CHOPPER) Buck is the kid's mother's boyfriend. But where's the kitty cat? (MEOW) He's two miles from there. The cat's ankle is caught in the rail of the track. (DISTANT WHISTLE) And Buck has gone (CHOPPER FADING) and the train is getting closer (WHISTLE) and suddenly a figure comes loping out of the underbrush (CHIMP) and snatches up the cat (MEOW) just as the (TRAIN PASSING) train goes by.

That's the sort of violence we seek to avoid on our show. A pledge from sound effects man Tom Keith. (GULLS, SURF)

 

(c) 1999 by Garrison Keillor

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