Tanja Cilia

Freelance Writer

Tin gods, paper tigers

The Sunday Times Logo

Sunday, May 27, 2012 by

Tanja Cilia

 

Just for fun, I had mooted the idea of my own radio show; however, since there are current dealings by certain presenters with this, that and the other station, I was not specific about my choice of broadcaster.

Though newscasters may change the scripts tend to remain the same
– Tanja Cilia

It would have been called L-Erbgħa Fost il-Ġimgħa (Out of the Blue), and broadcast, of course, on Wednesdays. I would have churned even more out more interviews than there are already littering the air.

My programme would have been unique and surreal in that the guests would have had to be in character, and the discussions would be un­scripted, fast, furious and intelligent.

This would make a fine change from having the same talking heads who would have been on other stations on Tuesday and would be on others still come Thursday.

The feedback I got was quite encouraging; yet since it would have created a conflict of interest with this column, I patiently explained, again and again, that it was all a joke.

By accident or design, a couple of weeks after the aforementioned conversations, Radju Malta finally put on air – on Mondays and Fridays – a news-oriented discussion show.

The presenter, David Bonello, did his level best (as do Chris Scicluna of L-Istampa Kollha and Norma Saliba of Sehemna fl-Ewropa). But some of the guests, as happens with the other two aforementioned programmes, were ill-prepared for the task.

In all three programmes, there has been a combination of people whose mission in life is getting their names and their agendas out there.

Some cannot convey their opinions in a coherent manner, and others have to read a script, or be continuously prompted by their hosts in order to remember salient points of their intended messages.

The Monday and Friday programme has already folded.

Many years ago, when I had (seriously) applied for the inexistent post of public relations officer for the state broadcaster, I was told the position is not allowed to exist at law. Whether or not it is sorely needed, however, is anyone’s guess.

From where I stand, Radju Malta, and other stations, are long due for an overhaul. My trendier friends listen to other stations for the music; they tell me I am a fuddy-duddy for listening to magazine programmes and sections from novella read in a motley collection of weird voices.

Yet the fact is that Radju Malta’s formula works; various moves over the years to make it ‘young’ and ‘hip’ have alienated people.

In the near future there could well be plans to borrow the ‘More music less talk’ slogan from Magic – seeing that this station no longer adheres to the original policy (new brooms sweep clean), and play more chart music to attract the younger audience band… which, ironically, appears to be steering clear of the so-called new, improved Magic.

But all the above would negate, in one fell swoop, all the efforts built up since the Victor Aquilina days.

Consider the front yard of what used to be Rediffusion House. It needs clearing up – and so does Radju Malta’s schedule, but by way of common sense rather than by removing programmes. It’s not the only station that needs sprucing up.

One of those pie charts that are supposed to reveal the ‘secrets of life’ recently indicated how often ‘eh’ was actually said by Canadians (20 per cent) and how often by Americans saying it to make fun of the Canadians (90 per cent).

I am sure some Maltese presenters would have topped the latter – and this is one of the things demo tapes and interviews, if used properly, would weed out when it came to employing or head-hunting presenters, or inviting guests.

It is so painful to listen to some people that even people in shops have been known to get off their bar-stools and switch channels in disgust when these are on air as presenters or as guests.

Also, people who draw up schedules ought to know better than to have the same person present two different programmes on the station, on the same day; talk about over-exposure.

Another thing that is exceedingly annoying is that although newscasters may change, the scripts tend to remain the same, bulletin after bulletin, such that by the end of the day, loyal listeners of most stations would have learned them by heart.

Speaking of newscasts – most of us have noticed that some commentators who purport to comb the internet for foreign news are probably using this newspaper and its sister publication as a source.

All they do is translate the world news briefs section and cite the original sources after they track them down by keywords. I say this be­cause it is amazing how the items are often given in the same order as they appear here.

It must also be pointed out that there is an amount of shoddiness extant, too. I lost count of how many times Alexis Tsipras, the 37-year-old leader of Syriz, Greece’s radical left party, was referred to as a woman.

And then, of course, there are the Facebook lurkers who pinpoint stories of interest highlighted by other journalists and expound upon them, on the principle that if you copy from on source it’s plagiarism, but if you use more than three, it’s research.

Why are we so surprised then, that BBC1 boss Danny Cohen has thrown away millions of pounds of television-licence fee-payers’ money on The Voice.

• Kirsty Hughes, chief executive, Index on Censorship, London EC1, UK, last week wrote a very important letter to the Financial Times, in which, inter alia, she mentioned how “in countries like Azerbaijan, journalists, bloggers, a wide range of political activists, and musicians and artists too, continue to be intimidated, censored, imprisoned and even violently attacked…”

However, rather than mentioning dogs and Englishmen, she calls upon one of the latter – David Cameron – “to think twice before welcoming and greeting the heads of state of such rights-abusing countries as Azerbaijan, Bahrain and Ukraine.”

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Tanja Cilia

Freelance Writer

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