Radio Brain: Got a Mental Laxative?

There should be a word for the phenomenon of having your mind go blank when you're interviewed on the radio. This is what happened to me today when Rob Cain and I were being interviewed for the Jefferson Exchange by Lisa Polito regarding our Ashland Watershed Trails Master Plan efforts. 

Lisa: "What's your name?"
Me: "er, uh, um...52...I'm sorry, what was the question?"

OK, it wasn't quite that bad, but it's scary when you realize that people, places and things you want to recall simply slip from your consciousness. It's like trying to remember your dreams when you wake up and you can feel the details vanishing like savings in your 401k. Where'd it all go?

Some call this "brain fart" but it's more like brain constipation. "Hold on, the thought is coming. Real soon now. Um, do you have any prune juice, maybe a mental laxative?" Physiologically, I wonder if it is akin to all your synapses firing--overload--or no synapses firing at all--Zen mind. Yeah, that's the ticket: I've lost my marbles and now I have "achieved" zen mind. Who knew it was that easy?

Meanwhile, Lisa was incredibly relaxed. Before the meeting, she carried on an off-air conversation with us while every so often making some announcement--Garrison Keilor this, the future that, etc--all seamlessly. That would be like rowing and adjusting your riggers at the same time.

Lisa had asked Rob the day before if we could appear (how you do you appear on radio?) and Rob asked me last night. Show at 8:30AM. Today. I decided the best thing was not review too much data and not to rehearse answers, otherwise I might sound stilted. Ha! Stilted might have been an improvement.

Rob didn't seem similarly afflicted, damn him. It seemed like a casual conversation between Rob and Lisa, with some random bozo (me) blurting non sequiturs:  "photographers shoot mountain bikers and dog walkers... we use Spotted Owl GPS." WTF

Radio and live TV operate in such narrow time frames. You can see how and why soundbites have become the norm. Credit to the Jefferson Exchange, in general, and Lisa Polito in particular, for allowing longer, more meaningful answers. Still, within a half-hour show, you're really talking for about 20 minutes and there's too much to cover.

I see why sometimes politicians don't answer the questions they're asked, but speak to the points that are important to them. Then, at least they know they covered what they want.

I also see how some politicians misspeak. My otherwise small mouth grew to gaping maw proportions and my feet were three sizes smaller and my legs contorted in some Yoga position allowing for easy foot-in-mouth. Just give me a chance to speak; I'll cram Clarks back into my uvula. Clearly a misunderestimated issue.

Nuanced answers don't play well on radio or television. The internet, and internet-enabled phones, pads, laptops, etc exacerbate this: information is so easily obtained and, often in pithy form. Do we really have the tolerance for an in-depth answer? For anything?

Sports performance (feeble attempt to segue back to blog theme) requires in-depth answers. Training, physiology, psychology are all complex. Reducing these subjects to bullets is not just difficult, it necessarily tosses information. And, yet, the nature of the blog is much like radio: often informal, conversational even, with bullets and graphics to make points quickly. Hmm. 

I'm just glad it was radio today and not TV. Bad hair day. Pretty much every day actually.

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