The article, which I found published in a TV news oriented newsletter, was originally published in The Independent from Britain.
That’s never happened to me, but I’ve come awfully close.
Back in my very early days in radio, my station had a fishing report. We’d call the woman who owned the bait and tackle shop (the sponsor of the report) who would report on current conditions.
One time, as she finished, I asked a question and opened her mike. Thinking she was done, she was already midstream in a cursing tirade worthy of Ozzy Osbourne.
My problem is, when I’m presenting the weather, everything is ad libbed. It’s not stream of consciousness. There’s a method to my madness. After all, I’m telling a story with pre-chosen maps.
Still, the individual words and sentences are formed on the spot.
Am I saying things before I ‘think’ about what I’m saying? Yes. And for me, always trying to get out one more (hopefully) clever line, that could be dangerous.
The closest I’ve come was using the word “damn¹.” It was a very cold night and I somehow said, “damn cold.”
I turned white as a sheet on the air, paused, and briefly apologized. There was not one call of complaint.
My on-air demeanor had changed so quickly, it was obvious to anyone watching that I had made a major faux pas, knew it and regretted it. There was no poker face here.
There have been other times when I’ve caught myself before saying a word. Those I work with, people who know me well, could feel where the sentence was going. I managed to self censor in time.
It’s a difficult path to take, because 21st century interpersonal speech is often open and salty. My conversational speech is full of TV inappropriate words. My TV speech is not. How my mind understands and reacts at a level I’m not consciously controlling is beyond me.
I’m glad it does.
¹ – I know – we’ve all heard damn on TV a million times. Everyone has their own standard. To me, within the context of a newscast, it’s a totally inappropriate word. For Letterman, Leno, Stewart, maybe even Keith Olbermann – fine. Not for me.