Ok I’ll stop saying “you”, and use “I” instead!
There are two issues up front: first, language. My Chinese simply isn’t good enough to clearly express sentiments like: engage the listener, draw in the listener, surprise.
And secondly, maybe it’s wrong to impose our radio values on Chinese people. Maybe Chinese people aren’t going to be engaged by an intriguing introduction.
True, I don’t ever remember hearing anything engaging like that on domestic radio in China (and certainly not on CRI!). It did engage, but by personality. There are some top-notch people at that on air in Beijing!
But being from Europe, I know I could say the same thing about most of what’s to be heard over here.
But maybe that’s just an excuse!
Let’s look at some of the jobs foreigners do in CRI, as an example. Oh yes, I should have said: CRI is China Radio International, where I am ashamed to say I used to work. Well, not so ashamed that I don’t actually say it.
You get a government news release, of a minister or his (very occasionally her) spokesperson, translated in English. It says even less than the government news releases here, just in more words. Basically, it says how great the minister is.
And then our job was to polish it – make it sound good. So, you can either turn it round totally, and say: There have, as feared by some, been problems with such-and-such, and the government has been forced to react: or you can just correct the grammar.
They experienced broadcasters who had to read the stuff would change the stuff around. Then their editor would change it again to sound less negative.
I vacillated in how I re-wrote these things. Sometimes I would write and editor-friendly version, and sometimes I’d just leave the rubbish as it was. Basically, because I was happy to show up Chinese politicians as empty wind-bags – better yet, I wasn’t doing a thing, I was letting them show themselves up.
Now let’s move the radio station, from a government propaganda unit, to an independent, community station in Europe. This is a hypothetical move, by the way: London Chinese Radio is not in that situation, and our content is utterly different.
So. The cue makes clear what we are going to be talking about. Then how do you open the package? The two choices on the table are:
1. Set a scene relating to the geographical community, without naming where you’re going, then lead to an actuality that paints a picture of the package’s topic,
2. Say that if you want to get to this place, here’s where it is; and now the sound that paints a picture of the package’s topic.
Maybe the choice is easy for a European (or maybe that’s just me!). But how can I come along and say which should be used in a Chinese radio piece? I have met plenty of Chinese radio producers who would make the same choice as I would, but they are all here, in London. Maybe recent immigrants don’t want that, and would simply switch off.
How much can I steer people making packages? Why, if only my Chinese was better… :-P