Monday, January 28, 2013

What the Bleep!

Driving down the highway, I was listening to my NPR station when, for reasons of musical history, it broadcast an early rap song in which the vast majority of words was ‘bleeped.’

 Did you ever wonder how that happens? I did, so of course I went online to find out.

 For ‘live’ broadcasts (like the Daily Show), there are two components to bleeping: a one minute broadcast delay (to allow time for bleeping) plus a software module, operated by a technician who (with remarkable reflexes) substitutes the familiar bleep sound for unacceptable language.

What an odd job.

What would happen to the psyche of a person who must (in order to earn a living) be totally focused and alert for those words that should not be (but often are) used in ‘polite company’?

 Imagine spending eight or so hours a day listening for ‘fuck’ or similar terms. What would happen if, having been so trained for so long, the technician began censoring his/her friends at the local bar?

 Let’s not go there.

 What would happen if said technician had a bad night’s sleep and, reflexes dulled, missed an occasional expletive? Heaven forefend!

 On the other hand, what if you or I entered the broadcast booth and found the magic module just as an NRA spokesperson began speaking.

 Ah! What wondrous joy that would be. But of course that is not bleeping likely is it? Bleep it!

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