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Be Thankful For A Decent Education

, , , , | Working | October 14, 2018

(There have been many jokes and jabs about US Americans not knowing anything about geography or foreign cultures. But let me tell you, this problem exists in other places, too. I live in Finland. Some years ago, I was interning at a radio station for my journalism studies. It was a typical “light” commercial station with top-40 hits, hosts chatting about different easy topics between songs, pop-culture-related interviews etc. This happens at the end of November. I am chatting with one of the daytime hosts.)

Me: “Morning! What’s up?”

Host: “Morning! I was just wondering what I’ll talk about on the air. Because I was wondering, like, you know how it is Thanksgiving today, right?”

Me: “Yeah, I think it is.”

Host: “And like, it is weird that they celebrate it so much in the US, but not at all in Finland or, like, any other Nordic countries. Do they even celebrate Thanksgiving anywhere in Europe?”

Me: “Well, no, I don’t think so, probably not in the same style as the US, at least.”

Host: “Right, and I am going to discuss why that is. Is it some kind of culture and attitude thing? Americans are more open and express their feelings more in public so, like, maybe being publicly thankful does not fit in Finnish culture, and that is why we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving? And should we, with like turkey and pumpkins and stuff?”

Me: “It’s probably because US-style Thanksgiving is more or less a national holiday or at least a continental one?”

Host: “How do you mean?”

Me: “I’m not an expert, but I think historically the modern American Thanksgiving has its root in the 16th century. The colonization of America, pilgrims leaving Europe to establish new settlements, and all that. They celebrated surviving the journey, and the new land, and gave thanks to God every year for good harvest that would be enough to get them through the following winter and spring. We are still in Europe, so we don’t have that tradition, but Canada and US have it. I mean, Europeans have different harvest festivals that are in some ways similar. In Finland, that would probably be Kekri, but it’s not really celebrated the same way.”

Host: *pause* “Right.”

(She seemed very suspicious of my explanation and still talked on air about how lack of Thanksgiving in Finland has to do with “being introverted and privacy-loving culture.” At least listeners had fun pointing out the same things I already did. And the host calls herself a professional journalist.)

Oblivious To The Social Media Fallout

, , , , , | Working | June 5, 2018

(I am on my way home from college, flipping through the local radio stations. I stop on what turns out to be a pop station and listen as the host says, without a trace of irony:)

Host: “Up next, The Chainsmokers and their hit song Sick Boy. I think the chorus, ‘How many likes is my life worth?’ really says something about our society. Anyway, don’t forget to follow us on Twitter for all your music news!”

They’re All Tuned In To Each Other

, , , , , | Working | June 4, 2018

Recently a radio station has been running a competition where you can win your mortgage or rent paid for a year.

You can only get in the drawing by being the ninth caller each time they play the cue to call. The winner of the competition is a woman who reveals she is not keeping the prize for herself, but instead using it to pay for a coworker’s rent.

The coworker is an immigrant with no family in New Zealand; his son has recently been diagnosed with cancer and his wife has given up work to take care of the son, as they have no family support.

The winner says that the whole office had an agreement to all try to call every time the cue to call came on so they could win it for the coworker.

Not Even Remotely Getting Paid

, , , | Working | February 10, 2018

(I’m working at a small town radio station. We have a big event coming up in town, and we’re deciding how to handle it. Some of the radio jargon: a “remote” is when we’re live on location from an event, and “canning the remote” is when we pre-record some or all of our coverage about the event.)

Boss: “Okay, this is a pretty major event, and I want our presence there to be as big as possible. Therefore, I want you to can the remote, so everyone can be at the event, interacting with the crowd.”

(My coworker and I agree. The day comes, so we make our recording about the event at the station, as per the boss’s orders, load up our gear into the station vehicle, and head to the event. We arrive, set up our booth, and get ready to do our thing. When the boss shows up, she looks at us and says:)

Boss: “By the way, you’re not getting paid for this. Because you decided to can this remote so you can all be here screwing around, it no longer counts as a remote.”

(From that day forth, whenever the boss told us to can a remote so, “we can all be there and maximize our presence,” we politely told her, “No.”)

Last Flight To Mordor Now Departing From Gate Bree

, , , , , | Friendly | December 18, 2017

(The other day I was driving in my car, listening to an interview on the radio. The interviewer was talking to a singer who was coming to perform in New Zealand. I can’t remember who she was, but I will never forget the interview:)

Singer: “Now, who am I talking to here? Is this Australia or New Zealand?”

Radio Host: “You’re talking to New Zealand, and we’re looking forward to you coming out here!”

Singer: “New Zealand! Oh, my. I can’t wait to visit. I have never been before, and I won’t have much time, but I’m determined to see an orc.”

Radio Host: “A… I’m sorry, an orc?”

Singer: “Obviously it would have to be in captivity. I wouldn’t want to run across one in the wild!”

Radio Host: *playing along* “I’m sorry to have to tell you this, but orcs are extinct.”

Singer: “Awww, really? That’s so disappointing! You don’t have any, not even in captivity?”

Radio Host: “No, we wiped them out. They weren’t very nice. Sorry.”

Singer: “Well, that’s a shame. Can you still visit parts of Middle Earth?”

Radio Host: “That you can do. Make sure you include Hobbiton on your tour!”

(After that, the host changed the subject to the singer’s latest album. But she was so sincere about the orcs, and sounded so truly disappointed to find out she would not be able to see one, that I’m not sure to this day whether she was kidding or not!)