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Chewing on Misophonia

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

During our segment yesterday on misophonia, we heard from quite a few listeners who have experienced the agony of everyday sounds. Like crunchy apples. And chewing gum. Listener Sam from NYC wrote, "I thought I was the only one!" Today, we hear more of your stories on the mystery of misophonia.

Comments [46]

Charles Henton from Suffern, NY

I withdraw my earlier criticism. Rex has used tone of his own, dropping the grotesque mannerisms. I like how he actually sounds:)

Aug. 25 2014 10:29 PM
Charles Henton from Suffern, NY

Glad she's gone. I wonder if Rex Doanes, another promotional announcer for WNYC who compulsively uses a horribly conntrived and utterly phony mode of speach for his announcements might either learn to speak more naturally or be permanently removed from the air.

Aug. 10 2014 01:28 PM
deedee from santa cruz

I posted this a few years ago elsewhere. I am so pleased my criticism now seems ready for the archives:

She is not a robot. She is painfully human—painful to my ears and my sensibilities, at least. She is definitely too close to the mic—we should not hear the release of every single word-final consonant, especially those vile, nauseous, bilabial plosive releases…but we do! Her voice is both breathy and nasal, though variably so, as is clear when her recordings are edited together into a string, this variation being a dead giveaway that the voice is pure affectation. Interestingly, breathiness and nasality induce comparable acoustic effects: a low-frequency prominence (related to timbre, not pitch). What’s worse is that all her breath intakes have been edited out, making the whole ordeal of listening to her even more unbearable. My emails to WNYC pleading to switch her to a desk job have gone unanswered. I should emphasize that my distaste for the acoustic assault that is her voice is not a case of “familiarity breeds contempt”: Lisa Ledin does the station breaks at KAZU in Monterey, California (near to where I used to live), and her voice is a sheer delight: bright and fresh and clear, and yes, with a pleasant hint of a smile which is acoustically cued by a slight rise in the second vowel formant. I always loved it when she came on the air!

So, I can tell you the “what” by readily quantifying the spectral properties of her voice; it’s my field of study. Were I better versed in evolutionary biology, perhaps I could offer a “why” as well: why does her voice evoke such a primitive flight response?

Jun. 18 2014 11:28 AM
DeeVee from NYC

I'm so glad. That voice was a nightmare, although it was obvious that she underwent some "voice and artic" training toward the end, which made things sound worse and better at the same time. I can now stop lunging for the dial.

Apr. 09 2014 08:58 AM
Jack

YES!! DING DONG, that fake pretentious robot voice is gone!
I am sending a check for $250 to WNYC tomorrow.
Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

Feb. 26 2014 08:00 PM
Jeanne Wynne from Bay Shore, NY

My comment from Sept., 2013, seems to have been deleted from this page, probably because I named names. I just want to add my "Hallelujah" and thank WNYC for finding an announcer's voice that is truly pleasant and doesn't make me lunge toward the dial during every break. I no longer need to switch to the NPR stations that broadcast from Connecticut.

Feb. 13 2014 02:46 PM
Clarence K. from NYC

The station management listened! They listened to us!

New promotions announcer is COMPLETELY ok with me.

What a huge relief. No more complaining from me, and I'll even donate DURING the pledge (ick) drives...

I am so thankful for this change!

Feb. 08 2014 12:24 PM
Rick from Hopatcong, NJ

A terrible, frightening chapter in WNYC history has finally come to end. The station's management has finally seen the light, and I can now resume my financial support.

Jan. 19 2014 08:07 PM
Michael Knight from White Plains

The one-sided nature of the criticisms here of the 2013 underwriter voice is not necessarily surprising. People are much more likely to complain than to praise. I, for one, thought the voice was pleasantly distinctive and helped give WNYC a unique character. The only thing that amazed me was that no-one involved in underwriting production knew that getting the voiceover to have a sip of water before each read would have eliminated the occasionally annoying tongue clicking that was amplified by her close-microphone technique. But, bottom line, as of Jan 2014, if she's gone (and not just on vacation) - I miss her already! My irritation is not the underwriter voice (2013 or the one that has started off 2014), but instead, the truly awful, old-fashioned, discordant theme for All Things Considered. I know the history of the theme, and at least one previous version was ok. But the current irritating jazz version seems to trivialize whatever follows it. Every time I hear it I ask myself the same question: "Why?"

Jan. 14 2014 03:02 PM
Bonnie Slotnick from NYC

She seems to be gone! A New Year's gift from WNYC? The new female announcer, thank goodness, doesn't say DYE-VERSE (the word "diverse" comes up a lot in sponsorship spots), and she seems to understand what she's saying, unlike the previous female announcer.

On the other hand, some of the spots are now read by a man who emphasizes the word "AND" over the other words in the sentence, and pauses after it, which is just WEIRD.

By the way, when referring to a sponsor's activity/location in the city, the announcers shouldn't say "NYC." They should say "New York" or "New York City." That's pushing sponsorship a little too far. I don't live in NYC. I live in New York. The city isn't a URL--or a radio station.

Jan. 06 2014 07:52 PM
I give $ to WNYC from Brooklyn

Every time I pledge some of my hard earned money to WNYC, I always leave a comment that it should be used towards a job hunt for another announcer. Yep, just like everyone else, I smack the off button on my radio and wait a couple minutes. WNYC needs to know that they are foiling their sponsors' advertising efforts by using this woman whose every over-enunciated, mouth-full-of-spit consonant makes me want to rip out my eardrums.

Yes, I understand that VO announcers need to adopt an ambiguous American accent, but her problems range far from that. It's her dead yet actively weird cadence and way too intimate and spitty delivery that turn her consonants into knives being thrown at you by a 5-year-old prostitute while you're drowning in her spit.

Oh, and while I love Ophira Eisenberg and her show, yes, I agree with the person who wonders what's up with her prolonged final consonants. A little bit Jessie Pinkman-esque, but not in a good way.

Nov. 17 2013 10:45 AM
Tim from Manhattan

So this thread started... more than TWO YEARS AGO, and people are still throwing plates at the wall at the sound of robot lady's voice. I belong to the school that keeps my finger on the remote, and shuts radio off as quickly as she starts.

So many like-minded criticisms of robot lady's voice. This is a club I wish I didn't have to belong to!

2 years ago I tried to be rational and fair. Lost my civility after a year and too many smashed plates. (I know... even I expect better out of a public radio fan.)

Really WNYC? Nothing?

Combining some of the smart critiques above, what drives me esp. nuts is how she switches (or more fairly, the DJ mixes together) her various pathologic forms in the same 30 second spot: she goes from come-hither trashy lounge girl to hit-me-with-a-2X4 patronizing to 5-year-old-gets-ice cream faux glee.

WNYC's response (here and in personal pleas) has been suspiciously unresponsive (incl. just lame form-letter bureaucratic blah and disingenuous excuses). Something at the station is protecting robot lady beyond what is reasonable.

It doesn't help that WNYC seems to have way more commercials/promotional spots than other public radio stations. I assume it's just that much more expensive to run a station in NYC (but maybe some people there are just overpaid!).

I encourage listener's to appeal to the radio sponsors (TechServ, Lincoln Motors, Book of Mormon, the non-profits...). I tell them that I associate their sponsorship with bad instead of good, and that their promos are probably often missed or interrupted b/c so many people are hitting the "mute" button.

One of the stations philanthropic sponsors I talked to said they have heard similar complaints (and feel the same way!), and will put pressure on WNYC to find another voice for promos.

So petty-- I know! There are worse things in life I know. But this woman's voice really ruins public radio listening for me.

Oct. 12 2013 12:24 PM
Bill VO from NYC

Am Fascinated by the interest in this woman's voice. I am a loyal listener and have been employed in voiceover for 40 years.
Her voice is captivating, but you have to learn how to play the instrument. The key to enduring success in voiceover is growing your range. Based upon her voiceover demo, that hasn't happened. i agree with a previous post that the clicking sound you hear are glottal stops because she was basically whispering close to themicrophone. I certainly don't want to contribute to "piling on", but I thought I would add my perspective.

Sep. 18 2013 08:23 PM
Ross from Monmouth County

Wow! I thought I was alone!

After choosing a different preset when her voice came on just now, I googled "wnyc female announcer" and this was the first page that came up. Isn't that at least something of an indicator?

Let's separate some distinct issues:

1. Who she is.

Neither her name, nor her ethnicity, nor her (presumed!) ideology matter. The issue is her on-air voice.

2. Why she sounds that way.

Isn't it really because she's overmiced? As in the mic is stuck way down her throat and turned way up to sound "breathy" and "intimate"? I really don't think the problem is tongue-clicking. I think we're hearing glottal stops.

3. Why doesn't management fix the problem?

Because they don't have to. They are generally unaccountable elites.

Aug. 15 2013 11:26 PM
Jlwnyc from Manhattan

I will full-on RUN for the mute or 'off' button, or more often, simply sit with my finger on the power switch when listening to WNYC, all to avoid having to listen to the woman doing the underwriting announcements. I have no idea why her voice is so completely maddening and intolerable to me, but it's terribly nice to know I'm not alone!

Jul. 31 2013 05:49 PM
JS from Manhattan

She sounds like a robotic stepford wife on an overdose of prozac. The intonation is downright bizarre. I really enjoy WNYC, until I hear that voice!!! UGG!!!

Jul. 19 2013 11:51 AM
jeff from NY

I don't agree with you. It is a beautiful soft and soothing voice that I love to listen to.

Apr. 21 2013 08:37 PM

Another pledge drive behind us and I survived-- managed NOT to contribute (as said, I'll spend that $$ on remotes and batteries so that I can shut the radio off just as robot lady starts to talk). I spent some time in Miami this winter and am always reminded there of how pleasant their NPR station is to listen to, with the promotional spots just breezing by, not grabbing your attention, not making you grit your teeth. I'm so jealous.

I really am surprised, based on the fairly hefty hate-base that this woman generates, that WNYC is so non-responsive.

Mar. 16 2013 02:26 PM
Boomer from Williamsburg

The Toddler Robot underwriter announcer is nails on the chalkboard. However I have to thank her. I tune in to WNYC, hear a story, maybe two if I'm lucky and as soon as Miss Toddler Robot comes on I'm done - off. Its great because I broke my NPR addiction, I listen to tons of podcasts as well as my fav, WFMU where I now give them all of my pledge money, NOT WNYC anymore.

Mar. 08 2013 12:29 AM

I'm so glad to know that I'm not alone, and that there are other WNYC listeners who actually switch off the volume as soon as the female underwriter announce comes on the air. I've also written to the station and advised that I would never support their pledge campaign as long as she remained the announcer, even giving them suggestions as to how she could improve her delivery, but got the same wet-noodle response about standards for voiceovers. At least they know there is a population of listeners who vehemently dislike that woman's babytalk and overly careful diction.

Feb. 24 2013 08:30 PM
TimW from Manhattan

Wow. Continue to be gratified that my misery has company. The announcer is still God-awful. Ironic that the station now has a "Never Turn It Off" promotion, because that is exactly what I've been doing. I turn it off as quickly as possible (either have the radio switch or a remote in my hand when I listen so as to minimize the time I hear her voice). And then sometimes forget to turn it on again.

Hearing her voice sometimes is like hearing a bad song that gets stuck in your head, so I am very motivated to just not let myself hear her at all. One day I'm going to break something (perhaps a bone!) in my rush to shut her off.

I hope the underwriters realize how quickly many of us rush to shut off the sound of her promotions. I've mentioned it to the TechServ guys when I've been in their store, but they weren't too sympathetic to my cause. I've contacted a couple of their foundation supporters too-- I got more sympathy there (I think they agree with me/us!). My threat to personally not sponsor the station obviously doesn't carry adequate weight (I tell them I spend the money on batteries for the remote control instead). I actually did support for one pledge drive last year, and then was mad at myself for supporting bad behavior and haven't since.

Maybe somebody could make an app to automatically block her (play elevator music for the period she talks). On the major news programs, she is on the longest/the most annoying at 20, 30, and 40 minutes after the hour. Lately I've learned to shut it off as those times approach.

It's so funny also to read that we've apparently all gotten the same polite brush-off answer from the station about her voice/delivery, that promotions must be neutral/non-promotional. I don't believe this because the other promotion announcers, when we're fortunate enough to get them instead of robot lady, are pleasant, upbeat, NORMAL human voices talking.

Yes, I know this is petty, and I've gone from being objective to personally attacking her. I know. I hate her voice THAT much.

Jan. 14 2013 08:21 PM
frank b from massapequa, ny

That irritating woman is STILL on! It has become impossible for me to enjoy my usualy programs on WNYC like Lopate, etc. That dreadful woman's voice appears after every segment. I understand that they're not supposed to display any emotion that might be construed as promoting any product, but that woman has taken it a step over the edge. I'd rather be WATERBOARDED than have to be exposed to her voice one more time. There's no way I'll financially support the station until she is gone forever.

Jan. 04 2013 09:53 AM

Thank you to those who have expressed the same frustration I've found while listening to my local FM NPR affiliate. WNYC's underwriting credits announcer has to be the most annoying radio non-personality ever. I literally have to turn off the radio when she's on - which is after every freaking segment! These underwriting credits are commercials just like any other when they so frequently, intrusively and - when so delivered - annoyingly interrupt the broadcast programs. I've complained before about a particular correspondent (Eleanor Beardsley) but at least she reports, does something redeemingly useful. This one though has to be the Headache Queen of all time.

Nov. 12 2012 06:41 PM
Amy

I was just googling WNYC underwriter announcer because I wanted to know her name so I could send a complaint to WNYC. I have never taken the time to write a formal complaint about anything but the sound of this woman's voice...it's awful. I have to turn the radio down the minute I hear her. I was so pleased to see that I am not the only one. I'm sure she is a lovely person, but hers is not a voice for radio. She ruins WNYC for me.

Oct. 19 2012 12:12 PM
Jean from NYC

I'm another who can't stand the underwriting announcer but Janet from Westchester is wrong when she says it's Cindy Rodriguez. It's not. Rodriguez is a reporter there and says her own name after her reports.

Oct. 04 2012 09:52 AM
sojolistener from Bridgeton, NJ

Is she really gone? Now can we get rid of the even more annoying robotic voice on WHYY?

Jul. 08 2012 11:17 AM
armand lattizori

Hands down for me, is the spitting robot woman as I call her, who comes on between segments on NPR.

Apr. 30 2012 03:40 PM
cray rail from NYC

Well all you haters, you got your wish. The announcer is gone. I thought she was perfect for the job. The politics and editorial choices of NPR's WNYC were reflected in her voice and all the qualities you dislike about it should be applied to the fake, self serving corporate bootlickers that comprise what passes for news. Let's make public radio PUBLIC, no more corporate money.

OCCUPY WNYC!

Apr. 30 2012 12:27 PM
Marilyn from Montclair, NJ

But wait, aren't there TWO annoying voices?

Feb. 08 2012 08:52 AM

Beating a dead, awful-sounding horse here, but just stumbled upon this discussion, after googling "annoying WNYC promotions announcer", and, while still incredibly frustrated by that woman's voice (and I could write paragraphs about it), I am very gratified to find such a community of like-minded sufferers.

Feb. 07 2012 11:46 AM
Janet from Westchester

The woman who does the underwriting spots is named Cindy Rodriguez. Her voice drives me absolutely insane. I can actually gauge my current stress level by seeing how long I can listen to her intensely irritating, garbled, nasal, contrived voice before I turn the radio down or completely off. She's impossible to escape since she comes on every 5-10 minutes. There's some small comfort in knowing that I am not alone.

Nov. 23 2011 02:40 PM
frank from massapequa pk ny

the robotic woman's voice on underwriting spots is most irritating and annoying. it's seems like she's on every 6 minutes. she has no personality (a prerequisite, it seems) and is, for me, so abrasive i have to tune out as soon as she says her first word. in fact, it's so bad, i find myself listening to other radio stations and therefore missing some of my favorite shows.

Nov. 04 2011 12:02 AM
Listener from NYC

The woman announcer on WNYC makes mouth sounds which I find intolerable. I literally turn the station every time she comes on. Please consider making a change. My wife and a couple of friends feel the same way. Sorry to complain, but you may be able to save a couple of listeners.

Oct. 29 2011 11:07 AM
Ann

The underwriting announcer for wnyc. The most cloying, irritating, maddening voice imagineable. Has to be someone's relative. That fake, weirdly babyish and robotic, creepy....I could go on, but i think you get the point......

Sep. 24 2011 07:35 PM
Jeanine from Minnesota

Mouth noises, kissing, gum chewing, whispering. Someone already mentioned the Kit-Kat commercial which drives me insane, and also the Zoom-Zoom Mazda commercial! That one is just awful!! There is an announcer on one of my favorite radio stations that talks in what I suppose is supposed to be some kind of sexy whisper voice. I refuse to listen when she is on the air! Over the years I have learned to cope fairly well, but...it would be nice if people who know would be considerate rather than thinking it's a joke and making noises on purpose. I'm 50 years old and that response has become quite tiresome.

Sep. 17 2011 11:05 AM
Michelle from Alpharetta, GA

Everyone's comments here ring true for me, too! Not funny when happening, but absolutely hysterical reading! Wolf Blitzer's monotone voice makes me crazy, as does the speech impediment of Jim Nance, the ABC airline expert.

In the deep South it seems that the gum poppers are older white ladies and black women--particularly the latter. If one is a cashier I have to look for a different line. They probably think I'm prejudiced, but 9 times out of 10, they are smacking gum.

There's a really great person at church who I would really like to be friends with, but she's the noisiest eater I have ever met. I think even "normal" people would be horrified by her. She probably wonders why I keep my distance and I feel bad.

Sep. 15 2011 01:08 AM

I just want to say that as a copping tool I keep a list of people I can eat with and people I can only drink with. The drinks list is much longer but those people don't know they're on the drinks list. I don't want to tell them their manners are revolting to me. That seems mean. So when they call me to go for dinner, I suggest drinks instead. I suggest drinks often. Now I'm becoming aware that a "friend" has been suggesting I have a drinking problem.

Sep. 13 2011 09:23 PM
Evelyn Shaw from Brooklyn

Sadly, I've had to give up most of my WNYC listening these last couple of years. The woman announcer who does the between-segments advertising has pronounced tongue-clicking, and it is impossible for me to bear. I know two others who have stopped listening for the same reason. Pure coincidence that I happened to catch Soundcheck yesterday in my office. Now I know there's a name for this!

Sep. 13 2011 05:24 PM
Dave

The Turning Leaf wine and Kit-Kat commercials and most announcers that chew their words and crowd the mic. When an announcer sounds like they're eating while they talk (Splendid Table). Everyone at my work eats apples like Mr. Ed. These things drive me nuts. Close your mouths you slack jawed yokles.

Sep. 13 2011 04:41 PM
Mainkman from NYC

I find that the way some women speak, where at the end of a phrase or sentence, they seem to run out of air and pronounce their last word or words with a growling, gargling, guttural sound from the back of their throats. An excellent glaring example of this particular vocal technique is NPR's Alix Spiegel. I first noticed this with her work on "This American Life" and it makes me so uncomfortable, I can't listen to the program. (sorry Ira)
I have a sense that this is a remnant of the 1980's Valley Girl affectations?

Sep. 13 2011 03:09 PM
linda Griggs from LES

Very thoughtful comments from Anna

and Bethany, I've often thought about the frequency being the thing that makes different sounds intolerable to different people.

Sep. 13 2011 02:50 PM
Bender

And also pretty much every Eagles song, especially Hotel California, but excluding Journey of the Sorcerer.

Sep. 13 2011 02:40 PM
James K from NYC

2 words: Kit Kat

That "Gimme-a-break" theme played to "found" sounds on that commercial drives me absolutely bonkers. AHHH!

Sep. 13 2011 02:38 PM
zach from west palm beach

I have an extreme aversion to some Voice Over Artists who overly contrive and overly articulate unnaturally. I literally turn off the volume when the wnyc underwriter announcer chimes in.

Sep. 13 2011 02:37 PM
C Cee from nj

Whoever picks out the music which accompanies virtually all PBS, and public radio promos has tapped into this condition in me! Awful, painful,awful!

Sep. 13 2011 02:34 PM
Bender

Leonard Lopate's voice.

Sep. 13 2011 02:33 PM

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