Doll with Islamic and Satanic Messages
Doc: I had a few listeners call my show yesterday who mentioned a talking baby doll that says Islamic and Satanic comments. Do you know anything about this? - Anonymous
Anon: I am constantly amazed at what some people think and believe. Yes, I know about this, but I'm going to direct you to Snopes.com where Barbara Mikkelson did a great job answering the question. She also includes an audio link so you can hear what the doll actually "says" — click here.
The talking doll fiasco is a great example of how some (most? all?) people hear and see what they want to hear and see.
Doc: Is there a way to find out who owns a website domain name? - Anonymous
Anon: There are a few sources for such information. One of the best is located here. Type the domain name in the little box and make sure to include the domain service, such as .com or .net.
Domain Name Prices
Hi Doc! Recently I looked into registering a domain name, and found that someone already owned the one I wanted. There was no website on this name though, so I did a “whois” and emailed the owner. They said I could buy it from them for $10,000. They have owned it for 4 years, and have done absolutely nothing with it, why do they put such a hefty price on it!? Is this high of a price normal? Thanks! - Anonymous
Anon: What you encountered is something known as “Domain Squatting.” I’m not sure about the name you tried to register, so in the meantime, read some of the articles in this search. Domain squatting is a slimy practice and it started about one day after the Internet became a reality. You aren’t alone with this situation.
Do Not Call List - Telemarketers and Cell Phones
Hey Doc: Is it true that telemarketers will soon have access to cell phone numbers and they will start using my minutes with sales calls and that I can put my cell phone on the “Do Not Call” list by calling 888-382-1222? - Anonymous
Anon: This rumor is making the rounds very quickly. You’re partly correct.
First, you can call 888-382-1222 from the phone you wish to add to the list, or you can go to the “Do Not Call” website and register your phone number(s).
However, the first part of your question about telemarketers calling cell phones is a rumor. For great explanations, click here and here.
Do Not Puncture the Plastic Film (Microwave Oven)
Salute, Doc! With most microwaveable dinners, the instructions say to either lift a corner of the plastic film that covers the frozen meal, poke it with a fork, or cut a slit in it. But occasionally, a dinner emphatically instructs us NOT to vent the dinner before putting it into the microwave.
How does a sealed meal keep from exploding when it's being nuked for five, or six, or seven minutes? I did one like that this morning, and I tested the seal. It was tight as a drumhead. - Geno
Geno: Nice to hear from you again. Good question. I noticed this on a microwaveable dinner the other day, but didn't give it enough thought. I'm glad you did. So, on to your answer . . .
I didn't know the answer to your question, so I sent it to a long-time friend, Linda Merkel, who has been a librarian for many years. (I told her I would include her name in the column even though she said that wasn't necessary.) About an hour after I sent Linda your question, I received the answer. I want to thank her for her help. Here ya go . . .
The reason it's no longer necessary to vent the top of some microwaveable food items is due to something patented in 1987 called, Self-venting vapor-tight microwave oven package. The new process is now offered by a company called QuickWave International Corp.
There ya go. The self-venting plastic means that you no longer have to puncture the top of the food item before you put it into the microwave. Life is good.
(Doodlebug) Little Scooter
Doc: I was talking to my dad about old motorcycles and he said he can remember seeing a very small scooter in the 1950s or 1960s. He said it was a "cute" looking thing that was painted red and had a decal of a bee or wasp on it. He said he can't remember the name of the thing, but he is sure that it is no longer made. Do you have any idea what he is talking about? - Mark
Mark: I'm almost positive your dad is referring to the Hiawatha Doodlebug (or Doodle Bug), a scooter made by the Beam Manufacturing Company of Webster City, Iowa from 1946 to 1948. Most of the sources I found indicate that about 40,000 of the scooters were made.
The Beam Manufacturing Company is now called "Electrolux Central Vacuum Systems," the company that makes Electrolux Vacuums. One paragraph on the history page of the Beam Manufacturing website says:
Electrolux Central Vacuum Systems, headquartered in Webster City, Iowa, began operation as Beam Manufacturing Company, producing washing machines, dishwashers, and Beam "Doodlebug" scooters. The scooters became famous during World War II when gasoline rationing came into effect.
Here is a picture of the logo your dad mentioned. It looks like an abstract bee or wasp with wheels instead of legs:
And here is a photo I took of a Doodlebug at a motorcycle rally in Iowa in 2008 . . .
If you're interested, there are several photos of Doodlebugs in this search.
Finally, Don Jackson, in Newberg, Oregon, makes Doodlebug reproductions. The website is really interesting—click here: Yesterday's Rides Metalworks.
You may have answered this already, but what is a double-barreled question? – Anonymous
Anon: A double-barreled question is also called a "compound question" and essentially asks two or more questions at once. This isn't good because you don't know which question the respondent is answering.
For example, assume that you ask a listener: "In your opinion, is the morning show on Eagle 103.7 fun and informative?" If the person says, "yes," is the person saying the morning show is fun, informative, or both? The same thing applies to a "no" answer.
When you write a question, read it aloud to make sure that you aren't asking a double-barreled question. If it's double-barreled, then split it into two separate questions.
Double-Barreled Question - 2
I’m designing a short questionnaire for our station’s website and I remember you said something about avoiding “double-barreled” questions. Would you explain what they are, please? - Mark
Mark: If you take the term, “double-barreled question” (also known as a compound question) literally, you have a definition—a question that asks two questions. Here is a simple example of a double-barreled question:
“How much do you agree that the disk jockeys on WAAA-FM are knowledgeable and entertaining?”
A respondent may think your jocks are entertaining, but not knowledgeable, or vice versa. In other words, if a person agrees with only one of the items, he/she cannot answer the question. You need to split the question and ask two questions—one for knowledgeable, and the other for entertaining.
What does the term “double-blind experiment” mean? Thanks. - Anonymous
Anon: In the classic experiment that involves an experimental group (the group that receives some type of treatment or exposure to a variable) and a control group (the group that receives no treatment or a placebo), a double-blind experiment is where neither the researcher nor the respondents/subjects knows which group receives the treatment or exposure to the experimental variable.
Double-blind experiments are used frequently in medical research. For example, in testing a new drug for asthma, no one (researcher and subjects) knows which group receives the real drug and which group receives the placebo (fake drug/no drug). A double-blind experiment is used to avoid experimenter/researcher bias and subject demand characteristics (among others) where the researcher’s interpretation or subjects’ reactions may be based solely on knowing which group received the real drug.
Double-blind experiments aren’t used much in mass media research because “true” experiments are rarely conducted for media-related questions. (Radio owners and managers don’t want to pay for such research.)
What was the first drive-in theater and how many are still around? - Anonymous
Anon: The first drive-in was constructed in New Jersey by Richard M. Hollingshead in June 1933. Click here First Drive-In to read a newspaper article about the theater.
How many are still operating in the United States? Several sources indicate that as of 2001, there were 474 drive-in theaters with 654 screens. If you want to see a list of drive-in theaters in each state, check this out: Theater locations.
Drive-In Theater Sound
What type of equipment do drive-in movie theatres use that makes it possible for you to hear the movie soundtrack on your car's FM dial? Is this similar to what radio uses? Thanks! - Anonymous
Anon: The equipment is virtually the same, but designed to broadcast only several hundred feet. One common transmitter is the Ramsey FM-100B.
Driving Question - Stoplight Behavior
Why is it that when I’m back in the line stopped at a stoplight it takes so long to start moving after the light turns green? Do you understand what I mean? If I’m first in line and the light changes, I move immediately. But when I’m the 5th or 6th car from the light (or more), it takes a long time to start moving. Is there a research answer to this question? - Anonymous
Anon: A research answer? Hmm…According to Wimmer & Dominick (2007), research is an attempt to discover something, so I would conclude that this is a research question. In this case, the research is accomplished by observing the situation. And that’s what I did to get your answer.
The next time you’re sitting in your car at a stoplight, and are not first or second in line, watch what happens when the light changes to green. The first person in line (usually) pays attention to the stoplight. When the light changes, the driver steps on the gas. The driver’s reaction is based on the changing light and nothing else.
However, this is not true for the drivers who are farther back in line. They don’t react to the changing light, but rather to the movement of the car in front of them. When the car in front moves, they step on the gas.
Theoretically, if everyone in line at a stoplight reacted to the light and not the car in front of them, the line would move in unison, just like a train. But this doesn’t happen. The drivers farther back don’t pay attention to the stoplight, just the car in front of them. Since driving is often the secondary activity for many drivers (cell phones, eating, etc.), their attention to the situation may cause you to miss the green light and wait for the next one. (And that will frost your shorts every time!)
Driving Question - Turning
Doc: This may be a dumb question—it relates to how people drive—but it’s something that has puzzled me for a long time. I wonder if you know the answer? Here’s my question: Why is it that when people turn a corner in their vehicle do they first swerve the opposite way and then make turn? In other words, if you watch people make a right turn, some will first swerve out to the left and then turn right. The problem comes when I’m next to them. They almost hit me. Why can’t people just turn without first swerving in the opposite direction? - Mark
Mark: First, there are no dumb questions. Stop that. Next, your question took a while to answer and you’ll understand why in a moment.
I understand your question because I have seen this driving habit many times. My problem is that I don’t know why drivers do it. So, as I suggest continually in this column, the only way to find out the answer is to ask the drivers. (You owe me for this one.)
A few days ago, I hopped right into that car of mine and drove around the world. No, wait, that a song lyric. I drove to a retail store about one mile from my house where the parking lot is accessible by making a right-hand turn from a busy street. I decided to do a small sample study and watch 40 cars make the right-hand turn. If the person swerved to the left before making the turn, I followed the person (with clipboard in hand) to their parking spot and then asked them why they swerved out before they turned into the parking lot.
Here is what I found: Of 40 randomly selected cars turning into the parking lot, 29 (72.5%) swerved (by varying amounts) to the left before making the turn.
I approached each of the 29 drivers and explained that I was conducting a research study about driving habits (most gave me the “deer in headlights” look, although all answered my question.) When I asked each person (19 women; 10 men – variety of ages) why he/she swerved to the left before making the right-hand turn, none was aware that he/she swerved out. NONE. (Four people—2 men, 2 women—vehemently denied that they swerved out.)
So there ya go. Now, this is only one study using a small sample. The results are only indications and should not be interpreted as the “final answer.” Additional studies with larger samples need to be conducted to find out if the results I found are valid and reliable. However, from the results I found, my guess is that a large percentage of drivers who “swerve out” before they make a turn do not know they are doing it.
My PD wants me to use more listener drops in our imaging. Stuff like, “It’s great for work,” “The whole office loves it,” and “Listen in your car, at home, at work,” etc. My question is, do the listeners care? It just sounds like more on-air clutter to me. - Anonymous
Anon: Good question. I’m not going to get involved in a discussion about whether your PD is right or wrong because I’m assuming he/she understands your target audience, has information from research or another source that these items are important to your listeners, and that the drop-ins match your radio station’s total package. (Many new PDs fail to consider how all the small parts must fit together to form a unified programming whole. A veteran PD can see the big picture and knows how each small element fits in, or relates to, the total image/product of the radio station.)
OK, so I’m not going to argue with your PD, but allow me to provide a little logic behind the drop-ins your PD suggests. Don’t fall asleep on me here.
As any good PD knows, an essential part of radio (and TV) programming is selling—not selling advertising, but selling the station’s image, which is an intangible item. (Selling an intangible is more difficult than selling a tangible item such as a vacuum cleaner. A radio or TV audience has nothing to feel, hold, or touch—they can only see or hear it.
Now, as you probably know, the sale of anything (tangible or intangible) involves persuasion. If you have been reading this column for a while, or other things I have written on my business website, you should know that persuasion is communication and communication is persuasion. You cannot NOT communicate, and therefore, you cannot NOT persuade. As a jock on the radio, everything you say—and I do mean everything—is persuasion. No exceptions. Whenever your microphone is hot, you’re persuading.
OK, so when a radio station’s programming is set, it then becomes necessary to communicate (persuade) to the listeners about the product (sell it to them)—and this is where drop-ins, liners, shouts, and all the other information enter the picture. This persuasion isn’t necessary only for a new radio station. It’s necessary every day, even for a radio station that has been on the air since 1925.
What does all this mean? In addition to providing music, talk, news, and other things, it’s necessary for the radio station to tell (actually teach) the listeners that what they’re listening to is the right thing to do. Why? Because that’s basic psychology. People like to know that what they’re doing is right, the best choice, in style, hip, groovy, far out, phat, and cool. (I went a little overboard there.)
The important thing about all this persuasion (drop-ins, etc.) is that the messages must be supported by the product (promise vs. performance). In other words, if you tell the listeners something like, “It’s great for work,” or “It’s great to listen to in your car, at home, at work,” your radio station had better follow through. If the product isn’t good (doesn’t match what you’re telling the listeners), you will lose them. The worst thing you can do is promise something you can’t support. If you say, “We play the hits before anyone else” and you don’t follow through, your listeners will bail out. (This is not my opinion. I have heard this from thousands of radio listeners.)
Your PD’s decision to use more drop-ins follows the logic of persuasion/communication. Another way to say this is something you may have heard before: Tell them what you’re going to tell them, tell them, then tell them that you told them. In other words…develop a good radio station, give it to the audience, then tell them what you gave them (“It’s great to listen to in your car, at home, at work,”). That’s smart programming.
By the way, this type of information (persuasion) is an essential element of the selling process and is not clutter. It protects your radio station and your job.
Hey, research doc. Hope you’re able to traverse Denver with all the snow y’all have gotten. Funny question for ya. I was over at a friend’s place and went through his medicine cabinet. I’m nosy, and you’ll tell me that “don’t be right,” but I want to find out what the medicines treat. So, do you know of a website where I can type in the name of a prescription and get information on what the medicine’s use is? Is that question clear? I thank you for the help. And, I know I shouldn’t be nosy, but I’m in radio and it’s what we do. HA. Take care and I hope you got in some good skiing. - Anonymous
Anon: The amount of snow in the Denver area (and most of Colorado) has been amazing, but it’s starting to melt. I don’t ski, so there is no appeal there for me. That’s too scary. I’d rather ride my motorcycles.
On to your question, but first I need to say (as you expected) that you shouldn’t be going through your friend’s medicine cabinet. As you rightly say, “That don’t be right.” You’re lucky I don’t know who you are.
Anyway, there are several good websites for information about prescription drugs. Here are a few:
If those don’t work for you, then go to Google and type in the name of the drug. You’ll find a lot of information that way.
Oh, and also do a search for what happens to a friendship when my friend finds out that I went through his/her medicine cabinet.
Doctor: A few years ago, I had
muscle spasms and the doctor prescribed a drug for me that worked great. Now, a
friend of mine has a similar problem and I told him he should ask his doctor for
the same thing. The problem is, I can't remember the name of the drug. It was
something like metbonal. Do you have any idea what the drug I'm talking about?
Anon: You'll notice
that I significantly edited your question since you gave some information about
your spasm problem that wasn't necessary.
First, I need to say that I'm not a medical doctor or pharmacist, so don't interpret my comments as medical advice. However, I think the drug you're referring to is Methocarbamol, and your friend can read about it by going to this Internet search.
I have a file on my computer called “DSS Agent.” Do you know what that is? Thanks. - Anonymous
Anon: Yes, the file is spyware software that documents what you do on your computer and sends the information to a remote source. You should eliminate the file. For more information, go here: DSSAgent.
Doc: I need a good working definition of “Due Regard” as it would apply to a police officer. Thanks for the help. - Stylez
Stylez: I looked on the Internet for a definition and that didn’t help much, so I called my twin brother (retired trial attorney). He said that although some jurisdictions may have a specific definition for “due regard,” the term doesn’t usually have a specific legal reference.
He said that “due regard” is generally interpreted as “reasonable caution,” or some form of that. In other words, the officer should take into account the surroundings (environment, etc.) and act with reasonable caution with reference to his/her actions.
Doc: My supervisors would always tell me I sound dull on my programs and recordings even though I try hard to sound alive. How do I combat "dullness?" Would taking Prozac help? I'm a serious type of person, but can be playful at certain times. Is there an activity I should regularly take that will improve my persona? Are all these questions "dull?" Thanks for the lift. - Anonymous
Anon: Are your questions dull? No, I don't think so. I have heard this same comment from (and about) many radio and TV personalities, so you aren't alone with your concern. On to your question . . .
I don't know what your supervisors mean by "dull," so I'll go with the typical definition of the word: characterized by lack of interest, energy, or spirit; lacking zest and vivacity. In other words, I think most people would agree that "dull" is best defined as "boring."
Now, a person may be perceived as boring in reference to his or her actions, behaviors, or interests (my kids say I'm boring because I have no interest in going to clubs or bars), or a person's vocal delivery may be perceived as boring. We're talking about your radio presentation here, so it's obvious that we're referring to your vocal delivery, and that's what I'll address.
Have you ever had a teacher in school who always seemed to put students to sleep? Have you ever attended a speech or lecture where you said the speaker was dull or boring? In these situations, which are the same as your situation, the teacher or speaker is perceived as boring because his/her delivery is monotone—no variation in pitch, speed, or delivery. Every word is said in the same way, similar to a metronome that keeps time for a musician.
I'll repeat: A monotone presentation creates listener boredom because the speaker does not vary his/her pitch, speed, or delivery. I'm not sure if you like George Carlin, but he provides a good example of a "speech" that isn't monotone—he varies his presentation style. When you watch the video, keep in mind that he's just repeating words he wrote on a piece of paper (or reading from a monitor). To see the video, click on "Watch a Preview" at the left side of your screen on this HBO website.
Got it? I think you need to work on your delivery—learn to vary your presentation. How do you do that? Well, one way is to do what we used to do in acting classes when I was in undergraduate school. Our teacher had us memorize a short phrase or paragraph and then present it in 10 different ways—humorous, angry, happy, and so on. The same words in 10 different ways. One short phrase to practice with is the sentence used to learn how to type:
Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their party.
Say those words in as many ways as you can. Vary your speed, your pauses, your inflections, and so on. This is the basic idea of overcoming a monotone presentation. I'm not suggesting that you go overboard with your presentation variations, but that you include these elements in everything you say.
And one more thing . . . your supervisors criticism of you being "dull" may relate to what you say, not how you say it. If that's the case, then you need to take a close look at the topics you discuss on the air. Ask a few friends to listen to you and ask them if they think your topics are boring. If they say they are boring, then get some new material.
I recently graduated from college and have my first job in radio (I'm 22). One of the problems I have with my new job is that I don't know a lot about what's going on in the radio station. It seems like I'm always saying ‘I don't know' to questions and that makes me feel dumb. I know that I will learn things soon, but I'm having a tough time now because I feel stupid. Can you help me, please? – Marie
Marie: I have been asked variations of your "I don't want to appear dumb/stupid" question many times in this column, by students in classes, and by audience members at convention presentations. The usual response most people are given is, "There are no stupid questions." That's it. On that basis, you (and everyone else who asks the question) is supposed to feel at ease and proceed to ask your question. Sometimes it works, but usually it doesn't. So, I'd like to offer some additional information.
What I'd like to do is tell you a story. Why? Well, first, because it's my column and I can, and second, because a story is generally more successful in explaining something. My goal is to get you to understand why asking questions is important…I hope I don't bore you to death. OK? Here we go . . .
As you may know from the information on my column on AllAccess.com, I have a Ph.D. One of the many requirements for a Ph.D. is a final oral exam that is taken after all class work is finished—usually about two years of classes. The final oral exam, which is usually four hours long, is a very stressful situation because the committee of faculty members, usually 3 to 5, can ask questions about any class the candidate has taken at the Ph.D. level. Any class. Any question. No limits. If the candidate fails the final oral exam, he/she is out of the program. Gone. No degree. Nothing. All the time spent in classes (a few years) is out the window. So there is a lot riding on the final oral. Did I successfully explain the pressure of the situation? I hope so.
OK…here's the story: My final oral exam was four hours long. Three faculty members asked me questions about (what seemed like) everything under the sun. I was doing great. I knew the answers (no books or notes allowed…this is an oral exam). I was flying. I had it made. I was on a roll. Ph.D. here I come!
Somewhere after about 3 hours and 45 minutes (remember, I'm really on a roll), the senior faculty member asked me a question that took him about 5 minutes to ask…something about the Communications Act of 1934. I don't remember the exact question, but what I do remember is that I didn't have the slightest idea how to answer the question. Literally. I did not know what he wanted. So I sat and thought…and sat and thought some more…and more, and more. About 11 years passed and I said, "I don't know the answer to your question. I'm sorry, but I can't answer it."
WELL…the three faculty members looked back and forth at each other as if I had committed a crime. I thought, "OK, I'm out. They are going to kick my skinny butt out of school. I'm toast, history, dead." The senior faculty member said, "OK, Roger, we're done now. Please step outside while we discuss your grade." (It's standard practice for the student to be excused from the room while the faculty members evaluate the student's performance.)
Now…I'm pacing outside the door for another 11 years. Finally, the door opens slowly and the senior faculty member says in a very quiet manner, "Roger, would you please step in the room." "OK, here comes the ax," I thought.
I went in the room and sat down. The three faculty members looked (I perceived) coldly at me. Not a word was uttered for another 11 years. Then, the senior faculty member said, "Roger, you know the final oral exam is a pass/fail grade. We feel you did a good job ("I'm dead.") up until the last question ("Goodbye.") and it is at that point ("So long") that we decided to give you a grade of Pass Plus—something that is rarely awarded." ("What, I didn't know the answer to the last question and I get a Pass Plus?")
The senior faculty member continued, "The reason we gave you a grade of Pass Plus is because you admitted that you didn't know the answer to the last question. You did not try to BS your way through it. And for that, we commend you."
SO…that is the story I pass on to you. Don't be afraid to admit you don't know something. We start out in life knowing nothing and the only way we learn is by asking questions. So ask. Ask questions about everything and anything. If someone says to you, "That's a stupid question," look at the person in the eyes and say, "No, it's stupid for me not to ask." If that doesn't work, refer the person to me. I'll stand up for you.
question concerns voice/vocal conditions. Someone in the entertainment
industry I admire very much suffers from something called "dysphonia," which
has led to an inability to speak or sing. As I understand dysphonia, there
are two kinds—one treatable, the other is not.
tried to do some reading on the Internet, but most everything I find is not
written for the layman. Can you give us a "sound bite" version of
dysphonia, what cause it, its forms, etc.? I realize that may be a little
difficult, but thanks for trying! - Anonymous
Since I have a Ph.D., not an M.D., I searched the Internet for a
"sound bite" for you. By the way, the full name of the condition is
spasmodic dysphonia. I must also say that this information is not a
medical opinion and you should consult a physician for specific information.
I found information on several websites, one of which is:
The "sound bite" version (edited by me) says:
is it? Spasmodic dysphonia affects the movement of the vocal cords and
creates a jerky, quivery, hoarse, and groaning voice. The condition is
characterized by vocal interruptions or spasms, where there occasions of no
sound (aphonia), and periods of a near normal voice.
is affected? It affects more women than men and is found in all races,
colors, and creeds. Although it typically occurs between the ages of 30
and 50, children and adolescents can also be affected.
The prevailing information discusses three sources: (1) nervous system problems;
(2)dystonia, which is a neurological problem characterized by involuntary muscle
contractions; and (3) in rare cases, acute or chronic life stress.
At present, there is no cure for spasmodic dysphonia. However, several treatment
options do exist for voice improvement, but these don't guarantee a cure.
These include surgery and/or treatment by a speech pathologist. You can
read more about these options on the website.
In addition to the website I mentioned above, you can find more information by clicking here.
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