I’ve got a piece of mail or two, up on my office shelf.
Complaining that the sentence seems to contradict itself.
“Dear Mr. Osgood,” someone wrote, “That sign off is absurd. Radio is for the ear…the song or spoken word.
The medium for seeing us, without a doubt, TV. We therefore call it video, that’s Latin for ‘I see.’
So please don’t say that any more. You really should know better.” That’s a gentle paraphrase of what was in this viewer’s letter.
“Dear Sir,” I then wrote back to him, and this was my reply: I do believe that you are wrong, and let me tell you why.
I’ve worked some years in radio, and television, too. And though it’s paradoxical, it nonetheless is true.
That radio is visual, much more so than TV. And there’s plenty of good reason why that paradox should be.
You insist that on the radio there are no pictures there. You say it’s only for the ear, but I say au contraire.
There are fascinating pictures on the radio you see, that are far more picturesque than any pictures on TV.
No television set that’s made, no screen that you can find, can compare with that of radio: the theatre of the mind.
Where the pictures are so vivid, so spectacular and real, that there isn’t any contest, or at least that’s how I feel.
The colors are more colorful, the reds and greens and blues. And more vivid yet more subtle than television’s hues.
The dimensions of the radio are truly to be treasured, infinite the size of screen diagonally measured.
With resolution so acute, TV can not compare. We can whisper in the listener’s ear and take him anywhere.
And you tell me that I cannot see the audience I touch? Let me tell you now a secret…my experience is such.
That although the room I work in may be very plain and small…in a way that’s quite miraculous, it isn’t small at all.
I am there inside the radio, the one beside the bed. And it’s me you hear when it goes off…come on now, sleepyhead.
I can see you in the morning…I can see you coast to coast, as you sip your glass of orange juice and bite into your toast.
I am with you as you brush your teeth and as you shave your face. You may think you are alone, but I am with you everyplace.
And I see the lines of traffic stretching endlessly for miles. Not a hundred or a thousand miles…a million there must be. And I’m riding along with them. This is radio, you see.
And I’m on the Jersey Turnpike, on the Throughway and the Hutch, and the Eisenhower expressway, helping people keep in touch.
And the California freeways, and the Houston traffic funnel. I may lose you for a little while as you go through the tunel.
But suddenly I’m there again, some episode to tell. To nobody’s surprise, because they know me very well.
For my voice is with them every day and when it disappears, they know it comes right back again, it’s been that way for years.
I’ve been riding with them every day for such a long, long time. They are willing to put up with me when I resort to rhyme.
And that may be the ultimate and quintessential test, that proves beyond the slightest doubt that radio is best.
A friend will always stick with you, though your poems may not scan. I’ll see you on the radio…I can, you see, I can.
Written by Charles Osgood