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Hearing Voices

Marjorie Kondrack

READING ABOUT FINANCE can be a little dry at times, so I occasionally turn to TV for relief, relaxation and a little entertainment. What am I drawn to? More than anything, it hinges on a person’s voice.

For instance, I like listening to Neil Cavuto on Fox Business Network. His interviews with business leaders are usually interesting and his demeanor holds my attention. He comes across as earnest.

My parents were transplanted New Englanders, so I never had a heavy Brooklyn accent, but just a hint of one, thanks to being raised there. I worked hard to lose it, but it still slips out when I’m tired. I guess you can take the girl out of Brooklyn but not Brooklyn out of the girl. I’m always glad when I tell people where I’m from and they say, “You don’t sound like you’re from Brooklyn,” as if I were expected to say “dees” for “these,” “dem” for “them,” and “doze” for “those.”

I still remember the late Marty Zweig, a regular panelist on Wall Street Week with Louis Rukeyser. He was an erudite investment advisor and financial analyst, and contributed many articles to Barron’s. He had a certain charm and an interesting personality, and hid his persona behind a  humble, “regular Joe,” almost woebegone demeanor. I recall him saying he liked rock and roll, had a jukebox and enjoyed salsa dancing. He had a wry, dry sense of humor.

I find a pleasant, well-modulated and cultured voice can be so much more interesting and pleasant to listen to than someone who yaps away. It allows the listener to better take in the message that’s being conveyed. I once worked with someone whose voice can only be described as mellifluous. When he spoke, I was almost transfixed. It was like listening to a lovely tune and immediately put you at ease.

I’m not a big fan of CNBC, but I enjoyed listening to Sue Herera, one of the first women anchors to break into business news. She had a soft womanly quality to her voice and a lovely tone that came across as very natural and only enhanced her professionalism. I never saw her get flustered or emotional. When she laughed, it was so lusty and spontaneous, you just knew it was real. She was genuine. Unfortunately, Herera no longer regularly appears on CNBC.

Meanwhile, I don’t understand why so many TV guests—and even a few anchors and reporters—speak in a creaky, croaky, squeaky, choppy voice, and at the end of a sentence their voice goes up as if they’re asking a question. Do they practice speaking that way? It certainly isn’t natural. Maybe I’m behind the times, but I just don’t get it. Prof. Henry Higgins, where are you?

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