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All voices are broadcast voices

We sometimes receive comments about the sound of our hosts’ and reporters’ voices. The criticism is usually that people should not be featured on our air due to how they speak or the timbre of their voice.

We disagree. Vermont Public is an inclusive space that brings a wide range of voices to the air, where you’ll find creative journalists, hosts and storytellers who are eager to hone their craft and serve Vermonters. We believe that all voices can be radio and TV voices, and we welcome and encourage people to be who they are on air. We do not believe the way a person sounds has any bearing on the inherent value of their voice — or, more importantly, the substance of what they are saying.

As a former NPR editor has written, “Using our voices to tell stories places us in a vulnerable position. We can’t hide behind printed words. When people hear us, they can’t separate what we say from how we say it.” We put ourselves in this position willingly because we want to bring you the information you need to make informed decisions in our rapidly changing world. Because we want to share well-reported and well-told stories. Because we want to keep you company in the car, in your kitchen, on your walks.

The standard for a “good broadcasting voice” has long been the voice of a straight, white, college-educated, able-bodied, middle-aged East Coast man. This has changed somewhat over the years, but only marginally. You might have heard about how some people are put off by certain qualities in female voices, but aren’t bothered by the same qualities in male voices – take vocal fry, for example. Bias against certain voices is even embedded in the technology we use to make radio and TV.

We exist to serve all Vermonters, but that’s only possible if anyone can hear and see themselves in our programming. Including a wide variety of voices on air makes our content more textured, nuanced and true.

We always welcome feedback on the content of our work. But we stand by the quality of its delivery and hope to continually expand the scope of voices represented on our airwaves, with our interviewees, our reporters, and our hosts.