[EDITOR’S NOTE: A new story, The question of elder sex has been posted at Blogher.]
There appears to be no end to the variety of ways people can invent to discriminate against elders. A friend who lives in London sent along a story from thisislondon.co.uk titled BBC Station Bans Elderly Callers.
“Mia Costello, managing editor of regional station BBC Radio Solent, sparked outrage after telling presenters in an official e-mail that they should prevent any ‘elderly’ callers from being allowed on air.”
Good grief. What will they think of next to banish elders from the mainstream of life?
At least there is some "outrage". Ever since Britain’s new legislation banning age discrimination in the workplace went into effect on 1 October, employers have universally whined about how they’ll all go out of business now that they can’t list “young” and “recent graduate” in their job ads.
But back to the BBC story. Ms. Costello
“…told presenters,” reports thisislondon, “they should be broadcasting to ‘Dave and Sue - people in their 50s’ and added: ‘Only put on callers sounding in the 45-64 age range - I don't want to hear really elderly voices.’
“The controversial moves come as the station announced it was getting rid of some of its oldest and most well-known presenters…”
Ah, so according to Ms. Costello’s edict, elders like children of yore, may not be heard.
We all know “elderly voices” when we hear them. They are thin, less resonant than younger voices and sometimes jittery-sounding. It is caused by changes in the vocal folds, muscles and cartilage in the larynx as we age, and occurs to varying degrees among some elders, although not all. I have often been told by people who meet me after we have spoken on the telephone that I sound younger than I am. Give me a few years; that will probably change.
Forty years ago or so, I produced a zillion radio phone-in programs and the only callers we shut out were the cranks, zealots and potty-mouths – all of whom, I will admit, appear to have an affinity for talk-radio. But those folks come in all age groups.
There are already so many ways elders are discriminated against that we don’t need any new ones. Even though our vocal cords are located relatively near our brains, their decline doesn’t affect our cognitive functions.
The BBC could help improve its already damaged image by reversing Ms. Costello’s banishment of elders from the radio.