First and most obvious: in a rubric of hiring appeal, do you get extra points if your name is way cooler than the average Jane’s? The correspondent whose name I hold most dear is Ofaebia Quist-Arcton. Names just do not get cooler than that. But they get close: Neda Ulaby. Doualy Xaykaothao. Lakshmi Singh. Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson. I want all these women to come to dinner at my house, I will cook them anything they like if they’ll just talk, about the world and issues that are beyond me, in those lovely quirky voices.
My favorite ones to listen to (content aside, this is just ear candy) are Ofaebia, with her serious, raspy Ghanan-accented voice, and Sylvia Poggioli, with her lilting Italian, pursed-lip pronunciation. She sounds like she could deliver the worst news in a voice of crying itself: so sad! Her voice is so sad! I want Michele Norris near my death bed; her voice is pure comfort, breathy but substantive, low-pitched. I hear her saying, “It’s fine, you’ll be just fine where you’re going,” and I’ll believe every softly proffered word. You know you want Renee Montaigne at your next party; she seems like two glasses of wine away from hilarity. And Audie Cornish could talk about anything: this woman sounds like high IQ anthropomorphized.
I love Fresh Air with Terry Gross, but I do no love her voice. And, baldly, two others are worse: Diane Rehm is impossible to listen to. I understand she has had a medical issue which has compromised her voice and that is sad, but no sadder than Bo Jackson with a broken hip. Sometimes you have to limp off the field and leave the harder stuff to people who remain whole. And– ew. Zoe Chace. Zoe, Zoe, Zoe. I just googled her and there’s a short clip of her on youtube. Seeing her talk is better than hearing her talk, I’ll admit that. Up until now I pictured her as the Wendy’s restaurant “Wendy” all grown up, with broadened nose and bright red hair and freckles, all eager and clumsy and earnest. She looks much more polished than that but her voice? OUCH. Also she has GOT to learn how not to say “like,” as she much as she does, which is, like, way too much. Remember the old insult: “he has a face for radio?” Zoe has a voice for Sign Language.
Finally, if you’re a fan and you’ve never heard Fred Armisen “do” Ira Glass, you must: http://www.thisamericanlife.org/blog/2013/01/fred-armisen-co-hosts-with-ira-glass