I don’t know about you but yesterday, I couldn’t stop “hearing” about what the people who listened to a certain audio file heard. Most insisted it was one thing: just not the same thing.
That became the Yanny-Laurel debate. What you think you heard became the side you were on. Sometimes listeners even switched teams. They’ve even been known to switch back.
Many of you compared the whole thing to one of those “Is the dress blue or gold?” things from back in 2015. You may remember, a Tumblr user named “swiked” uploaded an image of a dress, which caused a lot of debate about its color.
Is it blue and black, or white and gold?
If youâ€™re like me, you donâ€™t particularly care, although Iâ€™d go with blue and black, and wonder about anyone who thought differently.
Part of the reason is that I saw the dress. I hadnâ€™t turned away. I didnâ€™t put in any effort.
BuzzFeed has a whole library of articles on the dress, for those of you who care or just became nostalgic.
As for the sound, I heard the story on TV but wasnâ€™t paying complete attention. I wouldâ€™ve had to prepare myself to go (slightly) out of my way to listen, and I didnâ€™t. Not even now, while I’m writing against the clock. Maybe later, after this is published. No promises.
Thatâ€™s why itâ€™s a good thing BuzzFeed News Reporter (thatâ€™s how sheâ€™s described) Julia Reinstein traced what happened when she listened, and then her coworkers did.
The funny thing (at least according to my level of interest) is that she wrote
It obviously said “yanny.”
in her second paragraph, but at the end,
A mere 10 MINUTES LATER I listened to it again, and was STUNNED. It obviously said “laurel” and now I cannot trust my own ears!!!
Thatâ€™s her problem.
Oh yeah. BuzzFeed started a new library of its coverage of this major story, but it doesnâ€™t have as many articles as the dress controversy â€“ yet.
If you care and you’re ready, CNN offered this explanation and the right answer.
If you know me, you wouldnâ€™t be surprised the whole sound thing reminded me of something very different than the dress.
The dress involves seeing. This, likeÂ laurel or yanny, is about listening.
Itâ€™s that great controversy over what Cecily Tynan said when her microphone was supposedly off. (It never is and never assume otherwise.)
For those of you not from the Philadelphia area, WPVI-Channel 6 has been one of the highest rated TV stations in America for about the last 40 years, give or take a few. Their newscasts may still have more of a share of its market than any other station in the country, as well.Â (But not the number of viewers since the New York market â€“ covering people in the city, halfway up to Albany, half of New Jersey and all of Long Island â€“ is so much bigger.)
But 6ABC, as itâ€™s branded now, earned everything by being stable yet moving ahead with the times, even when I thought it was impossible, like getting rid of the actual weather map on the wall that was written on, rather than computer-generated.
Youâ€™d recognize a newscast from 30 years ago and some of the people on it. They make great hires and donâ€™t change like the season, like so many other stations. People have watched for generations and consider the ones they see on-air family. Iâ€™ve never seen anything like it.
(And in 1997, I just wish their assistant news director had called me back sooner than someone across the street at the NBC station. By the time she did, she got a recording from the phone company with my new number, and left me a message saying she recognized the area code which meant I had gone to the competition. I don’t think 6ABC ever hires anyone who has worked at the competition.)
Anyway, on Oct. 29, 2012, during coverage of Superstorm Sandy, Cecily was giving a special weather report while â€œWorld News Tonightâ€ (or was it just plain â€œWorld Newsâ€ back then?) wouldâ€™ve normally aired. It was an important story so Action News had team coverage on the weather. Cecily tossed to her colleague, Adam Joseph, probably for details on a specific aspect of the storm. (I wasnâ€™t in town then, but we can watch.)
It seems he hadnâ€™t turned his microphone on. It can happen, especially during special coverage. Maybe there was no rundown to go by and they were flying by the seat of their pants. Sometimes, the audio operator in the control room would err. In this case, it was probably Adamâ€™s fault, although there was apparently no mic check done to make sure it was working, even at a low level â€“ and also remind him to turn it on if necessary.
Then, youâ€™d think the audio operator wouldâ€™ve shut off Cecilyâ€™s mic but probably made the split-second decision not to, instead, because Adam was speaking but not being picked up.
I think, in a tense moment during special coverage, Cecily did call him a name for making a technical mistake. Things slip out. No big deal among family and friends, unless it goes out over the airwaves.
What do you think?
The Philadelphia Daily News started its story (because â€œAction News is everywhereâ€ and what goes on there becomes news, even if they answer with a â€œno commentâ€) with
â€œ6ABC meteorologist Cecily Tynan could clearly be heard saying â€˜Moron,â€™ after tossing to fellow meteorologist Adam Joseph who began speaking while his microphone was off.â€
After his hit, according to the paper, Adam went on Twitter to deny Cecily used the word â€œmoronâ€ but â€œmoments laterâ€ he â€œtweeted what seemed like a confirmation of the comment.â€
Itâ€™s in the article, along with a caricature of the two engaged in rough sport (boxing). Great stuff!
And yes, there is now a promo with the two of them competing at things, just as a brother and sister would.
Finally, the paper described how news anchor since the 1970s, Jim Gardner, handled the situation just before 7pm. Jim is usually a hard news guy but not every second of every day, since he â€œmade the matter more bizarre with a somewhat rambling explanation that Tynan had not insulted Joseph.â€
â€œâ€˜Maybe I shouldn’t even acknowledge this but the folks who thought that Cecily called Adam an untoward name when Adam was having trouble with his microphone, that’s not at all true,â€™ Gardner stated.â€
Youâ€™ll have to go back and watch, or read it, to do it justice.
Ainâ€™t it great to be able to get away with that stuff?
â€œFor 40 years, I have anchored the 6 and 11 o’clock news on 6abc in Philadelphia. Eventually, I’ll get it right.â€
A year ago, he helped when Cecily had an on-air wardrobe malfunction. She lost an earring while doing the weather. Ever the gentleman, he got right up and started looking for it. Camera, be damned!
Even Live! with Kelly (Ripa) and Ryan (Seacrest) had a good time with it! Click here to watch and don’t forget, Kelly is a South Jersey girl!
But wait. There’s more.
In 2006, Philadelphia Magazine wrote,
â€œOne of Gardner’s legendary gags is to wait for longtime weatherman Dave Roberts (retired, father of actor David BoreanazÂ -Lenny) to begin his report. As Roberts says â€˜We’re bracing for strong wind gusts today,â€™ Gardner passes gas. Loudly. Roberts and the crew start to laugh, then keep laughing until the camera returns to Gardner, red-faced and giddy, practically in tears.â€
Can’t beat that!
OK, maybe that same article estimating his paycheck back then “at near $2.5 million” (that was exactly 12 years and 2 days ago) or perhaps more importantly, earning my respect for writing half his newscasts by himself rather than eating, playing, or other things anchors have been known to do.
Maybe that’s why I don’t think he’s seen a moment before 6pm, not even for promotions. Besides, Jim Gardner hardly needs promos. The people have been programmed for decades.
So I didn’t listen to laurel or yanny. I listened to Cecily, Adam, and — of course — Jim.
For me, that was the right call.
Speaking of calling and writing: Jim, if you ever need a hand on the job…
And happy birthday!
And for those of you in Miami…
(Disclosure: Ducis and I worked together in Miami so long ago, few if any of today’s interns had even been born back then!)
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