Jarring Themes

Note to news directors–radio, TV, online, wherever.

Do not search the sound files for clever musical intros to stories of horrible loss.

I was prompted to that conclusion by Disney's WMAL(AM) Washington this morning, which started playing the song All By Myself as the intro to the story of the two soldiers tortured and beheaded after apparently being posted in an insurgent stronghold with no backup to speak of. Maybe they were all by themselves, maybe not, but musical accompaniment is completely inappropriate.

Unfortunate slip, I thought, until the very next story, about a local media mogul who had taken his boat into the Chesapeake Bay, where he apparantly shot himself and tied an anchor around his leg.

"Sailing, Sailing Away" Chris Cross sang breezily as the opening theme to a story that included the reporter's observation that the guy "had put a hole in his head."

Come on, guys and gals, I know you want to amortize those music license payments, but play it straight and without theme music when the story demands it. And those two definitely did.

Talk about borderline broadcast indecency, as one astounded colleague put it. Or is it just us?

By John Eggerton