Thursday, April 06, 2006

Netizen Jill Geisler Replies About Katie

1977: Jill Geisler with Co-Anchor Zimmerman and Portrait of Walter Cronkite

I contacted Netizen Jill Geisler, Group Leader, Leadership and Management Programs at The Poynter Institute, last night, after posting a link to a memo she facetiously posted at Poynter online for Katie Couric to read. I asked Jill to respond to my previous post in which I discussed " gravitas" and Cronkite's contention that women's higher registers make their voice less suitable for voice-over narration. Would Katie ( not Katherine), a former high school cheerleader, have the mojo to command Cronkite's former pulpit I queried ? Can a voice fueled by emotion, not testosterone, carry weight for viewers?

Jill sent me two pictures of herself, the one above, that she wrote me,
...should make you chuckle. It is a copy of an ad that my station ran in 1977 when I was named co-anchor of the 6pm news. We were a CBS affiliate and the news followed Cronkite. And yes, we had a puppet named Albert the Alleycat on the weather.

Today, having pioneered as one among few women anchors, Geisler tells us that things hopefully have changed for the better, that Couric,no wilting lily, should do just fine.

I agree. Remember when Couric ambushed President Bush Sr. while she was onstensibly reporting a " softie" tour of the Whitehouse with Barbara Bush as her guide some long time ago? President Bush Sr. wandered onto the scene for an orchestrated cameo and probably regretted his decision to do so after Couric peppered him with hardball questions instead of puffballs.

Jill Geisler wrote me last last night in a mellow mood, telling me that things indeed have changed and that
I'm not really concerned about Katie's vocal tones. She's managed to communicate effectively on the Today Show to this point. I don't think she needs a voice transplant to do the Evening News.

What people of a certain generation (mine) need to remember is that people
40 and under in this country have grown up surrounded by women in positions
of authority - teachers, doctors, attorneys, their bosses. Katie's ascension to the anchor chair at CBS is no culture shock to them.

Ms. Geisler concludes: Perhaps you can see why, nearly 30 years later, I sent congratulations to Katie Couric for moving into Cronkite's chair.

Thanks Netizen Jill Geisner, for taking the time to answer my query and for your thoughtful and informative response. And your picture, as they say, " is worth a thousand words," bringing us back to 1977.

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