This summer our twin teenagers flew from Boston’s Logan Airport to Seattle for a two-week vacation with their aunts and cousins. (Woo Hoo! Laissez le bons temps roulez!) My husband and I kissed them goodbye and headed back through Terminal C to Central Parking. In the pedestrian thoroughfare, a 90-second prerecorded welcome message from Massachusetts Governor, Deval Patrick, and the Mayor of Boston, Thomas Menino, played on a continuous loop.
Politics aside, this is one of the most hilarious, and disconcerting publicity promos that I have ever heard. First, our esteemed governor, Deval Patrick, speaks. His vocal pitch leans really high and I looked up thinking angels were floating down from the heavens. Then, as soon as my ear had adjusted to Patrick’s pitch, in comes the mumbling cacophony that is Mayor Menino. As vocal ambassadors, they are a complete and combined disaster. It’s hilarious and slightly unreal in this age of super slick media management. But, then again, it was also one of those, “this is so bad it’s good” experiences, as well. I felt almost perverse pride in their display of complete disdain for being anything but who they are.
Without a doubt, there are techniques and tools they could each use to be stronger, clearer and more resonant speakers. High-pitched voices, in a man or woman, are annoying. Many people with high voices find that they are not taken as seriously as those, particularly men, with lower and deeper resonance. Menino’s slurred inarticulation is plain torture for an audience. When he spoke at a recent Boston Latin Graduation I attended, I wanted to scream with frustration.
There are no audio files that I could find on line of this Logan Airport Welcome recording. Instead, I found a series of hilarious (but mean-spirited) audio clips of Mayor Menino at a website called mumblesmenino. Here is a 3 second audio clip, Menino. And a video clip of Deval Patrick (close your eyes and just listen for 3 seconds) Patrick.