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004 Topics: Filming in LA, Howard Stern, Worst Dressed Americans, Lolita, New Macs, Dove or Pigeon?, Color Bracelets, "Do you get it?"

时间:2018-05-01   访问量:2933   View PDF
Complete Transcript
You are listening to ESL Podcast’s English Café number 4.

This is English as a Second Language Podcast’s English Café episode 4. I’m your host, Dr. Jeff McQuillan, coming to you from the Center for Educational Development in beautiful Los Angeles, California.

On this Café, we’re going to talk about disc jockeys and the place that they hold in American popular culture. We’ll talk a little bit about what disc jockeys are, what they do, and where they came from. And, as always, we’ll answer a few of your questions. Let's get started.

There are many different aspects or parts of popular culture in any country. “Popular culture” refers to the popular forms of entertainment, including movies, televisions shows, songs, and so forth. Anything that is popular and entertaining might be classified under this term of “popular culture.” Today, I want to talk a little bit about one aspect or part of popular culture, which is radio culture – specifically, music radio culture.

When you think about music on the radio, especially in the United States, you probably will think of a person who works at the radio station who announces the songs and possibly selects the songs to play. That person is called the “disc jockey.” A “disc (disc) jockey (jockey)” – it can also be spelled “disk (disk) jockey” – is a person who conducts a program of music, recorded music, on the radio. When I say he “conducts” the program, I mean he plans the program. He organizes it. He decides who is going to get played today – what group, what song is going to be played. He's the person who announces the songs, who talks during the breaks between songs, and so forth.

We also use this verb “to conduct” to mean to manage. We can talk also about “conducting a meeting,” meaning running a meeting, being in charge of a meeting. In music, “conducting” also can refer to a person who stands up in front of a large group of musicians – in front of, for example, an orchestra – and helps the entire group play together, play in a certain style. That person, called the “conductor,” conducts the orchestra. Well, a disc jockey doesn't conduct an orchestra. He or she conducts a program on the radio of music.

A disc jockey can also be someone who works in a dance club – what we used to call “discotheques,” now more commonly known as “clubs.” Most clubs will also have a disc jockey. You may not hear the term disc jockey as much anymore. People have used for many years the abbreviation “DJ.” So, you'll talk about the “DJ at the club” or the “DJ on the radio,” not the “disc jockey.” But DJ, of course, is just an abbreviation of “disc jockey.”

The history of disc jockeys is actually quite interesting here in the U.S. When radio first became popular in the 1920s and 30s, there were a lot of radio stations that wanted to, and did, play music. However, there was a problem. The U.S. federal government, our national government, under one of its agencies called the “Federal Communications Commission,” said that radio stations had to identify the name of the songs frequently. In fact, they had to come on several times an hour and say which songs were being played. I'm not sure exactly what the reason was for this rule, but it was the rule. Unfortunately, a lot of people listening to the radio didn't like the disc jockey, the person at the radio station, stopping after every song and giving the name of the song. However, that was the FCC's rule and the radio stations had to abide by it. “To abide (abide) by” something means to follow it, especially a law or a rule that you have to obey.

In the 1930s, something very tragic happened. One of the most famous Americans during that time was Charles Lindbergh. Charles Lindbergh was a famous aviator who, during the 1920s, flew by himself from the United States to France. Charles Lindbergh was very famous – too famous, in a way. What happened was, during the early 1930s, someone came and took the baby that belonged to Mr. and Mrs. Lindberg. They kidnapped it. Unfortunately, the baby did not survive. The baby was killed. “To kidnap” means to take someone and then ask for money or some other thing you want. You ask for this money typically from the family.

And that's what happened in the Charles Lindbergh kidnapping case. When they caught someone – when they arrested someone who they thought had committed the crime, who had kidnapped and killed the baby – there was a very famous trial. A “trial” (trial) is when you go into a courtroom and there's a judge and they decide whether you are guilty or innocent. Because this trial was so famous, everyone wanted to listen to news about the trial on the radio. However, there wasn't always news during the entire day during the trial.

So, one radio station in New York decided to play music in between the news coming from the trial. They did this in the format of having someone talk about the records and then play the records and then talk informally about what was going on – not necessarily reading a prepared script but speaking, we would say, “extemporaneously.” “To speak extemporaneously” (extemporaneously) means to speak without preparing, without having a script in front of you.

This program that was played on the radio during the trial, in between the coverage of the trial, became very popular. People really liked it, and when the trial was over, they wanted the program to continue. Eventually it did continue, and the idea of having a disc jockey who would play the records and talk about them and speak extemporaneously during the breaks in between the songs became very popular in other cities as well. Finally in 1940, the Federal Communications Commission changed the rules so that the disc jockey didn't have to interrupt the program so frequently in order to give the name of the song.

Beginning after World War II, then, we saw a rapid increase in the popularity of DJs on American radio stations. By the 1950s in the U.S., disc jockeys had become not only very popular, but very powerful as well. In order to get your record played, your song played on the radio, it had to be selected by the disc jockey, the person who conducted the program, or at least someone at the radio station in order to be played “on the air” – that is, in order to be broadcast, in order for people to hear it on their radios at home. One of the results of this power that the disc jockeys had, you can imagine, is that some record companies decided to give a little money to the DJ so that they would play a song from one of their artists, one of their singers.

Record companies started giving disc jockeys money to play the songs. Of course, the DJs didn't say they were getting money to play the song to the person listening to the radio. It seemed as though this must be a good song because it was selected by the DJ.
Record companies gave money. They gave other sorts of gifts, other favors to the DJs, to get them to play the records that the record companies were producing. The general term for this was “payola” (payola).

“Payola” became very common in the 1950s with disc jockeys and record companies. It was basically a form of commercial bribery. “To bribe” (bribe) means to give someone money and have them do something for you that they aren't really supposed to do. Now, in the case of promoting things, there are really two different ways to do that. When I say “to promote something,” I mean to recommend it to other people, to advertise it, to tell other people about it. You can get money from someone who wants you to promote their product, and you can recommend it, not telling anyone that you were given money to recommend this product.

Another way of promoting things is to say or to make it very clear that, “Yes, I was paid to say this.” Then you can decide whether this person really does like what they are promoting, or whether they are just saying that because they are getting money for it. When you get money for something, it doesn't mean that you don't like what you are promoting or wouldn't recommend it otherwise, but it does make a difference, and the federal government definitely thought it made a difference. In fact, there was a federal, or national, investigation of this payola practice in the late 1950s, in 1959.

Eventually, because of the investigations, payola was no longer a popular practice in the 1960s and 1970s. It didn't disappear, however. Even in the 1980s there were stories about DJs receiving payola from record companies to play certain records. My guess nowadays is that record companies have gotten smart and have figured out other ways of promoting their songs to radio stations and DJs without having to give them money. It's not quite as obvious perhaps anymore, but I can’t imagine that they don't certainly try to convince DJs to play the songs that they produce.

The DJ format never really was very popular on television. There were a few television programs that played music. American Bandstand, when I was growing up, was the name of a program that lots of young people, including me, watched. Eventually, in the early 1980s, you had the arrival of “Music Television,” what we now know as MTV. On MTV, originally, they didn't have DJs – they had the VJs. “VJ” stands for “video jockeys.” VJs didn't play discs; they played videos.

I should probably explain that the word “disc” originally referred to what we now call a “phonograph record,” made of vinyl. Later, we had the invention of compact discs, or “CDs” – those are still discs. Now, however, with the new technology, with MP3s, everything is digital and you don't even need to have a compact disc. You can just put it on a hard drive on a computer and play it from there. But the term has stuck. When we say something “has stuck” (stuck), we mean that it has, in this case, survived. It has continued to be used. We still talk about DJs even though most people don't use actual discs anymore to play music.

A final interesting development in the world of disc jockeys was during the 1980s – and more so, I think, in the 1990s – there was something called a “shock jock.” A “shock (shock) jock” was a disc jockey who said very controversial things – things that might get people angry or upset. “Shock jocks” use this as a technique for getting people to listen to them. That's always a way of getting people to pay attention to you, is to say wild and crazy things, and that's what shock jocks did.

One of the best-known shock jocks in the United States was a man by the name of Howard Stern. Interestingly enough, Howard Stern is no longer heard on American radio. Beginning in the mid 2000s – 2005 or 2006 – Howard Stern went to satellite radio so that you can listen to him via satellite on a special receiver that gets the channels from that satellite. A “satellite” is a piece of equipment that goes around the earth, high up in the space around Earth, that transmits radio signals and television signals from one part of the world to another.

So, that's a little history and information about a popular culture phenomenon, “disc jockeys.”

Now let’s answer some of the questions you have sent to us.

Our first question comes from Steven (Steven) from Germany. Steven wants to know the difference between a “dove” and a “pigeon.” This is an interesting question. I'm not really a very good person to explain science or things dealing with animals, but I'll do my best.

The word “dove” (dove) in English refers to a small white bird that has what we would call a “pointed tail” A “tail” (tail) is what comes out the back of an animal. “Pointed” would mean that they come to a point. They're not round; they come to a single point. Doves have pointed tails. Doves are related to – are in the same family, if you will, with another bird, called a “pigeon” (pigeon). A “pigeon” is a little larger than a dove. It has gray and white feathers, typically, and a square tail, not a pointed tail like a dove.

That, anyway, in the United States is what we call a “dove” and a “pigeon.” (In English, I should say.) Pigeons you will see quite often in American parks. People give food to them. They feed them typically bread, little pieces of bread, but pigeons don't have a very positive association. People think of pigeons as being kind of dirty. At least, I do. A dove on the other hand, is symbolic of peace, for example. It’s considered to be not an ugly animal like some people think a pigeon is. Well, at least, I think it is. I don't know.

Our next question comes from Jean Pierre (Jean Pierre) from the island in the Caribbean of Martinique. Jean Pierre has a question about a practice that started a few years ago of people wearing bracelets with different colors on their arms. A “bracelet” (bracelet) is a small round piece of jewelry that you wear around your wrist. Your “wrist” (wrist) is the part of your arm at the end of your arm, but before you get to your hand. So, it's sort of what connects your arm to your hand. That is called your “wrist.” You wear a bracelet around your wrist.

A few years ago, it became popular with many organizations to try to raise money, or to get money for their organization, by selling bracelets. The idea was that you would buy this bracelet and that money would be donated to the organization. The organization would get money by selling these bracelets. The bracelets could be produced at a very low cost – I'm guessing a couple of pennies each – and then sold for a dollar or two dollars. You would buy this bracelet if you supported the organization, and you could show your support by wearing the bracelet.

The most famous example of this was Lance Armstrong's foundation. Lance Armstrong was the bicyclist who won several Tour de France bicycle races. Later, of course, it was found that he cheated, but at the time, no one knew that. Lance Armstrong himself had survived a form of cancer. He had started a foundation to help pay for research on cancer. In order to get money for his foundation, he started selling these little bracelets. I believe they were yellow bracelets.

Other organizations saw that, and saw how successful his foundation was, so they started to do the same thing, except they would change the color to blue or purple or green or whatever the organization chose. That’s the origin and the meaning of these bracelets that you may see some Americans wearing of different colors. I don't wear one, myself.

Alex in China has a question about the expression “Do you get it?” Alex wants to know the difference between “Do you get it” and “Did you get it?” First, it's useful to understand the expression “to get it.” “To get it” usually means to understand it. So, when someone asks, “Do you get it?” after they explain something to you, they’re asking if you understand what they are saying.

In the past tense, “Did you get it?” means “Did you understand?” in the past. There really isn't any difference in meaning between the present tense and the past tense other than you’re referring to something happening right now versus something that happened before. If you are taking a class in college and you don't understand something that the professor said yesterday, you may ask about that issue today, and say, “You explained this yesterday, but I didn't get it.” People use both of them. It depends on the circumstances and how clearly they are talking about what's going on right now versus what happened in the past.

Another meaning of “Did you get it?” is “Did you receive it?” Did you obtain it? You may ask someone who went to a store to buy a cell phone, “Did you get it?” meaning “Did you buy it, did you obtain it?” That's another use of the expression “Did you get it?”

Our final question has to do with three words which are not related, but have been asked of me in the past, so I thought I would explain them. One of them, which is a word you have to understand here in Los Angeles, is “filming.” “Filming” (filming) is the recording of a movie. It's the part of the moviemaking process in which the actors are being recorded on film while they act. Here in Los Angeles, it's impossible to drive around on any given day without seeing someone doing filming.

People film on different streets. They film in houses. They film in lots of different places. This is actually a little annoying for those of us who live here. When I say it's “annoying,” I mean it's bothersome. It bothers us. Because often, the police will block off a certain street or a certain area so that they can make their movie there – so they can film. “Film” is used here as a verb. It can also be a noun referring to a movie.

“Literally” is the next word I want to talk about. “Literally” is a word that gets used a lot, especially on television and radio and other places, by people who don't seem to really understand what the word means. “Literally” means actually. If you say, “It is literally freezing in here,” that means the temperature must be at or below 32 degrees Fahrenheit. If it's not, you can't really say it's “literally freezing” because literally means real, actual. It is actually happening right now or at the time to which you're referring.

The opposite of “literally” would be “figuratively” (figuratively). When you say something happened figuratively, you mean it didn't actually happen. You are using words to describe something, but you are using them as a metaphor. It didn't actually happen that way. So, when someone says, “It's freezing here,” and the temperature is only 50 degrees Fahrenheit, they are saying that figuratively. They can't say, “It's literally freezing in here,” because it isn't literally freezing in here.

However, as I say, this has become very confusing for people, and it has now become acceptable in conversational English for people to use the word “literally” even when they mean in some ways the opposite of that, which would be “figuratively,” or perhaps “metaphorically.”

The final term I want to define here today is “cul-de-sac” (cul-de-sac). A “cul-de-sac” is a street that you can drive into, but you can't go any farther. It stops. It ends. It's very popular in many American cities to have cul-de-sacs where, when you drive to the end of the street, there's like a circle, and there are several houses around the circle. “Cul-de-sacs” are popular because you don't have a lot of traffic. If you have young children who like to play out in front of your house, you don't have to worry about it as much because the street is what we would also call a “dead end.” A “dead end” is when a street ends. You can't go any farther. That's a “cul-de-sac.”

I mention that in part, because I used to live on a cul-de-sac, and it was absolutely terrible. Why? Because normally a street is where the cars drive, but if you live in a cul-de-sac, there aren't cars driving by. So, all of the neighbors around you and their children treat the cul-de-sac street as if it were a playground, and so they're always out in and playing in the street because it's safe to do that since there are no cars there. That's why I moved from that house.

If you have a question or comment, you can email us. Our email address is

From Los Angeles, California, I’m Jeff McQuillan. Thank you for listening. Come back and listen to us again right here on ESL Podcast.

ESL Podcast’s English Café was written and produced by Dr. Jeff McQuillan and Dr. Lucy Tse. Copyright 2006 by the Center for Educational Development.

filming – the recording of a movie; the part of the movie-making process in which the actors are recorded on film while acting

* The filming of the movie would take place in various parts of downtown Chicago, but several scenes would also take place in New York.

literally – actually; in a real or accurate sense

* The car came so close to hitting Madeline that it literally bumped her leg, and she has the scratch to prove it.

cul-de-sac – a street that is open to traffic at one end but closed at the other end; a circular area lined with houses that exists at the end of a closed street

* Abel was very happy about living in a house on the cul-de-sac because very few cars passed down that way and he enjoyed the peace and quiet.

pain in the butt – an informal way of referring to something that causes problems or difficulties; an annoyance or source of trouble

* Even though it was a real pain in the butt, Kiesha finished painting the house all by herself when her husband hurt his back.

popular culture – entertainment culture, including movies and television; products, events, and activities that are popular or common sources of entertainment for many people

* Tomas did not follow popular culture and couldn’t take part in conversations about the latest movies or music.

disc jockey – DJ; a person whose job is to decide which music is played on a radio station or at a social gathering; someone who hosts a radio show, controlling the music being played and talking to the listeners in between songs

* The disc jockey took a song request from a regular caller.

shock jock – someone who hosts a radio show and talks about controversial or inappropriate topics using shocking and/or impolite language

* Zella is not usually offended by things the shock jock says, but when he started saying terrible things about women, she turned off the radio.

satellite radio – subscription radio; digital radio; a type of radio broadcast that uses different technology to send sound, which one must pay to listen to and which one needs a special device or machine to hear

* There are so many stations Greg enjoys on his satellite radio that he hardly ever listens to regular radio anymore.

receiver – a device or machine that picks up sounds that the human ear cannot hear and plays those sounds so that they can be heard

* Something was wrong with the radio receiver, causing the music coming from it to sound broken and crackly.

to come out – to release a product or make it available for purchase or use

* The designer came out with a new line of dresses meant to appeal to the taste of teenage consumers.

dove – a small white bird with pointed tails, related to the pigeon

* Renée was excited to see a white dove in her backyard because she did not see doves very often.

pigeon – a bird with gray and white feathers and a square or rounded tail, related to the dove but larger in size

* During his lunch break, Jordon went to the public park and fed bread crumbs to the pigeons.

bracelet – jewelry that is worn around the wrist; a band or chain that is worn around the wrist for decorative purposes

* For Lauren’s birthday, her boyfriend bought her a beautiful gold bracelet with her initials engraved on the band.

to donate – to freely give money or something one owns to another person to help that person or to help an organization

* Every month, Benjamin donated two dozen cans of food to the local soup kitchen.

Do you get it? – Do you understand?; a question one asks to find out if another person understands a topic that was being discussed

* After clarifying the explanation she gave in class, Mrs. Claywell asked her student, “Do you get it now?”

What Insiders Know
Self-Control and Aggression

We all know that the ability to control yourself and your “appetites” (desires) is an important part of growing up or of becoming an adult. We can’t always have what we want, when and how we want it.

But a 2011 study by the University of Texas suggests that sometimes “self-control” can make people become “resentful” (angry because of something you cannot do or has been done to you) and more “prone to” (more likely to commit) “aggression” (angry behavior toward others).

The researchers found that people who chose a healthy snack – an apple – instead of something that was less good for them – chocolate -- were later more likely to prefer movies that had violent themes than those who chose chocolate. Another study found that people who controlled their spending or showed “financial restraint” preferred seeing angry faces instead of fearful ones.

It appears, then, that we have a “finite” (limited) supply of energy that can be used for self-control. When people are asked to control themselves, they may also “seek” (look for) the opportunity to release whatever anger or frustration they have in other forms, such as watching violent movies.

The “trick” (difficulty), then, might be to find some “middle ground” (compromise position; neither complete self-control nor doing whatever you feel like) that is best. Otherwise, we might have a country full of very aggressive people!

上一篇:003 Topics: Famous Americans: Queen Latifah; Smoking bans; at this point; trade-off; driveway versus parkway

下一篇:005 Topics: New Software, Brunch, Oprah's Book Club, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, How to End a Letter or Email, Can vs. Can't