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Things that Americans do well

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American vs. European broadcast media

I will give proper kudos to American broadcast media workers. They are professionals. While they often use this professionalism to make shows like "Friends," (the passage of which was mourned internationally) they at least do business with a competence and an attention to the quality of execution.

There are two practices of American media companies that I consider mission-critical which are lacking in many European joints.

One is that on American radio stations, they will play a song entirely. Sure, you'll occasionally get some dork who will talk over; but normally you can listen to the whole song. This is not so in Holland or Spain. Ireland is better, but only barely so.

Dutch radio is the worst. If it's time for the news, for example, that's it — too bad for you if you were enjoying the music.

Another display of American media competence is that American TV shows start on the hour or the half-hour. That's just logical. Here in the Netherlands, shows may start on the :10 or :15, for example.

At least they give the proper minute, right? But sometimes on RTÉ, in Ireland, no. An Irish friend of mine is mad about recording shows. RTÉ sometimes starts a show a few minutes early, for God-knows-what reason. You can even set up the recording agenda by a specific number code, provided by RTÉ, in order to cue your apparatus. But the show itself doesn't always start on cue. [And not just late, but early — which cuts off the first part the show that you're taping.] So much for plans.

Program director. That's the job description.

They've never heard of it, over here.

Nijmegen, the Netherlands, 28 May 2004