April 23, 2015

Radio Host Discusses His Hearing and the Trouble With Ambient Noise

On the way to work in the morning, I like to listen to Q100's The Bert Show on the radio. It is hosted by Bert Weiss, Jeff Dauler, and Kristin Klingshirn. Most of the time I have no problem understanding the radio show hosts. However, when they include certain audio clips or outside audio sources (phone calls, video clips, etc.) I will have trouble understanding.

Jeff recently performed stand up comedy in Nashville at the famous Ryman Auditorium. He talked about opening for Joel Mchale and how it went and what it was like. It was a big deal and they were excited about it.

Later on, they played an audio clip of Jeff's stand up performance. Before playing it, they warned that the clip was taken from the audience, meaning the sound quality could be poor. Argh. I knew I was not going to be able to understand it. But, I listened anyway.

I could hear Jeff talking and the audience laughing, but it was not clear. His voice sounded distorted through the echoing microphone. The background noises of the audience did not help.

Here is an example of what I heard:

"Ashdgsj Blah blah Nashville! blha blah Ryman. Hjkl--nice--djskdhdhu lovely kjdksjd sun dresses hsbgah blah."


It was frustrating. I wanted to hear what he said. It sounded garbled, no matter how loud I turned up the volume.

When they finished the audio clip, Bert admitted that he did not understand most of it. He blamed it on several years of using headphones while working in the radio business. He described his hearing as "jacked up." Bert talked about how he could hear certain words here and there such as "pancakes!" and "carbohydrates." Jeff was glad he said something because he wondered why Bert did not laugh at his jokes.

I am glad Bert said something too! I felt left out and wondered what Jeff said in the clip. I know we are not alone. I am sure there were many people listening who could not understand most of what Jeff said.

Later, the next day, they discussed it again and Bert mentioned that it was hard to hear Jeff because of the ambient noise. I nodded my head at the radio. Yes! Ambient noise can make it difficult for deaf and hard of hearing people to understand spoken language. The dialogue turns into a garbled mess with the possibility of a clear word here or there.

Kristin asked how Bert was able to hear a brief recorded 911 phone call by a man with slightly slurred speech but not Jeff's stand up comedy. Jeff wondered if Bert was choosing what he wanted to hear. I have been asked similar questions before. It must be confusing to witness a deaf or hard of hearing person hear one thing but not another. Hearing loss can be complicated and unpredictable. 

Kristin also asked, "What ambient noise?"

Jeff stated, "There's no ambient noise!"

Yes, there was ambient noise in the audio clip. Usually, people with typical hearing can filter out those types of sounds while deaf and hard of hearing people cannot.

Bert tried to repeat what he thought he heard when they replayed the audio bit by bit. It was still hard for him to understand much of it.

After a few minutes of Kristin and Jeff explaining what was actually said, Jeff pointed out, "At this point it's not funny anymore."

Missing out on a joke or interesting conversation is not fun. When I do not hear or follow a story told to a group of people, I usually will not ask the person to repeat what was said. I might admit I did not hear, but if they want to tell it to me again, fine. But, it takes the fun out of it. It is never funny or as great the second time or when they have to tell it again out of pity. It sucks.

Towards the end of the segment, Jeff joked about how they should hold every Bert Show in an auditorium. Ha, ha.

It was an interesting show. Glad I got to listen in!


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1 comment:

  1. The ambient noise thing was definitely one of the hardest things to deal with when I developed Eustachian tube dysfunction. I lost the ability to "focus" my hearing at what I wanted to actually hear, so things like talking on the phone while other people are in the room making any kind of noise became basically impossible. It can be really frustrating to say the least.

    Mai | Harrison Hearing


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