what a difference a weekend makes

March 3, 2008

Ok. Whew! It was tough going there for a few days, but it’s all better now. I had the opportunity to come up for air a bit on my regular job, and got in two good days of radio work and now I feel all at rights with the world again.

By the way, I learned an important radio lesson over the last few days. Sit back. Grab a pen.

“Shoot the Puppy.”

I rather doubt that this is a professional, technical, industry-wide term, but it’s certainly a radio school term, and I have to say, now that my vox pop is done (done!) I’ve shot so many puppies today it’s a miracle the SPCA wasn’t waiting for me on the doorstep this evening.

Shooting the Puppy is what you do when you have a great, fabulous, perfect quote from someone…and it doesn’t fit in the story. Maybe the piece is too long already, or it’s gone in a totally different direction, and now this great quote doesn’t work, or it takes you off the track of what you’re trying to say, or maybe someone else said something similar, and what they said was shorter, or cleaner, or whatever. But you, the editor, LOVE what this puppy said. It’s just fantastic. Even if it ultimately has nothing to do with whatever story you’re now trying to tell. You don’t want to cut it – this cute, fuzzy, perky little puppy – so you think for a little bit, “hey, maybe I’ll put it in here in this one little section and maybe no one will notice.”

What other people notice, however, is that while that puppy is gosh awful cute, it’s also peeing in the corner of your great story. If you walk away from your story for a little bit, and then come back and listen to it, you’ll smell pee too.

In radio school lingo, it’s time to shoot the puppy. Get it out. Make it your ringtone. Put it on a “best of” CD. Do whatever you want with it, but reach for the gun. Our vox pops have to be a minute and thirty seconds. When I first cut all of my interviews down, I had a vox pop that was 12 minutes and 36 seconds. Getting it down to 3 minutes was mildly uncomfortable, but the rest was just brutal. My finished piece is one minute and 47 seconds long, and I hope they don’t care, ’cause I promise, I shot all the puppies I could shoot.



  1. As a dog lover, I find that a horrible phrase! However, congrats on finishing the vox pop. I feel your pain about cutting work. I’m currently trying to edit my 5300 word interview-based research paper down to the required limit of…2500 words. Ouch.

  2. Please don’t shoot any puppies! It makes me sad. I guess it could be worse…could be ‘Shoot the kitten”…though I have one here who deserves to be the victim of a little violence. The fights are getting out of control. He is WAY more violent than Isabelle ever was. Poor Tootie!

    Are you coming home soon????????? I miss you!!!!!!!!!!!!!


  3. The cat is merely living up to his name. If you had called him Gentle George or something he would probably be sitting on your lap purring right now, instead of tormenting poor Tootie.

    I miss Isabelle very much, though the landlords upstairs are going away in a few week’s time and their cat Squeak is going to come down and live with me for a few days. Squeak is a very fine name for a cat methinks.

  4. The ‘shoot the puppy’ bit applies to lots of other things in life as well. Think about it.

  5. Totally referencing this phrase from now on.

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