In the real world, everyone has their preferred drink. For example, I’ve been sipping on Vitamin Waters since high school, in college I would drink multiple ones in a day, and now I limit myself to exactly one Vitamin Water – Energy Citrus flavor per work shift. My mom likes those Sparkling Ice things. One of my besties always pops a La Croix at the movie theatre when we go out.
But in radio, it’s different. Vitamin Water, while delicious and my preferred flavor caffeinated, doesn’t do much to help my voice.
Because I am also a loudmouth in the newsroom and not just while I am doing newscasts, I’m usually thirsty. I drink a lot of water from a sparkly, pink plastic cup with a straw. But what I really prefer to drink before a long news shift or a heavy recording day is at least one can of Coca Cola.
See, in radio, you can manipulate the “sticky” quality of your voice with different beverages. My late night radio veteran father would always drink a half-pint of milk, like the kind you’d get in your elementary cafeteria, before recording commercials for a more gravel-y sound, but otherwise chugged an 8 oz Tab. My mother, who was also in radio briefly, preferred any cola as long as it was diet. I guess I come by my need for a sticky soft drink honestly.
Morning anchor B.J. Williams drinks pure black coffee and can’t eat until she’s off the air. Morning Edition host Bill Maine likes to drink tea and makes himself a hearty little oatmeal once he’s done behind the board. I’ve never actually seen morning traffic anchor and producer Caleb Hutchins drink coffee but I’ve heard him talk about actually eating breakfast at home before he leaves for work, unlike me, who usually chomps a piece of cheese or a protein bar while my computer is booting.
Coffee is typically the fan favorite for that sticky quality. Add a ton of sugar and nondairy creamer - to reduce phlegm – and you have yourself a “muddy creek water” masterpiece, as we say at the Shields house. The best part is, it wakes you up when you roll up to the station at 5 a.m., lucky that the horse knows the way, and it tastes good to most people. I disagree with that last statement, but when I work that early shift you will see me drinking the saddest cup of coffee with the saddest face.
As for Maine’s tea habit, I do have a specialty tea that I like that I discovered in high school theater. It’s called Throat Coat and it… coats your throat. With mallow root extract, to be precise, so your sore throat (or broadcaster voice) is relaxed and won’t get strained. I always keep packets at my desk, mostly for suffering co-workers, though they don’t seem to enjoy it as much as I do.
And lately, someone has been stocking the break room one-cup coffee maker with spiced apple cider. Something I hated as a child until I learned it was just warm, spicy apple juice, I thank the mystery donor for that cuppa something tasty.
Yes, everyone has their preferred cuppa something. Now excuse me as I pop this Coke top, it’s midday and I need to finish us a couple of ‘casts.