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I am looking for a single adjective to refer to a classic 1940s-1960s news voice. Specifically, the kind that sounds almost like yelling (to me at least). Here is a sample:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B1Gt6hPuMaw

Example Sentence:

I begin listening to the newscaster talk in his well-known ___ voice.

I am writing a story that takes place during World War II, and I want to provide a detailed scene to modern readers who may have heard news presented in this way. What is a single word I can use to accomplish this?

  • Can this word or expression be in use today, or must it have a 1940's feel to it? – Mari-Lou A Jun 16 '16 at 8:00
  • @Mari-Lou Either is fine. I'm just starting this story and some things that that aren't ironed out yet. – john01dav Jun 16 '16 at 8:02
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    Hi John. Thanks for the accept, but it's usually a good idea to hold off on accepting an answer for a few hours; because others might have better suggestions, or at least alternatives worth considering. Accepted answers tend to attract much less attention than open ones. – Tushar Raj Jun 16 '16 at 8:19
  • @TusharRaj Alright, I've unaccepted your answer. Thanks for the advice. – john01dav Jun 16 '16 at 8:19
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    youtu.be/Gpv_IkO_ZBU – NVZ Jun 16 '16 at 12:13
16

The short news films that were shown in cinemas before the main films, in the pre-TV days, were called newsreels - so a "newsreel voice" could be what you're after.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newsreel

There was one famous company that made them that had a very distinctive style. Their "ident" was a clucking cockerel, I'm trying to remember the name but can't at the moment. It was something French-sounding. I'm sure someone will be able to fill it in. The name of that company could be a good choice too.

EDIT: Pathé is the company who I was thinking of - their name is in that Wikipedia article (doh). It's a distinctive word so anyone who recognises the reference (if you were to say "in his Pathé news voice" for example) would (probably) instantly know what you mean.

A Pathé news report on the Hiroshima bombing, 1945:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WhST-nbRII0

EDIT: Side note - There's a horrendous quote in that video - "Tests for gamma rays in the New Mexico desert revealed no harmful radiation, discounting Jap stories of men dying in agony days after the blast". Hangs head in shame. Anyway, we've come a long way since then.

  • Ah. You beat me to it. This was my first choice, but I was hunting for an adjective. Upvote. – Tushar Raj Jun 16 '16 at 8:07
  • I don't agree on the bit about anyone who knows the reference would understand -- I know this voice quite well but I have never heard of Pathé (except in a few Youtube videos that I literally just saw a few days ago -- and I would likely have not connected it to this voice). – john01dav Jun 16 '16 at 8:15
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    @john01dav I'll leave it to the OP to decide that. When choosing a witty reference, you need to consider your audience. If most of them won't get it then you might need to reconsider. Personally I think that "Newsreel" is safer, but not as good, as "Pathe News". – Max Williams Jun 16 '16 at 8:31
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    It's the "those lying Japs" tone that bothered me so much. – Max Williams Jun 16 '16 at 10:06
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    What a lot of people forget nowadays is the brutality of the War in the Pacific. The Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in the midst of negotiations with the U.S. and their subsequent conquests were often the scene of many atrocities. When fighting began in earnest, the Japanese often wouldn't surrender and would fight to the last man. Suicide attacks were common, especially as the war went against Japan. This left bitter feelings after the war which were only gradually healed with the passage of time and the passing of those who fought. – user16622 Jun 18 '16 at 6:20
12

stentorian is a word used to describe the newsreel voice in this article

(Of a person’s voice) loud and powerful:

Oxford

  • A Prayer for Owen Meany has forever ruined that word for me. +1. – Dan Bron Jun 16 '16 at 10:44
  • @DanBron: Thanks for the upvote. But I'm afraid you're gonna have to elaborate. I haven't read the book. – Tushar Raj Jun 16 '16 at 10:58
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    Ironically enough, one famous quote from that book is "My life is a reading list". Anyway, suffice it to say that the titular character is described as having a "stentorian voice", and ALL HIS DIALOG, THROUGHOUT THE ENTIRE WORK, IS IN CAPITAL LETTERS, and that the work is a tragedy. Or at least a major downer. – Dan Bron Jun 16 '16 at 11:06
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    Why do you think "a newsreader's voice" is the same as "loud and powerful"? They seem entirely different to me. – Tim Lymington supports Monica Jun 16 '16 at 13:22
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    @TimLymington: From the OP: sounds almost like yelling (to me at least). So... – Tushar Raj Jun 16 '16 at 13:29
10

The name of the accent, in general, is Transatlantic or Mid-atlantic.

The mid-Atlantic accent, or Transatlantic accent, is a consciously acquired accent of English, intended to blend together the "standard" speech of both American English and British Received Pronunciation. –Wiki

Why Do People In Old Movies Talk Weird?YouTube

5

U.K. English answer here...

Received.

or

R.P.

Which is for 'Received Pronunciation':

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Received_Pronunciation

You can also use the word 'plummy' to describe such a voice of that era in the UK when broadcasting was a strictly government BBC affair with no local radio stations or 'foreign'/regional accents.

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    +1, but this is the accent not the 'shoutiness' – wilbo Jun 16 '16 at 17:05
  • The sample in the OP is a North American accent. – ChrisW Jun 18 '16 at 4:15
5

I don't know if there is a single word that will fully convey what you are attempting to describe. The "Mid-Atlantic Accent" suggestion partially covers it, but that isn't solely related to radio, it was something of an affectation for many people for various reasons.

I can't find an actual definition, but I would think that

Broadcast(er) Voice (The Broadcast Voice)

would somewhat convey the idea, with the setting of the story implying the style of that voice.

You could also replace voice with

Timbre (M-W)

the quality given to a sound by its overtones as:

a: the resonance by which the ear recognizes and identifies a voiced speech sound

Therefore, the resultant sentence would be

I begin listening to the newscaster talk in his well-known broadcast timbre.

  • Mid-Atlantic accent, plus one. – Mazura Jun 16 '16 at 19:02
  • Well, the Mid-Atlantic Accent reference is to a previously posted answer, not my idea, so misdirected +1? – vynsane Jun 16 '16 at 19:18
  • In speech, I'd refer to it as "broadcasters voice", in writing... I'll plus one any mention of the "Atlantic accent". IMO, this's a dupe. – Mazura Jun 17 '16 at 4:04
1

I'd suggest the descriptor

Old time radio voice

It accurately captures a certain confluence of time, technology, and culture.

Edit: Except I can't because this is set in the past. So how about "radio voice"? There wasn't an established video style yet, so they were borrowing the radio style. If I were watching, I might think, "oh, they sound like radio presenters." Or maybe I wouldn't, because what else would they sound like? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Alternatively, you might reference a famous newsman of the time. It might or might not be before Walter Cronkite or Ed Sullivan, but Walter Winchell or Edward R. Murrow seem appropriate.

Edward R. Murrow knock-off

When it's said that someone's a Cronkite wannabe, even if you don't know exactly what Cronkite sounded like, you know it's a reference to the defining newsman of his era, so you automatically conjure visions of 60's newscasts.

If you don't know who he is, well, have you ever noticed that when you hear a reference to a person of a bygone era, it has a certain legitimacy above a phrase from a bygone era? It's more anchored in its time and place. You Google him and find out who he is in 10 seconds, and think to yourself "that author's pretty smart with his 40s newsman references".

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    Except that Walter Cronkite's voice was nothing like the newsreel voice. – Hot Licks Jun 16 '16 at 17:00
  • "Old time radio voice" would work only if the story was being narrated in our present referring to the past, but the sentence in the OP specifically is stated in the present tense for a story set in the past, therefore it would be, at best, the "contemporary radio voice". – vynsane Jun 16 '16 at 19:16
  • The name you're looking for is Walter Winchell. "Good evening Mr. and Mrs. America and all the ships at sea." en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walter_Winchell youtube.com/watch?v=0RS3MsxWFWY – DavidCAdams Jun 16 '16 at 19:56
  • Yeah, I'm pretty off here then. I'll just make some notes: You can use Edward R. Murrow in place of Walter Cronkite. The type of speaking really does come from radio, especially because they didn't have an established video presenting style yet. So you can say something like, "they sound like radio people." You can especially still hear this "style" persist in sports radio. See Gene Okerlund. – ognockocaten Jun 16 '16 at 19:57
  • Once again, Murrow and Cronkite were known for the calm, soothing timbre of their voices, not at all "yelling". – Hot Licks Jun 23 '16 at 23:36
0

It sounds like you want to express a sense of false enthusiasm and exaggerated importance, as if   EVERY  SPOKEN  WORD,   HAS,   EARTH-SHATTERING,   IMPLICATIONS! 

If so, I suggest considering bombastic.  The phrase "his well-known bombastic voice" suggests that the tone and delivery are inflated and imply a greater relevance than the content of his message deserves.  One direct antonym of "bombastic" is "deadpan". 

The word works in both time periods.  In the WWII era it would be understood as meaning something like "pompous and ceremonial".  In ours, artists like Shaggy and Bonnie McKee have invested it with a sense of being overly emotional.  Both senses are apt, given your context. 

-1

I do like the "timbre" suggestion, but I think it would be used best when following the "Pathe" suggestion.

I begin listening to the newscaster talk in his well-known Pathe timbre.

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