First, I admit that this is a pretty obscure obsession – the voice of an NPR foreign correspondent, but I’m sure like many others, the voices on public radio have become familiar companions on my way to work each morning. My favorite (by far) is Eleanor Beardsley. Beardsley is NPR’s correspondent in Paris and has that best kind of southern accent – one that sounds warm and soothing while never losing the subtle irony and edginess of an intelligent speaker. Think of buttery bread pudding with rum sauce.
I really like the musical quality of her phrasing, with her intonation changing — sometimes surprisingly — without it sounding fake and pretentious. Here, I need to acknowledge that I seem to be in the minority on this point. When I was looking around the internets for information about EB’s background, I kept finding people complaining about how terrible her voice was. How could so many be so wrong?
I’ve saved for last the best of all — Eleanor speaking French in her South Carolina accent. What can I say except it doesn’t get any better than that.
So to her Neanderthal and undiscerning critics, I say — reconsider this unique talent. May I forever hear, “From Paris, this is Eleanor Beardsley.”