My son, Everett, is intrigued by the concept of Live TV.  If I had a dollar for every time he’s asked over the years if an event on TV was actually happening right now, well, I’d have tens of dollars.  JK.  But he’s asked often enough to make it memorable.  For example, when the Ohio State Buckeyes are playing: “Is this happening right now?” he’d ask.  When a normal TV show like America’s Got Talent or Shark Tank is on: “Are they saying these things right now in this moment?”  Pretty insightful for a young lad if you ask me.  Of course, I try to explain that most shows are taped, edited and then rebroadcast for us to watch.  Whereas some sporting events are often broadcast ‘live’.  But are they really?

Turns out, in television (and radio for my older readers who still listen to the FM dial), a broadcast delay is set to intentionally delay when broadcasting live material.  The technical term is “deferred live”.  But industry slang has deemed it the “seven-second delay”.  This short delay is often used to prevent profanity, bloopers, nudity, or other undesirable material from making it on air.  The seven-second delay was invented by Frank Cordaro who was Chief Engineer of WKAP during the 1950s and early 1960s.  He was asked to create something whereby profanity during a ‘live’ conversation could be deleted by the radio talk show host before it was broadcast.  Alternatively, a bleep or other substitute sound could be inserted, but it is more difficult to do in a live broadcast and is often used with recorded material.

Anyone old enough to remember the Janet Jackson / Justin Timberlake Super Bowl performance which eventually became known as a “wardrobe malfunction”?  What happened there?  Where was the broadcast delay?  A whole study was done on that circumstance, and basically it was that all the practice performances that Janet and Justin did gave the network no concerns, so they weren’t watching the delay that carefully.  Once the wardrobe malfunction happened, no one was there to trigger the delay because there was no concern it was even going to happen.

Lest I belabor the point, do you see the benefits of the seven-second delay?  I sure do.  How often have I been so quick to react with anger toward a situation, that I ended up saying hurtful and unnecessary words.  How often have I escalated an argument when if I’d simply been slower to process and speak that it could’ve easily been avoided.  How often would a seven-second delay been the savior of an interaction with a spouse or a friend?

Think before you speak.  Sage words of wisdom.  Easy to comprehend, hard to put into action.  What if we worked on our own personal seven-second delay?  What if we had it in our minds to not react quickly, but rather to mentally process a de-escalated wise answer for a full seven seconds before we let our mouths speak?  We might have a bit more peace in our lives, mightn’t we?  We might have less strained relationships, yes?  We might have less regrets, surely?

As in Live TV, let’s work to implement our own seven-second delay, and thus prove to be a more patient responder and a more responsible friend.