On the NPR radio program Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me (http://www.npr.org/programs/wait-wait-dont-tell-me/) Peter Sagal introduces the week’s panelists using ‘it’s,’ as in “She’ll be performing Friday at the Comedy Club, it’s Paula Poundstone.” I’m not sure it is grammatically incorrect, but it doesn’t seem appropriate to refer to a person as “it.” Wouldn’t it be better to say “she is” in this case? Or better yet, use another phrase, such as “we welcome…” or “say hello to..?”
I have heard similar usage on other radio and television programming as well when the gender is known to the speaker, where “it is” replaces “she/he is/has.” Is this now acceptable usage?
It’s Paula Poundstone seems to me to simply be the answer to an
(unspoken but presupposed) question
Q: Who is it?
A: It’s Paula.
A question like Who is this person? is taken as a given in any formal introduction.
And this is the introduction of a number of speakers on stage before a performance.
There are special conventions for this context, as there are for telephone conversation,
(e.g, consider the strangeness of “Hello, this is Bill. Is this Mary?“, outside a phone conversation)
and one of the conventions is that the introducer often says, of each introducee,
- It’s (but almost never It is)
frequently adding phrases like And now; Appearing at the Palace nightly; The one, the only, etc.