BRADENTON, Fla. — As a little kid, if I said anything considered worse than “heck” or “darn” my mother would threaten to wash out my mouth with laundry soap. And, there was even a standard in the media set by the Federal Communications Commission about a half-century ago that prompted a comedian named George Carlin to include into one of his stand-up routines that there were seven words you couldn’t say on the radio. If you’re curious, you can look them up via Google. But in today’s world, some of what was once called “foul language” appears to have become the norm in the broadcast community. I regularly hear these and worse from show hosts, daily. I even hear some in produced commercials.
Not only has the on-the-air language evolved over time, but so has the entire media world changed with all kinds of new products and services advertising on talk radio. For a long stretch, auto dealers shouting their commercials dominated. Oh yes, they’re still here and still hollering. But a whole host of commercials for unique new products and unusual services has emerged.
For example there are numerous spots for prescription medications for various serious ills and conditions. What is striking about these is that the required list of side effects is sometimes much longer and more frightening than the stated benefits of the drug. I heard one the other day that would modify skin conditions, but may cause insanity. Take your choice. Have clear skin or go nuts!
Law firms have taken to making heavy use of radio commercials. There are so many of them advertising that in some breaks the spots for competing firms are aired back-to-back.
Of course there are all kinds of new, high-tech devices and services with commercials promoting what they do. And some very costly items have made it to the airwaves. An example: a construction company that swiftly builds structures made of steel that are ideal for manufacturing operations, warehouses, etc. Just one sale resulting from the commercial pitch would make the entire schedule worthwhile.
A favorite current surprise is a commercial schedule seeking dealers for medical cannabis in which the announcer says it requires no more than five to 10 hours a week and the operation can be done from the dealer’s home. Cannabis? Sold from one’s home? Just a couple of years ago an operation such as this would bring the police to your door.
My, my “As the World Turns!” But that was the name of a dramatic soap opera on radio a long, long time ago that no longer exists. But what the heck. Who gives a darn?
Al Herskovitz is president of H&H Communications and a TALKERS marketing consultant. He can be emailed at: firstname.lastname@example.org.