By Holland Cooke
BLOCK ISLAND, RI — Fine. Call me a prude. Because I still cringe when I hear a radio voice say “pissed-off.” What gets lost if, instead, you say “irked” or “miffed” or “dissatisfied” or some other more-specific and safe-for-the-whole-family synonym?
There are lots of common expressions Mom and Dad use, but not in front of the munchkins. But when a single diary or PPM meter represents thousands as Nielsen numbers crunch, every…Quarter Hour…counts. And with advertisers increasingly wary of content that can appear alongside their digital ads, AM/FM radio has nothing to fear from manners.
Back when Howard Stern was still on FM, Mel Karmazin shrugged-off six figure FCC fines as overhead. Eventually Howard left for satellite radio so he could do the show he wanted (and for a heap of do-re-mi). Here’s the difference: SiriusXM listeners opt-in. It’s like HBO vs. over-the-air TV. When you need a credit card to consume, there are more dirty words.
Say whatever you want…
…on a podcast? Several podcasters have asked me, after recent columns here pertained to podcasting.
The Internet is unregulated. Unlike on-air content, anything goes. And when it comes to language that is X-rated/over-the-line/”Adult” – call it what you will – the choice is simple.
If you’re a Baby Boomer who went to Catholic school, you can still hear Sister’s scolding tone: “WHO do you think you’re talking to?”
- I told a friend who produced a successful comedy tour CD: “LOVED it…except I lost count of the F-bombs.” He told me that, “without ‘em, you won’t sell as many copies.” Accordingly, prudish as I might seem, Consultant 101 remains: Do what works.
- If, on the other hand, your target listener is likely to have kiddos within earshot, assume a Zero Tolerance policy.
- As explained in a previous column here (https://www.talkers.com/2020/07/06/monday-memo-1000-true-fans/) podcasters’ goal is Sharing. So the people you want to recommend your podcast – and the buds they Share-to – need to be comfortable with your vernacular.
- Because there’s so much podcast sampling – and you want to convert samplers into subscribers — say it with me: “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.”
- And expletives-not-deleted will trigger filters, limiting sampling.
There’s NO-such-thing-as pottymouth “sparingly.”
In the words of the great traffic reporter Bob Marbourg, who worked for me at WTOP, Washington: “Pick your lane and stay with it.”
Holland Cooke (HollandCooke.com) is a media consultant working at the intersection of broadcasting and the Internet. He is the author of the e-book “Holland Cooke: Greatest Hits” from Talkers Books. Click the ad banner in the right-hand column on this page for an instant download. And he hosts “The Big Picture” TV show Friday nights at 7ET on RT America. Follow HC on Twitter @HollandCooke