Monday Memo: About Pottymouth | TALKERS magazine - talk media trade : TALKERS magazine – “The bible of talk media.”

Monday Memo: About Pottymouth

| July 27, 2020

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.

Why else:

  • As explained in a previous column here ( 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.”  

 Stay safe.

Holland Cooke ( 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

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Category: Advice