Two Words That Should Be Banned (from Radio)

Apart from two years when, being a newbie to the world of work and not really knowing what I was getting in to and kind of lost the plot, I was building nuclear missile guidance systems (yes really, and my signature on the Official Secrets Act proves it) my entire working life has been in the broadcast media, and radio in particular. 

For over a quarter of a century I have been connected with this wonderful medium in one way of the other.

From presenting on hospital radio, building radio studios, selling advertising, station management and even station ownership. Not wishing to boast, but in its voluntary, commercial or state sector guises I have pretty much done it all and, in what seems unusual for these times, I have also made a living from it too. So I feel I am in a position to comment on what makes radio “good”. 

Now everyone has their opinion on what makes a good anything – clothes, music, food, sport, you name it. But although we are all different, similarly there is also a position on which the majority would agree is a common denominator of what makes something, good or, at the very least, acceptable. It may not be the best, most far out, strongest, most colourful, or whatever, but it does pass as an acceptable benchmark to base a quality threshold upon. 

When it comes to radio, opinions are no different. On persons idea of what makes great radio is another’s grating. But I think that all would agree that some ideas/aspects of radio are simply poor or tired out. They either should never have seen the light of day or should have been retired off years ago.

And two of these annoyances, that I know all in the industry would agree on, are the overuse by station positioning strap-lines and presenters of the words “mix” and “eclectic”!

“Mix” seemed to first come to mainstream prominence in the late 80’s to mid-90’s when it was applied to station positioning statements: “Better Music Mix” “Best Mix” “Your Best Music Mix” spring to mind.  Whilst there is inherently nothing wrong with the word “mix”, its definition (“a prepared combination of ingredients for making an end product”) neatly sums up what broadcasters are trying to convey in the content of their station’s programming. But its use quickly saturated just about every radio station and simply became worn-out. 

 

When you say your station has "The Best Mix", do you mean....?

Its continued use today is just lazy. Quite why station programmers and managers, some of whom decry the format radio we have today, continue to use this threadbare statement, and variations of it, is beyond me. There are thousands of words in the English language, some of which could easily be substituted for “Mix”, or better still think up a completely new strap-line without resorting to the “M” word. 

Now when it comes to presenter links, the word “eclectic” is another one that should be banned. Now, I grant you, whilst the definition of the word means: “deriving ideas, style, or taste from a broad and diverse range of sources” is relevant, Presenters who think they are “cool” or “non-mainstream” often fall back on the “E” word in the mistaken belief that they are different. 

 

So now you know....

A word, or two, from the wise – you’re not! 

Continued use of “eclectic” just makes you the same as everyone else; in essence you are right back in the mainstream you wish to get away from. Look into your “broad and diverse range of sources” and then consult a thesaurus. Go look in that for an alternative.

All it takes is a little creativity (remember that?!) to create something new and exciting. Radio is a fertile breeding ground for ideas.

Come up with something new! Please!!

I welcome your comments.

Iain Betson