(By Larry Rosin) I know I’m guilty of it. All the time. If you work in radio, you probably do it too. Google the words “radio is still” and you’ll find hundreds of examples in print – usually in articles that want to “tell radio’s story.”
We all say, “Radio is still listened to by hundreds of millions.” “Radio is still the best way to make a song a hit or to make a musician a star.” “Radio is still what people listen to in their cars.”
If you read, “malls are still the most popular place to shop,” what do you think? That the next sentence is going to be “But not for long.” If you hear someone say: “John Doe is still the mayor of that town,” don’t you surmise that he is old, or not long for that chair, or both?
There is a clear directionality in the use of the word “still.” Radio’s own promoters unthinkingly slot it in there and inadvertently send the message that “this is the case today…but it not might be so very soon.” There is an implication of a medium hanging on by its fingernails. There is this little “you might be surprised to learn…” aroma that escapes from a sentence that has the word “still” in it — a betrayal of a lack of self-confidence and an unstated fear that the person to whom you are communicating doesn’t expect it to be true.
Using the word “still” in so much of radio’s communications is undoing the very points one is trying to make when you are “telling radio’s story.”
Several years ago I wrote about how disastrous I found the use of “reports of radio’s demise are greatly exaggerated,” which was regularly coming from the very mouths of radio’s purported promoters; how it was sending no message other than how close to demise radio was. The use of “still” is a more subtle but equally problematic formulation, and it is vastly more common.
So please, check yourself before you say, or especially write, “Radio is still…” You simply don’t need, don’t want that word in your message.
Now read these three sentences from above without the word “still.” “Radio is listened to by hundreds of millions.” “Radio is the best way to make a song a hit or to make a musician a star.” “Radio is what people listen to in their cars.” Isn’t that better? More assertive? More…appropriate?
Larry Rosin, President of Edison Research. Email him at [email protected]