I have a love/hate relationship with broadcasters. Having worked in radio my entire career, I had the opportunity to be around some incredibly talented people. However, there were just as many whose creativity is measured only by their zest for stealing what has been originated by others. I draw special attention to the industry’s bad habit of duplicating verbiage. When one broadcaster develops a liking for a specific term or phrase, rest assured just about everyone else will soon follow. It makes no difference if the term has merit. In fact, it usually doesn’t; it’s simply more of a gimmick. Example? Of course…
Back in the 1970’s a genius radio exec (words in italics to be expressed with cutting edge sarcasm) proclaimed a revelation that soon spread like a virus infecting radio airways across the universe. He, or perhaps it was a she, discovered that people do not listen to the radio; instead, they hear the radio. All those brief station identification announcements that aired continuously throughout the day suddenly changed:
- FROM: “You’re listening to Chicago’s Best Rock, WXXX, 97.3fm”
- TO: “You’re hearing Chicago’s Best Rock WXXX, 97.3fm”
Fortunately, this change in expression regarding how we describe the taking in and processing of radio sound lasted for only a few years until new genius radio execs discovered how awkward the phrase itself sounded.
Television is just as bad as radio when it comes to cloning. Pictures enhance the duplications, making them even more obnoxious. Examples? Oh, there are tons. How about the appearance and format of late night television talk shows? The norm features a high-energy, humorous male host who opens the show each night with a comedic monologue; a small, live band plays raucous music before and after each commercial break; the show host and the band leader exchange witticisms; guests, usually current entertainment stars, are marched out one at a time and interviewed; the set always consists of a desk behind which the host will sit, and two side chairs or sofa; a cityscape or similar outdoor expanse will drape the backdrop. Really, if they wanted to save considerable overhead, all these shows would get together and share the same set and band. Few watching on TV would notice. One other note, the shows always end with “we’ve run out of time.”
Need I discuss the similarities in television newscasts? Well, forgive me, but I will mention one aspect of contemporary news programming and it has to do with the use of a phrase that you and I have to listen to (oops, make that “hear!”) at least 10-20 times per broadcast. And what is that exactly? Already I’m cringing…
“We have breaking news!”
With all that has been going on in the news this week, I bet I heard that line no less than a hundred times. What these pea-brain journalists don’t seem to grasp is the basic concept of crying wolf. Not every news story is breaking. I wish just once one of them would intro a story by saying something to the effect: “…and now we have a story we will slowly expose and we’re not sure if it will experience any further development, but we thought you might like to know about it anyway” …or something like that.
Well, I think I’ve made my point and I don’t want to be so repetitive that I am guilty of the same crime I am criticizing. I’ll just finish up by saying I wish sometimes the media would take a serious look and listen to what they present to us. So much of what they do is worthy of our attention…they just need to realize that, in addition to seeing and hearing, we also think.
Note readers of Marc’s Blog…
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