Monday Memo: You Don’t Say

By Holland Cooke


BLOCK ISLAND, RI — Regular readers see me use this space largely to suggest what to DO. This week, validating the ultimate consultant caricature, five DON’Ts.

Delete from your on-air vocabulary: “What say you?”

This is a Bill O’Reilly vestige many radio talkers still parrot. It sounds like Tonto in the old “Lone Ranger” TV show. Talk the way people talk.

Delete from your on-air vocabulary: “Everyone” and “all of you.”

Radio is an intimate, one-to-one medium. Instead, say “you.”

Lingo alert: “content.”

Often used in imaging and promotion for on-demand stuff, i.e., Sinclair Broadcast Group TV stations’ “Connecting People with Content Everywhere.” Useful mission statement, but it sounds like conference-room group-think.

  • Again, say “you” and “your” (second-person singular) instead of “people” (third-person plural).
  • Sales 101: Sell benefits, not features. “Content” is a feature. What’s a more benefit-laden way to describe what you do? How will someone benefit from consuming that content?

Lingo alert: Don’t call it a “spot.”

Say “commercial,” what listeners call them.

In conversation, RESIST the impulse to interrupt.

Whoever’s talking finds it incredibly rude.

Holland Cooke (, a recovering English teacher, is a consultant working at the intersection of radio and the Internet. And HC is author of the E-book “Spot-On: Commercial Copy Points That Earned The Benjamins,” a FREE download here: and “Multiply Your Podcast Subscribers, Without Buying Clicks,” available from Talkers books. And he’s offering FREE 60-second on-air features: “Inflation Hacks: Save Those Benjamins.” HC Follow him on Twitter @HollandCooke