18 Dec

Swearing on the radio

When I was in high school and working for local radio stations, I remember hearing about a Seattle radio personality in the ’60s or early ’70s who had gotten in big trouble with his station for saying, on-air, that the traffic on the freeway was “all screwed-up.” In radio class, we were specifically taught George Carlin’s 7 Words You Can’t Say on Television, just so we wouldn’t ever slip and say them on air. I got in trouble for playing certain Prince songs on C-89 in the early 80s — and once the management decided we couldn’t play them, they would scratch out that part of the vinyl and even write on it with Liquid Paper — “NO AIRPLAY!” (Which was irritating, because then we couldn’t take those records into Studio B and record them onto our own mix tapes.)

But things have changed. Not only do we now hear words like “shit” on network TV occasionally (notably on the ER Mark Green Dies episode), but most people don’t even blink at songs featuring the f-word. Songs that have the word bleeped out often do it in a way that makes the missing word so obvious that I’m not sure why they bother. (Hint: if you keep the f and the k in the recording and just edit the schwa in the middle, you aren’t fooling anyone.) It’s been a gradual change, yes, but a change nonetheless. So what will shock Americans now, if so many of them aren’t shocked by the traditional expletives?

3 thoughts on “Swearing on the radio

  1. I appreciated Marc Green’s “shit.” It was needed. It’s needed more on other drama shows, too.
    What I wonder is, will we ever show boobs after ten pm like Canada does? That would take some getting used to.

  2. That would just kill shows like Enterprise with it’s adolescent sexuality. 😉

    I remember hearing recently that racial slurs, like the n-word, have become the new profanity in our culture. Which I have to say is a pretty good development.

  3. “So what will shock Americans now, if so many of them arent shocked by the traditional expletives?”

    Since this post was made, we’ve discovered the real answer: JANET JACKSON’S BOOB.

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