Day 14: Swearing – What Your Podcast Audience will Tollerate

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  • Troutdaletim

    I have heard profanity on some of the This Week In Tech podcasts; Mac Break Weekly and This Week In Tech, and have found it not to my liking and wonder why the podcasts in iTunes did not have the explicit tag showing? There wasn’t even a clean tag.

  • Kevin Field

    Ah to swear or not…

    Just to correct you slightly. The rule in the UK is not swearing after 9pm. There is no 9pm watershed in radio broadcasts. TV is a different matter, although the 9pm watershed still doesn’t really exist, it is reasonably safe for programmes to include mild swearing late evening and into early night.

    However, some swear words are considered gratuitous and are refrained from use. In fact UK radio looks at swearing according to the expected audience that listens. A hip hop show will still edit out, blank some swear words even if they know the audience will expect the content. The ‘N’ word is more often than not removed. Some stations allow mild swearing in songs late at night, but only ‘shit’ and especially if it is expected in the genre.
    A few years back a station in London aired the ‘F’ word used several times within a track. The station was fined.

    The Office of Communications or OfCom carried out some in depth research into what words the listener find offensive. The majority of street swear words are included in it’s top ten as well as slang. These included MF, F, and C words. Broadcasters are advised to steer clear of these words.

    I think swear words are more than social idioms of a time period. Unlike ‘pregnant’ and such words which were banned during programmes due sensitivities of the watching audience, and under instruction of advertisers and sponsors, swear words are used for cause and effect. Even in the fifties people didn’t go around using the word pregnant to cause offence, but they did use the word ‘fuck’ to offend or cause shock.

    As a listener I find swearing unnecessary in most podcasts, that’s not that I’m prudish or never swear myself. I just feel that more often than not it is needless and out of place with the sentiment trying to be put forward. A different word could have been used to create a better understanding of the hosts feelings. In other words it doesn’t add anything.

    Podcast listening is one 2 one, so it’s a personal experience – Therefore it is down to personal taste. I do wonder if a podcast with tons of swearing would have more listeners if the host used other words. It does of course depend on the context of the podcast. I’d argue there is no need for swearing in a sports, self help, business or education podcast. Comedy podcasts on the other hand offer an opportunity to swear in a comedic situation.

    An interesting topic. Perhaps use the advice of a seasoned broadcaster who knows how to get an audience listening and for longer – If in doubt leave it out!