WNYC, a public radio station in New York, has cancelled “New Sounds,” a show that’s been running for 37 years. In fact, pretty much all of its music programming will be gone by the end of the year. It should come as no surprise to anyone that, in these terrible times, news/talk is a more popular format than music.
That’s not why I’m drawing your attention to this story. No, that would be because of a particularly cringe-inducing phrase. According to the New York Times, WYNC made the announcement to employees via an email, which said that the station will “sunset the NEW SOUNDS brand.” I’d throw up a series of barfing emojis here, but I’m an adult.
“Sunset the NEW SOUNDS brand” isn’t just equivocation. It’s a big steaming pile of bullshit. WYNC management determined that its audience wants less music and more news and talk; the station cancelled its music programming. Period. End of story. “New Sounds” isn’t a brand; it is (or rather was) a radio show. And the use of “sunset” as a verb? Come on.
I wish this were an isolated incident, but, alas, I see this stuff more and more every day: a complete hostility toward speaking in plain English. It’s like every marketing communications degree now requires a semester of Prevarication 101.
“Prefer the specific to the general, the definite to the vague, the concrete to the abstract.” That’s how Strunk & White put it in The Elements of Style. And it’s as important in office communications as it is in writing. Give it a try some time. You’ll find that your words will be far more effective when you’re not trying so hard to be creative.