There’s a radio spot currently running in the Greater Providence market that has broken through to my consciousness, but for the wrong reason. At the close of the spot, when the voice talent states the advertiser’s Route 2 address, he says “rout”, as if Syracuse had just played Brown in college hoops. Now here in Rhode Island, we have our share of pronunciation peculiarities (grist for another post or five), but our treatment of “route” is not among them. We say “root”, as in “I root for the Celtics.” To us, calling Route 2 “Rout” 2 is an assault on the ears. It screams “the person speaking isn’t from here.”
The country is filled with dialects, of course, a source of linguistic richness and endless entertainment. Neither “root” nor “rout” is right or wrong; each just reflects a regional pronunciation. But in a radio spot for the Providence market, “rout” instantly distracts the listener from the message and short-circuits the connection that the advertiser is trying to make with prospective customers. Ouch! I once produced a local radio spot on home improvement loans with a voice talent from Buffalo who pronounced “roof” as if she were imitating her dog: “ruff”. Take two!
Lesson to radio advertisers: get to the recording session and make sure the voice talent delivers every word in the vernacular of your listeners – especially if you want them to become customers.