Radio Discourse Of The Xxi Century: The Loss Of Stylistic Identity?


The article studies main trends of evolution of modern radio discourse. The author aims to answer the question: whether to admit the loss of the radio stylistic identity under the influence of the processes occurring in the media sphere in the beginning of XXI century. The names of programs of broadcast stations "Vesti FM", "Mayak" and "Echo of Moscow" are analyzed in interaction with macrotext of each of these media, including the Internet version. Such properties of the radio discourse of the newest time as the predominance of influence over information and the widespread use of visual expressive means are revealed. The author comes to the conclusion that the stylistic identity of the radio is retained, but its most important parameters have significantly modified, primarily in connection with the multimedia mass communication and polycode nature of modern media texts. Thearticlecharacterizesthemostimportanttrendsofradiolanguagechangesinthebeginning of XXI century. Itisstatedthattheygivethebasisforaconclusionaboutthelossofstylisticidentity of radio discourse. InthebeginningofXXIcenturyacousticsceasestobetheonlywaytoexplain the nature of radio speech. In the article the following tasks are taken: comparative overview of the specialized scientific literature of the Soviet and post-Soviet periods.

Keywords: Radio discoursemedia textmeans of speech expressivenessmultimediapolycode text


The study of the processes which occur in the radio discourse of the first decades of the 21st century seems to be relevant as one of the components of comprehension patterns which determine the evolution of the mass media language. As a result of the intensive development of technologies, the broadcast media, including those broadcasting via the Internet, have taken center stage in the field of mass communications. Speech in radio and television which is broadcasted, on the one hand, reflects the main trends in the development of the Russian language, on the other hand – has a substantial effect on the changes taking place in it. Studies in the field of the language of the media in general and radio speech in particular are very important for linguistics (including such a vigorously developing field of knowledge as medialinguistics), journalism theory, communication theory, cultural studies and other related humanitarian disciplines that address the study of modern linguistic or in broader context public consciousness. At the same time, it can not be said that radio speech is in focus of specialists, and its evolution is extensively described in the scientific literature There are some works of M. V. Zarva and M. P. Senkevich (Zarva, 2011; Senkevich, 1997) which are dedicated to the radio speech. They were published in the Soviet period and became classic. It is significant that"the natural properties which are specific for the radio as a certain type of mass communication" are reproduced in the newest edition of M. V. Zarvas "The Word in the Air" (2011). They have been mentioned in the 1971 edition and again listed in the chapter of the collective monograph of 1980 (Zarva, 1971; The Language and the Style of Mass Information and Propaganda Resources, 1980). Despite the unconditional value of the generalization carried out by the author, such stability of features, the composition of which persists for more than forty years, raises some doubts.

Problem Statement

In recent decades, a number of articles have been published on the functioning of the Russian language in radio broadcasting (Krym, 2013; Ilchenko, 2014; Nesterova, 2016; Baranova, 2017; Kramer, 2017). It should be noted, however, that in recent works, radio texts appear more as a source of illustrative material than the actual object of study. Particular attention is paid to the specificity of radio by the authors of the textbook "Modern media text" (Modern Media Text, 2013). Their focus is on the genre system of today's radio and the composition of the report. The speech content of the radio air is not at all affected in this work. An interesting approach to dialogue in radio and television as a speech form of the struggle for power is outlined in the monograph of D. Matheson (Matheson, 2013). But in this book also the organization of speech communication is analyzed rather than the language means used by journalists. The absence of fundamental works devoted to the problem of the evolution of radio speech determines the novelty of this study.

Research Questions

Is it possible that Russian-language radio speech is suffering a complete loss of the style identity?

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of the article is to characterize the most important trends in the changing of the radio language in the beginning of the 21st century and to establish whether there are grounds to talk about the loss of the radio discourse style identity. To achieve the goal, such tasks as comparative consideration of the specialized scientific literature of the Soviet and post-Soviet period, as well as analysis of the broadcasting grid and the programme transcripts of Vesti FM, Mayak and EkhoMoskvy radio stations are being accomplished. These media are selected as a source, taking into account the comparability of the format (informative, or so-called "colloquial") and high rating.

Research Methods

The main method of research is classical linguostylistic analysis. Taking into account the limited volume of the article, attention is focused on the one of modern radio speech aspects - the organization of broadcasting navigation using program names.


In the process of research, the most important properties of radio speech, described in the works of Russian linguists since the 1970s, were systematized. M.V. Zarva has repeatedly stated that the radio is characterized by acoustics, the uniformity of verbal communication, the remoteness of speech act, synchronism, the omnipresence, the low-key perception environment (Zarva, 1971). In his training manual M. P. Senkevich emphasizes that the specifics of the radio speech is resulted from its perception "only by ear" (in fact, it is about the same "acoustics"), which entails the need to "carefully choose the words ... to achieve simplicity ... the syntactic structure of the sentence ... a good delivery, correct and expressive intonation , sufficient emotionality ... and focus when you choose speech resources for a certain audience "(Senkevich, 1997). It should be noted that the culture of speech (including oral), emotionality and consideration of the addressee's factor are not specific requirements of radio, but belong to the number of fundamental properties of the journalistic style of the Russian literary language. Accordingly, M. P. Senkewich in the manual on radio calls mentions the only feature of this segment of the language of the media - the oral form that determines the nature of perception. In the specialized work of S. A. Shulskis such a property of radio speech is identified, as a combination of opposing principles - a prepared intellectualized monologue and a spontaneous conversational dialogue (Shulskis, 2007). The researcher repeatedly emphasizes that the language of the programs varies considerably depending on the genre, and insists on the need to "implement a differentiated approach" to the study of radio speech (Shulskis, 2007). On the one hand, this is quite a fair observation: the genre variety of media texts leads to style polyphony and significantly complicates the process of generalization in the description of media discours. On the other hand, the recognition that the language of the radio is just a collection of texts completely different in terms of the texts style would lead to an inevitable research surrender. Interesting observations on the evolution of the radio speech of modern times are contained in S. V. Andreeva’s article (although the material of the research is limited to commercial music radio, which, undoubtedly, has more obvious differences from the traditional Soviet broadcasting than the modern information-colloquial radio discourse). The author notes that the lyrics of the youth music radio programs intentionally activated "the process of merging the oral public speech with the colloquial" elements "in order to strengthen the" emotional and psychological contact of the leaders with their youth audience. " As S. V. Andreeva convincingly shows, in accordance with this trend in radio speech, the number of phatic components is growing, creating the illusion of real communication for the listeners and regulating their mental state (Andreeva, 2002). In the review article of V. I. Konkov, devoted to the typology of media speech, multichannel (a combination of verbal means with intonation, music and noise) is called as the main feature of the radio language (Konkov, 2012). The same processes are extensively described in the thesis of N. G. Nesterova, who points out: "Multimedia causes the changes of several radio discourceparameters. The confluence of various forms of speechin the radio discourse is crucial. It means that a discourse, which was recently considered exclusively oral, today implements two main forms of the language functioning: oral and written forms of speech" (Nesterova, 2015). In a small article of S. V. Faschanova, there is an assumption which deserves attention, although, it does not set out the task of identifying the features of the radio language. It is about the widespread of the witty talk phenomenon within the modern Russian radio. It leads to the decrease in communication formality, the strengthening of the personal principle and the communicative objective fulfillment through the language game (Faschanova, 2014). Thus, among the current trends there are the mixing of styles and the activation of influencing means (in particular, language games), which is characteristic for the media language of the media and even for today's Russian-language public communication as a whole, as well as multimedia, which, I think, greatly contributes to the style integration and the gradual loss of a distinctive, recognizable form of radio speech.

The analysis of the programs’ names of “Vesti FM”, “Mayak” and ”Echo of Moscow” radio stations made it possible to identify a number of common linguistic laws for these three media. The number of subject-logical names which guarantee an adequate listener view on the content of the program (Interview, Press Review, Announcements of the Week, This was not reported in newspapers, Dialogues on fishing, etc.) is small on all radio stations which are considered (less than 10% of the total transfers). The predominance of attractive intentions over informative is manifested in the choice of names of a metaphorical nature: on the radio “Vesti FM” it is the “Booking and Way-station” (about traveling), “The House” (about interesting places in Moscow), “The Kiev’s Blind Alley” (about the political situation in Ukraine); on the radio "Mayak" – “Red Machine” (about Soviet hockey), Wings of Soviets (about the history of aviation), “Explanatory Dictionary” (about the languages ​​of the world); on the "Echo of Moscow" – “Arsenal” (about the life of the army), “Garage and Parking” (about cars), Point (about modern technologies). These data give grounds to question the relevance of the provisions formulated in the Soviet period about some simplicity, special transparency (according to M.P. Senkevich) of the radio language. Among the other appellatives used by the editors in the title of radio programs: - stylistically reduced vocabulary (such means are quantitatively dominant in the “Echo of Moscow” broadcast network – “Easy Rider”, Children's playground with Uncle Kryuchkov”, “Children's playground with Daddy Buntman”, “What a day!”, “Books”, “Openning” and are less frequently used by the editorial office of “Vesti FM” radio station – “Auto Maintenance”, “Vitaminka” - and are not represented on the “Mayak” at all); occasionalisms (“Blog-out”, “Meteoscope”, “Moscow archaisms”, “Neglyanets” on the radio “Echo of Moscow”, “Bikepost”, “Informbistro”, “Subjective”, “Successful Season” (programme about village) on the radio "Vesti FM", “Brendyatina” on "Mayak"); interrogative constructions (“How to do it right?”, “Who and where?” on the radio "Echo of Moscow", “Is it or not?” on the radio "Vesti FM", “How to earn a million?” On the radio "Mayak");precedent statements, including - rethought and transformed: “No Kidding”, “We'll be healthy”, “All That Blues”, “Vo sadu li, v ogorodi”, “Military Council”, “Hurry-Scurry”, “Granite Science”, “Road Map”, “Daytime Detour”, “Access Code”, “Cultural Shock”, “Not Past Time”, “Software”, “Debriefing”, “Parent’s Meeting”, “With my Own Eyes”, “Table of Ranks”, “Morning Round” on the "Echo of Moscow", “Past and Morals”, “Questions of History”, “Iron logic”, “Cat’s House”, “Basic Instinct”, “Two to Five, “Service Entrance”, “Arithmetical Average” on the radio "Vesti FM", “Extracurricular Reading”, “Life of Wonderful Ideas”, “And Let The Whole HYIP Wait”, “In The Name of Revolution!”, “Radio Travelers’ Club”, “Elimination of Illiteracy”, “Moscow Will Believe in Tears”, “To Children about The Animals”, “Parental Hour”, “The Rose of Winds”, “Sweet Life”, “I Want to Know Everything on the radio "Mayak").

Proper nouns occupy an important place in the discourse of all the radio stations. The attractive effect of a well-known surname is supplemented in some cases by a complex language game (in “The Circle of LIGHT” - Svetlana Sorokina's program on "Echo of Moscow", “From Mikoyan to Mamikonyan” - program about nutrition with journalist M. Mamikonyan on the radio "Vesti FM", “Mayakovschina. Outofbroadcasting” - interviewwiththeanchorsoftheradio "Mayak").

It is important to note that only a part of the techniques used by journalists can really facilitate the perception of radio text. If the stylistic reduced vocabulary and interrogative constructions certainly make the radio speech similer to live conversation and do not require additional efforts from the recipient, then occasionalisms, and especially trumped-up precedent statements, create a real effect only if the audience has a certain level of culture, sense of humor, an attitude of communicative co-creation. Consequently, the considered material shows that we can’t speak about simplification as a leading trend in the development of radio speech, as well as about the simplicity of style as one of its constants. The modern radio discourse is permeated with the language game and therefore is more complicated than the usual speech, the rapprochement with which it often imitates.

It can be assumed that there are several levels of dialogueness of the radio speech. On the first, superficial level, there is a dialogue in the literal sense of the word: the journalist communicates with the guest in the studio or with the listeners who call to the studio. On the second, the dialogue is only emulated: question-answer approach and rhetorical questioning constructions are used. On the third, there is a mental dialogue between the author of the text and the adressee. The author sets the task for the audience, which can be focused on erudition, logic and sense of style and the addressee settles it, or ignores it or refuses from this type of communication. The language game thus performs an extremely important function of identifying and securing the radio station not only ideologically, but also stylistically loyal audiences.

The specificity of modern media discourse increases the activity of graphical tools usage in order to attract the attention of the audience, such as the digital recording of numerical information, as well as the design of barbarisms with the help of Latin or transliteration (“A-Team”, “2017”, “48 minutes on “Echo Moscow””, “Our 20th Century”, “Altera Pars on radio "Vesti FM"”, “30 Civilization Development Plots”, “4 seasons”, “The Children”, Stakhovsky LIVE, “# SHOULDGOHOME on "Mayak"”).

The traditional radio discourse, focused primarily on the perception of oral speech, did not presuppose the exploitation of "optical effects" (Nakoryakova, 2017). Today's media text, placed, in particular, on the website of the mass media, involves both audial and visual components. This can be objected by pointing out that the radio programmes in the Soviet period were published on the pages of newspapers, so even in that time the names of the programmes were reflected in the written form. There is, however, a fundamental difference between a single name, perceived most likely once and in isolation from the main text of the program, and a title located on the Internet page along with citations from the program or full decoding of its text, surrounded by other visual materials and often remaining in front of the eyes of the recipient all the time of listening to a live broadcast or recording via the Internet. In this case the name of the program functions as an element of macrotext, giving its expression to the whole, and, in turn, receiving from the whole an additional expressive charge.

So, the name of the program "A-Team" on the radio "Echo of Moscow" itself is incomprehensible. A verbal explanation is that the program is runby a journalists who’s names are both Alexey. It sounds satisfactory, but the logic of the heading can be seen only when the Internet user sees on the screen an enumeration of the names of the anchor men, each of which starts with the letter A.

It must be said that the radio "Vesti FM", where there are no decoding programs and visual perception of the text is not expected, understanding of the transliterated name "Altera Pars" is quite complicated. A listener who does not speak Latin and does not know the expression Audiātur et altera pars ("Let the other side be heard") inevitably encounters difficulties in interpreting the title of the program, which the site says only that it is devoted to the psychology of international relations.

On the radio "Mayak", where the programs can be listened to and watched, but are not decoded, the perception of some names in which visual effects are used also requires additional intellectual efforts. If the headline “The Children” which is illustrated on the site with a stylized pioneer drum, probably intends to emphasize the opposition of "Soviet - modern Americanized children", the name Stakhovsky LIVE ("impressions, observations, opinions and simple thoughts" of journalist EvgenyStakhovsky) does not receive visual support, as a result of which the use of Latin is not entirely justified.Modern radio stations are now at the initial stage of inclusion in a multimedia environment and they master the latest audience impact technologies, which are inseparable from the multichannel of today's radio discourse, with varying degrees of intensity and success,. It is possible to predict further integration of verbal, audio and visual expressive means in radio speech.


The conducted research allows to draw a conclusion that it is too early to diagnose the complete loss of the style identity of the Russian-language radio speech, but we can mention a number of fundamental changes that can in the future essentially transform it. The classical scheme of M. V. Zarva is subject to a delicate revision (assuming not a rejection of the original positions, but their specification and addition).

Acoustics, at the beginning of the 21st century, ceases to be a universal key to explaining the nature of radio speech. Developing of V. I. Konkov and N. G. Nesterova’s theses, should be considered as the most important factors in the evolution of the language of radio multimedia and polycode, entailing a redistribution of the functions of the verbal, auditory and visual components of the radio text. Similarly, it is necessary to clarify such a characteristic of radio communication, as the synchronicity of perception. Webcasting of the materials made it possible to listen (and sometimes read the texts) to the programs at any time, regardless of the moment of their broadcasting. The effect of this adjustment on the quality of the radio speech is subject to further study.

There is no more reason to project such a characteristic as the uniformity of verbal communication to the entire system of radio speech. In modern mass communication the conflict of expression and standard, discovered by V. G. Kostomarov (Kostomarov, 1971) and adopted by his many followers, is often resolved in favor of expression. At the same time, on news radio stations, news releases remain a kind of drill element that provides a high proportion of the information component. These programs come out under the standard name "News" and do not imply either the individualization of speech or the use of language games. At the same time, the content, framed by this composition-style rod (analytical programs, interviews, entertainment programs, etc.), is saturated with author's expression, impregnated with irony and demonstrates the increase of phatic communication, noted in S. V. Andreeva’s article wich increase of interest article noted in the article. This phatic communication ceases to maintain improve the relations with an interlocutorAndreeva increased the share of phatic communication, which goal is "to maintain and improve relations with the interlocutor" (Andreeva, 2002). In the considered radio discourse the phatic communication is aimed at forming, holding and expanding the audience, including the favorite radio not only as a tool for factual information searching, but also for enjoying staying in a familiar and comfortable communication environment.

Such radio properties, as the remoteness of speech act, the omnipresence and the low key of perception environment, identified by M. V. Zarva, remain relevant and still largely determine the stylistic image of radio programs. Even today radio speech is directed to a remote, infinitely diverse mass audience. The listeners can be also in certain conditions, which often distract him from radio broadcasting. All this, as before, requires radio journalists to use numerous means of attracting and retaining the attention of the audience. It is natural therefore that the language of the radio remains, along with the language of other media, the most important creative laboratory in which new expressive possibilities are created and developed and where the evolution of Russian language is constantly stimulated.


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30 April 2018

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Sociolinguistics, linguistics, semantics, discourse analysis, translation, interpretation

Cite this article as:

Basovskaya, E. N. (2018). Radio Discourse Of The Xxi Century: The Loss Of Stylistic Identity?. In I. V. Denisova (Ed.), Word, Utterance, Text: Cognitive, Pragmatic and Cultural Aspects, vol 39. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 446-453). Future Academy.