05/11/2011 03:00 pm ET | Updated Jul 11, 2011

Men: Are You Offended by the New Radio Frankness?

Men: do you want to be bigger and thicker where it counts?

Would you like a longer, more powerful sexual experience?

And speaking of you know what, are you standing over the toilet waiting for your flow? Waking up in the middle of the night to urinate?

Once upon a time, it was advertising about women's flow that raised questions of taste on broadcast media. But lately its men's plumbing issues that have invaded radio in major metropolitan markets, leaving a lot of people saying, "I can't believe I just heard that."

Of course the 10-year-old recognition of ED, the condition that once dared not speak its name, is a big reason for the urological realpolitik.

But so are lowered standards for advertisers caused by the recession including the "streetwise word that has become a synonym for 'lousy'" used in Nicorette gum commercials according to the New York Times' Stuart Elliott.

Acoustically, radio was already going downhill when callers to news talk shows abandoned land lines and began contributing "thhh....wwwwrrr...ppppllll" from their cells until the host cut them off. While turn-down-your-radio;-you-can't-hear-yourself-while-you-talk radio was never high art, at least it was equalized and modulated before cell phones and didn't sound like a kazoo or Geiger counter was on the other end.


And now, as major advertisers evaporated with the recession, the quality of advertisers is changing as a slew of marginals who station managers would once not have accepted, have taken over the airwaves.

Hiring professional voice talent to read an ad probably costs less than the cost of the ad time itself on a major radio flight. But loan companies, heath care providers and restaurants are sinking to I-recorded-it-myself! spots -- once limited to car dealers and roofing companies. Many have "I'll break your kneecaps" Chicago-style elocution.

Reciting the phone number has always been the payoff for direct response radio ads and it's often repeated twice. But only since the recession have phone numbers on radio ads been repeated three and four times and actually become the ads. No copywriter costs there!

And speaking of obnoxious, "Are Your Toenails Yellow And Ugly?" "Are Your Teeth Broken and Missing?" "Do You Suffer From Bladder Incontinence?" ads, normally buried in the back of "personal care" catalogues, are front and center these days on the radio. Thanks for that.

Of course the recession brought out legions of debt consolidation and credit counseling companies promising to make "the collection calls stop." But in between them ominous offers of EZ mortgages and loans are starting to surface all over again like the 2008 financial meltdown never happened.

Still, the recession has amped up some companies' satire like Geico and Netflix. Who hasn't laughed at Netflix' mock quiz show in which the contestant anticipates the question like a mind reader?

Host: if you multiply...
Contestant: the square root of 36?
Host: Correct!

But other hilarious ads aren't supposed to be -- like the tele-emergencies recorded on the OnStar security car system. No matter how outlandish the emergency -- "my mother's having a seizure," "my daughter's swelling up from a bee sting" -- OnStar dispatchers deadpan, "sorry that happened to you today," as if these things happen, but why today?

Some drivers sound so helpless, you expect them to scream "I've run out of gas -- what do I do?" and "It's raining! Help!" But then, with the state of post-recession radio, maybe their next emergency will be, "I've locked myself in my car and can't stop the radio commercials!"