I’ve been pondering this phrase, after hearing it used on the CBS Evening News. The CBS newscast is carried by Sky News in the UK and Ireland in the small hours – and if you’re in Dublin Airport for an early flight, you can’t really get away from Sky news.

Anyway, at the start of the programme, the newsreader opened with “Good Evening Everyone” (it might have been everybody rather than everyone). This officially breaks one of the most basic rules of broadcasting, in that it doesn’t address the you as the only listener, rather it makes you out to be one of many.

But might it not be daft to suggest that you are the only viewer of a national US evening newscast? To some extent, it feels that bit more personal, to be acknowledged as an audience of “everyone”. At lest that gives you credit as more than the one-size-fits-all of just “good evening”.

The CBS Evening News seems to break a couple of conventions, such as the mix of male/female voices. The anchor and the first four reporters were all female, with only one male reporter in the half hour. Though to be honest that rule never held much truck with me – it’s the content that counts. Aside: I wasn’t watching the bulletin, the TV was out of my vision but clearly audible.

And there is someone who often says “Hello everyone”, who is archetypal BBC: it’s how Jonathan Agnew starts a stint as the commentator on Test Match Special. I can hear two uses for it. One is to acknowledge the presence of the listener, though some may dislike the sense of being taken out of the chat at the ground and shoved back at the end of the radio in their kitchen, potting shed or car. And the other is to establish himself as the commentator, after that last while from Henry Blofeld or whoever. “Hello everyone” is like a catchphrase, a meaningless term that allows the listener tune in to your voice, and your next sentence – you first original content of the stint, if you like – has more weight, because it has been punctuated and the mind is ready for the encoded meaning of the words, rather than the blob that “hello everyone” is hiding: “New voice – Aggers – oh this should be fun – and he’s just starting, so he’ll remind me of how it’s going”.

And of course Test Match Special has almost nothing but male voices!

Not unlike The Goon Show, where Bluebottle used to say “Hello Everybody!” to the studio audience.

So, some rules need to be looked at, while it’s also good to be able to use them before chucking them out.