Have something going

To 'have something going for you' is to have an advantage

Today's story: AM Radio
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To have something going for you

Today I’m going to show you a new way of talking about an advantage that a person or a thing might have: “to have something going for you.”

If you have a few advantages in a competition, I might say: “You have a few things going for you.”

Let’s imagine that you just had a job interview and you’re not too optimistic about your chances. You come out of the interview all depressed. You think you have no chance. You go to meet a friend later and the friend tries to cheer you up. She says, “Don’t be so pessimistic. You have a lot going for you.”

That means, you have a lot of advantages. “You have a lot going for you.”

Whenever a new restaurant or café opens, I always speculate on whether it will last. So when a new place opens, I think: “What does this place have going for it?” What advantages does this place have?

Does it have a unique menu? Does it have a great design? Does it have good prices—or high prices to make it seem exclusive? Does it have a good selection of drinks? These are all potential advantages of a new café, bar, or restaurant.

There was a place in Chicago I really liked called “Surge.” It was near my most recent apartment. Surge is a pool hall—billiards. That’s an old-time Chicago thing—a billiard hall. The famous Paul Newman movie “Cool Hand Luke” was about pool halls in Chicago.

But they’re dying. Pool halls don’t make a lot of money anymore, since people go to play at the tables and not buy drinks. But “Surge” has a few things going for it. The front area is a nice bar, so you can go and enjoy the space even if you aren’t playing pool. Or you can go with a group and not everyone has to play if they don’t want to. That is one advantage.

The other thing it has going for it is that it’s a coffee bar during the day. So the bar area in front serves coffee and breakfast in the mornings and turns into a bar at night, so the place can be open and making money 18 hours a day. I even saw people play pool in the morning with their coffee instead of a beer.

So “Surge” is doing well—it has a lot of things going for it. It has a lot of advantages.

Entire cities, states, countries can be in competition, too. A lot of people are re-considering living in California. California is a great state, but it has high taxes, high regulations, and high costs. A lot of people and businesses are moving to lower-cost states like Texas and Florida. What do Texas and Florida have going for them? They have a nice climate, lower taxes, and a friendly business environment.

Utah is an interesting example. Utah is the home of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—the Mormons. The state is very strongly associated with the Mormon church. And for many, many years the religious influence in Utah was very strong. When I first visited Utah, you were not allowed to order any alcoholic beverages unless you were also ordering a meal. (This is true. To get around the rule, you had to pick up a menu, pretend to study it, and fake interest in eating, while you had your first drink.)

But Utah has a few things going for it today. First, the state has relaxed some of its weirder religious laws: you can now drink a single beer without pantomiming interest in eating. Second, it’s close to California. The outdoors are great—you can ski in the winter and hike in the summer. And finally, it has a friendly business environment without the more polarized politics that you sometimes find in Texas and Florida.

So when I say “Utah has a few things going for it,” I mean to say, “Utah has a few things working in its favor.” It has a few advantages.

Do you listen to AM radio? I’m guessing a small percentage of this audience answers “yes.” Some of you do—but I bet most don’t. I used to listen to AM radio, mostly for sports. But now I stream baseball radio broadcasts on my phone.

AM radio is a century-old technology. And some carmakers have chosen not to include AM antennas in their new electric cars. AM listenership is in decline. But AM radio has a few things going for it. It has a few advantages. It covers a much wider area than FM covers. It’s more reliable than cell phone coverage. And for many minority communities, AM radio provides important broadcast content.

So don’t count AM radio out yet—it still has those few things going for it; it still has those advantages.

See you next time!

I have a lot of good memories of AM radio. Driving in the wide-open areas of rural America, you can often scan the FM dial and go through the whole band and not get any station—just static. But there’s always something on AM.

FM sounds better. But there’s something about the static and the crackle and the imperfection of AM radio that I’ll always associate with summertime and listening to baseball games—either in my room as a kid or, later, in my car in the days before cell phones. If it goes away, I’ll be sad. But such is progress.

Speaking of progress, congratulations on all the progress you’re making in English. No static here, thanks to our producer JR.

Thursday’s lesson is going to be shorter, easier, lighter. It’s coming out on a very special day, and we’ll talk about what’s so special about this coming Thursday. See you then.

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Story: AM Radio