‘Stay Tuned’: Definition, Meaning, and Examples

By Sophia Merton, updated on November 20, 2022

Did your friend tell you to ‘stay tuned’, and you’re not sure what it means? Have you always wondered why newscasters frequently say ‘stay tuned’ before a commercial break?

The phrase ‘stay tuned’ can be used in two different ways. In its more literal sense, it requests the listener to continue listening to a TV show or radio broadcast. Used figuratively, it directs someone to remain attentive or watchful for new developments or further information.

What Does ‘Stay Tuned’ Mean?

‘Stay tuned’ is an idiom that can be used both literally and figuratively.

The literal definition of this phrase, according to Merriam-Webster, is:

  • To keep listening to a radio broadcast or watching a television show

The figurative definition, on the other hand, is:

  • To remain alert, pay attention, continue being watchful, or wait for further information or new developments

This idiom is often used as an imperative, which is “the grammatical mood that expresses the will to influence the behavior of another or a verb form or verbal phrase expressing it.” In plain English, this means that the phrase is commonly said as a request or a command.

Where Does This Idiom Come From?

‘Stay tuned’ might sound like a strange phrase when you start thinking about it, but the origin makes more sense when you learn that it stems from the early history of radio broadcasting.

The first radio broadcasts of the human voice date all the way back to the early 1900s, and by 1918 early political broadcasts were heard. However, the practice of broadcasting on radios was a private or experimental undertaking at that time, and it wasn’t until 1920 that there were regularly scheduled broadcasts on commercial stations.

Back in the day, people had to manually turn a dial in order to access different radio stations. There weren’t any preset buttons that you could press to select certain stations but just a knob that could be adjusted to find stations in between spots of static. This means that if someone wanted to continue listening to the same show, they would keep the dial ‘tuned’ to the same spot in order to stay on the same station.

For this reason, radio broadcasters would ask their audience to ‘stay tuned’ in order to let them know that there would be more information or entertainment coming up after a station ID, commercial, or other interruption.

These days, ‘stay tuned’ is still used on television programs as well as figuratively. For example, you might hear a newscaster tell the audience to ‘stay tuned’ for more on the night’s big story after the commercial break. In its figurative form, your boss at the office might tell you to ‘stay tuned’ when you ask him about the upcoming changes he had alluded to in a meeting. The implication is that more information will be coming soon, but not yet.

Using ‘Stay Tuned’ in a Sentence

Now that we understand the meaning and origin of the phrase ‘stay tuned,’ let’s look at some example sentences:

  • They are coming out with a new line of shoes that is supposed to be less expensive and more fashionable, so stay tuned to some of the big fashion blogs to learn when they will be released.
  • We’ll have more on this story after brief commercial messages, so stay tuned.
  • Our band is going on tour next summer, so stay tuned to learn if we’re coming to your city!
  • Be sure to stay tuned, as we’ll be releasing more information over the next few weeks.
  • I’ll have to finish telling you the story because I’m late for a meeting– you’ll have to stay tuned!
  • I asked if we would be able to leave early on Friday, but she just said that I should “stay tuned.”
  • “The Senator is making an announcement tomorrow,” her spokesman said, “so stay tuned.”
  • When the paparazzi asked the movie star if the rumors were true, she only said, “stay tuned.”
  • I’ll stay tuned for more updates from the CEO, but until then, I don’t have any more information to give you.
  • We’re waiting to hear the results of the competition, but they have yet to be released– stay tuned.
  • I love watching the news at nighttime, but it drives me crazy when they say to stay tuned rather than just telling us what’s going on.

Other Ways to Say 'Stay Tuned'

If you are using the idiom ‘stay tuned’ figuratively, there are a number of other phrases you can use that convey a similar message. As each phrase has its own specific meaning, it’s important to understand what each of them precisely means before using them interchangeably with ‘stay tuned.’ Some examples include:

  • More to come
  • More to follow
  • Stand by
  • Keep an eye out
  • Bear with us, or bear with me
  • Remain alert
  • Watch this space

In a situation where you want to let someone else know that you are awaiting updates or that you will ‘stay tuned,’ you could say:

  • Let me know
  • Keep me posted
  • Keep me in the loop
  • Stay in touch

When it comes to the phrase ‘stay tuned’ being used in radio or TV broadcasts, you might also hear the following phrases that communicate the same meaning as ‘stay tuned’:

  • We’ll be right back
  • Stay with us
  • Don’t touch that dial
  • Don’t touch that remote
  • Don’t go away

Also related to the idiom ‘stay tuned’ are the phrases ‘tune in’ and ‘tune out.’

‘Tune in’ can literally mean choosing a station or channel on the radio or TV, which stems from the manual dial of old radios. Idiomatically, it can mean ‘to pay attention.’

‘Tune out,’ on the other hand, can mean to turn off or change a TV or radio station in its more literal sense. As an idiom, it means ‘to zone out, to ignore, or to stop paying attention to.

You may have also heard the phrase ‘turn on, tune in, drop out.’ This was popularized by the 1960s countercultural figure Timothy Leary who instructs people to become sensitive to the many levels of consciousness and how to activate them, interact with the world around them harmoniously, and detach from unconscious or involuntary commitments.

Final Thoughts on ‘Stay Tuned’

‘Stay tuned’ is a very common phrase that you’ll frequently here on TV, on the radio, in writing, and in conversation. It is a simple way to communicate that more information will be coming in the future and that the listener should stay attentive for updates and developments down the road.

Make sure you ‘stay tuned’ for more interesting idioms from writingtips.org!

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Written By:
Sophia Merton
Sophia Merton is one of the lead freelance writers for WritingTips.org. Sophia received her BA from Vassar College. She is passionate about reading, writing, and the written word. Her goal is to help everyone, whether native English speaker or not, learn how to write and speak with perfect English.

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