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Glossary of Radio Terms

Aircheck »
recorded copy of a broadcast, either digitally or on magnetic tape.

Backsell »
Refers to the DJ technique where the deejay announces the title and/or artist of the song he just played.

Backtiming »
The act of calculating the intro time on a song before the vocal begins and then starting the CD or audio source with that song so that when the preceding audio element (usually something without music under it) ends, the vocal on the song you backtimed begins directly at the end of the previous element.

Bed »
A production element, usually instrumental music, but occasionally a continuous sound effect (like wind, for example) that is used as background for a commercial, promotional announcement, etc.

Billboard »
A short announcement that identifies a sponsor at the beginning and/or end of an element such as before and after road “traffic”.

Bumper »
A pre-recorded audio element consisting of voice over music that acts as a transition to or from a stop set (commercials) and other content.

Bumper Music »
Short music clips used to transition between one element of programming into another. For example: when a syndicated talk show is ready to allow a local affiliate station to insert local commercials, it will often play a signature music piece to allow the transition. In reverse, that same talk show will often play a piece of music prior to the host beginning again. This allows the local station to end it’s local programming and re-join the network without dead air or uncomfortable pauses.

Clutter »
An excessive number of commercials and other non-program elements which appear one right after the other.

Cume »
A radio station’s cume is similar to a newspaper’s circulation. Abbreviation for cumulative audience. It is the different or unduplicated persons or households listening during a specified period.

Daypart »
A portion of a Radio station’s broadcast day, usually split up into Morning: 6-10am, Midday: 10-2pm, Afternoon: 2-6pm, Evening: 6-12Midnight and Overnight: Midnight-6am.

Drive Time »
Drive Time are the periods between 6-10am (Morning Drive) and 2-6pm (Afternoon Drive) where Radio stations traditionally have their highest listenership and also charge their highest commercial rates.

Drops »
Sound bites lifted from movies, TV and other sources used by DJs to accentuate skits and programming.

Format Clock »
A diagram that is circular-shaped like a clock but divided up like a pie where each “piece” represents both a programming element and its length in a typical hour (songs, commercials, talk time, etc.). Program Directors often use a format clock to create how the flow of a radio station will progress hour-to-hour.

Freeform Radio »
An approach to radio programming in which a station’s management gives the DJ complete control over program content. Freeform shows are as different as the personalities of DJ’s, but they share a feeling of spontaneity, a tendency to play music that is not usually heard.

Front Sell »
This is the act of either introducing the song you have begun playing. Or, it can also mean the on-air personality has been instructed to say the name of the radio station as the very first thing he says i.e., “When you open the mike, front sell the call letters and then introduce the next song.”

Hit The Post »
An expression deejays use to describe talking up to the point when the lyrics begin without “stepping” on the beginning of the vocals. It also refers to talking up to an accentuation in the instrumental beginning of a song (the ramp) as in when a large beat kicks in or an instrument creates a predominant punctuation.

Hook »
The part of a song which makes it unique in the listener’s ear. It is a “payoff” for listening, in a sense, because it’s the portion of the song the listener usually likes the most and is more apt to remember.

Imaging »
Imaging is a general term for the type of sweepers or promos you produce. Imaging is how you position a Radio station within the marketplace. For instance: “93.9 FM – Town Radio Beausejour” or “Town Radio Beausejour – We Play It All” . Imaging defines the station as a product so that the listener (consumer) knows what he/she will get when tuning in.

Jingle »
A produced programming element which is usually produced by professional studio singers who sing DJ names or station positioning phrases (i.e., “The Most Music!”)

Liner »
A written imaging phrase, sentence or sentences that a DJ says over an intro of a record or during a break between songs and spots. Usually, Liners stand by themselves and are meant to communicate concise imaging.

Live Assist »
Describes how a DJ creates a Radio show by interacting with a computerized system. The DJ provides live talk, chat, liners, etc. and then activates the computer system which automatically runs commercials (spots), jingles, promos and songs. When it is time for the DJ to talk again, he/she deactivates the automation and goes live at the appropriate time, repeating as necessary during an air shift.

Log »
Written record of what transpires in three areas: music, commercial content and transmitting specification. In other words, A music log is a list of the songs played for the day, a commercial log shows which commercials were played and when and an engineering log show the status of a transmitter’s specificiations during the course of a day.

Miscue »
beginning an audio element too soon so the end result is two audio sources playing at the same time.

On the Beach »
Another term for being unemployed when you are in radio.

Payola »
Payola, or the Payola Scandal, came to a head in the 1960s when DJ Alan Freed (the man who coined the term, “Rock and Roll”) and 8 other disc-jockeys were accused of taking money in exchange for record airplay. Today, technically, it is perfectly legal to accept money for playing a record on the Radio AS LONG as you publicly disclose you have or will do so. But, Radio companies still do not encourage employees to do that and almost always insist new employees sign documents declaring their personal business interests in any Radio or record company, whether they have accepted any money on behalf of either, etc. Since the Payola Scandal of the late 1950s and early 1960s, record companies and record promoters have found various ways to legally get around current payola laws in promoting their music, songs and artists.

Phone Interface »
A phone interface is an electronic device which allows on-air performers easy access to telephone lines. Normally, it allows the signal (audio) from a microphone to be heard by a caller and in turn, takes the caller’s audio and directs it into a Radio studio console or recording device or both.

Promo »
An announcement, live or pre-recorded, which promotes an upcoming event, promotes the station image, promotes the results of a past event or promotes any other event which benefits the station’s image or activities.

Acronym for Public Service Announcement

Ramp »
The instrumental beginning of a song leading up to the vocals. Also known as an “intro”.

RDS – Radio Data System »
This technology allows stations to transmit additional types of information via encoded digital signals that can be received and displayed by the user’s Radio. For instance: an RDS-capable Radio can display the title and artist or current song playing, local traffic information, an advertiser’s phone number while a commercial is playing, etc.

Remote »
A broadcast that originates live on location, outside the studio where the broadcast would normally originate.

Soundbite »
A snippet of audio usually culled from an interview and used in conjunction with a news story. Length may vary, but in general, soundbites are anywhere from :05 to :15 seconds. But, this is not a firm standard.

Spot »
Another word for a Radio commercial

Stager »
Usually refers to a musical effect that establishes and holds. Stagers are good for dramatic emphasis.

Stinger »
A sound effect or musical effect that punctuates a punchline or emphasizes a thought. This technique is often used by DJs and comedians

Stop Set »
The place where commercials are played during a typical broadcast hour. There may be several scattered thoughout a typical 60 minute period. Stop Set length can vary much between local stations and even network programming.

Sweeper »
Usually a recorded element (voice or voice over music or sound effects) that bridges two songs together or creates a transition from commercials back to music.

Voice Track »
A pre-recorded voice of a DJ or Radio personality that is recorded and stored in a computer to be played at a certain time in a pre-programmed sequence of events such as at the beginning of a song, end of a song, etc.