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Glossary...Radio Definitions


ABC  American Broadcasting Company; network 

AC  Adult contemporary format.

Account Executive   Station or agency salesperson.

Actives  Listeners who call radio stations to make requests and comments or in response to contests and promotions.

Actuality  Actual recording of news event or person(s) involved.

ADI  Area of Dominant Influence; Arbitron measurement area.

Adjacencies  Commercials strategically placed next to a feature.

Ad lib  Improvisation. Unrehearsed and spontaneous comments.

Affidavit  Statement attesting to the airing of a spot schedule.

AFTRA  American Federation of Television and Radio Artists; union made up of broadcast performers: announcers, deejays, newscasters.

Aircheck  Tape of live broadcast.

Amortization  The structure under which a loan is repaid; the structure of time payments and interest.

Amplification  Electronically increasing the power of a signal.

AM  Amplitude Modulation; method of signal transmission using Standard Broadcast band with frequencies between 535 and 1705 kHz.

Announcement  Commercial (spot) or public service message of varying length.

AOR  Album-Oriented Rock radio format. Also called Classic Rock.

AP  Associated Press; wire and audio news service.

Arbitron  Audience measurement service employing a seven-day diary to determine the number of listeners tuned to area radio stations.

ASCAP  American Society of Composers, Artists, and Performers; music licensing service.

Ascertainment  The formal process of determining a community's needs.

Attribution  Statement of the source of information in a news item.

Audio  Sound; modulation.

Audition tape  Telescoped recording showcasing talents of air person; listen off-air.

Audition channel  Monitoring point separate from program that allows for off-air listening.

Automation  Equipment system designed to play prepackaged programming.

Availability  Vacant air slot for commercial announcement.

Average quarter-hour (AQH)  Rating measurement used to estimate the size of a station's audience during any fifteen minute period.

AWRT  American Women in Radio and Television.


Back announce  Recap of preceding music selections.

Balance sheet  A summary of a station's assets and liabilities.

Barter  Exchange of airtime for programming or goods.

BEA  Broadcast Education Association.

Bed  Music behind voice in announcement.

Bi-directional pickup pattern  Microphone pattern that is sensitive to sound from the front and back but not the sides.

Blasting  Excessive volume resulting in distortion.

Blend  Merging of complementary sound elements.

Book  Term used to describe rating survey document; "Bible."

BM  Beautiful Music radio format. One of the first formats on FM.

BMI  Broadcast Music Incorporated; music licensing service.

BPME  Broadcast Promotion and Management Executives.

Bridge  Sound used between program elements.

BTA  Best Time Available, also Run of Schedule (ROS); commercials logged at available times.

Bulk eraser  Tool for removing magnetic impression from recording tape.


Call letters  Assigned station identification generally beginning with W east of the Mississippi and K west.

Capstan  Shaft in recorder that drives tape.

Cardiod pickup pattern  Microphone pattern where sound is picked up from front and rejected from the rear.

Cart  Plastic cartridge containing a continuous loop of recording tape.

Cash flow  Operating profit before taxes, depreciation and interest are subtracted.

Cassette  Two reels of tape in a plastic housing.

CFR  Code of Federal Regulations.

Chain broadcasting  Forerunner of network broadcasting 

CHR  Contemporary Hit Radio format.

Clock  Wheel indicating sequence or order of programming ingredients aired during one hour.

Cluster  Group of announcements; stop set. (see Spot set)

Cold  Background (music bed) fade on last line of copy.

Combo  Announcer operating own board, engineering show; also refers to co-owned AM/FM operation.

Commercial  Paid advertising announcement; spot.

Compact disk (CD)  Digital recording using laser beam to decode surface.

Compensation  Combination of salary and fringe benefits paid to an employee.

Condenser microphone  Microphone with a capacitative electrical element.

Console  Audio mixer consisting of inputs, outputs, toggles, meters, sliders and/or pots; board.

Consultant  Station advisor or counselor; "format doctor."

Control room  Center of broadcast operations from which programming originates; air studio.

Cool out  Gradual fade of bed music at conclusion of spot.

Co-op  Arrangement between retailer and manufacturer for the purpose of sharing radio advertising expenses.

Copy  Advertising message; continuity, commercial script.

Copywriter  One who writes commercial or promotional copy.

Cost Per Point (CPP)  Estimate of how much it costs an advertiser to reach one rating point worth of listeners.

Cost Per Thousand (CPM or Cost Per Mil)  Estimate of how much it costs an advertiser to reach 1,000 listeners.

CPB  Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Funds NPR and PBS.

Crossfade  Fade out of one element while simultaneously introducing another.

Cue  Signal for the start of action; prepare for airing.

Cue burn  Distortion at the beginning of a record cut resulting from heavy cueing 

Cume  Ratings measurement, the number of people who have sampled a radio station.


DAB Digital Audio Broadcasting. There are two competing systems. IBOC favored by the US. Eureka147 favored by Canada and Europe.

DAT  Digital audio tape.

Dayparts  Periods or segments of broadcast day: 6-10a.m., 10a.m. - 3p.m., 3- 7p.m.

Dead air  Silence where sound usually should be; absence of programming.

Deejay  Host of radio music program; announcer; "disk jockey."

Demagnetize  remove magnetic impressions.

Demographics  Audience statistical data pertaining to age, sex, race, income, and so forth.

Direct Broadcast Satellite (DBS)  Powerful communications satellites that beam programming to receiving dishes at earth stations.

Directional  Station transmitting signal in a preordained pattern so as to protect other stations on the same or adjacent frequency.

Donut spot  A commercial in which copy is inserted between segments of music.

Double billing  Illegal station billing practice in which client is charged twice.

Drivetime  Radio's primetime: 6-10 a.m. and 3-7 p.m.

Dub  Copy of recording; duplicate (dupe).


EBS  Emergency Broadcast System. (now EAS)  Emergency Alert System.

Edit  To alter composition of recorded material; splice.

ENG  Electronic news gathering.

Erase  Wipe clean magnetic impressions; degauss, bulk, deflux, demagnetize.

ERP  Effective radiated power; tape head configuration: erase, record, playback

ET  Electrical transcription.

Ethnic  Programming for minority group audiences.

Eureka147 Digital Audio Broadcasting System being used by Canada and Europe.


Fact sheet  List of pertinent information on a sponsor.

Fade  To slowly lower or raise volume level.

FCC  Federal Communications Commission; government regulatory body with authority over radio operations.

Fidelity  Trueness of sound dissemination or reproduction.

Fixed position  Spot routinely logged at a specified time.

Flight  Advertising air schedule.

FM  Frequency Modulation; method of signal transmission using 88-108 MHz band.

FMX  System used to improve FM reception.

Format  Type of programming a station offers; arrangement of material, formula.

Frequency  Number of cycles-per-second of a sine wave.

Fulltrack  Recording utilizing entire width of tape.


Gain  Volume; amplification.

Generation  Dub; dupe, tape-recording. 

Grease pencil  Soft-tip marker used to inscribe recording tape for editing purposes.

Gross impressions  Total number of exposures to a schedule of announcements.

Gross Rating Points (GRP)  Representation of the total number of exposures to a schedule of announcements, expressed as a percentage of all possible listeners.

Ground wave  AM signal traveling the earth's surface; primary signal.


HD-Radio (see IBOC)

Headphones Speakers worn directly over the ears; headsets, cans.

Hertz (Hz)  Cycles per second; unit of electromagnetic frequency. (named after Heinrich Hertz).

Hot  Overmodulated. also uptempo AC.

Hot clock  Wheel indicating when particular music selections are to be aired.

Hype  Exaggerated presentation; high-intensity, punched.


IBEW  International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers; union.

IBOC In-Band On-Channel. System that would allow digital broadcasting over current AM and FM frequencies. Major companies promoting IBOC included Lucent and USADR USA Digital Radio, Inc. These companies have merged and are now know as Ibiquity. IBOC is now refered to as HD-Radio.

ID  Station identification required by law to be broadcast as close to the top of the hour as possible; station break.

Input  Terminal receiving incoming current.

Institutional  Message promoting general image.

IPS  Inches per second; tape speed: 1 7/8, 3 3/4, 7 1/2, 15, 30 IPS.

ITU  International Telecommunications Union; world broadcasting regulatory agency.


Jack  Plug for patching sound sources; patch-cord, socket, input.

Jingle  Music commercial or promo; signature, aural-logo.

Jock  see Deejay.


KDKA  First radio station licensed by the Department of Commerce.

Key (keying)  Turning a sound source on or off from the console.

Kilohertz  One thousand cycles per second; AM frequency measurement, kilocycles.


Leader tape  Plastic, metallic, or paper tape used in conjunction with magnetic tape for marking and spacing purposes.

Level  Amount of volume units; audio measurements.

Licensee  Individual or company holding license issued by the FCC for broadcast purposes.

Line  Connection used for transmission of audio; phone-line.

Line-of-sight  Path of FM signal; FM propagation.

Liner cards  Written on-air promos used to ensure adherence to station image; prepared ad-libs.

Live copy  Material read over air; not prerecorded.

Live tag  Postscript to taped message.

Local channels  Class IV AM stations found at high end of band: 1200-1600kHz.


Make-good  Replacement spot for one missed.

Market  Area served by a broadcast facility; ADI.

Master  Original recording from which dubs are made.

Master control see Control room.

MBS  Mutual Broadcasting System; radio network.

Megahertz (MHz)  Million cycles per second; FM frequency measurement, megacycles.

Mixdown  Integration of sound elements to create desired effect; production

Monitor  Studio speaker; supervise on-air sound; aircheck.

Mono  Single or fulltrack sound; monaural, monophonic.

MOR  Middle-of-the-Road radio format.

Morning Drive  Radio's most listened-to daypart: 6:00-10:00 a.m.

MSA  Metro Survey Area; geographic area in radio survey.

Multiplexing  Impressing two or more signals on one carrier as in FM stereo.

Multitracking  Recording sound-on-sound; overdubbing, stacking tracks.

Music sweep  Several selections played back-to-back without interruption; music segue.


NAB  National Association of Broadcasters.

Narrowcasting  Directed programming; targeting specific audience demographic.

NBC  National Broadcasting Company; the first radio network.

Network  Broadcast combine providing programming to affiliates: CBS, ABC, Mutual, etc.

Network feed  Programs sent to affiliate stations.

News block  Extended news broadcast.

NPR  National Public Radio


Omnidirectional pickup pattern  Microphone pickup pattern that picks up sound equally well from all directions.

O and O's  Network or group owned and operated stations.

Off-mike  Speech outside normal range of microphone.

Out-cue  Last words in a line of carted copy.

Output  Transmission of audio or power from one location to another; transfer terminal.

Overdubbing  see Multitracking.

Overmodulate  Exceed standard or prescribed audio levels; pinning VU needle.


Packaged  Canned programming; syndicated, prerecorded, taped.

Passives  Listeners who do not call stations in response to contests or promotions or to make requests or comments; the silent majority.

Patch  Circuit connector; cord, cable.

Patch panel  Jack board for connecting audio sources: remotes, studios, equipment; patch bay.

Payola  Undercover illegal payment to a disc jockey or radio station programmer for playing or plugging a record.

Persons using radio (PUR)  Measurement of the number of persons listening to stations in a market.

Pinch roller  Rubber wheel that presses recording tape against the capstan.

Playback  Reproduction of recorded sound.

Playlist  Roster of music for airing.

Plug  Promo; connector.

Popping  Breakup of audio due to gusting or blowing into mike; blasting.

Positioner  Brief statement used on-air to define a station's position in a market.

Pot  Potentiometer; volume control knob, gain control, fader, attentuator, rheostat.

PSA  Public Service Announcement; noncommercial message.

PRI  Public Radio International.

Production  The use of studio equipment to combine sounds into a finished product. See Mixdown.

Psychographics  Research term dealing with listener personality, such as attitude, behavior, values, opinions, and beliefs.

Punch  Emphasis; stress.


Quadraphonic  four speaker/channel sound reproduction; surround sound.


RAB  Radio Advertising Bureau.

Rack  Prepare or set up for play or record: "rack-it-up"; equipment container.

RADAR  Nationwide measurement service by Statistical Research, Inc.

Rate card  Statement of advertising fees and terms.

Rating  Measurement of the total available audience.

Reach  Measurement of how many different members of an audience will be exposed to a message.

RCA Radio Corporation of America; NBC parent company.

Recut  Retake; re-record, remix.

Reel-to-reel  Recording machine with feed and take-up reels.

Remote  Broadcast originating away from station control room.

Reverb  Close echo; redundancy of sound.

Rewind  Speeded return of recording tape from take up reel.

Ride gain  Monitor level; watch VU needle.

Rip 'n' read  Airing copy unaltered from newswire.

rpm  Revolutions per minute: 33 1/3, 45, and 78 rpm.

RTNDA  Radio and Television News Directors Association.

Run-of-station (ROS)  Bulk commercial buying plan where station's traffic department will fit the commercials into available time locations. See BTA


Satellite  Orbiting device for relaying audio from one earth station to another; DBS, Comsat, Satcom.

SBE  Society of Broadcast Engineers.

SCA  Subsidiary Communication Authority; subcarrier FM.

Secondary service area  AM skywave listening area.

Segue  Uninterrupted flow of recorded material; continuous.

SESAC  Society of European Stage Authors and Composers; music licensing service.

SFX  Abbreviation for sound effects.

Share  Percentage of station's listenership compared to competition; piece of audience pie.

Signal  Sound transmission; RF.

Signature  Theme; aural logo, jingle, ID.

Simulcast  Simultaneous broadcast over two or more frequencies.

SIRIUS  One of two national satellite radio services. (See also XM)

Sky wave  Radio wave that bounces off the ionosphere.

Sound bite  Audio portion of interview. See Actuality.

Sound hour  Term referring to the programming strategy with an hour of broadcasting.

Spectrum  Range of frequencies available to broadcasters.

Spec tape  Specially tailored commercial used as a sales tool to help sell and account.

Splice   To join ends of recording tape with adhesive; edit.

Splicing bar  Grooved platform for cutting and joining recording tape; edit bar.

Sponsor  Advertiser; client, account, underwriter.

Spots  Commercials; paid announcements.

Spot set  Group or cluster of announcements; stop set.

Station  Broadcast facility given specific frequency by FCC.

Station identification  Station call letters immediately followed by city of license. for example: WVUD Newark

Station log  Document containing specific operating information as outlined in Section 73.1820 of the FCC Rules and Regulations.

Station rep  company acting in behalf of local stations to national agencies.

Stereo  Multichannel sound; two program channels.

Stinger  Music or sound effect finale preceded by last line of copy; button, punctuation.

Straight copy  Announcement employing unaffected, nongimicky approach; institutional.

Stringer  Field or on-scene reporter; freelance reporter.

Subliminal  Advertising or programming not consciously perceived; below normal range of awareness, background.

Sweep link  Transitional jingle between sound elements.

Syndication  Programs sent to a network of users.

Syndicator  Producer of purchasable program material.


Tag  Postscript to taped message.

Talent  Radio performer; announcer, deejay, newscaster.

Talk  Conversation and interview radio format.

TAP  Total Audience Plan; spot package divided between specific dayparts; 1/3 AAA, 1/3 AA, 1/3 A.

Tape speed  Movement measured in inches per second. See IPS.

Telescoping  Compressing of sound to fit a desired length; technique used in audition tapes and concert promos, editing.

TFN  Till Further Notice; without specific kill date.

Time spent listening (TSL)  Measurement of average amount of time spent by average listener tuned to a station.

Toll broadcasting  Precursor to commercial radio.

Total Survey Area (TSA)  Geographic area in radio survey.

Trade-out  Exchange of station airtime for goods or services.

Traffic  Station department responsible for scheduling sponsor announcements.

Transmit  To broadcast; propagate signal, air.

Turnover  Measurement of how often listenership changes from time period to time period.

Turntable  Ancient device used to play records :-)


Underwriter  Program sponsor; noncommercial financial sponsor.

Underwriting  Method by which noncommercial stations seek financial support from commercial sponsors.

Unidirectional mike  Microphone designed to pick up sound in one direction; cardiod, studio mike.


VOA  Voice of America. U.S. International broadcast service.

Voice-over  Talk over sound.

Voice-track  Recording of announcer message for use in mixdown.

Volume  Quality of sound; audio level.

Volume control Pot; fader.

VU Meter  Gauge measuring units of sound.


WARC  World Administrative Radio Conference; international meeting charged with assigning spectrum space.

Wheel  Program tool indicating sequence or order of programming ingredients aired during one hour.

Windscreen  Microphone filter used to prevent popping and distortion.

Wireless telegraphy  Early radio used to transmit Morse code.

Wire service  News gathering organization; for example:AP.

Wow  Distortion of sound created by inappropriate speed; miscue.


XM  One of two national satellite radio services. (See also Sirius)


Zone I  Region of the country where class B FM stations are located.


O'Donnell, L. M., Hausman, C., Benoit, P. (1989) Radio station operations: Management and employee perspectives. Wadsworth: Belmont, CA.

Keith, M. C. and Krause, J. M. (1989). The Radio Station Focal Press: Boston.