Radio Jargon

Ad Lib The presence of mind by a presenter to improvise when; 1) another presenter fails to start on cue 2) the normal progress of the programme is disturbed 3) lines are forgotten


anchorman /presenter / host Often used to refer to the presenter or host of a programme.  Sometimes the person who does the links between programmes.


back announce A presenter will announce something that has just happened, for example a DJ saying the name of the song that has just been played, is called back announcing the song.


back time. When a presenter works out how long is left before another event is to occur. For example the DJ may back time to the news to make sure that he has the right length of song to get there without the song finishing too early or over running


bandwidth The range of a piece of sound equipment. If an equalizer has cutoff frequencies of 200 and 2000 Hz, then the bandwidth is the difference between them, in this case 1800 Hz.


billboard short explanation of upcoming items(s), often part of the intro to the show


bump to remove an item from a programme’s lineup, either in favour of another item or due to lack of time. Also to remove a programme from the schedule.


cans A pair of headphones.




segment of audio, any length, played as a unit
clip and script a piece which alternates clips with script read by host


control room Room that contains all equipment necessary to broadcast, connects with studio via sound proofed window and talk-back system.


cross-fade fade one sound source down while simultaneously fading another sound source up


cue to get a clip on a sound source ready for playing, or signal the presenter to start speaking


cut a) a track on a CD or

b) signal to the host to stop talking immediately


DEAD AIR There’s nothing on the radio! Usually not a good thing…


Delay Unit, Delay or D.U Used to delay an audio signal before it is broadcast. Normally used during phone in programmes so as to be able to cut offensive language out before it is transmitted. The delay is usually around 7 seconds


donut A jingle that has singing at the beginning, music in the middle and singing at the end.


dub a) transfer sound from one storage device to another

b) Add one sound track to another so that they run synchronously


edit to remove unwanted sounds or program material


equalisation The process of adjusting the tonal quality of a sound. A graphic equaliser provides adjustment for a wide range of frequency bands and is normally inserted in the signal path after the mixing desk, before the amplifier.


extro identifies what was already heard i.e what has already been streamed or broadcast


fade down gradually reduce the volume of sound source


fade up gradually increase the volume of sound source
fade in  
fall through what happens when planned items don’t come together in time for the show


feed a) a power supply to a piece of equipment or installation is termed a “feed”. Sound equipment and sensitive computer equipment should have a clean feed – that is, a supply that is free from interference from other equipment.

b) a signal from one system to another is also known as a feed (for example, an audio signal from a sound desk of a concert back to the radio station is known as a feed.)


filler items used to fill holes when original items falls through. Always have some!


focus the main point of the story, the reason for doing it


hole gap in the lineup for the program. Must be filled.


howlround /feedback A loud whistle or rumble heard emanating from a sound system. It is caused by a sound being amplified many times. (E.g. a sound is picked up by a microphone and amplified through the speaker. The microphone picks up this amplified sound and it is sent through the system again). Feedback can be avoided by careful microphone positioning, and can be reduced by use of Equalisation to reduce the level of the frequency band causing the feedback.


intro introduction to item, script which precedes the item


Jingle Usually a short musical tune that identifies the radio station or presenter or programme. It can also take other forms when mixed with voices and sound effects or be used to advertise commercial products


levels volume at which sound is being recorded or transmitted; this is recorded on a VU meter


line in socket on a recorder or computer which allows one to input sound from another piece of equipment, ie. For dubbing. Line input and mike input look the same, but they’re not — line in is a stronger signal


line out socket on a recorder or computer which allows one to send a signal from the recorder or computer to another machine


lineup order in which items are broadcast


lineup sheet for use while the show is on air. Contains all information about length, equipment, pieces to be played etc.

Design your own by trial and error and get lots printed. Cross items off as you go.


Link Used to describe a spoken piece between two songs or into a feature such as news, weather or a competition.


mic microphone (also mike or mic). Should be attached to recorder only through the mic input.


mic input socket on recorder which accepts microphone cord. Do not plug the mic into line in.


mini-to-mini a patch cord with identical mini phone plugs on each end; used to connect two machines to dub


mixer any piece of equipment or software which can blend two or more sound sources


mixing desk / mixer board Or just ‘the desk’.

The heart of the control room; the device used to mix all sounds and send them to the server for streaming or the transmitter for broadcast radio.


monitor the loudspeakers in the control room which play what is being produced. The monitors in the control room should mute when the mic is on


O.B Short for outside broadcast – any piece which takes place outside the studio


on-air Broadcasting live over the airwaves or streamed live through a server


Operate / operator to work the mixer board and equipment / one trained to operate.

With internet radio, usually called the tech(ie) or the person ‘on the desk’


Overmodulation (over-mod) recording made with levels too high (loud), resulting in unpleasant distortion


Over Running When an item has exceeded its expected finish time. To be avoided at all costs unless the studio manager has signaled for a ‘over-run’ because the next item or programme is unavailable


patch cord / patch cable any cable used to connect two pieces of equipment.
piece one story, complete and ready to air
playback listen to pre-recorded material; also the play switch on tape recorders


pots short for potentiometer, which is the volume control on the mixer


Pre-Record When audio is recorded in advance before it is required – as opposed to ‘live’
promo promotional material to advertise a show, an event or an upcoming story


puff A trailer or advert for the show broadcast or streamed before the programme goes out


Q Card Another name for a formal written piece to be read by the presenter.


ramp Describes the audio loudness increasing.


Riding The Fader . Sound operating technique where the operator constantly adjusts the fader level to maximise level while minimising feedback and background noise


script Written material to be read on air by presenter or reporter. Should be typed in capitals and double spaced or clearly handwritten with space for presenter to add notes


Segue The term given to the transition from one item to another usually between songs, when one song segues into another.


source where the sound is originating.


sweeper Station jingle that is played between two items such as music.


Vox pops very short interview with “person in the street”.  Also called a streeter.


studio sound proofed room with mics and connected to the control room. For interviews and other live productions


T/O a) a technical operator, somebody who works in a radio station and is mainly involved in the technical side of getting programmes to air but does not speak.

b) a talk over – when a presenter will read or talk over a piece of music


Twig Slang for an ariel


V.U. Meter Volume unit meter; measures loudness of sound


wrap-up direction to finish the interview quickly


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