The Glossary of Terms in True Radio Confessions


7-7-7 Rule A 1953 FCC rule that stipulated no company could
own more than seven AM radio stations, seven FM
radio stations and seven television stations.

AC Adult Contemporary: A radio format featuring pop
songs from soft to upbeat but no rock.

Actuality Recorded voice of a newsmaker typically played
during a newscast.

Add A new song added to the playlist of a radio station is
known as an add.

Ads Commercials, advertisements, spots.

Aircheck A recording of a radio show, with all elements other
than the disc jockey removed, a process known as

Air Name The name a disc jockey uses on the air, which is
typically not his or her legal name.

Air Studio An acoustically treated room where broadcasts

Airplay An audio entity that plays over the air is said to have

Airs / Aired /
Airing: Is broadcast / Was broadcast / Is being broadcast

AM Amplitude Modulation: A radio transmission
process in which audio information modulates
(varies) the amplitude (height) of the carrier wave,
which is then detected in the receiver and
reconverted to sound.

AOR Album Oriented Rock: An evolution of the
Progressive FM format featuring selected tracks
from extraordinarily successful rock record albums
with more sophisticated song rotation controls.

Arbitron A company that measured radio listening in the
United States from 1949 until its acquisition by the
Nielsen company in 2013.

Average Quarter Hour
The average number of persons listening to a
particular station for at least five minutes during a
fifteen-minute period. Often abbreviated as AQH.

Block Programming: Different formats or musical genres broadcast on a
radio station throughout a day or week.

Board: Audio console, control board, console, desk, mixer:
A control surface with buttons, switches and faders
used by a DJ to start and stop audio events, open
and close microphones and other audio sources and
control the volume levels of all.

Break: The elements between the ending of one song and
the beginning of another which typically consists of
disc jockey patter, commercials, promos, jingles and
sometimes news.

Call Letters /Calls / Call Sign: The legal name of a radio station. In the US, each
station name consists of three or four capital letters
unique to each station, such as WABC.

Cart: A tape cartridge, used for decades in broadcasting to
record and play back commercials, promos, songs,
news actualities and other audio elements.

CHR Contemporary Hit Radio:  a radio format featuring
the most popular current songs across diverse
musical genres. Originally called Top 40.

Clock Also known as a format clock, specifies which music category to play at various positions within an hour.

A clock may be a graphical pie chart or instructions in a computerized music scheduling system.

Cold End A song that doesn’t fade-out but ends abruptly or
with a sustained chord.

Cold Start A song with no instrumental intro that immediately
begins with a vocal

Console: See Board

Copy: A script written or typed on paper and read by a DJ
either live on the air or recorded for repeated
playback. The word typically refers to the text of a
commercial but can refer to other content such as
dialogue for a comedy sketch.

Cue The process of readying an audio element for instant
airplay at the push of a button.

Daypart A ratings construct that defines a part of a day or
days, such as 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through
Friday or 6 a.m. to midnight Monday through

Daytimer An AM radio station licensed to broadcast only
between sunup and sundown.

Dead Air Silence on a radio station, typically caused by a
technical problem or flustered disc jockey.

Delisted The status of a radio station after disciplinary action
by a ratings company for the station’s fraudulent
activity to influence ratings. The station’s rating
results aren’t published causing a damaging
economic impact.

Disco A rhythmic, dance oriented musical style, a radio
format based on that style or a discothèque

DJ/Jock Disc Jockey, jock: A radio presenter who plays
recorded music.

The Dream A recurring nightmare that just about every DJ
experience, in which they are behind the control
board, the song is ending, and they have nothing
ready to play and no idea what to say or do next.

FCC Federal Communications Commission: United
States governing body which regulates radio and
television broadcasting.

Format The programming structure of a music radio station
usually named after the genre of the music played.

FM Frequency Modulation: A radio transmission
process in which audio information modulates
(varies) the frequency (width) of the carrier wave,
which is then detected in the receiver and
reconverted to sound.

Free Form An early rock non-format with no structure where the on-air DJ selected all the music, typically wrapped around a theme.

Full-Service An older radio format, typically aired on an AM
station, which featured a heavy emphasis on local
news, civic events, traffic and weather, with music
being a second-class entity.

GM General Manager: the highest-level manager of a
local radio station who oversees the programming,
engineering and sales departments.

Intro The instrumental opening of a song before the vocal

License A legal document awarded by the FCC permitting a
radio or TV station owner to broadcast a signal over
the air.

Liner A positioning statement for a radio station typically
typed on an index card and read live by disc jockeys.

Market The service area of a radio station which typically
extends beyond its city of license.

MD Music Director: Maintains the station’s music
library, takes calls and visits from record promoters,
schedules and prints music logs and assists the PD
in selecting songs for airplay.

Mic Pronounced “mike,” abbreviation of microphone.
Music Log A list of prescheduled songs for every hour of a
radio station’s music programming.

PD Program Director: Manages the programming
department of a radio station. Primary job duties are
hiring, firing and scheduling DJs, constructing the
station playlist and being responsible for every
sound broadcast by their station.

Playlist A list of all the songs played on a given radio station.

Portable People Meter PPM: An electronic device worn by a participant in
a radio ratings survey that collects data about station
listening by the participant.

Post A musical accent during the instrumental beginning
of a song. Some songs have multiple posts.

Pot Shortened form of potentiometer. A sliding or
rotating electronic mechanism that adjusts volume

Production Director
The person who oversees all production at the radio
station. Typically, he or she voices a good many of
the station’s recorded commercials and works with
station disc jockeys to produce others.

Progressive FM Radio
An early rock format that brought some structure
into the Free Form/Underground formats. Playlists
were instituted and systems were developed to
control song rotations.

Promo A live or recorded promotional announcement
describing a station’s name, features, contests,
upcoming concerts and the like.

Rating A ratings term that expresses listenership as a
percentage of population.

Record Promoter
An individual working for a record company or
independently who visits radio station programmers
urging them to play newly released songs.

RIAA Recording Industry Association of America: A trade
organization that supports and promotes the
creative and financial vitality of the major music

Segue Blending the end of one audio element into the
beginning of the next.

Selector A computer program that schedules a radio station’s
music log according to clocks and rules the PD
specifies. Invented by Andrew Economos.

Seven Second Delay
The process of broadcasting content seven seconds
after it occurs, typically used for radio talk shows. A
device between the studio and transmitter delays the
signal and a “dump button” immediately stops the
playback to prevent objectionable content from
being broadcast.

Share A ratings term that expresses listenership as a
percentage of total listeners.

Shift The time period of a radio show. “Sonny Joe will
work the 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. shift tonight.”

Simulcast Simultaneously broadcasting the same programming
on two or more radio stations, a frequent practice in
the 1960s.

Spots Commercials, advertisements, ads.

Sweeper A short, prerecorded positioning statement or
promotional announcement for a radio station
usually played between two songs.

Stopset A cluster of commercials played back-to-back.
Talk-Up Disc jockey patter spoken over the intro of a song
which ends exactly when the vocal begins.

Top 40 A radio format featuring the most popular current
songs across diverse musical genres. This was the
original name for the format known today as CHR,
Contemporary Hit Radio.

Traffic The process of gathering and readying commercials
for broadcast and then scheduling them according
to specifics in the sales agreement between the
station and advertiser.

Underground Nickname for an early rock non-format with no
structure. The on-air DJ selected all the music,
typically wrapped around a theme. The proper name
for this un-format was Free Form.

Urban A radio format consisting of all Black artists in
various musical styles such as rhythm & blues, hip
hop, disco and rap.

Voice Tracking A technique in which a single disc jockey records
breaks for multiple radio stations This saved station
owners money but at the sacrifice of local content
on the voice tracked stations.