A-Z list of Radio Imaging Jargon:

This detailed list provides an in-depth look at the terminology used in radio imaging production, highlighting the tools, techniques, and concepts essential to creating compelling audio branding.

A

  • Acapellas: Jingles that are sung without instrumentals.
  • Adult Album Alternative (AAA): Plays a mix of alternative, rock, folk, and indie music, often featuring new and lesser-known artists.
  • Adult Contemporary (AC): A radio format featuring a mix of recent hits and older, more mellow music. Imaging for AC stations often reflects a polished, sophisticated style to appeal to a broad adult audience.
  • Adlib: Spontaneous and unscripted speech by a DJ or voice talent. In imaging, adlibs can add a natural and engaging element.
  • Alternative Rock: Focuses on alternative rock music, including new releases and classic tracks from the genre.
  • Audition: The process of testing audio elements before finalizing them. This ensures that music, voiceovers, and effects blend well together.

B

  • Beatsell: also known as a "bed" or "music bed," refers to instrumental music tracks or segments that are used as background music without vocals.
  • Bed: Background music or sound used to support voiceovers or other primary audio elements. It adds atmosphere without overwhelming the main content.
  • Bumper: Short audio clip used to transition between programming segments, often highlighting the station's identity.

C

  • Christian/Gospel: Features contemporary Christian music, gospel, and religious talk shows.
  • Classic Hits: Plays hit songs from past decades, typically from the 70s, 80s, and 90s.
  • Classic Rock: Features rock music primarily from the late 60s, 70s, and 80s.
  • Contemporary Hit Radio (CHR) or Top 40: Focuses on playing current popular music hits across various genres, including pop, rock, hip-hop, and dance.
  • Country: Features a mix of modern country hits and classic country music.
  • Cue: A signal (audible or visual) that indicates when a specific audio element should start. It helps synchronize audio elements during production.
  • Cut: A single piece of audio, such as a voiceover or sound effect. Cuts are the building blocks of radio imaging.

D

  • Dry Voice: Voiceover recording without any added effects, music, or processing. This is the raw audio used as a base for further enhancement.
  • Drone: Drone music used by radio stations consists of continuous, repetitive sounds or tones that create an atmospheric, ambient background. It is often employed to fill dead air, create mood, or provide a seamless auditory backdrop for spoken segments and other programming.
  • Drop: A short, pre-recorded sound bite or voice clip used to add emphasis or branding within a segment.

E

  • Effect: An audio enhancement (such as reverb, echo, or distortion) applied to voiceovers or music to create a specific sound or atmosphere.
  • Edit: The process of cutting, rearranging, and modifying audio clips to create a cohesive imaging piece.
  • EDM: Plays electronic dance music, including genres like house, techno, and trance.

F

  • Fade: Gradual increase (fade-in) or decrease (fade-out) in audio volume. Fades are used to smooth transitions between segments.
  • Filler: Used during breaks or pauses in live broadcasts to avoid dead air and maintain a consistent flow of sound.
  • FX (Effects): Sound effects used to enhance the auditory experience. These can include anything from whooshes to laser sounds, adding texture to imaging.

G

  • Gate: An audio effect that reduces or eliminates sounds below a certain threshold, cleaning up background noise or unwanted sounds in a recording.
  • Gobo: A physical barrier used in recording studios to block or redirect sound, helping to isolate audio sources.

H

  • Hook: A memorable musical or spoken phrase used to grab the listener's attention. Hooks are often repeated in imaging to reinforce brand identity.
  • Hot Adult Contemporary (Hot AC): Similar to Adult Contemporary but with a more energetic and upbeat playlist, focusing on current hits.

I

  • ID (Identification): A station identification sound clip, usually consisting of the station's call letters and frequency, often accompanied by a jingle or voiceover.
  • Insert: Adding a sound element into an existing audio piece, such as inserting a voiceover into a music bed.
  • Intros & Outros: Audio clips that contain music, your station name, slogan, announcements, etc. to indicate the beginning and end of your show. These create a smooth transition, help keep listeners interested, and provide clear identification.

J

  • Jingle: A short musical piece used in station imaging, often incorporating the station's name or slogan. Jingles are catchy and help with brand recall.

K

  • Key: The pitch or tonal center of a piece of audio. Matching the key of different elements ensures they blend harmoniously.

L

  • Latin: Plays a variety of music genres popular in Latin America, including reggaeton, salsa, merengue, and bachata.
  • Liner: A short scripted statement read by a DJ or voice talent, used in imaging to promote the station or upcoming content.
  • Loop: Repeating a sound segment continuously. Loops are used for music beds or background effects.

M

  • Mix: Combining multiple audio elements, such as music, voiceovers, and sound effects, into one cohesive audio piece. Mixing involves balancing levels and ensuring clarity.
  • Mastering: The final step in audio production, where the audio is polished and optimized for broadcast, ensuring consistent quality across all platforms.
  • Music Beds: The melody part of a song without any spoken words or vocals.

N

  • News/Talk: Focuses on news, talk shows, interviews, and discussions on current events and issues.
  • Noise Reduction: Removing unwanted background noise from recordings to ensure a clean, professional sound.

O

  • Oldies: Focuses on music from the 50s, 60s, and early 70s, often including rock and roll, Motown, and pop hits.
  • Outcue: The last words or sounds of an audio segment, used to signal the end of a segment or transition.
  • Overlay: Adding an additional sound layer over the main audio, such as a sound effect over a voiceover.

P

  • Promo: A promotional clip highlighting a show, event, or feature. Promos are designed to attract listeners and often feature energetic, engaging audio.
  • Processor: Device or software used to enhance and modify audio quality, applying effects such as compression, equalization, and limiting.
  • Public Radio/NPR: Offers a mix of news, cultural programming, and music, often including classical, jazz, and world music.

Q

  • Queue: Line-up of audio elements prepared for playback. In imaging, it's crucial to manage the sequence and timing of these elements.

R

  • Reverb: An effect that simulates the sound reflections in a space, adding depth and space to the audio.
  • Riff: A short, repeated musical phrase, often used to add musical interest in imaging.

S

  • Segue: Smooth transition from one audio segment to another, often used between songs or between a song and a voiceover.
  • Smooth Jazz: Features a blend of jazz, R&B, and pop music with a smooth, easy-listening style.
  • Sports: Dedicated to sports news, live game broadcasts, commentary, and talk shows about sports.
  • Stingers: Are a piece of music used to cue scene transitions. “Sting” your audience with anticipation, and effortlessly flow from one subject to another.
  • Sweeper: Short audio clip used to transition between songs or segments, often featuring station branding or a brief message.

T

  • Tag: A brief ending segment that provides additional information, such as a call-to-action or sponsor mention.
  • Tease: A short audio clip that hints at upcoming content, designed to keep listeners tuned in.

U

  • Underscore: Background music used to support voiceovers, adding emotion or energy without overpowering the spoken content.
  • Urban Contemporary: Plays a mix of hip-hop, R&B, and sometimes dance music.

V

  • Voiceover (VO): The voice recording used in imaging, providing narration, station IDs, and promotional messages.
  • Vox Pro: A specific piece of software used for editing voice tracks, widely used in radio for its efficiency and ease of use.

W

  • Waveform: Visual representation of an audio signal, showing amplitude over time. Useful for precise editing and understanding audio characteristics.
  • Wipe: A sound effect that sweeps across the audio spectrum, often used to transition between segments or add dynamic movement.

X

  • XML: A format sometimes used for storing audio metadata, which can include information about tracks, effects, and settings used in production.

Y

  • Yaw: Slight variation in pitch or sound, used creatively in imaging to add interest or emphasize certain elements.

Z

  • Zip: Fast-moving sound effect used to add energy to imaging, often used in transitions.
  • Zone: Specific area or market for which imaging is produced, ensuring the content is relevant to the target audience.

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