Know the Lingo!

Broadcasting is filled with technical talk. Here is a few examples of the kind of techno-babble we sometimes have to put up with.

To be honest, most of us just use our own words for example "XLR" can also be referred to as "The three pronged thing... no, the one with the cable already attached. No NOT THAT ONE! the OTHER one!"

A-D Converter

A-D converter is short for Analogue to Digital Converter. It changes a constant electrical signal into a stream of binary numbers like 1' and 0's. These are commonly found in computer soundcard, minidisks, and CD recorders.


Ad-lib or Ad-libbing is when a presenter improvises. Usually, when something goes wrong like the show is disturbed or there's a technical fault.


Reduces the intensity of a sound signal, much like a volume control dial.

Automatic Gain Control (AGC)

AGC adjust the volume to compensate for the level. It helps reduce noise when a presenter gets too loud, for example, when they shout or go up close to the microphone.


Software or equipment like mixers and soundboards loaded with pre-set audio to automate shows. Often these sounds are controlled by a computer to ensure accurate and repeatable audio.

Auxiliary Input (Return)

The route back into a sound desk for a line level signal sent to a piece of outboard equipment via an auxiliary send.

Auxiliary Output (Send)

Line level output from a sound desk which can be used for a foldback or monitoring without cross over to the main output.

Back Announce

Back announcing is when a presenter talks about a song that has just played.

Back Time

Back timing is the technique of working out how much time is left before an event. For example, if a DJ's show is going to end, they work out the right length of a song to ensure they don't finish too early or overrun.

Balanced Line

Reduce interference carrying a line by using a third conductor like a shield. Balanced lines are less prone than unbalanced for interference. One of the signal wires carries the audio signal, while the other carries an out-of-phase inverted duplicate. When the signal reaches the destination, the inverted duplicate is flipped and added to the original. Any noise added by interference is also inverted. When combined with the non-inverted noise, the two noise signals cancel each other out.


In terrestrial radio, bandwidth is the range of the broadcasting equipment. In internet radio, bandwidth is the amount of data consumed by listeners.


Audio that is used to talk over by the DJ. Usually, it's part of a jingle or segment between tracks to keep a flow.


A buss is a single line in a mixing desk that can receive signals from a number of sources like a microphone and CD player. The buss carries the line to the master audio channel to output to a destination.


Headphones are commonly referred to in the radio industry as cans.

Clean Feed

An audio stream that is free from interference like sounds from external equipment.


Two channels on a mixer are both talking at the same time, like wires crossing paths.


A Cue-point is the beginning of a track. It's often used as a remark to prepare before starting something, for example, a presenter about to do a live show.

Cue Light

Signal to the presenter that she/he can start broadcasting or to stand by, e.g. red light usually means standby, green light means go.


Cuts are small segments in a radio show. For example, news stations have small reports like bulletins.

Delay Unit

A device used to delay a show before it broadcasts, normally used during phone calls as a way to cut offensive language before it transmits.

Demo Tape

Demo tapes, or "air checks" as it was once known, are pieces of audio showcasing a new track from a band or presentation techniques from a DJ.


An audio signal sound quality does not sound good. Usually caused by equipment overloading or an incorrect setup.


A jingle that starts with singing, music in the middle, and singing again at the end.


Copying sounds from one medium to another. For example, when an English film is exported to a non-English speaking audience then the video is kept, but the audio is replaced. Effectively the original audio gets dubbed over by new actors.


Adjusting the tonal quality of the audio. Usually, music tracks are equalised to smooth out the audio levels so it's clearer to listen to.

Fade In

The audio level of a track gradually becomes louder until it reaches its proper level. Commonly fade ins are used for smoother transitions to segue into a new track or DJ segment.

Fade Out

The audio level of a track gradually becomes quieter until it disappears altogether. Commonly fade outs are used for smoother transitions to segue into a new track or DJ segment.


A sliding dial on a mixing desk controlling the audio levels.


A signal from one device to another, for example, 2 presenters with 2 microphones have 2 feeds. Feed is also referred to as a power supply for a piece of equipment like a mixer.


Feedback, sometimes called Howlround, is a rumbling or whistling noise caused by a sound system. Loud environments tend to have feedback as audio is picked up from a speaker through a microphone.


A jack is an audio connector, phoned on nearly every piece of audio device. There different types of jacks like mono, stereo, A-type, and B-type.


A jackfield is used to re-route audio to different equipment, much like a junction box.


A short audio clip played on a radio show used for promotion. Sponsors or advertisers use jingles between tracks, usually accompanied with voice-overs and sound effects to engage listeners.


An audio cap to limit the volume level in case it gets too high. High volumes tend to distort the stream and damage equipment.

Line Level Signal

A standard audio level for both inputs and outputs to keep sound at an average level.

Line-up Tone

A signal frequency or level used for setting up equipment audio levels. For example, adjusting multiple microphone volume levels so they all match.


Links are sandwiched in between songs, usually featuring info about what's up next, news, or competitions.


A mixdown contains multiple tracks, often balanced (so it sounds good, not too loud or too quiet) and ready for playback.


A mixer is a console desk with several inputs for audio equipment. Each input is a channel, outputting into one master channel, and finally to a computer or device to broadcast.

Opportunity To Hear (OTH)

OTH represents how many times a listener is most likely to hear your ad.

Outside Broadcast (OB)

A radio show broadcast outside, sometimes with its own dedicated OB Vehicle loaded with equipment.

Over Running

When a track or DJ exceeds the expected finish time.

Peak Programme Meter (PPM)

PPM used on audio equipment to show how loud sound levels are.

Phantom Power

Most condenser microphones require a stronger power supply to work. Phantom power is around 48 volts DC. Mixers usually provide enough voltage to power microphones.


A phase refers to two sound waves which are syncronised. If un-syncronised, the sound waves are out of phase.

Pop Filter

Sibilant sounds like S, SH, or CH are emphasised. For example, saying the following may distort the audio during a show: silly sausages shaking chorizo slices.

Plosives are the harder, punchier sounds such as "P" and "T" that can also distort. Something called a pop-filter is sometimes used to reduce these effects, placed between the DJ and the mic.

Pre-Fade Listen (PFL)

Control the sound through a mixing desk to listen to an audio stream without actually broadcasting the signal. Can be used to check audio quality and find faults.


An output from a desk that is independent of the channel fader.


Recording an audio stream before officially broadcasting to listeners.


The level of the audio increasing. Used when a presenter has finished talking segue into a track.

Riding the Fader

A technique to manually control the fader to optimise the volume level, like minimising feedback and background noise.


A term used to describe the transition from one track to another. Segues are often presenters introducing the next track or talking about what's to come during the show.

Signal to Noise Ratio

The ratio of the average signal to the background noise.


A branded radio station jingle played between two tracks.

Talk Back

A way to talk to the studio whilst on location without it being broadcast. It's also a way for two studios to communicate without having to go back and forth.