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A Lesson in Radio Lingo

LIKE many other fields, radio broadcasting has its own specialized vocabulary. How many of these terms have you heard before?

Acoustics - the study of sound. Can also describe a studio, auditorium, or any room in relation to the quality of sound there. A concert hall would most likely have "good acoustics;" a bathroom probably would not.

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Ad lib - to speak on the air without a prepared script. A host of a call-in show might have to ad lib when callers say unexpected things.

Audio - all sound that is electronically transmitted or received.

Bumper - a pre-recorded liner (see below) that would probably have music - a jingle, perhaps, or sound effects.

Call letters - initials that identify a radio station, such as WBZ.

No two radio stations have the same call letters. Most stations west of the Mississippi River start with K. Stations east of the Mississippi River start with W, except for a few.

Dead air - silence on the air; usually an unexpected gap, such as when a DJ plays a record and doesn't start the next one soon enough.

Decibel - a measurement of sound. The louder the sound, the higher the decibel.

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Disc - A record that plays on a phonograph; or a compact disc.

Disc jockey - an announcer who hosts a music program, sometimes called a DJ.

Fade - to raise or lower the volume of sound slowly. Music often "fades" when an announcer comes on the air.

Liner - a statement that identifies that station. It tells you where the radio station is on the dial and usually what it features. A DJ might say, "You're listening to 101.7, WFNX, Lynn/Boston, the cutting edge of rock."

Live - sound made at that moment, not prerecorded.

Mix - to combine sound from different sources, such as having music playing in the background while someone is talking.

Script - a written copy of the words that will be spoken during a radio broadcast.

Sound bite - a piece of sound recorded at a scene, then put into a broadcast. A radio reporter might record an interview with a movie director. When the reporter gets back to the studio, he or she might select some of the director's sentences and put them into a broadcast story. The director's phrases would be considered sound bites.

Sound effect - sound other than music or talking that is used to help create a feeling or set a scene - a police-car siren, the sound of a waterfall, or shouts from a crowd at a baseball game.

Spot - a prerecorded announcement, such as a commercial. `Kidspace' is a place on the Home Forum pages where kids can find stories that will spark imaginations, entertain with a tall tale, explain how things work, or describe a real-life event. These articles appear twice a month, always on a Tuesday.

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