Lingo Used in Radio Broadcasting

This post is for academic purposes only. Credit is to the original author(s).

Two-way digital Radio Lingo

When you’re communicating over a two-way radio or you encountered other people communicating over a two-way radio, saying words or codes you are not familiar with. Say you finished saying something important and the person you were speaking to responded “10-4”, or “Roger that.” These phrases are examples of short-hand radio lingo that’s been around for decades, all to create succinct and crystal clear communications for radio users.

  • “Roger that” – A quick way to say that you understand what the other person is saying.
  • “Mayday” – It essentially means “Life-threatening emergency” and is recognized internationally as a universal distress signal.
  • “Over” – Used at the end of a sentence or phrase to indicate that the person is done speaking.
  • “Out” – Indicates that the person is signing off.
  • “Over and Out” – The person is done speaking, and the conversation is over.
  • “Read/Copy” – Both words are used to ask if the speaker is being heard or understood, for instance, “Do you read me?” or “Do you copy?”
  • “Wilco” – Literally means “will comply” and indicate that the speaker is intending to complete the task that’s been asked of them.

The 10-Codes

10-codes are numbers that stand in for phrases. You are as likely to hear a 10-code working in the public safety arena as you are in a manufacturing company. Here are some of the most popular codes and what they mean:

  • 10-1: Bad reception
  • 10-4:  “OK” or “Affirmative” similar to “roger”
  • 10-9:  say again, or repeat, please
  • 10-20: Location, as in “what’s your 20?”
  • 10-36: Current time, “can I get a 10-26?”
  • 10-69: “Message Received,” Again, much like “roger”
  • 10-77: Estimated time of arrival, “Alpha 10-77”

Like two-way radio, Radio Broadcasting uses very specific phrases. Different locations and stations will use mostly the same radio broadcasting lingo. Here are different phrases you need to be aware of:

  • Avail – The commercial position in a program or between programs on a given station or network available for purchase by an advertiser. 
  • Dead Air – Refers to a period – three or more seconds of “unnecessary” silence.
  • Stingers – Music or sound effects – use to stress a statement; Voice, Laughter, Applause, etc. 
  • Rep – Short for representative. The station account executive who oversees andmanages a local advertiser or agency.
  • Voice track – Pre-recorded voice clips that produce the illusion of a live DJ sitting in the radio studios when one is not actually present. This is usually used in between songs, to introduce the song title or artist.
  • DJ or Disk Jockey – A radio announcer who plays music on air.
  • Drive time – The rush hour commuter periods when radio stations usually have their largest audience. Ad rates are highest for drive time.
  • Hit the post – When Disk Jockeys use to talk or uses sound stingers up to the point when the lyrics begin without “stepping” on the beginning of the vocals.
  • Listening In – Another slang term that isn’t hard to pick up and which comes up all the time. Listening In is simply when someone is listening to the radio. They are “listening in” to the broadcast.
  • Cross-Talk – If you are ever conducting an interview, if the equipment is not calibrated properly or if there are other issues at hand, you might pick up what is known as cross-talk, which is an external conversation picked up from an outside source.

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