Radio Broadcasting Glossary – C

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Call letters – The I.D. or official legal name of a radio station, such as KROC-FM.

Campaign ads – Commercials in a series that have the same theme.

Cans – A slang term for headphones.

Cart – Used to store recorded sound before the advent of digital technology, a cart is similar to an 8-track cartridge and is made of analog tape that loops back to the beginning after it plays.

Cartridge machine – Machines that use tapes in a cartridge, which looks similar to an 8-track tape; you can play back or record on cart machines.

CBS – The Columbia Broadcasting Station.

Channels – The Federal Communications Commission designates a channel, otherwise known as a spectrum frequency on the band of the radio or TV dial, for a radio or television station to ensure that the stations do not interfere with each others signal. Channels are known to viewers as the numbers on TV dials corresponding with individual local stations. Channel assignments vary widely by market.

Clear channel station – A broadcast station whose operation covers a very wide area.

CHR – Contemporary Hit Radio formatting, formerly known as Top 40.

Churban – A hybrid radio format mixing contemporary hit radio (CHR) with urban music, including hip hop or R&B.

Clear channel – a radio station operating at maximum power (50,000 watts) on an exclusive frequency that is designed to serve large areas. This also refers to any radio station owned by “Clear Channel Communications,” the largest radio company in the United States.

Closed circuit – A transmission through direct telephone lines or cable wires to receive the broadcast signal. It is not broadcast with the transmitter of a radio or TV station.

Clutter – An excessive number of commercials or other non-program elements appearing one right after the other.

Color Announcer – The second banana, or sidekick, to the play by play announcer doing a broadcast of a sporting event. For example, on Monday Night Football, Al Michaels is the play by play announcer, John Madden is the color announcer of color commentator.

Commercials – Business’s advertising messages, they are recorded or live. Lengths are usually 15, 30 or 60 seconds, and sometimes 2 minutes.

Commercial copy – The written commercial message.

Console – a Board used for controlling the audio mix and output from a live studio broadcast or other recorded sources.

Consolidation – A trend in the radio industry where larger companies buy up smaller companies. After 1996, when deregulation was approved, single ownership and small group ownership of radio stations has decreased.

Contest pig – Listeners who listens to many station just for the purpose of calling in and trying to win contests.

Copy – Content or written material for commercials, promotional or public service announcements, or any other worded information that will be read by a DJ.

Copywriter – Individual who scripts and writes radio and TV commercials.

Credits – The people involved in the actual program, everyone including back stage hands.

Crossfade – The control board operator uses this technique — mixing sound between two sources by fading one down while at the same time raising the volume of the second source. As the second source becomes prominent, the first source is faded away entirely.

Cue – A signal to begin and go on with talking, introducing records, etc.

Cue Burn – Historically, when DJs used to use vinyl recordings such as 33 or 45 rpm to play songs, they placed the needle on the record and then hand-turned the turntable until the needle played the beginning of the song. The DJ would rock the turntable back-and-forth a couple of times to make sure the needle was at the very beginning so that when the turntable was turned on, the recording would start immediately. This act of rocking the needle back-and-forth created physical indentations in the vinyl over time, eventually creating a bit of white noise sounding like “chhhhh” when the record started.

Cume – A radio station’s cume is an abbreviation for cumulative audience, or the unduplicated households listening during a specified period of time.

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