What Is Radio Imaging and Why Is It Important to Your Radio Station?

Radio is clearly a distinct form of entertainment, relying solely on sound, therefore a defined sonic branding is needed to distinguish one radio station with others.

One clear way of sonically branding your radio station is the use Radio Imaging.

Radio Imaging is a radio station’s signature sound composition that enables listeners to easily identify the station from the rest in a given market. It can showcase the station favorably against competitors, and gives the listeners an idea of what to expect in terms of content or format. Radio imaging is the general term used for varied on-air sound effects that identify, brand and market a particular radio station like, radio sweepers, intros & outros, bumpers, stingers and drops.

Radio Sweeps – are segues between songs that give listeners a brief station identifier or promo, generally 20 seconds or less.

Intros/Outros – are the show’s signature. It introduces the start of a program or signals the coming end or wrap up.  It can be pre-recorded or done live over music.

Bumpers – Usually consists of a voiceover and music that acts as a transition. For example, coming back from a commercial break, or move from one segment of the show to another. These are usually short, about 5-10 seconds in length.

Stingers – are short sound effects, pre-recorded words, fast piece of music (1-3 seconds) that are played to give emphasis to something said by the DJ.

Drops – These are sound bites lifted from movies, TV, or songs.  The length of Drops varies and can either be used as an emphasis or a transition.

The combined sound elements produces an overall sound imaging that helps to position the radio station within their market. It is designed to appeal to a certain demographic of audience that the station wish to attract. Overall it sets the mood, tone, and energy of the station, while also building a brand familiarity and loyalty with the listeners. The radio imaging defines the radio channel sound, with the exception of the actual music or talk content. It also creates fillers and transitions between the programs providing the listeners a more complete and seamless listening experience.

It is important to create a defined radio imaging to promote brand recall. You need to have a consistent radio image scripting by using targeted language and terms that listeners can relate to; and a use voiceover that can give the station a distinct style and tone.  These fillers and transitions help remind the listeners which station they are listening to and with an effective Call-To-Action can keep them tuned in during breaks or commercials, and also direct them to your website or social networks which helps you build your online presence.


Styles of Radio Imaging

The style of radio imaging is determined by the type or genre the radio station wants to maintain. Below is guide to the different radio station formats and their common target audience sourced from New Generation. Radio stations should properly match their imaging with the format or genre of their station.


Format Name



AC Adult Contemporary An adult-oriented pop/rock station with no hard rock, often with a greater emphasis on non-current music and softer hits from the 1980s and 1990s Women ages 25  to 54
AH Hot AC, Adult Contemporary Hits A more up-tempo, contemporary hits format, with no hard rock and no rap Adults ages 25 to 34
AP Adult Alternative Eclectic rock, often with wide variations in musical style Adults ages 25 to  44
AR Album Rock Mainstream rock & roll, which can include guitar-oriented “heavy metal” Men ages 25 to 44
AS Adult Standards Standards and older, non-rock popular music from the 1940s to the 1980s, which can include softer current popular music Adults ages 35+
BG Black Gospel Current gospel songs and sermons geared toward African-Americans Adults ages 35+
CH Contemporary Hits, Top-4O Current popular music, often encompassing a variety of rock styles, with CH-RB indicating dance contemporary hits, CH-AR indicating rock-based contemporary hits and CH-NR indicating new rock or modern rock based contemporary hits Teens & Adults ages 20 to 24
CR Classic Rock Rock oriented oldies, often mixed with album cuts from the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s Men ages 25 to 44
CW Country Country music, including contemporary and traditional styles, CW-OL is country oldies Adults ages 25+
CZ Classic Hits A rock-based oldies format, focusing on the 1970s Adults ages 25 to 44
EZ Easy Listening Primarily instrumental cover versions of popular songs, with more uptempo varieties of this format including soft rock originals, which may be mixed with “smooth jazz” or adult standards Adults ages 35 +
ET Ethnic Programs geared to various ethnicities, primarily in languages other than English Variety of Ages
FA Fine Arts — Classical Fine arts “classical” music often includes opera, theater and/or culture-oriented news and talk Adults ages 35+
JZ Jazz Mostly instrumental, often mixed with Soft AC, which includes both traditional jazz and “smooth jazz” or “new AC” Adults ages 25+
MA Modern AC An adult-oriented softer modern rock format with less heavy, guitar-oriented music than the younger new rock Mostly Women ages 25 to 44
MT Financial Talk All financial or “money-talk” Adults ages 35+
NR New Rock, Modern Rock Current rock, mainstream “alternative” and heavier guitar oriented hits Teens & Adults  ages 20 to 35
NX News All-news, either local or network in origin, with stations also having this description if a significant block of time is devoted to news Adults ages 35+
OL Oldies Popular music, usually rock-oriented, with 80% or more, non-current music, with CW-OL indicating country oldies and RB-OL indicating R & B oldies Adults ages 25 to 55
PT Pre-teen Music, drama or readings intended primarily for a pre-teen audience Children ages 12 & under
RB R&B, Urban Covers a wide range of musical styles geared toward African Americans, which can also be called “urban contemporary” or “hip-hop” Teens & Adult ages 20 to 24
RC Religious Contemporary Modern and rock-based religious music All ages
RG Religious Gospel Traditional religious music Adults ages 25+
RL Religion Local or syndicated religious programming, often spoken-word, sometimes mixed with music Adults ages 25+
SA Soft Adult Contemporary A cross between adult contemporary and easy listening, primarily non-current, soft rock originals Mostly Women ages 25+
SB Soft Urban Contemporary Soft R&B, sometimes mixed with smooth jazz, often heavy in oldies Adults ages 35+
SG Southern Gospel Country flavored gospel music, also includes the “Christian country” or “positive country” format Adults ages 25+
SS Spanish Spanish-language programming, often paired with another type of programming, with equivalents of English formats including: SS-EZ (easily listening); SS-CH (contemporary hits); SS-AC (“modern” music); SS-NX-TK (news-talk); SS-RA (ranchero music); SS-TP (salsa, tropical); SS-TJ (tejano); SS-MX (regional Mexican); or SS-VA (variety) All ages
SX Sports Listed only if all or a substantial block of a broadcast day is devoted to play-by-play, sports news, interviews or telephone-talk Men ages 25+
TK Talk Talk, either local or network in origin, which can be telephone-talk, interviews, information or a mix Adults ages 25+
VA Variety Incorporating four or more distinct formats, either block-programmed or airing simultaneously All ages

An important key in making an effective radio imaging is to hire a professional voiceover. Choose your voice talent carefully. Their voice should reflect your station’s image or brand, and your target audience can easily identify with them – on gender, personality, attitude, energy, sound, tone, mood, diction, etc. You should look for talented and creative individuals who can work with you in putting together a sound that your audience will connect with. This is not an area for the amateur and inexperienced.

At The Voice Realm we provide thousands of radio stations around the world with the best experienced and professional voice talent at the most affordable rates. Make direct contact with voice talent through the most advanced online voice casting service. Hundreds of voices, thousands of demos, and no amateur voice talent to have to sort through. Affordable radio voice imaging is now within reach. Contact: info@thevoicerealm.com or visit the Contact page for help casting the perfect voice talent.


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