Interval signal

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The interval signal of Voice of Turkey as heard in 2013.

An interval signal, or tuning signal, is a characteristic sound or musical phrase used in international broadcasting, numbers stations, and by some domestic broadcasters, played before commencement or during breaks in transmission, but most commonly between programmes in different languages. It serves several purposes:

  • It assists a listener to tune his or her radio to the correct frequency of the station. This is because most older and cheaper radio receivers do not have digital frequency readout.
  • It informs other stations that the frequency is in use.
  • It serves as a station identifier even if the language used in the subsequent broadcast is not one the listener understands.

The practice began in Europe in the 1920s and 1930s and was carried over into shortwave broadcasts. The use of interval signals has declined with the advent of digital tuning systems, but has not vanished. Interval signals were not required on commercial channels in the USA, where jingles were used as identification.

Broadcasting services and interval signals[edit]

Formerly used[edit]

Classical Radio Station WQXR-FM in New York City, during its ownership by The New York Times Company, played different variations of a classical infused gong with the ID read at the same time as "The Classical Station of the New York Times, WQXR, New York (And 2000-2009)[citation needed]

Numbers stations interval signals[edit]

Numbers stations are often named after their interval signals, such as The Lincolnshire Poacher or Magnetic Fields after "Magnetic Fields Part 1" by Jean-Michel Jarre.


Frost, Jens Mathiesen (1974). World Radio-TV Handbook 1974. London: Billboard Publications. p. 408. ISBN 0823058980.

Sennitt, Andrew G.; David Bobbitt (December 2005). World Radio and Television Handbook 2006. Billboard Books. p. 608. ISBN 0-8230-7798-5.

Sennitt, Andrew G. World Radio and Television Handbook 1997. Billboard Books. p. 560. ISBN 0-8230-7797-7.

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