Quick Guide on How to Become a Radio DJ! If you’re looking for a diverse and competitive profession that allows you to interact with others, a career as a radio DJ might be ideal for you. Radio disc jockeys combine technical knowledge with interpersonal skills to provide their listeners with music, news and entertainment. In this article, we explain what exactly a radio disc jockey is and what they do, explore the steps you can take to become one, review the average salary for a radio DJ and list the skills needed for this career.
What is a radio DJ?
A radio disc jockey, more commonly known as a radio DJ, chooses and broadcasts music for their listeners. They work for broadcast, internet and satellite radio stations, many of which specialize in a specific music genre. Aside from playing the genre of music that listeners expect on a specific station, radio DJs often specialize in a certain type of music, such as alternative, soft rock, country, rap, R&B, pop or rock-and-roll. In addition to playing music, radio DJs often provide local traffic and weather reports, conduct on-air interviews and comment on current events, like sports, pop culture or politics.
When they’re first beginning their career, radio disc jockeys often work odd hours, like early morning or late evening.
What does a radio DJ do?
Radio disc jockeys host themed radio shows with the goal of entertaining and informing their audience. In between introducing and playing songs, radio DJs:
Take calls from listeners
Talk about current events
Provide local weather and traffic reports
Perform commercials on behalf of the show or station’s sponsors
These broadcasting professionals must remain current on the latest music charts and social media trends. They sometimes represent their radio station by attending community events or concerts.
In the past, radio DJs curated all the music for their shows. Though there are some radio disc jockeys that can still choose the music they play, specifically those who work at an independent or college radio station, most commercial radio stations supply their DJs with music playlists that a program or music director has compiled. They usually choose the songs on these playlists based on market research.
How to become a radio host DJ
In order to begin your career as a radio DJ, you can follow these simple steps:
1. Earn a bachelor’s degree
Though education requirements can vary based on the employer, many radio DJs have a bachelor’s degree in communications, broadcasting or journalism. Because of this, earning your undergraduate degree can help make you a competitive candidate when beginning your career. Additionally, the courses that these majors offer can provide you with a strong foundation by teaching you essential skills. Some key courses often covered in these undergraduate programs include:
Broadcasting classes typically help students develop a knowledge of things that are essential to this career, such as software editing programs, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) guidelines and broadcasting equipment.
2. Complete an internship
Experience is typically just as valuable as formal education for a radio DJ, which is why completing an internship is so important. Aside from exposing you to the inner workings of a radio station, internships also give you a chance to network and meet industry professionals. Universities and colleges often help facilitate internships for students interested in radio broadcasting.
3. Get experience
Colleges and universities can provide students with hands-on experience through their campus radio stations. College radio stations offer students with valuable behind-the-scenes experience and on-air exposure. Because they often broadcast 24 hours a day, you can learn the best ways to engage listeners during the day and at night. Besides having the chance to get on the air, campus radio stations also expose you to things like:
Broadcasting law and ethics
4. Create a reel
When looking for a job as a radio disc jockey, radio stations usually request that you submit a reel with your resume. Reels allow radio stations to evaluate how a candidate communicates with their audience and sounds on air. Because they’re such a key component of a prospective employer’s hiring process, it’s essential that you put together a reel that showcases your best work.
5. Develop your on-air personality
It’s a good idea to start your career as a radio DJ in a smaller market before pursuing a job at a large-market station. In fact, industry professionals often advance their careers by moving to a large market station. Beginning your career in a smaller market gives you a chance to develop your skills, build your reputation and hone your on-air personality. Additionally, many large stations review a radio disc jockey’s ratings when evaluating candidates.
You can take advantage of your time working in a smaller market and make yourself a more attractive candidate to large-market employers by gaining experience in various areas. For example, you could:
Make promotional appearances
Update social media platforms
Sell air time to advertisers
Radio disc jockey salary
Though a disc jockey’s salary can vary based on their years of experience, audience size, ratings, employer and geographic location, the average salary for a DJ in the United States is $53,655 per year.
Skills for a radio DJ
Successful radio disc jockeys often possess certain key skills, like:
Interpersonal skills: Radio personalities interact with listeners, co-hosts, producers and more, so possessing well-developed interpersonal skills is key for this profession. They must develop a relationship with their audience and make them understood, entertained and comfortable.
Public speaking skills: In order to be successful as a radio DJ, you must be able to communicate clearly and confidently. Though they accomplish a majority of this role’s responsibilities in a private studio, radio DJs often make on-location public appearances when promoting the station or an advertiser.
Research skills: As a radio DJ, you must be able to research trends and current events so that you can create a program that is relevant and engaging.
Technical skills: Radio disc jockeys use a wide range of computers and programs, including various boards and broadcasting equipment.
Music Careers: How To Pursue Them and Different Types
The music industry includes a wide variety of jobs that you could consider pursuing. From being a musician to looking for a career in producing or marketing, you can likely find a job that matches your interests and skills. Learning about the different types of careers can help you create a more defined career path in this diverse market. In this article, we discuss why you should pursue a music career, different types of music careers, how to choose and pursue a music career and the top music careers to consider.
Why pursue a music career?
A career in music can have many benefits for a wide variety of professionals. Some musicians and music-related professionals enjoy high salaries and large networks that they can rely on throughout their careers. Many music jobs are seasonal or part time, which is great if you need flexibility or want to keep your full-time job while pursuing music as a hobby. The music field is constantly changing and growing, creating job availability and opportunities to find a career in music.
Types of music careers
Here are some music-related job categories and some of the positions within them:
Production: Music producer, record producer, production manager, sales, advertising, production music writer
Engineering: Audio engineer, mastering engineer, mix engineer, assistant engineer, recording engineer
Recording: Record label owner, sound technician, recording studio manager, recording group, sound designer
Manager: Personal manager, promotion manager, social media manager, nightclub manager, event manager, music store manager
Agent: Booking agent, tour agent, talent agent, general music agent, artist and repertoire agent
Publicist: Concert promoter, website designer, director of publicity, staff publicist, record industry advertising executive, public relations staff
Business: Regional sales manager, marketing coordinator, consumer researcher, accountant, field merchandiser, licensing representative
Composer: Lyricist, songwriter, copyist, commercial writer, video game music composer, conductor, concertmaster, orchestrator
Performing: Individual, group or backup vocalist, lead or background instrumental performer, DJ, dancer, show band, cover band, cruise ship musician
Touring: Stage manager, tour coordinator, tour manager, advance person, tour bus driver, guitar technician, piano tuner, lighting technician
Film, TV, and radio: Music editor, music video director, radio station music director, video jockey, radio DJ, production music writer
Education: General music teacher, college professor of music history, orchestra instructor, private music tutor, band or choir director
Health: Music therapist, voice therapist, speech pathologist, music psychology, hospital musician, bodyguard
Journalism: Music photographer, music historian, music critic, music blogger, music journalist, celebrity magazine writer
Law: Entertainment attorney, licensing administrator, legal counsel, media attorney, digital rights manager
Art: Poster artist, album cover designer, wardrobe designer, make-up artist, musical instrument designer
How to pursue a music career
Pursuing a music-related career involves many different factors depending on the job you want. For example, becoming a musician usually involves different steps than a music photographer. However, you could probably follow these general steps to get started in music:
1. Have a goal and a plan
Optimize your chances of success by creating one or more goals for your music career. Consider creating one long-term goal that you can achieve in about five years and making several smaller goals that can help you meet that overall objective. Maybe you need to continue your education with some classes, save up money so you can pursue music full time or develop a marketing strategy to reach your target audience. Write down your goals so you can refer to them and celebrate your successes as you progress.
2. Start slowly
It may take time to gain the resources you need and to find the right opportunity for starting your music career. Take the time to master your skills, whether it’s performing, music law, songwriting, marketing or music blogging. Sometimes it helps to treat your music career like it’s a small business and start by identifying your audience, building a team and developing a brand to market yourself.
Developing contacts, building professional relationships and networking in your area of the music industry is valuable to finding potential jobs or people who fit your team. Start with your local community and seek artists and professionals involved in your area of interest. You can do this both online and in person as you search for relevant communities, create industry connections and meet people who may help you start your career. Try to establish an online presence and present yourself to potential employers by using high-quality photos and videos on social media or setting up your own website.
Music careers to consider
Here are some popular and lucrative music careers that you might consider:
National average salary: $47,763 per year
Primary duties: A musician sings or plays an instrument, or they often do both. They also write and produce their music, offering live performances at entertainment venues and also recording albums. They may also provide entertainment at parties, perform on the street or play in organized musical groups.
National average salary: $54,624 per year
Primary duties: An accountant for a musical organization or individual musician oversees the general finances. Responsibilities include making financial decisions, keeping financial records, creating a budget, making financial plans and handling any other money-related tasks.
3. Audio engineer
National average salary: $79,544 per year
Primary duties: Audio engineers adjust the sound during live music performances or musical recordings. They ensure the quality of the sound, adjust the volume level and change audio effect. Audio engineers use computer programs and technical equipment while working with producers and performers to create music.
National average salary: $95,440 per year
Primary duties: An entertainment attorney handles any legal dealings and legally protects a musician or musical group. This position as a lawyer includes reviewing legal contracts and representing court cases in order to protect the interests of the musician or band.