5 things to know before going on-air

So you want to be a radio DJ? Well, it’s not all fast cars, big money, and endless fame. Being a disc jockey is an art, and it should be treated as such. It takes practice, patience, and a little know how to get it just right.

Luckily for you, there’s some things you can do now to prepare yourself for that first on-air shift later. Here are 5 things to think about before you venture into the realm of live radio.

1. Know the equipment

Before you can even think of talking into that microphone, first you have to know how to run the board. Depending on what type of studio you’re in, that can be pretty simple or intensively complicated.

For example, in the KDRU studio we have an 8 channel board; 4 channels for the mics, 2 for the computer decks, and 2 for the secondary monitor. Pretty straightforward, but can still take some getting used to.

In larger commercial stations, boards can have an insane number of channels to work with, and there are usually upwards of 3 monitors to keep an eye on at any given time.

Knowing the equipment inside and out also makes running the station less stressful, meaning you can focus less on the technical side of things and more on the content of your speech.

2. Know what you’ll say before turning on the mic

Once you have the equipment down pat, shift your focus to over to your speech. All too often this happens; the song comes to an end, you know you have a break coming up, but by the time it’s there, you draw a blank. You fumble with the call letters for a second before shakily announcing what’s next, then segue outta there.

Being nervous is part of it, and that’s perfectly okay. Being unprepared is the rest of it, and that can easily be remedied. Know what you’re trying to convey, think before you speak, and then go. Type it out on a note if you have to.

3. The art of segueing

Here’s a tip to make your broadcasts sound more polished and professional; instead of waiting for the song to end and then talking, why not speak over the song as it fades out?

Many newcomers fail to do this, and we can’t blame them. There’s a lot going on in your head that first time on-air, and knowing when to start talking is a tough one to master.

Many studios can (and should) provide the ability to preview a song before playing it on the air. That way you can preview the end of a song and see if it ends cold or fades out. Give it a try!

4. Practice. Practice. Practice.

They say it takes 10,000 hours of experience before you can consider yourself a master of any topic. The same holds true in radio, and maybe even to a greater degree.

From running a board, to speaking shake free, to professional segueing, all of these skills take time and patience to master. So if you’re nervous about being heard in someone’s car radio remember; we all were at some point.

Only through repetition do radio newbies eventually become the talk of the town. So take a deep breath, focus, and try your absolute best. Practice truly does make perfect.

5. Make a show of it

Now that you are more comfortable with running a playlist and interjecting thoughts throughout, it’s time to make your very own original program.

Consider a few things when making a show all your own:

  • What interests you? Are you passionate about it?
  • Will listeners find it interesting/care?
  • What is the end goal of the show? To entertain, or enlighten?

When you have a positive answer to all of these, you have a working show. The next step it to just do it. Just like learning the basics, the only way to improve a show is to try it, and keep trying it.

Have any other tips or strategies? Leave us a comment below!