According to the National Broadcasters Training Network, DJs ''seem to have a glamorous lifestyle, know all the right people, and talk about things that are important and interesting. They know the latest, hottest news and have all the inside tidbits in music, sports, entertainment, and politics. In short, DJs are cool. Plus, the idea of a job where you could potentially sleep all day, throw on a sweatshirt and headphones, and jam all night in your little booth sounds pretty appealing to most of the twentysomethings interested in DJ-ing.''
Yet being a radio DJ entails many more responsibilities than that, including hours of isolation, late weekend shifts, and lots of busy work and menial office chores. Radio DJs must start at the bottom and work their ways up. It isn’t easy, but some words of advice may speed up that climb up the ladder.
Become familiar with a wide range of topics, especially new trends in popular culture. Listeners may call with questions on anything, so a general knowledge of geography, politics, science, international relations, and the entertainment industry will help you come across as an authority on any subject.
Seek professional training to improve your voice and to make the sound and pitch of it more pleasing to listeners’ ears. If you’re not enrolled in broadcasting school already, you may want to hire a voice coach or drama teacher.
Work on your time management and organizational skills. Radio DJs need to be experts in well-prepared programming. They must schedule music and know when to air commercials, when to start and stop talking, and how much time is needed to finish the program. Technical difficulties, dead air, and awkward silences are the downfall of many a poorly organized DJ.
Start small, but be aggressive. Seek internships with small radio stations or get a job with the campus radio station if you are in broadcasting school. Be prepared on your first job for such chores as answering phones, getting coffee, distributing flyers, and working graveyard shifts and weekends for low pay.
Develop a signature personality. Have unique views on particular subjects and encourage audience participation in your shows through surveys and contests to distinguish yourself as an on-air personality.
Attend a broadcasting school to gain knowledge about radio work, to learn skills relevant to all fields of broadcasting (such as working a studio control panel), and to create an air check, a tape of your work which will be necessary in securing your first job. ''More importantly, broadcasting schools or broadcasting training programs show radio stations you are serious about becoming a DJ, that you have invested time and money into pursuing the craft, and that you will be a responsible member of their station,'' says the NBTN website.
There is a high degree of turnover in DJ positions, as computers have taken over many customary features of the job, experienced radio personalities are continually on the move to higher paying positions, and radio formats and station ownership are constantly subject to change.