Being a radio presenter has been one of the most rewarding jobs I could have done and mostly because 5 years ago, I wouldn’t have dreamed of becoming one.
It seemed so glamorous and fancy that when I got my first shot at it, I was incredibly honored and twice as scared. What was I going to say? Who was going to listen? What if they all hated me?
Never mind that this was only a stint at my campus radio, to me it was the world!
A few years later and with a bit more experience under my belt, I know now that a career in radio isn’t all it’s painted out to be.
In fact here is a list of things they don’t tell you before becoming a radio presenter. They are things I have come to learn.
1 It’s NOT a never-ending party.
Who wouldn’t like to get paid to play music and talk for living right? Surely that’s easy enough. Wrong! While talking is one thing almost every one of us has had a lifetime of experience in, radio is the one profession that can make you doubt just how good your supposed ability to talk is.
See you don’t just talk. You entertain. You present. And trust me, every successful radio show has a team of producers planning shows, organizing shows and oh yeah, making sure you don’t mess up on-air.
While it’s still great to play music, on paid radio, most of the talking you do is to sell, sell, sell. Like it or not, product talk ups are how radio makes its money and this too is something you learn and master.
2 People can be extremely mean on social media.
Folks get very confident while behind the comfort of their computer and phone screens and there will always be ‘know-it-alls’ waiting to criticize and hate.
Oh it happened to me. I happen to have had the unfortunate luck of taking over from Jeremy Odhiambo on (dancehall radio) Uptown Radio and his listeners were anything BUT friendly about it. Worst one month on twitter for me! 😦 Although after referring to Agent Sasco as Agent ‘Sacco’ and unknowingly bringing some artists back from the dead, I would have hated me too had I been an avid dancehall fan. My advice? Develop thick skin and never take social media too seriously. I mean hey, I’m still here aren’t I?
3 Not everyone gets paid the same.
This applies in most work industries but it’s necessary to point this out thanks to the misconceived notion that every radio presenter is on a comically large pay check.
You earn your keep and get paid in relation to how big you are as a brand i.e. how much traction your work on air (and sometimes even off the air) creates for the radio station.
So when you finally get your foot through the door, if only for a while, play blind to the number of zeros they put in your account and let your worth and consistent effort speak for itself. Worst case scenario, you get noticed elsewhere and get poached.
Take Homeboyz Radio’s DJ Kafi, Frankie and Maxi for instance. They were handpicked from a weekly three hour show on campus radio and landed jobs working on one of Kenya’s major airwaves.
Imagine if they had given up on putting time and effort into their uncompensated campus radio show.
4 It’s a really small industry.
And you know what it means to be in a small industry… that word travels fast!! Play your cards right. Never ever burn bridges or worse, leave a reputation with not much to be desired.
5 Doing a one hour radio show doesn’t mean you talk for the full hour.
Lol. Any presenter who’s ever gotten the question “Gosh so you talk for all those hours??” knows what I’m talking about. Radio is (or rather should be) more music than talk. In an hour’s time, a radio presenter may have only spoken for about eight to 10 inter-spaced minutes. Yup. If you’ve never realized that then it’s because of what I said on point number 1. The part about ‘talking’.
6 Songs get old to you faster.
I mean we essentially play lots of songs in a day but by the time it’s Friday, you’re pretty tired of that brand new Justin Bieber jam that just won’t get out of your head!!
7 The more ‘air time’ you have, the nicer music artists are to you.
Let me show you how artists can be sometimes when a presenter is booking an interview…
Daily Daytime Show : “Most definitely. I’ll be there an hour earlier.”
Once a week show: “Hmm… can I confirm that to you later? Need to check my
Yeah you know yourselves.
8 School and Skill are two very different things.
Radio is definitely a lot more ‘hands-on’. No theory class thoroughly prepares you for the real deal because there is no way to simulate actual delivery and actual response to your delivery on air.
All in all, being on radio is a great experience and one that needs both the skill and the heart to do.
Hope you enjoyed the read!