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Become An On-Air Disc Jockey

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Working As An On-Air Disc Jockey

  • Thinking Creatively
  • Getting Information
  • Communicating with Persons Outside Organization
  • Performing for or Working Directly with the Public
  • Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events
  • Mostly Sitting

  • Stressful

  • $59,000

    Average Salary

What Does An On-Air Disc Jockey Do

Announcers present music, news, and sports and may provide commentary or interview guests about these other important topics. Some act as masters of ceremonies (emcees) or disc jockeys (DJs) at weddings, parties, or clubs.

Duties

Radio and television announcers typically do the following:

  • Present music, news, sports, the weather, the time, and commercials
  • Interview guests and moderate panels or discussions on their shows
  • Announce station programming information, such as program schedules, station breaks for commercials, or public service information
  • Research topics for comment and discussion during shows
  • Read prepared scripts on radio or television shows
  • Comment on important news stories
  • Provide commentary for the audience during sporting events, at parades, and on other occasions
  • Select program content
  • Make promotional appearances at public or private events

Radio and television announcers present music or the news and comment on important current events. Announcers are expected to be up to date with current events or a specific field, such as politics or sports, so that they can comment on these issues during their programs. They may research and prepare information on current topics before appearing on air. In addition, announcers schedule guests on their shows and work with producers to develop other creative content.

The following are examples of types of radio and television announcers:

Disc jockeys, or DJs, broadcast music for radio stations. They typically specialize in one kind of music genre and announce selections as they air them. While on air, DJs comment on the music being broadcast as well as on weather and traffic conditions. They may take requests from listeners, interview guests, or manage listener contests.

Talk show hosts may work in radio or television and specialize in a certain area of interest, such as politics, personal finance, sports, or health. They contribute to the preparation of program content, interview guests, and discuss issues with viewers, listeners, or the studio audience.

Podcasters record shows that can be downloaded for listening through a computer or mobile device. Like traditional talk radio, podcasts typically focus on a specific subject, such as sports, politics, or movies. Podcasters may also interview guests and experts on the specific program topic. However, podcasts are different than traditional radio broadcasts. Podcasts are prerecorded so audiences can download and listen to these shows at any time. Listeners can also subscribe to a podcast to have new episodes automatically downloaded to their computer or mobile devices.

Radio and television announcers also may be responsible for other aspects of television or radio broadcasting. They may operate studio equipment, sell commercial time to advertisers, or produce advertisements and other recorded material. At many radio stations, announcers do much of the work traditionally done by editors and broadcast technicians, such as broadcasting program schedules, commercials, and public service announcements.

Many radio and television announcers increasingly maintain a presence on social media sites. Establishing a presence allows them to promote their stations and better engage with their audiences, especially through listener feedback, music requests, or program contests. Announcers also make promotional appearances at charity functions or other community events.

Many radio stations now require DJs to update station websites with show schedules, interviews, or photos.

Public address system and other announcers typically do the following:

  • Meet with event directors to review schedules and obtain other event details
  • Present information or announcements, such as train schedules or security precautions
  • Introduce upcoming acts and guide the audience through the entertainment
  • Provide commentary for a live audience during sporting, performing arts, or other events
  • Make promotional appearances at public or private events

A public address system announcer’s role is to enhance the performance and entertain and inform the audience. They may prepare their own scripts or improvise lines in their speeches.

The specific duties of public address system announcers will vary greatly depending on where these announcers work. For example, a ringmaster at a circus directs the audience’s attention to the appropriate act.

Train announcers are responsible for reading prepared scripts containing details and data related to train schedules and safety procedures. Their job is to provide information rather than entertainment.

Public address system announcers for a sports team may have to present starting lineups (official lists of players who will participate in an event), read advertisements, and announce players as they enter and exit a game.

The following are examples of types of public address system and other announcers:

Party DJs are hired to provide music and commentary at an event, such as a wedding, a birthday party, or a corporate party. Many DJs use digital files or portable media devices.

Emcees host planned events. They introduce speakers or performers to the audience. They may tell jokes or provide commentary to transition from one speaker to the next.

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How To Become An On-Air Disc Jockey

Educational requirements for announcers vary. Radio and television announcers typically need a bachelor’s degree in journalism, broadcasting, or communications, along with work experience gained from internships or working at their college radio or television station. Public address announcers typically need a high school diploma. Both occupations will typically need some short-term on-the-job training.

Education

Although public address announcers do not need any formal education beyond a high school diploma, radio and television announcers should have a bachelor’s degree to be competitive for entry-level positions. Radio and television announcers typically need a bachelor’s degree in programs such as communications, broadcasting, or journalism.

College broadcasting programs offer courses, such as voice and diction, to help students improve their vocal qualities. In addition, these programs prepare students to work with the computer and audio equipment and software used at radio and television studios.

Training

Public address system and other announcers typically need short-term on-the-job training upon being hired. This training allows these announcers to become familiar with the equipment they will be using during sporting and entertainment events. For sports public address announcers, training also may include basic rules and information for the sports they are covering.

Radio and television announcers may also need some short-term on-the-job training to learn to operate the audio and production equipment. Many employers, however, expect applicants to have some basic skills prior to employment. Applicants typically gain these skills from their college degree program, work on the college radio or television station, or previous internships.

Advancement

Because radio and television stations in smaller markets have smaller staff, advancement within the same small-market station is unlikely. Rather, many radio and television announcers advance by relocating to a station in a larger market.

Announcers typically need a few years at a small-market station to work out the “kinks” of their on-air personalities. During that time, they learn to sound more comfortable and credible as an on-air talent and become more conversational with their cohosts and guests. Therefore, time and experience allow applicants to advance to positions in larger markets, which offer higher pay and more responsibility and challenges.

When making hiring decisions, large-market stations rely on announcers’ personalities and past performance. Radio and television announcers need to have proven that they can attract, engage, and keep a sizeable audience.

Many stations also rely on radio and television announcers to do other tasks, such as creating and updating a social media presence on social networking sites, making promotional appearances on behalf of the station, or even selling commercial time to advertisers. Therefore, an applicant needs to have demonstrated versatility and flexibility at the smaller market station.

Important Qualities

Computer skills. Announcers, especially those seeking careers in radio or television, should have good computer skills and be able to use computers, editing equipment, and other broadcast-related devices.

Interpersonal skills. Radio and television announcers must be able to interview guests and answer phone calls on air. Party disc jockeys (DJs) and emcees should be comfortable working with clients to plan entertainment options.

Persistence. Entry into this occupation is very competitive, and many auditions may be needed for an opportunity to work on the air. Many entry-level announcers must be willing to work for a small station and be flexible to move to a small market to secure their first job.

Research skills. Announcers must research the important topics of the day in order to be knowledgeable enough to comment on them during their program.

Speaking skills. Announcers must have a pleasant and well-controlled voice, good timing, and excellent pronunciation.

Writing skills. Announcers need strong writing skills because they normally write their own material.

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Top Skills for An On-Air Disc Jockey

  1. Radio Station
  2. DJ
  3. Television Commercials
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Turned around 15 dead accounts through individualized marketing strategies utilizing heavy rotation schedules on 2 of the 4 company radio stations.
  • Key Skills: Radio Production Skills, Learned How To Be A DJ, Programmed Requested Music, Take Requests For Songs
  • Introduced and played music, performed as on-air personality, selected commercials and promotions, and maintained station copyright logs.
  • Produced tags and Station ID, s. Specified audio equipment purchases and provide some equipment repair as needed.
  • Monitor and document transmitter power levels to ensure station is operating within FCC approved guidelines.

On-Air Disc Jockey Demographics

Gender

Male

60.3%

Female

32.1%

Unknown

7.6%
Ethnicity

White

64.4%

Hispanic or Latino

16.3%

Black or African American

10.4%

Asian

5.5%

Unknown

3.4%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

50.0%

French

11.1%

Portuguese

8.3%

Chinese

5.6%

Polish

5.6%

Welsh

2.8%

Japanese

2.8%

Russian

2.8%

Mandarin

2.8%

Korean

2.8%

Arabic

2.8%

Italian

2.8%
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On-Air Disc Jockey Education

Schools

Texas State University

12.4%

Emerson College

8.5%

Curry College

7.8%

Western Illinois University

6.2%

Georgia State University

5.4%

University of North Texas

4.7%

Eastern Illinois University

4.7%

San Jose State University

4.7%

University of Iowa

4.7%

Colorado State University

4.7%

Ithaca College

3.9%

Missouri University of Science and Technology

3.9%

San Francisco State University

3.9%

University of Akron

3.9%

Middle Tennessee State University

3.9%

Kent State University

3.9%

Susquehanna University

3.9%

Syracuse University

3.1%

Ohio State University

3.1%

San Antonio College

3.1%
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Majors

Communication

35.3%

Journalism

9.4%

Photography

6.2%

Audiovisual Communications Technologies

5.8%

Business

5.6%

Digital Media

4.8%

English

3.8%

Political Science

3.8%

Music

3.4%

Electrical Engineering

2.8%

Marketing

2.8%

Public Relations

2.6%

History

2.0%

Entertainment Business

1.8%

Computer Science

1.8%

Graphic Design

1.8%

Agricultural Public Services

1.6%

Fine Arts

1.6%

Management

1.6%

Theatre

1.6%
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Degrees

Bachelors

61.7%

Other

17.8%

Associate

8.4%

Masters

6.6%

Certificate

3.9%

Diploma

0.9%

License

0.4%

Doctorate

0.3%
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