My job in radio involves a lot of teaching. It is my favorite aspect of my job from guiding new air talent on my air-staff to teaching a college radio course in my area. The one constant of graduating students, former interns and others in my world is me being asked “How can I get a job in radio? or “How can I progress to a full time job?” Don’t let the title of my article fool you. There is nothing EASY about it but in spite of the changing climate of radio I still believe those who really want it will get it. If you don’t have a seat at the table find a way to bring your own chair. Here are a few of my thoughts to consider when trying to achieve your own radio dream in this very unique business.
E-VALUATE. What is it that you want ultimately? On air? Off air? Anything at the radio station? Will you move or relocate? Are you willing to accept the fact that staying local may lessen the opportunities? How much money do you want to make? How much money do you NEED to make? What is your level of sacrifice in the name of reaching an end goal. What are you personal commitments to family? These are all real questions to ask yourself as you come up with a game plan to really dial in on what you want out of the business. Don’t chase a dream that you don’t have any intention in realizing. It is just a waste of time for you and the people around of you.
E-DUCATE. The best thing you can do is educate yourself on the business as much as possible. Research is free. Become a student of your craft so you can become a master of it later. Know about formats, radio companies, markets, people of influence. Sign up for daily newsletters like RAMP. Read Allaccess.com and FMQB.com daily for industry news. I am not saying you need to understand turnover ratio as you are just starting out but get to know the players and landscape. If you can find a mentor you are ahead of the game. Ask questions. Show interest. Show engagement.
E-NVIRONMENT. You are the master of your own happiness. Make sure the people you are surrounding yourself are supportive of your dream. Radio is unorthodox. Holidays, late night hours and a 24/7 nature is part of the game. Make sure you are not around toxic people who will impede your success. Find supportive family and friends to cheer you on in those times of frustration. Once you are in the business “environment” shifts to taking advantage of where you are. If you are a board op are you using the production room in off hours to make audition tapes? Are you attending station events on your own without having to be paid? The true reality is you have to be your own best advocate. You need to take advantage of your environment and the tools and people around you as much as you are going to be taken advantage of as an employee.
E-XECUTE. If you are job hunting are you following instruction? If the vacancy ad says “no calls” are you honoring those wishes. Do you send your materials to PD’s when they are NOT hiring? PD’s have MORE time to listen to a random aircheck sent to them as opposed to putting an ad out and having hundreds fill his or her inbox. If a station just flipped formats or has a new manager have the forethought to send some materials unsolicited. Still be respectful of a PD’s time however. I often get the comment from newcomers that they cant get that first gig due to the lack of positions are radio station that use voicetracking etc. Today you do NOT need a terrestrial radio station to be heard. ANYONE can put their material or put a show on over the internet which can be heard WORLD-WIDE. Not having a job is no longer an excuse to not be able to get a job. Invest 300 dollars in a mic and editing software (audacity is free). Create a show and put it on the internet. It will be good practice in the meanwhile.
E-ARN. There are so many different paths to achieve what you want. There is no ONE right way to get to your goal. Work hard and EARN your place. DO NOT get discouraged or worry about others and their pace. Focus on yourself. Talent in the EAR of the beholder. For every 10 people that don’t like you, someone will. If your path is not turning out as you hoped or quickly as you like do not get discouraged. You need a thick skin to survive. Also be open to putting a dream on hold or altering what your endgame is. Flexibility is key in life and in radio.