Radio is just the Beginning
The time has come for Radio DJs to wake up and take a good look at your career. Let’s explore the good and the bad. Today, being a Radio DJ is the START of a career.
If you can’t make it to a top 10 market in the first 5 years of your career these days, you may want to reconsider. If you MAKE radio a long-term career knows that your success will be limited to your market, ratings, the station’s programmer, and the corporation’s decision to maintain the format. If that suits you well then so be it. Is that how you want to end your career?
I’m willing to bet if you ask 10 Radio DJs over 40 what they regret most in their careers they will tell you failing to plan and not taking more chances. We are the liasons between the music and fans of the music and our roles are dwindling with digital taking over and corporations growing. Fans are not loyal and the stations know this so what are you holding on to and why? I can honestly tell you after 20 years of doing this site and the magazine that stories about radio station Radio DJs that get the MOST views and shares are when we announce they have died.
I invite you to look up any black radio person that has died over the last 2 years in the search bar in the header and see how many shares they get. The climb for urban radio Radio DJs is MUCH slower than CHR or Rhythmic Radio DJs so on average it takes us 5 years to get to where they get in less than 2. Do you want to leave your career in a vulnerable state or use your leverage (success) to reach a higher high? Do you only want to get your feet wet or do you want to swim in the Olympics?
There are many successful urban Radio DJs out there as you read this who are WAY too comfortable in their current positions and who are not expanding or using their leverage to grow. You will not always be where you are right now and when you are doing well at a station (PPM) that’s not the time to rest it’s the time to go to WORK! Are there other opportunities that you should be considering (even in that market like TV)?
Don’t expect major market PDs from other formats to come knocking on your door, for urban it doesn’t work that way. In addition, don’t be afraid of going after a CHR or Rhythmic gig. Don’t believe that just because the portion of black Radio DJs working on those stations is low that you don’t have a chance. Perhaps other black Radio DJs don’t apply BECAUSE they think they can’t get the gig either but there are black Radio DJs working in CHR and Rhythmic radio.
Finally, desire something greater. There is no half stepping when it comes to a broadcasting career and there are many options. Let radio serve its purpose and be your stepping stone. There is only one Steve Harvey and Wendy Williams and hundreds upon hundreds of average radio DJs. Who are you?
Your Personal Past May Haunt you: Be Prepared
Drug and Alcohol addictions or addictions of any kind are birthed through unresolved (mostly) childhood issues. Success doesnt cure it, it usually exacerbates it. I cannot BEGIN to tell you how many radio careers I have seen literally destroyed or permantley stifled because of addictions. Unfurtunately, we are not rich celebrities who can afford lavish treatment centers so we must use the next best thing, quality therapy.
We ALL have our secrets so know that you are not alone because EVERYBODY has a past. The key is how you deal with it. In some cases past negative situations can drive you to succeed further or they can cripple your chance of success or both. Black people don’t generally believe in therapy and while it is my (second) field of study I understand why. There are many therapists out there who will string you along for years and never fix your problem just to collect your money.
I strongly suggest if you have a nagging childhood issue to get Cognitive Therapy by a trained professional with credentials. It’s therapy on steroids that lasts less than a year and is based on behavior modification. Our problems are usually based on perceptions that we THINK are reality and this is what Cognitive Therapy corrects.
Don’t leave your fate in the hand of others, Hone Your Craft
…Unless they are your manager and even then keep a close eye. Don’t EVER allow someone else to determine your fate in radio and don’t ever wait too long for a break. CREATE IT. Compliments are nice and insults may be motivating but take BOTH like a grain of salt, have a goal and keep your focus on your GOAL. There are times that too many compliments make us lazy as well as too many insults can make us give up. Know what you want and go after it like it’s already yours.
Everything Lost can be Found Again…. Except Wasted Time
When I think about some of the people I have surrounded myself with during my career in 30 years, the many bosses I have had in the industry who I was smarter and more qualified than and the opportunities that I passed on based on the advice of people who were absolutely not my friends, it makes me sick and it makes me mad. If I can do ANYTHING to help younger Radio DJs in the industry it would be to tell you that negative, empty, jealous, rotten and bitter people come in all shapes, sizes and positions and they can come disguised as friends.
I’m not asking you to be distrustful of everyone but a GREAT way to see how people will treat you behind your back is to watch the way they treat other people behind theirs. You can’t change the mind of a grown man or woman and sometimes you will think you are helping them and you are destroying yourself by giving up that energy. Let them succumb to their own slow miserable toxic endings and don’t let them suck you into their hate-filled dead spirited vortex. (is that enough of a description?).
For MANY years I was not able to realize that there were people even bosses who were jealous of my skills because I had never been jealous of anyone. I foolishly took it personally like something was wrong with me and that’s exactly what those demons expected. NEVER give away your power. Wherever there is competition there is jealousy, envy and backstabbing even from bosses in some cases. Know that what you think of yourself is the MOST important thing.
If you are over 35 and still waiting for someone to discover you, you should do something else.
Can anything really be said after that?
Don’t be afraid to look for another opportunity
If you get fired for looking for another job let me know and I will personally call the PD myself on it. There is no excuse for stopping someone from growing except racism or jealously and that sucks.
Ignoring Social Media is like starving yourself
When I tell you EVERYTHING is social media today, I mean to say EVERYTHING. If you don’t have an online presence you are probably missing some amazing opportunities. Many radio station websites have very poor rankings and I have been told my several programmers that it’s very difficult to find web designers who know radio. I can understand that because it’s also hard to find radio people who can write, however, even if you have to hire someone to put your name out there, just do it.
Drive your own vehicle
Plan your career for 5 years and try your best to stick to it. What market do you want to start in and what market do you want to end up in in 5 years. You get stuck when you get comfortable. Constantly keep trying to get into the final market you are trying to get to by sending the PD(s) your mp3. My best