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DJs make a lot of money: Truth of Lie?


It depends on what market you work in, what format you work in and unfortunately, what color you are. There are several formats: Urban, Rhythmic, Top 40, Country and Talk. Larger markets like LA, NY and Chicago pay better money. Corporations that handle urban formats and black corporations like Radio One do not believe in AFTRA contracts but several Top 40 and Rhythmic stations do, which often allows announcers to make better money and garner retirement opportunities. If you are a big star (from all backgrounds) you make the most money and that usually comes with unusual circumstances like a station that lets the DJs be themselves on the air. In urban radio that's extremely rare except for stations like V103 in Atlanta or KKDA in Dallas. In addition and unlike Top 40 or Rhythmic stations, a majority of the better-paying positions in urban radio are eaten up by syndication (The Tom Joyner Morning Show, Steve Harvey, Rickey Smiley etc)

Morning shows generally pay the best in all formats. Finally, DJs who make the most are usually the most daring like Charlemagne at Hot 105 in NY. Oddly enough, most smaller and mid-market stations would be terrified to hire a Radio DJ like Charlamagne because they often like to restrict their Radio DJs and make the station the star. When you work in a market like NY (which is the Number 1 market) you have the most control of your show but also the most pressure to deliver (win). MOST DJs assume that you can't work in New York, LA or Chicago until you paid dues for years… those are the DJs that rarely become successful. Angie Martinez and many other Radio DJs got their start in New York. The bold ones get the most attention.

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