SO YOU WANT TO BE ON RADIO: MY HARD TRUTHS
You have been told you have a great voice. Your friends find your commentary witty and engaging and ask why you have not considered working on radio. They assume it is a no-brainer for you since you’re talkative and your voice tones and modulations seem suited to the “rigours” of being an On-Air Personality.
I can relate.
It kind of started off like that for me; Holding court at the back of the class a few minutes before prep time ended, talking about football’s greatest players and teams, chipping in my own thoughts and heavily tainted opinions. On top of that I was considered a music connoisseur of sorts, who knew the latest songs and even had the audacity to front an r&b group in secondary school in the nineties!
Then one day, I don’t know if he remembers this but the man Chicago now knows as DJ Dee Money asked me, “Have you considered studying Mass Communication and going into Radio?”
That was the light bulb moment for me.
Fortunately, I had no grand illusions of what was to be expected unlike many I meet today.
I am reminded of a scene in the 1st episode of FM, (a short -lived British TV show) when an intern was introduced to the other “DeeJays” and he asked, “Does it get you a lot of pussy?”
Which brings me to this; whatever your intentions are when taking up this noble profession, here are a few “need-to-knows” to help cushion the impact of the harsh realities you may face on impact.
- FANS WILL HATE YOU – You get introduced to the rest of the team and it so happens that you are probably going to take over someone’s shift (Lord Help you if it’s the Breakfast slot). Behind the polite smiles are vicious thoughts of a thousand ways to kill you. You will be continually compared to the one you have replaced and your patience will be tested by their fan base. Imagine reeling out an inspiring chirpy speech-band welcoming the listener to the new day and then you open the phone lines. A caller on the other end demands to have the previous presenter back on air since you are not doing so well! How would you handle that?
- THERE ARE NO REAL FRIENDS – A few months into the job, you are amazed at how popular you are with the A-listers. They have your phone number and call you up often to see if you are doing okay. They also assure you that you are the 1st to get the gist on an upcoming gig, a new single or an album release. You get comfortable. You share family secrets over booze and then one day, your shift ends and you are no longer a prime time listen on radio. You are surprised no one calls you anymore to bring you up to speed. You even get shunned at events. They change their numbers or hand the lines over to some arrogant prick (aka artiste manager) who considers you a nuisance, since he knows every intricate detail of your life already. And he may have been right. Now, how would that make you feel?
- THE BOSS IS NEVER IMPRESSED – You work hard at assimilating everything in the news, so you would come up fresh and up to date when you open the microphone. Your music playlist is impeccable; every song matches the mood set by your words. A fan needs a request, you are quick to deliver the right song and save the day! You look over the social media timelines, nothing but praise is heaped on your fantastic performance. You are on fire! Then you get a text message from the boss to see him as soon your shift is done. There goes your plan to have a drink afterwards. You know it is never good news when “Darkseid” (the nickname you gave your boss) decides to send such a text. You are not wrong for as soon as you set one foot in his office he hits you machine gun style with one hundred and fifty things you did wrong On-Air and wonders why he should not query you and slash your salary while he is at it.
- PAYOLA – Every radio personality faces this dilemma. To collect or not to collect? To play or not to play? Your salary is not fantastic. In fact, you barely pay for the one room shack you live in. But you have managed to get a few gigs as an event host and there has been some pocket change from voice-over jobs. But the girlfriend is complaining that you work too hard with very little to show for it. She is not so sure about marriage plans anymore. Then these money miss roads approach you. They are probably big time money launderers or drug kingpins. Decked out in flashy wears and riding aesthetically enhanced mechanical beasts. They need a favour; if you play the song you will get paid. Handsomely too. You listen to it. It makes you want to puke. But the video is on heavy rotation; even your colleagues assure you it is a banger. You have got mad bills to pay. Wetin you wan do?
- KEEPING UP APPEARANCES – You are an introvert. But you have the gift of setting the roof on fire once the On-Air Sign lights up. The fans imagine you are a party animal. You would much rather fold up on the couch with chicken laps and stout and watch a good romantic comedy! Your Boss thinks it is time to capitalize on your image. You change your dress-code and attend every freaking out of bound event just so you make the station look good. Where this does not hurt is if it reflects nicely on your account balance. If not, sorry.
So there, 5 scenarios which are a bit advanced though. There are a few minor omitted details which could still cost you your happiness and sanity like failing to play commercials at appropriate times, especially if you are on a very long lonely shift with no one but the mic to talk to. Or erroneously running an advert and getting surcharged for it.
As for whether you will get lots of pussy? As a guy or girl who swings that way, yes of course. All depends on how you play your game. And how often you will need medical attention for your STDs or Spiritual Attention for the good-luck you would fritter away in moments of high passion.
Anyway, you will cope.
Now, do you still want to be on radio?