When I went to college back in ’97, they were still teaching us how to “cue up a record” and how to use a reel-to-reel to make commercials. For reels (sorry… had to do it). I remember learning about Marconi (like that had anything to do with actual radio). What they didn’t prepare me for was the reality of working at a radio station in the modern world.
At Hesser College, they don’t teach you about the quirky people and insanity that you’ll eventually run into when you work in radio. They don’t tell you that “you haven’t really worked in radio until you’ve been fired.” They also don’t tell you that it’s probably not a good idea to have a guy shove a broken drumstick up his rectum in front of 600 people at a station event (more on that later).
Here’s some things that I HAVE learned in the last 14 years of working in radio.
1. We love free shit. Seriously. Radio doesn’t pay very well… at least not in most small markets. So when DJs get a chance to score some free stuff, like food and tickets, along with other goods and services, we’ll take them.
2. Clear Channel sucks… and has ruined radio for many reasons. Having worked for Clear Channel, I have some actual knowledge of this. Their number one concern is the almighty dollar. Not radio. They don’t care about listeners. They don’t care about their employees. And they certainly don’t care about you. They gobble up radio stations across the country and homogenize them. They downsize talent to save money and destroy the job market by running Seacrest on over 150 stations in North America instead of good, local jocks.
3. Don’t leave something in the fridge in the commissary over the weekend. Part-timers are generally poor – and hungry. Put those two qualities together, and your Hot Pocket or Lean Cuisine doesn’t stand a chance of lasting until Monday.
4. People still think radio DJs talk like they did in the ‘80s. In the business of radio, they’re known as a “puker.” I see part-timers who are fresh out of broadcasting school who still talk like this.
(at the 0:58 mark)
5. Radio really can make a difference in someone’s life. I’ve been lucky to work for a great company for the last eight years, one that supports our community and uses our airwaves not just to entertain and advertise, but also to help local families who struggle with everything from cancer to floods. I’m not a warm and fuzzy kind of guy, but there’s been more than a few moments when I’ve had a tear or two from seeing the results of a fundraiser or charity event that our station/company has been a part of.
6. It takes an average of three weeks to get sick of a song. Week 1: ”Hey, I kinda like this.” Week 2: “This is my FAVORITE new song.” Week 3: You want to asphyxiate yourself to silence the awfulness.
Now, that’s just a short list… and there’s plenty of other crap that you learn along the way. Just like any job there’s lots of amazing people who help you out and become great friends. But there’s also a lot of cocks who think they walk on water and definitely take themselves too seriously. These people are the WORST and are like a cancer in your building. They’re the kind of people who’d make fun of a wounded military veteran on-air. Yeah… breathe that in. Smells foul.
Luckily, these bad people are so full of themselves that they think there’s always a better job out there for them with a bigger market and more money, so they don’t stick around very long.