Radio is a crazy industry and I’m pretty sure one of the requirements of working in this field is to be a little crazy yourself. However, below are a few things every radio DJ is just SICK of hearing…
1. You’re so lucky, you get to just talk for a living.
You’re right. I am grateful every day to have a job that is so unique and fun. However, much more goes into getting a job like mine than “luck” and it takes a lot more to keep it than “just talking.”
2. I could’ve totally done my own radio show.
This is a back-handed way of implying that you are fully capable of doing what I do but with zero experience. And I could’ve been a marine biologist…but then I realized I suck at math and can’t swim. Just like ANY job, some level of training and skill goes into it. To assume you could just jump in and be a pro is insulting and ignorant.
3. How much do you make?
This is rude no matter what field someone works in! Stop asking this! And to curb some of that curiosity, probably a lot less than you think…Lol
4. Can I get free tickets to (insert show here)?
Contrary to popular belief, I don’t get a fat stack of tickets to hand out, keep, or sell on stub hub any time an artist is in town. Usually a certain number of tickets is given to my company and they are usually all allotted for contests. In fact, sometimes it’s hard for me to even get a ticket to a show I want to see.
5. So are you trying to be like Howard Stern or something?
Lol no. There’s only one Howard Stern and only one me. I’m just trying to work hard and be successful in my own right.
6. I have a great idea for your show…
No you don’t.
7. What’s your backup plan?
Being a Starbucks barista. UHM my backup plan?! This is my CAREER. I’m sorry if it makes you uncomfortable that I’ve decided to take on certain risks and challenges in order to be successful and do something I love, but I couldn’t live any other way.
8. Why aren’t you doing TV?
Television is great. So is what I do. They are completely different mediums and each requires a different, specialized skill set with some overlap. Just don’t assume that everyone who works in radio wants to be on tv. Many work their whole lives to master a particular format and love going to work in pajamas thank you very much 🙂
9. Omg I’m SO SORRY!!! I NEVER even listen to the radio!
I don’t care. OMG! You’re a mortgage banker!!? I’m sooooo sorry because I rent and don’t buy! Lol I’m not offended if someone chooses not to be a huge radio listener…but I know you’re lying when you say you NEVER listen.
10. Radio is a dying industry.
Radio has undergone drastic changes over the past few years. Jobs are not as abundant, pay has decreased and talent is at an all time low. BUT, if you’re talented, work hard, and dedicate yourself, there is still opportunity to be just as happy and rich as the next person. I’ve seen it with my own eye balls!
11. Wanna host (insert here) for free? It’s only a few hours.
Aside from charity events, assuming that I should always do my job for free, is essentially saying that what I do has no real value and either does my time. If anyone can do it, maybe you should just do it yourself.
12. Can you mention my business on the air?!
That’s illegal. Not only could I potentially lose my job, you are asking me to do what I get paid for, for free again. Businesses pay me money to talk about them. I get a cut, sales gets a cut and so does the company I work for. If you’d like to buy some airtime I can definitely point you in the right direction though!
Just be respectful of people and their craft, no matter what it is 🙂
160 thoughts on “12 Things To Stop Saying To People In Radio”
t sounds a little like Mr. Colbert’s ” Everything I ever wanted you to know about me but were afraid you’d never ask” bit! I am afraid that Bobby is correct with his “arrogant” observation. I am surprised that anyone asks you anything.
Nothing like being arrogant and having a bad attitude while your industry dries up… because you have this attitude and don’t care for your customers.
It can’t die if 98% of households have a radio. As a fellow radio personality, I these comments all to well (in two languages). Meanwhile, I’d never tell someone that’s a physician’s assistant all these things. It’d be considered rude.
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Great blog ! One thing was missing from the list, “There is no money in radio.” I hate when people in and out of the industry tell me this. I’ve been making money in radio since day one. In fact I’ve made money and enjoyed the freedom that comes from being an entrepreneur in radio. If you limit yourself to just talking on radio you’ll have to be hugely talented and very lucky. However, if you know how to use a board and operate a radio automation program your chances of being employed in radio just shot up 1000%. Just to be honest, I totally pulled that number out of the air. Anyway, there are “more ways than one to skin a cat”. In fact, there are many positions available for creative broadcast enthusiast in the business of radio. Moreover, these opportunities are not limited to employment or owning your own station. That’s right! You can make money in radio and be self employed. All it takes is a little out of the box thinking and the ability to follow through. I could go on and on, but I’m going to leave your readers with this; the more you know the further you will go and the more you learn the more you’ll earn” If you don’t know the basic mechanics of radio, you’ll either have to pay someone who does or compete with one. ~Ron Ash (The Being Talk Radio Network)
Love it, thanks for sharing! My favorite (and the most frequent comment I get) was “I could do that too.” I don’t walk into a doctor’s office and tell the doctor I could do his job…
Good read, G. I disagree with the folks here who say you are being arrogant, but what it might really be is just a hint of ignorance on your part. The questions you get tired of answering are the essence of what makes radio interesting to everyone else (save for some of the, “what do you make?” type queries.) They think we get free tickets, work short hours and “just talk.” So that’s what makes what we do so cool. Kidd Kraddick once told me we owe it to listeners to live the lives they think we are living. So play up how little time you put in (even if you’re prepping 23 hours a day), how fun the concert was (even if you had to buy your own tickets). And the biggest mistake I ever made was dismissing someone’s idea for my show. Some of our best stuff (and yours, someday) comes from the minds and mouths of listeners. Cultivate that.
When people say that they could totally do a radio show, they might not be demeaning the work you do, they are probably more than likely complimenting you on the type of life they picture you living. It’s that image that people love, and might generally be referring to a quality like that in their own life which they picture YOU making sound funny if you were to tell their story.
It might be the same if you ever said, “Whew, my life should be a reality show.” Not a slam against the producers and writers of reality TV, but just an admission that, at times, crazy crap happens to you.
Same with the Howard Stern comment, which you should also take as a compliment. When you tell folks what you do for a living, they immediately go to the best person they know who does it and ask if that’s your goal. It’s not a slight of your skills, they are just asking if your goal is one they can identify with. If it’s not to be like Howard Stern (which it sound like yours isn’t), this might be a great opportunity to tell them just what your goal is. Knowing that goal might prevent some of the other things people say to you that are on this list. And it might allies of them in the future.
I think you obviously did a great post here, as the reaction would imply. But be careful not to confuse curiosity from others about your exciting chosen profession with judgement or negativity. If you saw a great magician and had a chance to meet them backstage, how would you want them to react to your question, “OMG how did you make that woman appear in 2 places at once? That was AWESOME!” Response 1: “I’m so bored with that question, get away from me.” Response 2: ” That’s MY favorite part of the show! A magician never tells his magic, but I’m so happy you had fun. Thanks for coming.”
I think you will absolutely love radio more than you do even now, once you begin to embrace what separates us DJ’s from the people we serve.
Keep the magic alive!
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Best Reply yet. Gillian’s whole rant is too defensive and typical of a Millennial who feel they are owed something. I don’t think she has had it very rough, by what having to answer some inane questions from her listeners and friends? How dare them, never understanding that they likely are envious or just curious of how one works in radio. Shame on the them.
Thank you so much for the thoughtful response Greg! I really appreciate it and it gives me something to think about 🙂
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few people I know have a fuller cup than this guy… we should all be so lucky
Fantastic list! I pretty much put an imaginary checkmark next to every one of them, as well as your expressions. I just had a call today from someone who wanted info how to register his kids for an upcoming local event and also donate. As I directed him to the official site, he angrily interrupted “I DON’T BELIEVE IN COMPUTERS!”. Wow. Ignorance will keep you in the dark ages, and/or blissful. Good luck to you in your career; hard work does pay off. Thanks for sharing the list, it cracked a few smiles and laughs. So relatable. Cheers! 🙂
🙂 it’s been a while since I have had this big a laugh, from such a beutifully written piece. I could use the help, having taken the time out of a dozen year spam on the air. Is someone hiring? It’s a new year, risks and faith aligned, this is my way of going out on a limb, and asking for help. Thank you yet again, I really enjoyed this. Blessings.
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She captures my thoughts, every time one such conversation was channeled my way, thank you Mami 🙂 blessings
My Daughter has been trying to get a full time gig and she has been doing radio for 7 years now. The big problem is how these conglomerates have lost the “local” idea of radio. Radio is a local medium. It is the one place where local business can advertise in a cost effective manner. This should be embraced more than it is. All these national syndicated shows might be easier for stations to deal with, but it is not really serving the community. Local radio needs to take advantage of the immediacy their home grown people can have with it’s listening base. Local DJs need to work on being local celebrities and make local events exciting for local people. People in most of the country are never going to even be in a position to even meet many world or national celebrities. People like to meet “famous” people and that is what local radio should work on making their local talent become.
Hilarious. You should do another one about working remotes.
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Everything you’ve said is quite true. However, when station owners look at ‘the bottom line’, meaning how much is this costing me, once a cheaper(not always better) way of doing something is found, things seldom return to they way they were. I did every shift at a station I was at over 18 years, was let go and replaced by a satellite dish and computer. That’s show biz! I’m not bitter. I did something I really enjoyed for a long time. How many of us can say that?
Great posting with the usual mish-mash of replies!! I spent 35 years in sports broadcasting both on radio — where I was 6′ 2″ and good lookin’ — and TV where I uh, wasn’t! ((lol)) But damn it was so much fun!!! I liked radio best becausze it was “pictures of the mind”!! And it was the one-to-one relationship between you and your listener that made it special!! It was always “Hello, how are you doing?” NOT “Hello, everybody!” And my time was split between only four companies.. pretty good for over three decades which indicates that for the most part we were happy with each other. Except of course when they.. weren’t!!! And out the door you went!! But just twice out of the four jobs.. so good by broadcasting’s uh, lofty standards!! Bahahaha!
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I talk for a living, too, in a very differnet way: I teach, lecture sometimes, and work as a psych nurse. Lots of talk! Yet I know how much goes into it behind the scenes. YOu can’t just open your mouth and go with whatever random stuff pours out… But the better you get at it, the more people think perhaps there’s nothing to it – you make it look so easy and natural. That’s the thing with talking: when you get good at it, it seems effortless, because your talent and skill MAKE it seem effortless, the sign of mastery.
That all said, great post!
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I’ve always had a problem when a faithful listener drags one of their friends up to me and says to the friend,” I want you to meet (my radio name at the time), you know he’s on W_ _ _”. Of course the friend is NOT a listener and has never heard of me. Then the faithful listener makes it worse by saying, “OF COURSE you know him-he’s on W_ _ _ -you know him”. The problem is that faithful listeners always assume EVERYONE listens to the station they listen to. We radio folks know that %15 of the listeners would be wonderful.
Try having a date do that.
I don’t work in radio, but my wife has been an on-air radio pro for eons. I’ve dabbled in college radio by filling in occasionally and worked production at the same college station years ago. Due to my thirty year exposure to this business I think I can comment on this with some authority.
You did miss one point … people asking “why does the music on your station suck?” … this is something I hear from misinformed musos (I’m a muso myself) … they have to realize that this is a commercial product meant to sell air time to advertisers. Period. In order to do so you have to maximize your accessibility to music to the general populace. This means that you do music research among a cross section of your demographic, crunch the numbers and play the stuff that the masses are going to stay glued to. If you’re a musical snob, there is no point in bitching about it because the majority of the public aren’t music snobs. The reality is the average music taste is pretty unsophisticated, just like Jerry Bruckheimer films. If you don’t like it then put your iPod on shuffle with your own stuff, or find a DJ you like on a college radio station.
I had to laugh at point #2. Several years back I’m at a high school reunion and ran into some guy I never knew previously, but knew my wife was in radio. He decided to regale me with stories about the number of people who have told him in his life that “he should be in radio”, and once he was interviewed for some event and the interviewer told him that “he should be on radio”. This went on for an hour and I stood there politely and listened to his rant, thinking “Dude, I personally know a hundred or more people that actually work in the business, and none of them particularly impress me (except my wife of course), so why am I supposed be impressed by a career you never had?”
Your blog hit the nail on the head. Thanks for it.
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My favourite is when people randomly phone up and ask if you can give them some free stuff like you just have a pile of free stuff sitting there next to you.
Or when people demand that you play a certain song. IF YOU WANT TO HEAR IT SO BADLY GO AND BUY A COPY OF IT AND PLAY IT ON YOUR OWN!!
Just search it out on YouTube.
I work on a French radio station (in Paris) n i loved ur article !! So true !!
On What station do u work ??
T grillé Ahmed… 😛 love ur article too Gillian! We work for a radio station in Paris France and this is exactly what We hear anytime we tell people what we do!
Bravo for your article! That’s totally true! You can even add : “Oh you’re working 3 hours in the morning, so you have so much spare time! You are so lucky!”
X from a French radio producer
Radio is dying. Revenues are down and staffs are shrinking. No one has a good solution to turn that around. Fact. Prove me wrong.
For every 1 skilled broadcaster there are 1000 who just merely talk for a living. Listen to the radio and tell me something profound, interesting or humorous you heard. Most radio people merely talk about themselves and read liners for a living. Prove me wrong.
There are lots of people who could have done their own show…however those people chose a career instead of radio…which is talking for crappy pay. Hmmmm, law school, med school or radio…not a common choice people have to make.
Free tickets from a radio person? Not anymore. Ask a radio sales person…they get all that good stuff now.
“I have a great idea for your show, no you don’t”. Comments like that kill radio. Try opening yourself up to your audience and you may help save a dying industry.
I could go on and on about this article and how it does the industry a disservice, but you already feel you’re an expert in all things radio. I will leave you to your show about yourself and your microphone selfies.
Hi Ryan. This fact was just a google away:
“Revenues remained relatively stable from the previous year despite competition from satellite, online and mobile services. Total revenues for AM and FM stations increased by 0.26%, from $1.618 billion in 2012 to $1.623 billion in 2013.”
More here: http://news.gc.ca/web/article-en.do?nid=852999
Not sure what these numbers will be for 2014 (maybe they’ll be down and you’ll be right) but I’m as interested as you are to see them when they’re available.
Thanks for the link. Interesting numbers, but a very incomplete report that skips out on details. I would expect more transparency from the government, but I’ll spare you the tinfoil hat rant.
Keep in mind every radio station (likely) raises their rates to keep up with inflation. Not to mention 13 new stations came into play. More stations means more revenue.
Nationally stations tend to raise their rates an average of 3% (20 years in the biz taught me this)…so for revenues to only go up .26% with 13 new players that does not speak of a healthy business. That’s a 2% loss, not to mention the cost cutting measures included in that report. Stations are making less money with less staff. Not healthy.
Plus, in the market I live there are 3 stations and a ‘community portal’. The portal is a revenue generator for the broadcasting company. Does the number the CRTC gave us in the article you linked include radio stations making money off of websites? Again, a more specific report would give a more accurate look at the state of the radio industry. Are those revenues being made coming solely from the radio frequencies or do those numbers include online advertising?
Ryan, “prove me wrong”, you’re not supplying anything to back up your “FACTS”. Your second point is an opinion, so it’s hard to even back that up with real stats isn’t it? I mean, radio hosting is a form of art in my opinion, therefore the worth of one is in the eye of the beholder. Meaning you could thinking someone is not good, and someone else might love that host.
Not sure why you’re knocking someone for choosing to be a radio host. It’s not for everyone. Some people genuinely love that, and that’s great for them. Not everyone wants to be a doctor or a lawyer. As a graphic artist I caught a lot of the same flack for choosing to do so from my parents. But it’s something I like to do, and enjoy doing. And there’s a different between “having your own show” and being “successful at having your own show.”
Radio still exists, but you have to face the fact that the combination of of changes in technology over the past quarter century have reduced it to a shadow of what it once was… it’s not a fighter plane it’s a milk run, it’s been done so many times on autopilot that it just sounds tired as hell, it’s become so uniform, both in programming and ownership that few people care passionately one way or the other… they wake up to an alarm clock or hear it in their cars but they barely pay attention now and few stations give their staff the leaway to program a not robotic poll tested program so it’s king of hard to hold it against those who still do work the job, but it’s soul deadening to those who do remember a time when it didn’t all sound cookie cutter “McRadio” from coast to coast.
100% on everything you said.
You were clearly fired by a radio station.
All of these washed up Radio guys are exactly the same, bitter. Here is study to PROVE YOU WRONG
Oh, and your market of 3 stations sounds huge. So you are for sure a pro, even in medium markets jocks make 6 figures. So I am not sure where you get the idea there is no money in radio. And, as someone who is on the programming side of radio I have the tickets. Sales people do not have control over that.
And no, It is my show. So, I will do what I want. Do doctors take advice on how to do surgery? Nope. So why should I?
And raising rates isn’t something that can just be done if your product isn’t worth the rate you are charging. Not a whole lot to do with the inflation that year.
Your so called “20 years in the biz” seem to be not so true.
But continue on with your podcast, and online radio show. And let the big boys work 🙂
It was as if I was writing as I was reading, as my (1989-today) full time radio career has experienced all of these a thousand times each.
Working as a graphic designer, I feel your pain!!! I don’t think it will ever stop either. You just keep doing you. 🙂
I’m a veteran of 30 years I n NYC. Its a dying business. But not because of the on air people, many of whom subordinate their creative abilities and impulses to the imposition of will of management…just to keep their job. Shame.
This comments thread is fun. Reminds me of 2001. Gillian, take all “easy job” comments as a compliment. You must make it look easy.
If it’s illegal to mention a business on air, why do the BBC continually plug celebrity’s products? Surely whatever book or project the celebrity is doing, it forms part of their earnings, so is technically a business initiative of some kind? It’s really, really boring to hear it happening every day.
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She didn’t clarify on this point. It is not against the law to mention a business on the air. The FCC is not going to slap a fine on you if you say, “I ate at McDonald’s this morning and threw up in the parking lot.” There may be legal consequences if you receive goods, services or cash in exchange. And she is right that she could get fired for doing that, but it’s hard to prove that she would have been breaking the law on purpose.
Lol, spot on Gillian : )
Judging by the replies, this seems to be a global phenomenon. I’m a 31 year veteran of the industry, so I’ve heard all of these on the odd occasion. Here are 2 more:
“So what’s it like to be famous?” As fame is relative, I find a self-deprecating answer works best.
“Are you really [DJ name]?” Initially this question used to give me existential jitters, but nowadays I just say no. Works on quite a few levels.
If I may offer a word of advice – give your listeners the benefit of the doubt: amongst all the unusable ideas for your show there’s bound to be the odd gem, and your show will be the better for it plus you’ll have an ambassador for life. Enjoy your career, and don’t sweat the small stuff, as it comes with the territory – fortunately or unfortunately, depending on your politics.
As a PD I had a man put in for a job opening. When I asked about experience he said “I have been talking on a CB radio for years”. You can’t make this stuff up. Another one I have heard, “If I worked on the radio I would play what I want”. I will reply, “Then you will have a very short career.”
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Great list, but it’s not illegal to for an on-air talent to mention a business on the air or give them a free plug. It might be against station policy, but it would only be illegal if you were a) taking money for the mention and not disclosing that fact or, b) you have a financial interest in the company or stand to benefit from the mention. Many stations require that on-air talent sign a document that spells out the above, or what they call “plugola”. This is different from “payola” which would be the acceptance of cash or other consideration in order to influence song selection or frequency of play, which is mostly out of the air talent’s hands today.
Oh, and let’s not forget:
“You only work 4 hours a day?!?”
“Have you ever met _____ (insert music artist name here)?”
“Can you get me _____ (insert music artist name here) tickets?”
“People tell me I have a great voice. How do I get into radio?”
And, the clincher, “I bet you make a lot of money!”
Some good ones, don’t agree with 7 though, as someone who has worked in radio off and on for 15 years, you’d be dumb not to have a backup plan. It won’t last forever.
Or you could just be graceful and less arrogant and politely answer their questions and be thankful they appreciate what you do.
My response to a friend who posted this.
Everybody’s got to grab a piece of the “Things you don’t say to me” BS. This article rather infuriates me. This chick sounds so arrogant and probably does the breaks on the Joy show. My responses…
12. Unfortunately I’m not able to do that. Although it’s not illegal (gillian) the other sponsors who pay for time might take exception to that.
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11. I would love to speak at your charity event and donate my time if I can fit it into my schedule.
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10. You’re right. Radio is a dying industry.
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9, I know what you mean, people just don’t listen to the radio anymore, but it’s not surprising as 99% of it is crap anyway.
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8. Because my dad always said I have a face for radio.
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7. Back up plan is a legitimate question.
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6. I would love to hear your great idea for my show. Maybe I can work that in. Thank you.
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5. Stern is a hack.
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4. I would love to, but unfortunately I don’t even get free struff.
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3. Income, regardless of occupation is private.
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2. Yes, you could do your own radio show. I’m sure you would do a great job at it.
1. Stop being so bitter and feel blessed that someone is interested in what you do.
“Be respectful of people and their craft”. True, however stop thinking you’re all that and be respectful of peoples interest in what you do.
I haven’t done radio full time since about 1985 (I still dabble) because the pay does suck, you are treated as a supremely replaceable peon, most management are pointy-headed MBAs who know nothing about broadcasting, and there are tons of listeners who could do a better job that many of the yutzes currently on the air. And yet somehow I’ve loved it and been addicted to it since the early 1970s. And I had a ball, had thousands of free albums, went to and hosted hundreds of concerts, met zillions of celebs, trained Howard Stern at WCCC and was on his first show at WNBC, got laid a lot, and had the best time ever. My max salary was $30k plus what I made doing commercials and DJing at bars. And now (for fun) I’m the Sat/Sun eve jock on oldies http://www.WMEXradio.com 105.9 FM in Rochester, NH. It’s a stupid career but I wouldn’t change a thing.
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“You Suck” is one I am getting used to hearing.
Reblogged this on A tale of a t-rex.
The list is rather contrived, it seems to me. For instance. the top question I received over the years doesn’t appear at all. “Can you play a request for me?” Followed by: “Can you listen to or pass on my demo?” Followed by: “What time is your show on at?” Followed by: “How did you get your voice to sound like that?” Followed by: “What stations have you worked for?” and on and on. In my opinion, this is an advertisement for the Howard Stern Show. That’s what it is. lol. He’s right in the centre.
If I ever find a real live person that still works in radio, I will make sure not to say any of these things to them. Wouldn’t want them to get ticked off at the potentially last person on earth that still uses their product.
What a load. I have been a cohost on the radio show Kimberly and Beck several times and I did not need a script and laugh track. I did radio in college several years ago, that is all. If not everyone can do radio, explain the 1000s of podcasts out there, and blog talk radio, where any idiot can have a radio show. Radio is indeed dying because programmers like YOU play the same damned Def Leppard song and don’t dig deep into the archives for a deep cut once in a while. Radio is predictable and boring thanks to deejays like yourself.
Exactly…Podcasts…Blog talk radio…That is not Radio. Those are people who can’t get a job in Real Radio. And we play the most popular songs because that is what people want. No one wants to hear songs that aren’t popular. The music is tested, and there is a lot that goes into deciding what to play and when to play it. You do not understand radio. At all. So stop insulting people who do, And go back to your radio blog where you play some Alternative shit no one will ever listen to.
This is terrific. My name is (was) Allison Strong and I worked Alternative only after my first two jobs. This was in the 90s. I even worked on a station that was automated in the early days. The art of finding a job, no just getting someone’s attention is more masterful than people realize. With all the geeks willing to work for free, no, they would pay money to be given a shot, it’s hard to stand out in that crowd. Hooligan Halloran from 91X taught me a surefire method of getting the attention of a decision maker and I use it still today when I’m trying to get experts of their fields to lend me their ear and answ4er questions so I can write articles with breaking science that no one else has. I’m now writing for five publications and hoping to add more. Then, I’m going to concurrently write an interesting, helpful book. Thanks for the reminder about the good ol days.
You still won’t answer why your stations keep playing the same songs over and over instead of playing some deep cuts and less than overplayed songs.
In my experience on-the-air:
“Can I come in and guest DJ on your show?”
“You guys need to play some really deep cuts. No one listens to the songs you’re playing now anymore”
(this came in at a soft AC station)
“You guys play Ramones, right?……actually, this is radio station W—, where we play soft and easy favorites…….yeah, yeah, I know the station, but you play Rockaway Beach?”
(and….when I did Nights at a Classic Rocker in Lexington–just the opposite)
“Can you play me a Carpenters song”…….actually we play classic rock……but they’re classic rock……….yeah, but we play more upbeat rock like Zepplin and Queen and Boston……but isn’t Close To You a classic rock song?………..it IS classic, yes, but we really don’t define that as ‘rock’……..ohhhh…….something else I can play for you?…….um, how about ‘Feelings’ by Morris Albert? now that is a classic rock song, right?”
As a DJ, there is a fine line between being polite and understanding THEIR definition of the music……………..and………just losing it……..anybody else come across this?