Disc Jockeys


Exploring this Job

If a career as a DJ sounds interesting, you might try to get a summer job at a radio station. Although you may not get a chance to work on air, working behind the scenes will allow you to gauge whether or not that kind of work appeals to you.

Take advantage of any opportunity you get to speak or perform before an audience. Appearing as a speaker or a performer can help you decide whether or not you have the necessary stage presence for a career on the air.

Many colleges and universities have their own radio stations and offer courses in broadcasting. Some high schools also have radio stations. Students can gain valuable experience working at these stations. Some college radio stations offer students financial assistance and on-the-job training in the form of internships and co-op work programs, as well as scholarships and fellowships.

The Job

Disc jockeys serve as a bridge between music and the listener. They also announce the time, the weather forecast, or important news. Working at a radio station can be a lonely job, since often the DJ is the only person in the studio. But because their job is to maintain the good spirits of their audience and attract new listeners, disc jockeys must possess the ability to sound relaxed and cheerful. Disc jockeys sometimes extend their duties off-the-air, and they may write and produce commercials or promotion announcements.

Unlike the more conventional radio or television announcer, the disc jockey is not bound by a written script. Except for the commercial announcements, which must be read as written, the DJ's statements are usually spontaneous. They are not usually required to play a musical selection to the end; they may fade out a record when it interferes with a predetermined schedule for commercials, news, time checks, or weather reports. DJs are not always free to play what they want; at many radio stations, especially the larger ones, the program director or the music director makes the decisions about the music that will be played. And while some stations may encourage their disc jockeys to talk, others emphasize music over commentary and restrict the amount of ad-libbing by DJs.

Many DJs have become well-known public personalities in broadcasting; they may participate in community activities and public events.

Disc jockeys who work at parties and other special events usually work on a part-time basis. They are often called party DJs. A DJ who works for a supplying company receives training, equipment, music, and job assignments from the company. Self-employed DJs must provide everything they need themselves. Party DJs have more contact with people than radio DJs, so they must be personable with clients.