Approximately 20,300 radio announcers, including disc jockeys, are employed in the United States.
There has been a steady growth in the number of radio stations in the United States. According to the Federal Communications Commission, there were more than 15,500 radio stations in the United States in 2018.
Radio is a 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week medium, so there are many slots to fill. Most of these stations are small stations where disc jockeys are required to perform many other duties for a lower salary than at larger stations in bigger metropolitan areas.
Since the passage of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, companies can own an unlimited number of radio stations nationwide with an eight-station limit within one market area, depending on the size of the market. When this legislation took effect, mergers and acquisitions changed the face of the radio industry. So, while the pool of employers is smaller, the number of stations continues to rise. There are also opportunities in satellite and Internet radio.
One way to enter this field is to apply for an entry-level job rather than a job as a disc jockey. It is also advisable to start at a small local station. As opportunities arise, DJs commonly move from one station to another.
An announcer is employed only after an audition. Audition material should be selected carefully to show the prospective employer the range of the applicant's abilities. A prospective DJ should practice talking aloud, alone, then make a recording of him- or herself with five to seven minutes of material to send to radio stations. The recording should include a news story, two 60-second commercials, and a sample of the applicant introducing and coming out of a record. (Recordings should not include the whole song, just the first and final few seconds, with the aspiring DJ introducing and finishing the music.) In addition to presenting prepared materials, applicants may also be asked to read material that they have not seen previously. This may be a commercial, news release, dramatic selection, or poem.
Most successful disc jockeys advance from small stations to large ones. The typical experienced DJ will have held several jobs at different types of stations.
Some careers lead from being a DJ to other types of radio or television work. More people are employed in sales, production, promotion, and planning than in performing, and they are often paid more than DJs.
Tips for Entry
Work on your high school or college radio station to obtain experience.
Try to land an internship at a radio station.
Make a demo recording of your work as a disc jockey and submit it to radio station program managers.
Visit the following Web sites to learn more about job opportunities for disc jockeys: