10 Quick Lessons for Your First Day on Radio

I’ve been doing breakfast on local radio for a few weeks now and thought I’d share some wisdoms. Here are ten lessons, I’ve developed through first hand experience. Feel free to add to our list if you are a presenter and we can develop the beginners guide to South African radio presenting.

Lesson 1: Don’t be too proud of yourself after you’ve learnt how to put your mic levels up. You still have to talk so there’s no time to boast about how awesome you are for working the mics, especially when the mics are live. You might end up shouting “I beat this system! I’m live onĀ KOVSIE FM 97.0! Now what?”

Lesson 2: “Punch ‘n roll” seems to be code for DJ say something. If you do not know this, you may end up with 15 seconds of silence.

Lesson 3: A 2 two minute link followed by a 2 minute link equals a 4 minute link. This means that you have to prepare for 4 minutes of talking, not 2. It’s important not to assume that a song follows each link because announcing a song that will only play in 2 minutes is not lekker.

Lesson 4: You know when you used to listen to radio and think, “Why is it that these DJ’s have news readers AND sports readers? Like can’t they do it by themselves?” The answer is yes they can but also not really. The value of a newsreader and a sportsreader cannot be overstated! Kiss their feet when they walk into studio. More on this in lesson 9.

Lesson 5: Be sure you can log into the station social accounts if you’re going to tell your audience to get in touch. There’s nothing worse than saying phone me but then not knowing the phone number or the twitter passwords!

Lesson 6: Be prepared to engage with yourself. It may well be that you’re alone in studio and nobody phones in, tweets you or writes on your wall (or you just don’t have access to the social accounts). This means you will have to unleash that voice in your head.

Lesson 7: Never be desperate. If you cannot access the station social media accounts, but you can access the email account. Don’t cave and tell people to drop you an email because that’s seriously uncool. You can be uncool by not responding to the social media posts because you must always remember the great mathematical equation: seriously uncool < uncool

Lesson 8: Running to the bathroom is a no no when alone in studio. You never know what barriers you need to cross when you close the studio door. A colleague could stop you to talk, you could trip and fall and have to limp back slowly or, like me, you might pull the handle off the stall door from the inside. Whatever happens, you risk having your listeners having to listen to silence while you’re stuck listening to the soothing sounds of second hand water falling on porcelain.

Lesson 9: Be on time. Keeping the news team waiting will likely make them upset. One should also listen to their news team. News is not a 3 minute smoke break. Having a cigarette during news after you’ve arrived late may result in a headline like, “Richard Chemaly sex tape leaks”

Lesson 10: If at the end of a name of the song on the playlist it states “[F]”, this means fade. It means the song fades out and you can talk over it. If it states “[C]” this means cut.You cannot talk in the outro of a song which cuts…even if you are of television news expert fame.