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Work in Radio - Getting a Radio Job
Finding yourself a position working at a radio station can be a tricky business. On this page, we offer some tips and links for those looking to work in the UK radio industry.
If you're considering a career in radio, this section may help, as it offers a few tips and suggestions:
- Get experience - Rather than looking for a media qualification, most radio stations tend to look for prospective candidates with experience in the field. If you're trying to get into radio for the first time, you'll need to start small and possibly get some unpaid experience under your belt. If there are radio stations in your area, consider getting in touch with them to offer your services. Some stations are often on the look-out for part-time (voluntary) help, especially the community and voluntary stations. Another great place to get some radio experience, is to approach your local hospital radio station and see if they are looking for volunteers. (See the HBA website to find your nearest station).
- Consider a course - There are several radio courses available for those looking to learn more about the UK radio industry, and to get some tips.
- Get a book - See our radio books page for a couple that we recommend - these include information on making that initial contact, and what potential employers are looking for. There's also a useful book offering tips on radio presentation.
- Check out your local stations - The RadioCentre is a good place to get a list of the names, addresses and phone numbers of the UK commercial radio stations. There are also similar sites for community, hospital and student stations. See our UK Radio section for details on the types of stations out there.
- Look online - See our UK Radio Jobs page for some useful websites for those looking to work in the industry
- Help? - Looking for any other help and advice? Try asking in our UK radio forum
- Approaching a station - If you have a particular radio station in mind, you need to think carefully about how to approach them. First off, you need to find the name of the right person to speak to at the station. Either take a look on the station's website, or call their switchboard. Then, when you apply, you can use the personal touch, and not just "Dear Sir or Madam". If you're looking to do any on-air work as a presenter, you'll be looking to reach the Programme Controller or Programme Director, and you'll most likely be asked to provide a "demo tape", which we cover below.
- Run your own station! If you're not ready to work for a mainstream radio station, consider broadcasting on the Internet, or podcasting. It's pretty easy to do, and can be a very good first step into radio. There's a worldwide audience out there for you to connect with. We offer information on how to record audio at home, how to start in podcasting, and how to start your own online station
- Patience - Remember that there are a lot of people keen to work in the radio business, and jobs in the radio industry can be pretty scarce. It's a competitive business, with only limited opportunities. Getting noticed by a prospective station can be tricky, and it can pay to keep reminding a station that you're there, and keen. Do prepared for a wait, and to persevere! Keep your eye on some of the UK radio job sites and local newspapers for information on new radio services that may be starting in your area. Be persistent, and keep trying.
Where to look for a job
There are several websites that list current radio job opportunities, and let you advertise yourself. Take a look at our UK Broadcast Jobs page for a few handy websites.
If you're looking for a job in radio presentation, then your Audition Tape (commonly called a "Demo Tape" or "Showreel") is far more important than your CV. Here are a few tips for putting together your demo tape:
- Production: Your demo should be well-produced and sound as polished and professional as possible. If you can, we recommend that you make your tape in a recording or broadcast studio and make your links sound "as-live" (as if you were on the radio, as opposed to creating a demo). If you don't have access to a radio studio, make use of your PC to record your demo - there are several PC audio editing packages that can be used to record and edit your demo. See our Voice Recording section for information on how to use your PC to record and edit audio cheaply at home.
- Branding: Listen to the radio station that you are applying to, and target your tape to that station's format. Use the name of the radio station as well as any slogan lines that the station's using. A demo that uses the station's name and programming style is much more likely to be well-received than yet another generic audition for any-old radio station. It also makes it easier for the Programme Controller to imagine how you'd fit into the station's format.
- Timing: Programme Controllers are very busy people, and they don't have time to listen to every single audition that they get sent. The trick is to keep yours short, but targeted. You should be able to sell yourself in no more than 5 minutes. Remember - first impressions last, so make your first link your best. A naff link, or an ugly-looking CD cover will result in your audition being binned.
- Music: Keep the music in your demo to a minimum - just use it to show how you interact with the songs. Keeping the music to 5 seconds or less helps to ensure the demo is listened to all the way through. Just play a few seconds of any songs you use on your demo, fading it out as soon as appropriate.
- Grab them early: Radio stations can get dozens of demos sent to then each week by budding presenters, and you need to grab the listener's attention early to stand a chance of having the whole demo listened to. Try hard to sell yourself and your style in the first thirty seconds of your demo, as that's all a busy PC may listen do before making a decision.
- Content: Try to demonstrate your versatility - perhaps include links that demonstrate your ability to read 'straight' content (such as a news report or travel flash) as a contrast to your lighter side - this helps prove to a future boss that you can be of use to a station. Also include production work (voiceovers / adverts / jingles) if you've done them, to demonstrate you're multi-skilled.
- Bottom line: Key words from one Programme Controller we've worked with: On your demo tape, "Be clear, bright and compelling".
- Format: Tape or CD? The rule used to be to use a decent quality audio cassette, but with cassette's copy protect tabs left untouched. This is an old radio joke, meaning that the tape was likely to be wiped and re-used! Nowadays, most people now send in demos on CD, minidisc, or even email an MP3 audio file of their audition. Other hopefuls create a website with examples of their shows, plus a few photos. The best bet is to check with your target radio station and find out their preferred format for demo tapes before sending anything in - again, it's all about giving yourself the best chance of getting listened to. You could also consider uploading an MP3 file to the Internet, then mailing your web address to a station.
- Sending it: Once your demo is complete, package it up and send it to the right person at your target radio station, enclosing a a well-presented covering letter. Call ahead to get the right name, job title and address to send the tape to.
- Details: Remember to include your phone number and email address when you send the demo in. Put this information on the CD or minidisc as well as on the covering letter, in case the two get separated.
- Follow-up: Follow up your demo with a phone call after a couple of weeks - this shows that you're keen.
- No joy yet? If your demo hasn't landed you a job yet - don't despair. Programme Controllers listen to demos in batches, normally when they're running short on talent, so there could be a wait. There's also the danger that they've heard your demo, and weren't impressed. If that's the case, it might be an idea to get some more ears on your audition piece. Ideally, talk to a radio station Programme Controller, or someone else in the industry, to see what they're looking for in a demo. Play your demo tape to other people in the industry to get some opinions on how you sound, and ways to improve.
If you're looking to put together a killer tape, get advice from the professionals - perhaps contact someone in the industry and ask what makes a good tape. Alternatively, check out our radio courses section, where you'll find details of companies offering presenter training in the UK.
- Radio courses - information on learning more about radio training courses
- Our Radio forum - Talk about working in radio in our forum
- Further reading - Books for those looking to work in radio or TV
- Radiopresenting.com - Information and resources for those looking to become a presenter
- Recording voice onto a PC - Practical advice on recording yourself on a PC
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