Not all careers are created equal. All of them have their good points and bad points. Here at the 8List, we interviewed experienced professionals who know their industry inside and out – and asked them about the 8 things they wish they knew about their industry before they got there.
They always say that the grass is greener on the other side. But is it worth it to get there with these pitfalls? Read on and decide for yourself.
8. It actually doesn’t pay much.
Think of your favorite DJs. Mo Twister? Chico Garcia? Boys Night Out? How about Nicole Hyala and Chris Tsuper? Whoever it is you like, you need to realize one thing: because you’d be starting out in the industry, your salary is going to be low. Very low.
As a radio jock, you work only 3-4 hours a day, normally only four days a week. With that in mind, the money you’re going to get is not going to be enough to pay for the lavish, jet-setting lifestyle we all imagine the most famous jocks to be living.
7. You can’t just play whatever song you want.
Every radio station abides by an almighty playlist that needs to be on rotation and can never be deviated from except for special circumstances. What this means is that if the jock before you played your favorite Coldplay song in their last hour, you cannot open with that same song for your first hour, at the very least. Much less can you bring your own tracks, or those of your band friends who want their demo heard on air, and expect to play them during your time slot.
If it seems like there’s a certain formula to how jocks play their songs, how often, and in what combination, that’s precisely because there’s a formula put into play by the station’s program director, and even that guy has to justify the station’s programming clock, so he can’t just do whatever he wants, either.
6. You tend to get the worst aspects of fame first.
As a radio jock, you will have some level of fame, depending on which station you’re in. But unless you’re a superstar who has a huge following from the get-go, those growing pains will result in you having only the worst parts of fame, and next to none of the perks.
What does that mean? Well, you get creepy fans of all shapes and sizes. While we appreciate any and all of our listeners, some of them feel way too entitled to our time and even personal lives just because they listen to us avidly. Sure, you’d almost never get mobbed, but that also means you don’t get those freebies and giveaways the more popular jocks get. Then again, paying your dues so to speak is part and parcel of almost every industry where you work your way up, so maybe we all should have seen this coming.
5. People treat you differently when they see that Media ID.
It’s a perk, but it’s one that makes you think how little some people think of you before they see your Media ID. It’s usually the case that when you get accosted by authority figures, say, a traffic cop, that they’d throw their weight around until they realize you’re a bona fide media practitioner.
That ID really changes how people see you. Suddenly, they’d think twice before crossing you, because while you’re probably not the type who’s going to go on air and put them on blast because you feel like it, they don’t know that, so they’d be so terrified of getting on your bad side. This makes you think: how many people get mistreated on a regular basis just because they don’t have a Media ID as a trump card?
4. You’ll be sick of parties and movie premieres.
Ever noticed that it’s not a given for every jock to be enjoying themselves at their station’s events? That’s because you’d be doing so many of them, and going through all the planning pains, that by the time the event is up and running, you just wanna do the hosting duties and then go home and sleep. Maybe some of the younger ‘uns have the batteries to party all night long, but it didn’t take us too long to tire of that scene — and partying in general.
The worst part of it is, the more you’re into partying, the more likely you’d get sick of it in a couple of years’ time. And then the more you started out as an introvert, the more you’d go nuts at events when they are exclusively for the station’s employees. Oh, the tales we could tell!
3. You have to make it seem like you’re single.
You don’t have to make a point of emphasizing it, but even if you’re married and it’s not exactly a secret, it’s generally expected that you’re not going to talk too much about your kids or significant other while you’re on air. This is the reason why a certain station actually let go of one of its biggest jocks ever – motherhood fundamentally changed her, and they felt that this alienated some of their audience.
Thankfully, this rule is less and less of a thing, but again, if you’re starting out, there’s a good chance this will be expected of you.
2. Your social media will be heavily monitored.
Remember the part where you get all the bad parts of celebrity with little of its perks? Here’s arguably the worst of them: your social media will be under a lot of scrutiny, both by the station’s listeners, and the station itself. In some cases, the station even reserves the right to profit from your social media, with the reasoning that because of the station’s platform, your social media presence grew to a point that it is now profitable, ergo, that profit is rightfully theirs.
Whether or not you agree with that practice, some stations will enforce it. Even if it doesn’t, there is no avoiding the fact that yes, everything you say and do on social media will be scrutinized and deciphered by rabid fans of the station and your show, much to your amusement or chagrin.
1. Radio is ultimately a stepping stone.
Here’s a secret why our current interviewee didn’t really introduce himself and what station he worked in: not only is he not a jock you’d particularly remember, he made the biggest mistake in the industry, and looked at radio as the ultimate goal, instead of the starting point.
Think about your biggest jocks. What are they doing when they’re not on air? If they’re not hosting, they’re doing voice overs. Commercials. Some are on TV and acting. Others are influencers on Instagram. Whatever the case may be, radio opens doors for you to make an honest and comfortable living, so anyone who thinks they could grow old and focus solely on being on air and maybe moving their way up in the station and the station alone is in for a rude awakening.
Radio is a great career — but only as a gateway to even bigger things.
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