I’ve been asked before how I managed to talk for a living, especially by high school students, so I thought I’d make my first post in 2019 a guide for all budding announcers out there!
Get your foot through the door
If you’re a high schooler or whatever and you haven’t yet been thrown ruthlessly onto the corporate streets of society (we’re all paper chasers, here) then you need to find some way to get yourself into that industry.
You can pick up an internship with a radio station or you can build your own following, preferably through vlogging on youtube. Any media related experience will earn you brownie points.
When you’re ready to try out, think of creative ways to grab the attention of the station you’re aiming for. Remember: employers are always on the lookout for people who stand out, especially in the entertainment industry, so don’t be afraid to shine (but don’t be a try-hard, either).
Personally, I was looking for a part time job and started as a cruiser at hitz (they were a special events team which is now defunct) and apparently I had a good voice, so there I was. I wasn’t particularly talented and it took me a few months to get my own show, so have heart and don’t give up. I’m a firm believer that it’s not your dream if you’re not living it because if it’s truly something you want, you will find a way.
Learn about yourself and what you stand for
This was one of the bigger problems I faced. I had no idea what I represented and this is very important because all announcers are considered ‘personalities’.
You’ll be seen as a public figure, so take a look at Hollywood. Whenever you hear the name of some singer or actor, you know exactly what they are about. Justin Bieber? Annoying brat turned fckboi. Taylor Swift? PR genius. Eminem? Rapgod. Lorde? Creepy cool. So how about you? Who are you and what do you represent?
I was considered vanilla, a blank canvas with no discernible style and what’s so bad about that is: it makes you forgettable.
Live and breathe entertainment
Because that’s your job. This is something I also struggled with because I really couldn’t be bothered about what latest rumor was going around when the world needs the attention more than Kim Kardashian’s butt or whatever. I got so sick of regurgitating the same old drama so if you don’t love it, you should reconsider a career in radio or any form of mainstream media, actually. Gossip is a large part of the entertainment industry.
I wanted to talk about animal welfare and the environment on air, that was my motivation. I thought that if I got relevant enough, people would want to hear what I have to say but that’s not true. People want to hear what they want to hear and they don’t need you adding to their list of worries and bringing them down. So, unless you’re Tony Stark, stick with the topics relevant to your station.
Know what you are talking about
This kinda ties in with the point above: if you don’t believe in what you’re saying or you’re just plain ignorant, well… People can tell. You’ll need to be the ultimate insider on everything. If you’re interviewing a celebrity, you better damn well know the names of his dog down to what he wore to a press conference eight years ago. These little things will take you further than you know.
I got the chance to interview Meliha Faisal and hangout with Jin Hackman, H3, Zamaera (seriously the coolest chick ever, girl can spit a few bars off the top of her head) but at the end of the day, I didn’t have a clue what I was doing with them. This wasn’t my crowd. I knew nothing about music and I couldn’t even tell you where the drop in a song is till I was forced to hook a couple hundred songs and even then… It was cool to rub shoulders with big names like De Fam and Paper Plane Pursuit.
Listen to yourself aka do your own airchecks
This isn’t narcissistic because you want to listen out to how you are coming across. I have the tendency to sound angry when I’m excited, weird but true. Tip: Never say ‘guys’ or insinuate that you’re talking to more than one person because it will make your audiences feel disconnected from you.
You need to have to ability to connect with someone you have never met with just your voice. So you always need to be aware of how you are portraying yourself.
Read and write scripts
A good skill to have is reading a script like there isn’t one. Every actor has a script, and they are able to deliver it convincingly natural. That’s what you gotta do and this is my favorite part of the job.
However, you should never ever ever script your shows because part of this job is being able to think on your feet and improvise. If you depend on a script, you will only be limiting yourself. Scripts are for advertisements and promos.
You should also practice writing 30 second ones. How would you know if they are 30 secs? You have a smartphone, figure it out.
I’ve always liked writing but even then, it’s completely different writing for radio because you have to write in a conversational manner. This means that it has to sound like actual dialogue and that takes some skill so get crackin’.
Stay true to you
Above all, this is the most important and the most difficult. When you’re faced with the prospect of going on air, you will automatically switch to what you think audiences want. You’ll speak in a manner that you think people would like. Don’t do that. What people what is candidness.
Go with your style like how you talk with your friends when you’re all amped-up and excited.
Hopefully this provided some insight and help you get where you are going. Being a radio announcer really helped me find myself and build my confidence. I used to wonder how certain people are so sure of themselves and I realized through this job that it’s because they’ve proven to themselves, time and time again that yes, they do have what it takes.
If you’ve got any questions, feel free to leave a comment or hit that contact button up top and if you’re eager for a start, contact your local radio station and express your interest. Desire will only get you that far, the rest is up to persistence and determination. Good luck and happy new year 🙂