Career Corner Life as a... radio DJ

If you're passionate about music and can talk until the cows come home, then a career as a radio DJ may be the one for you. There are a few other skills required to make it in this competitive world, such as confidence, good task-juggling skills, and the ability to stay calm under pressure! Salaries differ hugely, but if you're passionate and dedicated, DJing can be a lucrative business.

We spoke to Dan Porter - founder and owner of TeenFM - and asked him about his experiences as a radio DJ, as well as any tips he can offer aspiring DJs...

Check out TeenFM here.

Hi Dan, can you tell us a bit about yourself and what got you interested in radio?

I started showing an interest in radio when I was around 13 years old as it felt like a complete escape from the real world for those few hours on-air. From there, things snowballed into me launching TeenFM at 16 years old, getting involved in local radio stations and putting on mini festivals.

What route did you personally take into radio?

I began volunteering at community radio stations in my area, offering my time for free and picking up a valuable insight into how the industry operates. I volunteered for around 3 years before then getting the chance to work for a large national radio station.

Tell us about TeenFM and what the station aims to do.

TeenFM is an online radio station aimed at young adults between the ages of 13 and 25. We broadcast online 24 hours a day, 365 days a year with presenters from all corners of the UK. Presenters all work ‘remotely’ from their own homes, some even have a full studio set up in their bedrooms! TeenFM’s main ongoing aim is to provide an open platform for teenagers to express their feelings and thoughts through one of the most creative and innovative mediums. We aim to be a reliable hub of information and support should we be needed.

What tips and advice would you suggest to any teens wanting to break into radio?

The one piece of advice given to me was to be yourself. Don’t try and be your favourite radio presenter, just because they sound good. Take parts of what they do and mould them into your own style. Do not be fake, listeners and future employers will see straight through it.

What would you say are the biggest mistakes people make when trying to get into this career?

Actually, getting a break in radio takes a lot of persistence, keep your demo fresh with new engaging content ready to send off to a programme controller at the drop of a hat. If you’re lucky to get a reply from a PC and they reject you, try again in a few months! Keep going, eventually that break will come if you try hard enough!

What’s the hardest part about being a radio DJ?

This is actually a tough question, radio presenters generally do what they do because they love it. I would say though the hardest thing in my opinion is constantly coming up with new ideas, especially when you’re a one man band with no producer alongside you. You do all the scheduling, researching, booking and production yourself.

What do you enjoy the most?

The thing I enjoy the most has got to be the relationships you form with listeners. They are like your best friends who you will never necessarily meet, but contact you every day! Being involved in TeenFM I also meet some extremely talented young people, in the past I have seen volunteers go on to work for commercial radio stations, it feels great that we had a part to play in their future.

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