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Demo Tips – Helping you take the next step in radio

This is the hardest part of getting into radio. The Demo. Ultimately it means you having to sit through hours of material to then try and pick out what showcases your abilities the best in around 3 minutes, all the while trying to second guess what a programme controller at a radio station would like to hear.

There are a few basic principles to a good demo and a few common mistakes that let demos down.

Most important rule of all – Make sure the best material is at the very start. It literally can take seconds for a programme controller to make their mind up and if your best stuff is more than a minute in, there is a very good chance it will not be heard.

Do not make it too long and edit as much music out of it as possible. A programme controller does not have time to listen to long demos. A good demo should be around 2-3 minutes long.

Make sure the demo is of YOU. Sounds stupid, but people make demo’s with too many other people on it and it can easily detract from you.

Decide what your strength is and what makes you stand out. If you are good with callers on the air, then show that. If you are good at telling an engaging story, then show that. Showcase your strengths AS WELL as showing you can do the basics.

Be careful with humour. Remember you are wanting to be a radio presenter, not a stand up comedian. What could be funny to you could be silly/offensive to others.

Try and target the demo to a particular radio station. If you are sending a demo to a “speech based” station, then have a speech based demo. Likewise, if you wish to send a demo to a station where presenters talk between songs in a precise manner and time, show you can do that too.

Don’t over produce the demo, too much production can make a demo hard to listen to.

Don’t have weather/traffic reports in the demo. Anybody can read the weather and the traffic and it’s a boring listen and it will not make you stand out.

Some programme controllers also would like to hear how you can “sell” either a competition or promote another show, as this is something that you would be doing as a radio presenter.

Finding the right balance is the trickiest part of producing a demo, you have to show you can be engaging and relatable to a listener, but also safe and a good presenter to the programme controller. The best thing to do is to keep recording your best material and constantly updating your demo and getting feedback on it.

Other peoples opinions regarding your demo is vital, and the only way that you can get a sense of what works and what doesn’t.

The Pips are asking Programme Managers across the UK for their demo tips. Click on the links below to read what they have to say.

Andrea Day – Inrix Media, Travel demo tips

Owen Ryan – Programme Director, Hallam FM

Chris Howell – Programme Manager, Eagle Extra

David Lloyd - Programme and Marketing Director Orion Media

Paul Sylvester - Head of Presentation Absolute Radio

Dick Stone - Programme Director Capital FM East Midlands

Chris Buckley -  Senior Programme Controller, Signal 1/Signal 2 and the UTV UK Network

Ricky Durkin - Programme Director at Real Radio Yorkshire

John Clayton - Programme Director & radio coach 

Matt Jamison - Programme Director at Amazing Radio

James Walshe - Programme Director at Kerrang Radio

Adam Catterall - Presenter BBC Radio 1

Click here for the Demo Checklist