Creating a demo is one of if not the hardest part of breaking into radio. It means you having to sit through hours of material to try pick out what showcases your abilities the best and condense it into a 2-3 minute package, all the while trying to second guess what a programme boss at a radio station would like to hear.
There are a few basic principles to a good demo and a few common mistakes that you need to avoid making.
Most important rule of all. Make sure your very BEST work is at the very start. It literally can take seconds for a programme controller to make their mind up and if your best work is more than a minute in, there is a very good chance it will not be heard. The first 20 seconds of your demo is your IMPACT TIME. So make an impact, make whoever is listening sit up and take notice.
Make sure the demo is of YOU. Edit as much music as possible & remove other peoples voices where you can. This is all about you showing off your potential, don't put anybody else in the shop window.
A good demo should be around 2-3 minutes long. Send as a link to a Soundcloud page or any other audio sites online. Avoid sending big mp3 files that will clog up an email inbox. It will be deleted.
Decide what your strength is and what makes you stand out. If you are good with callers on the air, then demonstrate 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're sending your demo to a commercial music based station where links are tight and concise then make your links tight and concise. Show you understand the format and you could easily do a show on that station tomorrow.
Don’t over produce the demo. Too many sound effects & jingles can be really annoying and make programme bosses turn your demo off.
Don’t have weather/traffic reports in the demo. Anybody can read the weather forecasts & travel reports. It’s a boring listen and will not make you stand out.
Sell. Demonstrate you can talk about and sell a competition or another show. This is what you will be doing as a professional presenter. Show you can bring words alive off a script.
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 show you understand the fundamental role of being a presenter. 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. So once you have a demo ready, SEND SEND SEND. Get it out there, get it heard, get some feedback.