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David Lloyd. Author of 'How to Make Great Radio'

Most PDs would concede they judge within the first few seconds. A bit like a listener would. Thankfully, most auditionees now do not start by reciting an interminable weather forecast and thanking the newsreader. Don’t do that.

We‘re looking for an entertainer, not someone to read the weather. If you are any good, I’d rather hope you can manage to read the weather if you need to.

Yes, the voice is important. Not every great broadcaster has a great voice, but it helps. Most listeners choose much commercial radio because it makes them feel good; so you have to suggest that you do just that. Whilst uplifting though, you should also be ‘real’ and ‘authentic’: magnified yet believable reality. That contrasts with the ‘voice on a stick’ of yesteryear; and being unbelievably happy for no apparent reason. Now is ‘normal’. You need to sound like a genuine human being; someone my listeners would like to spend time with.

Don’t tell me – or show me – that you can do ‘anything’. Being flexible may help your long term career, but at the moment I listen to you, I only need you to do what my station does. Brilliantly.

We know you want ‘feedback’ on your audition material. Ah, that lovely tactful 21st Century word. Sometimes though, if you are really bad, most PDs would confess they really have not got time to write something polite. If you are moderately good, but not quite what we want, we also probably have not really got the time to write too much back. Apologies for that. I wish it were different.

PDs now are usually inordinately busy and doing a host of jobs. I do think though, we should be sufficiently polite to acknowledge your demo; and (remembering all my disappointment as an aspirant jock years ago) I’ve tried to do that; although someone will now read this and say ‘you never got back to me’. I hope I’ve managed 95%.

Do keep trying. On the day you decide to send your demo, the PD has likely got all her or his jocks in full contract and they have no need for your talents, however good you are. On another day, they might be struggling to replace someone at short notice. Without being a pain in the neck. It’s useful to keep trying if you genuinely think you could handle a gig and have had some encouraging noises. Your audio might just arrive on ‘the right day’.

Show us some ideas. Some originality. Offer me something in the opening few seconds that I might want to rip off. An anecdote; a competition idea; a promotion; a phrase. That would impress. I always recall a brilliant lecture from the late, great John Walters (producer for the late, great John Peel) in which he said how dismayed he was when students from student radio sent in tapes of themselves sounding just like normal grown-up stations. As Walters rightly said, on student radio you should be doing the things other stations dare not do.


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