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Jordan McKay. Creative Producer. Forth 1.
Get the experience
Getting a job in radio without any experience is borderline impossible – that’s why work experience is key. Probably the one thing everybody in radio will tell you – with good reason!
Radio is super competitive (everybody will tell you that too!) so you need to make yourself stand out when you contact stations. It’s SUPER important to do this from the very first email you send because if you don’t, chances are your email has already been deleted – I know it’s harsh, but it happens!
“I want to be on the radio because I like music” … delete, “I want to work in radio because it looks fun” … delete, “I’m thinking about trying something new” … delete.
Write a proper introduction, take time on it and really sell yourself to whoever it is you’re reaching out to – show you’re passionate, show you’re willing to learn, show you really want to work in radio. (Side note: if you aren’t feeling that level of passion … why are you bothering?)
Learning, lots and lots of learning
Before you even step inside a radio station, you should already know EVERYTHING about that station – the presenter line up, the format, the heads of departments (literally all of this information is on any station website, do some research before you go).
You should also know a little about what it is you want to do. There’s three main types of producers in radio – creative producers, imaging producers and show producers. Which one do you want to be? And if you don’t know, which one sounds most interesting?
Again, just do some research – look up the different types of work each producer does or even reach out to some producers and ask them (another way to show you’re keen!)
Be available and be flexible
And after you’ve spent some time at a station – show you’re keen to do more. You want to be the person who is up for the overnight producing shift of election results, or the all-day roadshow on Saturday, or sitting in with the breakfast (or evening) presenters.
That person is making the most of their work experience – they are showing that they are committed, keen to get involved and eager to learn. These are the people that get considered for full-time jobs when they become available.
Sometimes your social life has to take a backseat – it’s a competitive industry and you have to show you are committed or you may just be overlooked for the next person who is!
Reality and expectations
In reality, be prepared to do a lot of work for free when you first start out. It gives the station a chance to see what you can really do and it gives you a chance to learn!
If you are lucky enough to land any kind of long-term work experience agreement with a station, grab it with both hands, but make sure you understand what kind of work experience you can expect. If you want to be a producer, and they’re offering you one day a week with a journalist, is that going to benefit you? Just make sure you know what to expect.
Don’t waste any opportunities
I got my break in commercial radio by taking every single opportunity I was offered. I’ve presented overnight shows, evenings and weekends; I’ve produced live shows, roadshows, outside broadcasts (and a DJ set at an Olly Murs gig!); I’ve produced station imaging and promos and now I’m doing full-time creative production.
I’ve seen so many people do ONE DAY of work experience and completely waste their time – and they were never invited back. They never even asked about coming back before they left. If you do this, chances are you won’t make it in radio.
So you need to make the most of EVERY SINGLE opportunity you are given by a radio station – it doesn’t matter how small it is, it all adds up to showing the right people who you are, and hopefully gives you the chance to show what you can do for them!