My name is Adam Lerschen aka DJ Kimchi. I am 22 years old, living in Eugene, Oregon. I am a radio DJ at KWVA - the University of Oregon’s radio station. I am excited to share with you all what life is like as a radio DJ. By the end of this post, I hope you will get an idea of what a radio DJ does, and why it is so much fun! I even hope to hear that I was able to encourage you enough to apply at your local station.
When the word “DJ” comes to mind, one seems to instantly picture someone spinning in front of a huge crowd. At a festival, in a dance club or at a music venue. Radio DJs appear to be a little different. This does not mean that being a radio DJ is any less “cool”. In fact, radio hosting is one of the oldest forms of DJing. Let me explain the exciting world of being a radio DJ!
What Does A Radio DJ Do?
I would consider being a radio DJ the most basic form of DJing. A radio DJ will perform mixing at a very basic and simple level, in which one will use a channel volume fader to transition into the upcoming track. This is different compared to the DJs who mix songs using beat matching. A radio DJ will voice announcements, introductions, comments, jokes, and commercials in between songs. It is important to keep in mind that the radio DJ can not afford to have any dead air at all during their show. Allowing any “dead air” is the biggest no-no a radio DJ can make. If you can recall, when is the last time you turned on the radio and heard white noise? Never, that’s right. This serves the same justice as if one were at a party, festival, or club. Imagine the current DJ stopping the music. Exactly my point.
• Play His Favorite Tunes
Depending on what style radio station you are a part of, a radio DJ will work with what kind of power that they are given. In my case, my radio station allows me to be able to do so much! I am allowed to play whatever music I please during my show, and host my show in any manner I choose. This is the best part of being a radio DJ – the simple fact that I have the opportunity to share something I love oh so much! It is an indescribable feeling. It truly is amazing when someone calls the station and is dying to know what song that they had just listened to.
It truly is amazing when someone calls the station and is dying to know what song that they had just listened to.
Often today, especially with kids of my age, we are stuck in a streaming world. We are accustomed to using internet apps, such as Youtube, Soundcloud, Spotify, Apple Music, Pandora, Datpiff, Bandcamp, etc to listen to music. And by no means is this a bad thing, it is just how times have changed. What one my age must try to remember, is that we are the only generation up to date to enjoy this type of luxury. We do not understand what it was like for our grandparents, parents, or even older siblings generations on how they would listen to their music. I can guarantee that the radio played an important role. Just think, during our grandparents day, the radio was the main source of anything! The radio changed the way how humans lived. It is completely mind blowing to me how humans even figured out how to transfer and broadcast signals of information through waves in the air. It is very special to be a part of something so important in human life.
• Play An Important Role In The Community
With all of this being said, a radio DJ will learn to develop their own unique personality. Since you are on the radio, you are playing a role in the community. You are a part of someones day. Why not try and give the listener the best experience ever!
You will begin to form a listening audience each week. There will be someone out there who is looking forward to your show. You begin to form a relationship with the community.
It is fun to give the listeners something to look forward to every week. You may be as creative as you want. I love hearing whatever DJ is currently on because they each have a distinct personality. It is fun to listen to their style of music & show, their interests, knowledge & suggestions of what music to listen to. Experience their radio charisma. It is wonderful to be surrounded with people who share the same love and passion of music as me. We wouldn’t be DJing if otherwise.
• Make People's Day
And ultimately, that is what being a radio DJ is all about: to have an impact on somebody’s day. The radio DJ has the freedom to brighten someone’s day, allow one to discover their new favorite artist, flashback a great memory, and so on. Ever since the 1950s, the radio DJ has played a big part of the daily life of humans, and will continue to do so.
The application was to list 100 artists I would play on my show
Before I became a part of KWVA, I listened to it every day. I still do! Whether it was playing in the living room, the car, or during work, I would find myself listening to it. Once my sister introduced how it was possible to become a DJ at KWVA. I applied as soon as I found out. The application was to list 100 artists I would play on my show. I mastered the tasks and got the job. Amazing!
Why It's Cool To Be A Radio DJ
1. Bring In Guests
It's amazing to have the capability to give an artist air time
What is an amazing perk of being a DJ at my station, is that I am allowed to bring in guests! It is so fun bringing in people to come do a show with you! How often does someone ask you to go hangout and be on the radio? An amazing thing that KWVA encourages us DJs to do is to host actual bands/artists or have live interviews. We have the free will to give a band/artist an opportunity to play a live set on the radio. The interviews may be on whatever topic you want to discuss. Remember, it is your show, and you choose how you decide it goes. It is amazing to have the capability to give an artist air time on the radio.
2. Develop Your Own Radio Personality
This is an amazing part: to begin developing your own radio personality. You must think of your DJ name and name of the show that you will be hosting. For instance, I am DJ Kimchi, and I host the Fermentation Hour. Here is the DJ catalogue at my station. You can see how much fun the DJs have with naming their show and how it ties in with the style of music they play.
3. Connect With Other DJs
Perk number tree of being a radio DJ? If you notice from the image on the right, there are a ton of DJs! This is a 24-hour on air station! To keep this station going, it takes a community of over 90 DJs! It is an absolute honor to be able to be a part of something so special as this. Not only am I able to be a part of the community I live in, I am able to connect with all of the other DJs. There are some DJs who have been at the station for over 20 years! It is amazing to gain all of the knowledge and learn how they approach their shows. I use any show I listen to as a learning experience.
4. Unlimited Music
I bet that many other radio stations will have something like this to offer. Each week, the station receives new releases from artists from all over the world. I have the opportunity to discover new music every time I step in the building. I have the chance to burn any of the music and add to my own collection. Might I add this for any of you aspiring DJs out there... No one will tell you this at the beginning, but being a DJ may be pricey. This is a perfect way to get free music. It is honestly more than I could ever ask for. Also, we are affiliated with a music venue in town, so guess what that means? FREE CONCERT TICKETS!!! Awesome, I know.
Becoming a radio DJ has been one of the coolest things
that has ever happened to me.
By now, I hope you have gained a better understanding of what a radio DJ does. We are anywhere and everywhere, ha! But for real, I will say that becoming a radio DJ has been one of the coolest things that has ever happened to me. To those who want to be more than just the plain old radio DJ, this is always a great place to start. You will gain new insights on how the music industry works and what it is like to be involved in the music scene.
Radio DJ Requirements
If you plan to become a radio DJ - here are the skills to work on:
1. Preparation is Key
This is no different than a chef who is preparing the ingredients for the tasty dinner that is about to be created. Approach prepping a setlist in this manner. A setlist should have some effort put in by the host. When you are a radio DJ, you will be the host of your own show. Have a general idea of what style of music you want your listeners to expect to hear each week. Select a genre (or multiple), and create a theme to work with. Give your show attention and thought.
2. Good taste in music
The goal is to introduce the listener to as much new music possible.
3. Understand your crowd
A daytime show is going to be different than an evening show. Understand what times the community works in. I will play more energy songs at night time, compared to the daytime, I will play more relaxing music that more older crowds can connect with. You will talk more in a daytime show than you would during a night show.
4. Learn to be comfortable MCing
Learn how to talk into the microphone & broadcast like nobody is listening. This takes less stress off of you, and you learn to be more at ease talking. You will gain more confidence each show you do, so you will no longer have the butterflies talking in front of a crowd. This is great practice if one were to be a DJ for events, in which MCing would become second nature. Learning how to talk behind the mic is huge for Radio DJing. The radio DJ should have some general back ground knowledge of the music they are playing. It doesn't hurt to know how far the band has come, or what cool things you like about the music. The radio DJ is pretty much color commentating the music that is being played. You are an announcer that the crowds needs.
Learning how to talk behind the mic is huge for Radio DJing
5. Developing a personality
Your radio personality will unfold as you begin to take your show more serious. You will begin to give the listeners a general idea of what your show is going to be like. For instance, I look forward to "The Sunday Morning Hangover" each week. Marc Time is the host. He has won several awards for his radio show, as he is known to host such a great show each week. I am inspired each week to listen to his show and to learn from him.
6. Never stop learning
Like I had just mentioned, I continue to learn as much as I can. Learn how to take notes and record your own shows / mixes. Listen to what your show sounds like, and try to discover how you can take steps to improve your show. There is always something you can learn and apply it when the next show comes. That is truly the key to success, have the will to learn. If you have the will power to learn, you will open many doors for yourself.
7. Learn to laugh at yourself
This goes for anything, especially being a radio host. For all we know, nobody cares what the radio DJ has to say. Remember, all we are doing is playing music for the community on the radio. This is not a life or death situation. Learn to have fun with the show and try to smile. . It is so fun to have the opportunity to do something so cool like this, so have fun with it.
8. Continue to discover new music
Don't settle. I am very fortunate at my station because we receive new music every week. Reserve a day in the week where you learn new tracks.
Every Monday, I download and analyze at least 100 songs. Do the math, thats over 5000 tracks a year. I have created an entire day around it.
I have asked several friends to send me 10 of their favorite tracks that they listened throughout the week. This saves an enormous amount of time. Your friends have already done all of the searching for you. I trust their taste and actually look forward to see what other people love listening to. Seriously, I will even bug them to remind them. One of my most favorite feelings is discovering a new track.
I have asked several friends to send me 10 of their favorite tracks that they listened throughout the week
This is similar to laughing at yourself. Act as if you are talking to only one person. Have a normal conversation, have something to say, and share some knowledge you know. Share why you enjoy this artist so much, or how this song makes you feel.
Have the hunch to make you great. Life is great when you have something to look forward to each week. You get inspired to be the best you can. Reach out with the community you have placed yourself in. Learn how to connect with other DJs around the world. We have the internet at our hands. It is all a learning experience, soak everything like a sponge. Continue to create. Be the person that OTHER DJs want to learn from. Act as both student and teacher!
For myself, I am going to take my DJ career as far as I can go, but I will always hold the radio DJ close to my heart. The radio station has helped me get my foot in the door in what I want to be doing, and has opened an unbelievable amount of possibilities.
It is a great opportunity to build your own brand and fan base.
I own a Traktor S4 and my show will include the mixes that I prepare each week. We all have our own style, and this appears to be mine. I can name a handful of DJs who started at a radio station, and then were able to perform their mixes on a live broadcast.
It is a great opportunity to build your own brand and fan base. Since I have found my way into the radio DJ world, I know I will always have a spot in life to be on the radio and be a part of someone’s life.
Thank you for reading and please do let me know if you have any success applying at your local station! Also, if any of you guys have any music you would like for me to play on the radio, leave a link in the comments! I will be more than glad to give anybody exposure for their art. We are a community, so that is what I have to offer. Feel free to keep up with me and my DJ journey.
Sincerely, DJ Kimchi.
DJ Kimchi on SoundCloud