So you want to be on the radio? Think you’ve got a great air check and can’t wait to send it to a PD? WAIT! Before you send it, please ask yourself these questions:
1) What’s the first thing heard on your demo? If it’s not you, DON’T SEND IT! Imaging, jingles, co-hosts, callers, and other elements should NEVER be the first thing a PD hears. It should always be YOU.
2) Will the first 10-seconds of your demo capture a PD’s attention and make them want to hear more? If not, DON’T SEND IT! Most PD’s will know in just a few seconds if you’ve got any chance of being on their station. Please DO NOT waste their time back selling records, reading liners, and giving the weather forecast. Show your personality, creativity, sense of humor or anything else that will set you apart right at the start. If you bury the good stuff further in, there’s a good chance it won’t be heard.
3) Is your demo under 3-minutes? If the answer is no, DON’T SEND IT! This mainly applies to music formats but the whole idea of a demo is to showcase your talents and on-air skills. It’s supposed to be a sample of what you can do. If a PD likes what he or she hears, they will ask for more examples of your work but please don’t assume that someone is going to sit and listen to that 8 to 12-minute air check you were thinking of sending. We just don’t have that much time.
4) Is your demo format relevant? If not, DON’T SEND IT! Please think about the station you are applying to and LISTEN TO THEM FIRST so you are familiar with their approach, style, and format. Just this week while trying to fill an on-air position at a contemporary Christian station, I’ve received a number of demos from people who obviously were not familiar with our product at all. One had a lot of crude adult humor that was clearly NOT appropriate for the format and another had a delivery that would have been perfect on an urban hip hop station but not here. Maybe you don’t have previous format experience but you can still send a customized demo that’s more in line with what the station is looking for.
5) Is your demo technically perfect? If you’ve got mistakes and bad edits on your demo, DON’T SEND IT! This is your demo, you’ve had all the time in the world to make it perfect. If you can’t make it shine, what does that say about the quality of work you’d perform for me?
6) Have you prepared a personalized cover letter and customized resume to send with your resume? If not, YOU ARE NOT READY TO SEND IT! A good demo is just part of what it takes to get the attention of a PD. You need to show what you’ve accomplished on your resume (don’t just list what tasks you’ve performed, show what you’ve accomplished). And you need to make a compelling case for what you can bring to the table in your cover letter. Your cover letter should be written specifically to the station you’re interested in working for, not “To Whom It May Concern” or “Dear Sir or Madam”. Study the job listing, look at the skills required for the position and highlight them in your cover letter. And for goodness sakes, please make sure you get the PD’s name right and spelled correctly! Someone sent me a resume last week that began, “Dear Darryl”. The problem is, my name is Dave. I stopped reading right there.
Okay, thanks for reading and blessings to you in your job search!
Dave Margalotti has nearly 30 years of experience working as a Program Director, Operations Manager and Consultant. He’s worked multiple music and talk formats and is currently the Director of Radio Operations for Family Life which operates of network of nearly 70 broadcast signals cover parts of New York and Pennsylvania. Contact Dave at firstname.lastname@example.org…