Over my career in radio I have helped a fair few people into the industry. As you might have gleaned from my first blog post, there are many similarities to the state of play today to when I first began- even though the world and technology has changed completely. For the whole of my career it has always been the case that there are fewer positions in radio than the number of people who want them.
There are a few things which all successful newcomers do to get in, and then succeed in the industry. These are the five they all tend to do… Roll the countdown!
Understand that people buy people first. Before I buy (or hire) any of what you are selling (or skills you display), its natural for your personality and demeanour to do the talking. How you might fit in a team, or how you get along with people or any boss or co-worker. It doesn’t mean you have to be a “yes man or woman”, just that there is a symbiosis of sorts.
Strike a balance between being keen and being a gnat. Its very important to be “on the radar” particularly when you are trying to be considered for any prospective positions. Constantly buzzing around though can be annoying and bothersome- like a gnat or fly. Striking a balance between reminding people who need to know, that you exist and are available enough- and leaving them alone. I’ve advised a few people over time to ask themselves a simple question – are they not getting back to you because they don’t know you exist or is it because they don’t have anything for you? If its the latter, constant pestering isn’t going to help the former much.
Know when and how to ask questions. Asking questions is really important. After all, you don’t know what you don’t know- so ask. It is often said by people (usually after a presentation of some sort) “there is no thing as a dumb question”. This is often said by people who don’t actually mean it and actually think there IS such a thing as a dumb question and they are seeing if you want to ask a clever one. My belief is there is genuinely very few dumb questions, especially if you set a context first…. “Sorry if this seems silly to ask but…”, “Sorry if I’m missing something I was just wondering…”. It very hard to criticise someone for asking when the context is like that. Knowing when and where to ask questions is also good to work out- in front of others or one on one? Got a few questions to ask all at once? Then maybe again set a context… “I’ve got a few questions to ask, all basic and simple. Is there a good time to run through them all?”
Think about the next step before you get there. The best are thinking about what comes next after this- I don’t mean philosophically- more practically speaking. I always found it surprising and helpful when someone guessed what might be needed and already made a start or did some prep. For example, having a demo ready with your work and ensuring its updated with the latest material before anyone asked for it.
Don’t send a demo unsolicited. I’ve said this hundreds of times in sessions I’ve held with student radio and others- don’t send your demo to someone unsolicited. The job of sending a demo is….? The first answer has to be “GET A REPLY”. Until you get that, nothing else matters or will follow. If you send a demo unsolicited the person receiving it has no obligation to listen or reply. That doesn’t mean they won’t but why risk it? Bearing in mind that you want to create a conversation and back and forth anyway, instead send an email with a brief explanation of who you are and demonstrating something of yourself and asking if you can send a demo. You are likely to get a reply saying “Yes of course!”- and you have started the conversation. The person receiving the email also now has some kind of mild obligation to reply and listen. If you don’t get a reply from your initial email, you are no worse off than you would have been if you had sent something unsolicited anyway!
Its not an exhaustive list and many might add other items into it, but I think these five are quite key. Good luck if you are trying to get into radio- once you get there its worth it!