Confessions Of a Morning Show DJ
August 20th is National Radio Day. Radio. The only full time job that I've ever had. I discovered I was good at it back in high school and the journey has led me here to where I am today. In honor of National Radio Day, I thought that I would let you in on a few secrets of radio life. Let you peek behind the curtain a bit. Our bosses don't need to worry, I'm not revealing any trade secrets, but if you want to know what the life of a DJ is like, well, here you go!
First of all, there is so much more to our job than just hitting play. The KHAK studio is full of computers filled with different types of audio software doing different things to put the show you hear on the air. I currently stare at three different screens every morning, and they're adding a fourth soon. You need to be slightly tech savvy, or at the very least have the engineer on speed dial!
Live radio is like navigating a minefield. Stuff happens. Now you may not hear that stuff happen on the air, but we notice and it can drive us nuts! Songs don't play, a jingle doesn't fire when you hit the button, the phones won't work. All things that can sabotage a show real quick. The important thing to remember is to react quickly, and be able to laugh at yourself. We like letting listeners in on our mistakes, especially when they're audible.
Many times during the show, I'm lying to you. Not with my words, but with my smile. Getting up at 3:30 a.m. is hard. Try doing it for over 22 years. But my job is to come in and make you believe that I'm bright eyed and bushy tailed! So when I crack open that mic, I smile, and fake the energy if I have to. Always make sure the listener believes that you're happy to be there, even if you're having a tough day. After all, radio is a form of show business, and the show must go on!
Finally, the person you hear on the air telling stories and making jokes isn't necessarily the same person you'd meet in real life. This is something that I've worked on over the years. Some listeners expect you to be "on" all the time. But when I'm not working, I'm a bit more reserved and private. Most people respect that, but sometimes it can get awkward. I'm always grateful when someone comes up and says hi, or says that they love the show. But even after all these years, I still feel strange being recognized while out in public, so sorry if our meeting is a bit awkward.
Lastly, I will say this. I absolutely LOVE our listeners. You are loyal and many of you have become friends. Iowa really is a special place to live and work. Sure, Cedar Rapids, Iowa isn't the biggest radio market in the nation. I've had chances to move on to larger markets. But this place is special. The people are what make it special. You truly think of us as members of your family, and trust me, not one of us takes that for granted.
So thank you for listening. Thank you for letting us into your cars, workplaces, and homes. Radio is alive and well in 2021, all thanks to you.