How To Become a Radio Jockey: Definition and Career Guide

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 13 September 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

With radio making a comeback in the entertainment field, free and subscription-based radio stations require radio jockeys to play music, host programmes and handle production work. While the profession is demanding, with irregular hours, it can be lucrative for talented RJs. By learning about the skills essential for radio jockeys, you can decide if the career is the right choice for you. In this article, we can find out what is a radio jockey, what RJs do, if being an RJ is a good career, what it takes to be a good RJ and how to become a radio jockey.

What is a radio jockey?

A radio jockey is a professional in charge of providing entertainment and information through various radio programmes. Also known as RJs or radio DJs, radio jockeys work for radio stations and follow their station's direction in the shows they host. They may play a variety of music, sometimes concentrating on a specific genre. Some of the music genres they may highlight in their programs are pop, classical, film, devotional, instrumental, R&B, country, rock-and-roll and rock. During programme intervals, they may discuss cultural, political, local, weather-related and sports-related matters.

Radio jockeys have to prepare strong, creative scripts and pay attention to their narration, articulation, voice modulation and timing. To keep their listeners interested and entertained throughout the programmes, they must be confident, knowledgeable, enthusiastic, passionate and amusing. They must make music tracks, create infomercials, record advertisements and plan programme breaks. Additionally, they must take song requests from listeners and respond to listener messages and voice calls. Radio jockeys must also have the technical knowledge to handle radio production equipment.

Related: How To Become an Actor: A Complete Guide

What do radio jockeys do?

A radio jockey may undertake different duties depending on the show they host and the radio station where they are employed. Some of their work duties may include:

  • brainstorming programme ideas

  • writing programme scripts

  • recording advertisements

  • creating informercials

  • selecting music

  • making music tracks

  • publicising new music

  • planning programme breaks

  • taking song requests

  • reading listener messages

  • accepting listener calls

  • interviewing people

  • engaging in debates

  • hosting contests

  • announcing giveaways

  • giving weather reports

  • providing traffic updates

  • discussing current events

  • talking about sports

Related: How To Become a News Anchor: A Step-by-Step Guide With FAQ

Is RJ a good career?

A radio jockey can be a good career if you are genuinely interested in becoming one and have the right aptitude and attitude. You must have a strong command of the language and excellent communication skills and must be able to express yourself with clarity. It can help to have a pleasant, spontaneous personality, a good sense of humour and the ability to keep people engaged and entertained. Additionally, you must have a good work ethic, a willingness to learn and the capability to handle challenging work tasks.

The national average salary for RJs is ₹2,38,823 per year, but the exact pay may be higher for experienced and well-known radio jockeys with a good following. Aside from doing radio jockey jobs, they may also lend their voices for advertisements, show voice-overs, audiobooks, announcements, public messages and instruction videos.

Related: What Does a Producer Do? (With Average Salary and Skills)

What is the age limit for RJs?

There is no specific age limit for radio jockey jobs. You can be of any age to apply for jobs in radio jockey presenting. You may be able to fill the radio jockey vacancy as long as you have strong linguistic skills, clear pronunciation and a well-modulated voice. You should have the ability to grab audience attention when you speak, be knowledgeable about the music you present and the topics you discuss and have the technical skills to use radio equipment.

Can I be an RJ after 12th?

You can become an RJ after the 12th since there are no specific educational qualifications needed for jobs in radio jockey presenting. However, you might benefit career-wise and knowledge-wise from further studies. You can do various short-term or long-term courses in radio presentation at different media training institutes, acting academies and drama schools. Some radio professionals organise workshops you can attend to learn about becoming a radio jockey. You can also do internships at radio stations and apply for radio jockey jobs for freshers.

How can I be a good RJ?

You can become a good RJ by taking the following steps:

1. Improve your language skills

Since the work is dependent on audio presentation, radio jockeys must have excellent language and communication skills. You must speak in a grammatically correct way and use the right words to express yourself. You must also know how to use verbal and written language to engage and influence your audience. It is essential to practise your presentation skills and develop your unique speaking style.

2. Increase your music knowledge

You must have an in-depth knowledge of music, or you must be willing to research it. If possible, consider studying the theory and practice of music formally or informally. You may also benefit from listening to a wide range of music from different genres and talking to people about their musical preferences.

3. Get informed about world events

By being well-informed about local, national and international events, you can speak knowledgeably and confidently about various issues. That is necessary for radio jockeys, as the job often requires discussing events or interviewing people from different fields. Your audience is more likely to listen to you if your summaries are accurate and well-stated.

4. Work on your interpersonal skills

Interpersonal skills are crucial for radio jockeys as the work involves interactions with different people at the radio station. You have to address your audience in a comfortable, conversational way. Additionally, you must be able to speak on an equal level with programme guests and callers.

Related: Communication Skills: Definitions and Examples

How to become a radio jockey

You can become a radio jockey by taking these steps:

1. Pass 10+2

Some radio stations can have minimum educational requirements, so it might be a good idea to pass the 10+2 Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC) exam from a recognised board. It can be in the arts, commerce or science field and you must get at least 50% marks. You do not need to take any specific subjects, but you may benefit from studying regional languages and humanities.

2. Get advanced education

After passing 10+2, you can do certificate courses of one to six months in radio jockeying, radio jockeying essentials, community radio or announcing, broadcasting and dubbing. You can also complete one-year diploma courses in radio jockey, radio programming and broadcast management, radio production and radio jockeying or radio management. Some radio jockeys have four-year college degrees in media studies, mass communication, languages, linguistics, telecommunications or acting. Additionally, you can complete one to two years of postgraduate diploma courses in television and radio journalism, production, radio and broadcast management, electronic media or professional RJ and radio management.

3. Master theoretical and practical learning

The formal educational curriculum for radio jockey may cover the characteristics of the radio medium, the history of FM and other radio stations and the use of language for radio medium. The courses may include diction and pronunciation, mood mapping, voiceovers, radio station departments, writing scripts and making shows. You may study presentation, style, story-telling, editing, music programming, sound effects, designing campaigns and handling calls and interviews. Additionally, you may learn broadcast and system console handling, using microphones, transmission system management and recording live shows.

4. Practise presentation skills

You must learn to speak fluently, without fumbling, in English, Hindi, Marathi and other regional languages and have clarity and pitch modulation in your speech. Record yourself and listen to how you sound in comparison to established radio jockeys. It can help to practise speaking until your speech delivery comes across as smooth, natural and confident. You may benefit from learning extemporaneous speaking to adapt quickly to situations where you might not have a script. To keep your audience attentive and engaged, try to find ways to make your presentation accurate, precise, lively and entertaining.

5. Get work experience

An internship with a radio station can offer you practical exposure to radio jockeying work. You can develop research, planning, organisation and time management skills. You can also collaborate with other radio professionals and use radio equipment to produce a radio program. Additionally, you may be able to cultivate important industry contacts. Some internships can even lead to a job offer.

6. Start a podcast

It is easy to start a podcast using inexpensive recording equipment, editing software and online hosting. Select a topic for your podcast, prepare the program scripts and produce regular episodes on schedule. You can learn a lot about hosting shows with podcasts, and you may also gain a good following.

7. Apply for radio jockey jobs

You can find out how to apply for radio jockey jobs, such as preparing a cover letter, a resume and voice or show samples. You can look up radio jockey vacancies on job sites like Indeed or send your applications to popular radio stations in your area. Show your willingness to work at different hours.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

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