Friday, September 09, 2005

Reprint: The Truth About DJ's

This is a reprint of a post I wrote years ago. My recent conversations with a fan of my old show made me think of it and since I doubt anyone who reads my blog now has been reading it for long.... I decided to re-post it.

It always used to amaze me how many people would call into the radio station under the belief that I was sitting in a room with a microphone and a CD player going wild. Modern radio is a huge business with stations charging as much as $1000 per minute for advertising and airing 13-15 minutes per hour. So, in the interest of truth, here are a few lies about radio DJ's....

They play whatever they want.
They are given a playlist that tells them exactly what to play and in what order. Sometimes the songs are on a computer hard drive and they just push a button to start the next one. If you think a station that is making millions of dollars is going to trust it's content to a Disc-Jockey, you're nuts. Which brings us to #2...

They play requests.
Nope. If you think a station that is making millions of dollars is going to trust it's content to a listener, you're nuts. If you call in a request and they do play it, you can bet it was coming up in the rotation anyway.

They say whatever they want.
Most of the time they are reading from a card (called a "liner") that says something like, "It's a (adjective) day in Dallas, my name is (jock's name) and here's (artist/song) on Hot 100.9! The Program Director usually screws down the jocks so tight that they are afraid to have an original thought..... forget expressing it.

They play the same songs over and over.
The music is rotated by computer, remember? The #1 song gets played every 4 hours at the most, usually more like every 6. It just seems like they repeat a lot because you notice the songs you don't like more than the ones you like. I've had listeners swear that they heard a song 3 times in 4 hours when I was on the air and had only played it once.

The contests are rigged.
They could care less who wins. The whole point of the contest is to get listeners during the contest. At the end, they just want to give it away and move on.

They make a lot of money.
Very few do. Morning men typically make 3 to 5 times what the other jocks make. The guy doing midnight to 6 a.m. may be making $25,000 at the #1 station in a top 10 market. Part-timers make as little as minimum wage. No one becomes a DJ to get rich. With the consolidation of stations under companies like Clear Channel, it's getting worse.

They get laid a lot.
Okay, that one's true.

Now, it's true that there are jocks making big money and jocks doing request shows but most of the time it's business as usual. In the old days, radio stations tried to provide variety and capture as large an audience as possible. Today, they try to capture one small niche, say women 18-34, that they can sell to advertisers. Frequently, the station with the most listeners doesn't make the most money. An advertiser wants the most bang for his buck. If you sold BMW's, who would you rather advertise with: The station with 100,000 listeners ( 10,000 of whom are rich adults, the rest are kids, teens, poor people etc.. ) or the station with 30,000 listeners ( all of them rich adults ). The same thing has happened to TV ( ESPN, Oxygen, Lifetime..). That's why Oprah is so rich, not because she has so many viewers, but because they are all the same type. The exception is small town radio where there are still a limited number of stations. But that's changing too as big companies buy them up.


KJ Bazzle said...

Wow.... some of that's scary....

So that's why Curry won't play my requests. Hmmm....

12:48 AM  

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