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What Is a Radio Disc Jockey?

A DJ works at a radio station.
A disc jockey may be required to work unorthodox hours.
It's important that a new DJ develops a pleasing on-air personality.
DJs who play club music need to be skilled at mixing music.
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  • Written By: K T Solis
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 07 August 2014
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A radio disc jockey, also known as a DJ, is a person who works at a radio station. He or she is responsible for playing music and broadcasting news on the radio. The radio disc jockey may also read commercials on air and accept calls from listeners. Whether presenting a traffic or weather report, chatting with listeners by phone, or interviewing celebrities, a radio disc jockey must do so in a relaxed, professional manner.

Disc jockeys sometimes gain their training in radio broadcasting by earning a degree in broadcast journalism. They then find an internship at a radio station, receiving hands-on training in the field. Other aspiring DJs may work at school radio stations before becoming a professional disc jockey. No matter which path a future DJ takes, radio broadcasting is a competitive field that proves difficult to enter.

People with clear speaking voices and the ability to learn complex equipment have the best chance of finding work as a radio disc jockey. Disc jockeys usually specialize in specific genres of music, so they must be familiar with different music styles. They must also be able to speak in a knowledgeable manner about their chosen genres.

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During a typical work schedule, DJs must manage their time well. This involves knowing the amount of time available so that music, commercials, news, interviews, and chatting fit into a set schedule. They must also have the ability to operate complex equipment that controls music and sound. DJs who play club music must be skilled at mixing music and beats as well.

Since radio stations play music 24 hours a day, a disc jockey may be required to work unorthodox hours. Many work late nights and weekends. More established DJs with a loyal following may work more desirable time slots. It's important that the new DJ develops a pleasing on-air personality so that listeners continue to listen to his or her radio program.

Disc jockeys do more than just present prerecorded music on the radio. They also may be responsible for writing commercials and skits. After writing the scripts, they perform the material. Disc jockeys are often required to do promotional work, making public appearances at community events and visiting schools.

Since the disc jockey is usually responsible for playing new music on the air, music companies often send the new albums of their recording artists for the DJ's review. This provides the DJ with opportunities to hear the latest music. As a result, disc jockeys stay abreast of trends and sometimes have the chance to influence the tastes of the listening public.

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