What Does an on-Air Personality Do?

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  • Written By: Dan Cavallari
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 14 November 2019
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Anyone who has ridden along in a car and listened to the radio has probably heard an on-air personality. These announcers are sometimes known as deejays, or DJs, though this implies they are also responsible for playing music. The job of an on-air personality involves reading various text from a script, delivering news reports, reading station identifications, and in some cases, conversing with guests or other radio hosts. This person must have a strong voice that is as free of regional dialects as possible, and he or she must be able to read from a script quickly, clearly, and accurately.

Some of the specific job duties of an on-air personality can vary depending on the type of radio station he or she works for. Some of these hosts will run talk shows in which guests will be interviewed or various topics will be discussed, while in other cases, the on-air personality may not have a specific topic to talk about. Instead, he or she will often deliver general information or stories that are relevant to the day and to a general audience. Other personalities may be responsible for playing music or other content.


One of the primary jobs of the on-air personality is researching the various topics to be covered or guests to be interviewed. It is important that the host have a solid understanding of the topics being covered so he or she can ask relevant questions or lend interesting and insightful commentary to the discussion. The on-air personality should have skills and experience conducting interviews, and he or she should remain as objective as possible during all discussions. The job of the host is to guide the conversation, not necessarily provide editorial critique, though in some cases that is exactly what the personality is hired to do.

No specific level of education is absolutely necessary to become an on-air personality, though most of them will have at least a high school education as well as some formal training in the classroom. Broadcasting schools offer coursework that will prepare a candidate for a career as a radio personality, though with the right combination of talent and experience, it may not be necessary to attend such a school. Strong conversational skills, a clear, strong speaking voice, and a solid understanding of the radio industry will give a job candidate a leg up on the competition. The personality may start as an assistant or co-host at the beginning of his or her career and work up from there.


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Post 1

When I was an on-air personality for a local oldies radio station, I had to record several 30 second and 1 minute weather reports every hour. When my shift ended, I'd record a more generic weather report that would run the rest of the day.

I also had an inbox where the salespeople would leave advertising copy from clients. I had to find the right soundtrack bed, edit the copy for clarity and time, then record it between my on-air duties. I had a lot of fun coming up with character voices for those spots, unless the client specifically asked for a straight read in my regular voice.

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