Below is the results of an interview between Ryan McLaughlin, an Entertainment Management student at Missouri State University and Lynn Taylor, a radio personality at Oldies 105.1 in Springfield, MO. The interview was conducted in the fall of 2001.
RM: What is your position here at the station?
LT: I’m a weekend DJ here at oldies.
RM: What is a day in the life of your job like?
LT: I do a live show on weekends: Saturdays and Sundays. I also voice track, which is a pre-recorded show. You have to show up on time and be here a half an hour before each shift. Other than that, it is not bad.
RM: Are there employment opportunities for aspiring air personalities? Do they come frequently, or is it tough to land a job like this?
LT: A little of both. I lucked out, purely lucked out. Jobs come available, but everyone wants experience. They told me not to go to school if I wanted to do this, because you can learn as much doing this than going to school for it. So, you’ve got to find some way in, start at the bottom of the pack, and work your way up. Usually everybody starts as a board operator and works his or her way up.
RM: What are the earnings for a DJ?
LT: I cannot give you a clue. I’m part-time; I make eight dollars an hour. I have no clue what anybody else makes though. Morning show makes the biggest money, and then it kind of works its way down from there. You have to work a lot of hours to make decent money. The bigger markets do better, but I have no clue what anybody else makes here, just my salary.
RM: So is there a difference between the larger and smaller markets?
LT: Oh, yeah. In the big markets, you can make good money. In a market like ours, you can make a living. But in the big markets, you have to worry about ratings; here, it’s not a big deal. If you get a bad rating one time, they’re just going to say, “Hey, get your act together.” They’ll even tell you this five or six times before they do anything about it. In the larger markets where you get paid well and you have a bad period, you’re out. There’s no doubt.
RM: Is it hard to advance?
LT: Somewhat, because somebody has to step down or get fired before you can get the to the next step up. It’s pretty much a luck thing though. If you’re at the right place at the right time, it helps. If you work hard, people notice that. For example, we do traffic and it’s not a job anybody really wants, but one of the guys has been doing it for two years so they finally gave him a morning show position because of it. He went from working weekends to morning show, just because of his dedication to traffic for two years. It’s kind of one of those, you’ve got to do nasty jobs, but you’ll get there. You just got to stick with it.
RM: What attracts people to this position, and what keeps them here?
LT: The fame and glory of talking. It’s a good job, you don’t really have to work too hard and there are a lot of perks that come with it. I get a lot of free tickets, and there’s a lot of fame that comes with it. I’ll mention to one of my teachers that I’m a DJ, and then I become their little favorite. It’s not too bad in that sense.
RM: What is the recommended education and training for now and for the future?
LT: Right now, education is not a big deal. With training, you’re going to have to do some. I voiced tracked for two or three weeks just to learn what to say at certain times. You just have to go in and learn things. It changes so much though. Last year it was CDs. Now it’s all computerized. So if I would’ve gone to college and graduated last year, for this job, it was pointless because the industry switched over again. So they say, education is not worth it for this one.
RM: What are the essential skills for your job?
LT: A decent voice, and responsibility to show up because you can’t miss a day. That is the big thing with this job is that you cannot and it’s impossible to get a day off. So responsibility, energy, and dedication are essential.
RM: What is the appropriate personalities for this job?
LT: It depends on which station. I listen to different stations in the morning. Some can get away with anything, but oldies, everything is family oriented. No cussing and no inappropriate remarks of any kind. So it mainly depends on which station you’re at.
RM: What are the experience and qualifications you need for this job?
LT: Hard work and make sure you show up.
RM: What are some of the changes they’ve had in the past deacade or so?
LT: I?m not really sure.
RM: I guess one thing would be CDs.
LT: The CDs. Yeah, it was records, then CDs, and now it’s all computerized. Also, there is digital and analog. Ours is analog. Magic’s is digital, which is newer. So our boards are a little bit different form their boards. You can do different things with them. We have things to record into and with their boards; you can just play it straight on. With ours, you have to hit a button to play it. There are just different things involved, but they keep making it easier and easier for DJs. I can’t complain.
RM: What would be some insider tips for landing a job like this?
LT: Find some way in. That’s the hard part. Perseverance is the key. You have to show you want the job. Make friends with people at the station. If you show that you really want it, you can get it. Pretty much, that is. You’ve got to be decent at the job though. There was one guy who had perseverance, but he could not talk on the air at all. So you’ve got to have a little bit of each.
RM: What is the hiring process? What is the first thing employers look at?
LT: It depends on the person, and where you’re starting. For me, I basically had the job before I had to fill out any kind of application. Some people come in, turn in an application, and turn in a tape. We listen to the tape and go from there. I guess the tape would be the first step.
RM: Has there ever been any interesting ways that you know about at the station where people have tried to get attention for bosses?
LT: Not that I know of. DJs do crazy things to get to the public, but not the station.
RM: What is the typical career path for a DJ?
LT: It depends on what you want to do. I don’t want to get big. I want a family, and I like it at this size. Josh wants to get big so he will have to go places to get into bigger markets. Most people start off a little smaller than Springfield, and then work their way up. I don’t really want to work my way up.
RM: Is that because you won’t have time for a family?
LT: A little bit, but I wouldn’t want to raise a family in a big city either.
RM: What do you like about this job and what do you dislike?
LT: I get to be lazy, talk, and get paid for it. It is the best job for when you are in school because I can bring in homework and do it. All I have to do is pay attention to when I have to talk. The disadvantage is that you can’t miss a day.
RM: What are the key professional affiliations needed?
LT: You need to get in with your employers.