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What does a disk jockey do?

Disc jockeys, sometimes called "deejays," put music on the radio. They also talk about the news, sports, and weather. Sometimes they do commercials, talk with guests, and tell what's going on in the community.

Disc jockeys most often work at radio stations. They work in small rooms called studios. These rooms have good light, air-conditioning, and are soundproof. But it can be lonely. Full-time Disc jockeys talk on the radio 5 or 6 days a week for about 4 hours at a time. However, their job takes more time than just that. Every day they must prepare for the radio show. Sometimes they write the commercials, too.

Most radio stations are on the air much of the day. Some stations are on for 24 hours every day. Because of this, Disc jockeys don't usually work regular hours. They often must start early or work late into the night. They also must get to work, even if the weather is very bad. Disc jockeys may also work outside the station. They can work at schools or community events. Some do extra work at weddings and parties.

How do you get ready to be a disk jockey?

It is very difficult to get a job as a disc jockey. Classes in broadcast journalism at a college or technical school may help. Courses in English, public speaking, and drama are also good. Students can gain experience at school stations. Hobbies such as sports and music may help. However, most employers want to know how someone sounds on a taped audition. They pay a lot of attention to a person's way of talking. They want someone with a pleasant voice and good timing. They want a disc jockey that will do commercials, news, and interviews with a nice style.

It is very important that a disc jockey can "ad-lib" (that means to talk without notes) all or part of the program. They must work under tight deadlines and may have to be computer literate.

Beginners often must start out in another radio job. They may work equipment or tape interviews. The best chance for a disc jockey job is at a small station.

How much does a disk jockey get paid?

Earnings are higher in larger cities than in small ones. The middle half of all announcers earned between $7.13 and $15.10 an hour in 2002. The lowest-paid 10 percent earned less than $6.14. The highest-paid 10 percent made more than $24.92 an hour. Some Disc jockeys earn much more.

How many jobs are there?

Announcers, the group of workers that includes Disc jockeys, held about 76,000 jobs in 2002.

What about the future?

There is a lot of competition for these jobs. Many more people try to be Disc jockeys than there are jobs. Small radio stations are more inclined to hire beginners, but the pay is low. People who get work experience by completing an internship while in school have the best chance of getting a job.

The number of announcers is expected to decline through the year 2012. This is due partly to the lack of growth in the number of radio and television stations. Now, more than ever, several stations may be operated from one central office. This reduces the need for staff. Some stations operate overnight without any staff. They play programming that was recorded earlier or that comes from a satellite feed. Also, new technology is increasing the productivity of announcers, reducing the number of announcers that are needed.

However, there will be job openings in this small field. This is due to the need to replace those who leave. Some leave this job because they can't advance to better paying jobs.

Are there other jobs like this?

  • Actors
  • Choreographers
  • Dancers
  • Directors
  • Interpreters and translators
  • Musicians
  • Producers
  • Public relations specialists
  • Reporters
  • Sales and related occupations
  • Singers
Where can you find more information?

More BLS information about announcers and similar jobs can be found in the Careers Database.

Source: Occupational Outlook Handbook -- U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics

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