Do’s and Don’ts of College Radio

Palms are sweaty, voice is trembling, stomach feels slightly nauseous and your brain simply cannot string together a coherent thought. No, you aren’t about to lose your virginity…. But you are about to host your very first radio show! Exciting, isn’t it?!

Unfortunately, that scenario is not far off from how I felt before DJing my first radio show. But if there is one thing I could say to anyone about to take over the mic for the first time, it would be to JUST RELAX!! Everything you say on-air will come across fine to listeners, I promise!

As I mentioned before, I’ve been involved with Rowan Radio for almost three years and over that time, I have grown in many ways. My experiences flubbing lines on-air and pressing the wrong buttons at the wrong times have led me to write this post: The Do’s and Don’ts of College Radio.


1. Arrive to the studio AT LEAST fifteen minutes before your show.

I cannot stress this enough. It might have to do with the fact that I’m super paranoid about being late to anything, but tardiness is just never acceptable in the media world. Rowan Radio even enforces punishments, or “suspension hours,” to those who cannot follow this simple rule. It’s no joke, people. Not to mention, arriving at the studio early means you have more time to mentally prepare yourself! You can now look over the music log, catch up on the latest news and weather updates, and think of witty things to say on-air!

2. Leave whatever personal problems you might be facing at the door.

“No one wants to listen to a DJ that’s absolutely miserable,” says Rowan Radio DJ Alyssa Sansone. I know it’s hard sometimes, but you really just have to carry on when you step into the studio and deal with the bad stuff later. The show must go on!

3.   Bring the energy!

Let’s face it, monotone DJs are just not entertaining. You want to make sure you are keeping your audience by being fun and lively, even if you don’t necessarily have anything special to talk about on-air. This particularly applies to those DJing early morning shows, when most of your listeners are probably struggling to stay awake on their commute to work. Talking a few levels louder than your normal speaking volume can help quite a bit. Project your voice.

4.   Constantly mention your name.

Because what good is listening to a DJ host a show if we don’t even know who’s behind the mic!

5. Think of a gimmick.

Some DJs choose not to do this, but it’s a good way to keep your show fresh and exciting. I’ve heard DJs do segments every week like “Tuesday TV Talk” or “Tip of the Day.” Something like that could set your show apart and people will more than likely remember you. Let your personality shine.


1. Do NOT, under any circumstances, cuss on-air.

This is a HUGE no-no. It could get you fired and the station in trouble!

2. Follow a script word-for-word.

I know that, as college radio DJs, there are certain things we have to say at certain time slots. It could be the weather forecast, a traffic update, or information we have to deliver about a campus or community event. Whatever the message, an important thing to remember is that it’s okay to improvise with a script at times! “Ad-libbing makes you sound that much better as a DJ,” says Rowan Radio intern and DJ Erica Milbourne, “it makes everything feel more natural and keeps from boring your audience to tears!”

3.   Sweat the small stuff.

Every DJ has fumbled over their words on-air at least once. The easiest thing to do when it happens is just shrug it off and move on. Most likely, no one even noticed, and so what if they did? It’s really not that big of a deal as you might think it is at the time. Don’t be so hard on yourself.

4.   Ramble.

Obviously it’s a good thing to have something to talk about on-air, but don’t over-do it. Although you might think it’s a good story, no one wants to hear about your horrible trip to the DMV for 5+ minutes. Know when enough is enough and then start playing some music.

5. Forget to keep track of the time & music log.

Time-management is key in college radio. Always keep an eye on what songs should be playing when and if you need to add any emergency songs to fill out more time, especially at the end of an hour.

There you have it. Hopefully, these tips can be a bit of a help to those venturing into the world of college radio!



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