Daniel Keating gives us some positive tips and advice on how working in a college radio can help you prepare for commercial radio in the future.
Slowly, the mic fades in and the speakers are raised to start another day of college radio. Many students can tune into their favourite chat show or DJ and let the worries of university dwindle. They can also catch up on the latest news from the campus or hear interviews they participated in. This is college radio and is a significant part of the student society. Just like many commercial radio stations, the budget is poor and time constraints are awful but stations are run by passionate individuals who are dedicated to keeping it alive.
College radio can be run independently or as a club and society; either of these methods will require a hefty budget and the only income they may have is advertising. This leaves students having to adapt to low budgets while producing quality entertainment, just like any other commercial broadcaster. Many famous radio hosts started on college radio including Sean Defoe from Newstalk. So if you want to get into radio, this is the place to start. It will be tough and there will be days where you ask "why am I doing this?" But it’s worth it.
The pressure is getting tougher on college radio but more opportunities are opening to be creative and innovative. Just like any commercial station, brand awareness and marketing is key. Sometimes you may be a presenter, advertiser, accountant and tech all in the same day. The experience is worth it; if anything, it makes you more employable in the industry. Working in college radio is like being part of a big family; we all have our fall outs but we are always there for another when things go wrong or help is needed.
The station I am currently a member of includes a president, VP, secretary, PRO, Health and Safety officer, Events officer, Treasury officer and Production, including a station manager. Having separate positions like this really helps. As I said, some days your role can change. The current station manager pretty much runs and keeps our station alive. My current position is the radio host and events officer as well. I got involved in the role because I am very passionate and proud to be part of the station. As well as producing and co-hosting my own show, I organize events and workshops by linking with professionals in the commercial industry. This helps me create useful contacts with key people. The station wouldn’t be where it is today without such a strong dedicated team of individuals that love what they are doing.
If you’re wondering on how to get involved in radio at college, just find your local College or University station manager and contact them. Some University stations have websites and an application section. During the application, you may be required to pitch a show; my advice would be to pick a format that you love and enjoy. Passion is important in college radio and a good application will stand out. If there are no positions available, find current presenters and offer help on their show as a researcher or producer.
Another question I am frequently asked is how can I make my show attractive? My advice is to listen to the radio, I can’t underestimate how important it is. You want your show to succeed. Listen to what competitors are doing, you can gain great ideas from this. Understand the different types of shows and markets that are out there. Use social media; it’s very important. You want to create awareness and to do this, good strong content is needed. Invite local musicians on to your show. You never know, you could be interviewing the next Ed Sheeran.
If you can balance some of the above with your studies, you’re on the road to a very successful career. Most of the heartache that I have been describing above is called the grind and everyone has to do it. Remember, the more you put into something, the more you get out and this is 100 percent accurate when it comes to college radio.