After almost 20 years in radio, I’m now at the point where people ask me for advice. (I know, ME, which is crazy in itself, but of course, I oblige!) Lately, a lot of High School and College students have been asking on tips on how to make it in radio- or anywhere else for that matter. And really, it’s simple.
YOU HAVE TO WORK.
It’s funny how no one ever wants to hear those four words.
Look, there’s really no easy way around it if you actually want to make your professional dreams come true. You have to put in the time and effort, plus a little extra to stand out. Here’s a few things I’ve learned over the past almost 20 years that I feel that I can expound upon you:
1: SHOW UP: Simple right? You’d think so. But I cannot tell you how many people cannot master the task of showing up to work. Even in my early twenties when partying was life, I managed to show up to work. I may have been hungover and smelled like a brewery, but I was there dammit, and I always got the job done. My husband, who is a Major in the Army said something recently that resonated with me- Show up at the right place at the right time in the right uniform with the right attitude.
Which brings me to my next point…
2: ATTITUDE IS EVERYTHING: Yeah, sure, talent is great. But what good is it if you’re a total dillweed that’s difficult to work with? I’ll be honest- I’m not the most talented (or brightest) crayon in the box, but I’ve always had a really good attitude, and that has always gotten me ahead of some of my more talented peers. Talent isn’t everything. Attitude and work ethic are also key ingredients. Mix up those three, and it’s a hell of a recipe.
3: LEARN EVERYTHING YOU CAN: I once had a co-worker years ago who refused to learn how to edit commercials. “That’s not my job” she would say, as she was an On-Air personality. But here’s the thing… with the world constantly changing and consolidating, it is ALWAYS a good idea to learn as much as possible about your chosen profession, even if it’s not in your current “job description”. I learned how to do as much as I possibly could (aside from engineering- God BLESS engineers, especially ones who have to deal with me) and it’s always worked out in my favor.
Knowledge is always power, kiddos.
4: LOOK LIKE YOU CARE: Even if your job is casual, be a stylish casual. Don’t roll up looking like you just came off a 24 hour bender- even if there’s no dress code. I say this because in radio, there usually isn’t. No matter. Look your best, because you never know who you’re going to run into. The day you come in looking like a scrub is the day the GM will want to speak to you, or new clients are in the building, etc. You don’t have to be a supermodel, just put yourself together, and for crying out loud, STAND UP STRAIGHT!
Posture is everything. I learned that early on. My mom used to tell me “Titties and Teeth” when I would ride into a horse show arena to remind me about posture. You know what? It stuck.
5: BE NICE!: This seems to be a tough one for people to grasp. Common courtesy and kindness in the workplace can go a loooong way. I’ve dealt with rude, bully-ish co-workers my entire career. I just continue to smile and be polite. That’s really the only way to combat that kind of behavior in others. It’s always amazing how adults can resort to acting like a bunch of snotty teenagers in the workplace. You know what? It only makes THEM look bad, and not you. Carry on and be kind. Even if you don’t particularly care for someone, unless they do something absolutely horrid to you, just take the high road.
Fun Fact: The High Road and The Extra Mile usually have low traffic and lead to the same rad destination. And it’s free. Um, WIN!
6: SOCIAL MEDIA MATTERS: Are you looking for a new job? Clean up those socials! As someone who has been in management and hiring positions before, let me tell you, you are being judged by your social media. The first thing I do when a potential candidate would come up is look them up on socials. You can tell almost EVERYTHING about a person by their social media presence. Here’s a few red flags:
- ANYTHING Racist/Hateful/Disrespectful to others
- Too much political posts
- Conspiracy theories
- Filters!!!! Stop with that. What are you trying to hide? More points taken off for a snapchat filter, especially if you’re out of high school.
- Complaining about your current job/life/ex/houseplant/ and if I see a “SMH” abbreviation, I’m shaking my head right back at you.
- Spelling and Punctuation Errors: These things still matter. Your social media is your online footprint. Have respect for your language if you want decent job.
- Photos of you getting high or wasted. This is why I’m glad social media didn’t exist when I was in college. Still- watch what you post and make sure it’s in line with the job you want. I can get away with things like Wine Workouts because I’m in radio/media. But if I wanted to be a lawyer, I wouldn’t be able to do that. Just something to think about!
7: LEARN TO TAKE CRITICISM: It doesn’t matter what career path you take, you will need to improve your skills. How does one do that? By taking constructive criticism. No one wants to hear that they aren’t perfect, but it’s a fact of life, and the better you can take the advice given to you, the quicker you can work on your weak spots and get better. In radio we have what is called “Air Checks” where your boss (or several of them) would pull you into an office and play back your audio from a recent show and pick it apart. I dreaded them! But I also knew that they were necessary to get better. To be fair, some bosses are better at giving back feedback than others, but in the end, its all a tool to make you better. One girl I used to work with would cry in her airchecks, and another co-worker would get combative. Not sure if they’re even in the industry anymore… anyway, learn to take criticism, and use it to build a better you. I still get air-checked, and I welcome it. You know why? Because I STILL want to get better. I know I can, and I’m always trying to improve.
These are just a few tidbits to help you get where you want to be. Basically, show up, work hard, and have a good attitude are the most important things you can do. This parlays into any career, not just radio. If you have any to add, please drop in the comments!