Becoming a radio presenter takes a lot of hard work and determination. Three radio personalities shared their advice with us on how to build successful radio careers in South Africa.
By Darren Gilbert
Start small and build up your radio career by working hard
According to Frankie du Toit, co-presenter of The 947 Breakfast Club, the toughest thing about getting into radio is getting into a radio station.
With that in mind, its best to start at a community or campus station. Or anywhere else that will give you some form of radio experience.
“It’s usually on a volunteer basis so don’t expect to make the big bucks but go and ask them if they need any help at all,” say Du Toit. “If there’s a gap in marketing, do it. If they need someone to make the coffee, do it. Get your foot in the door and start soaking up every bit of knowledge you can.”
Once you have your foot in the door, you can start twisting the station manager’s arm to get a shot at the graveyard shift and work your way up.
And work hard, adds Du Toit. “When I say ‘work hard’, I mean work harder than anyone else. Be willing to do every stand-in show, every event and anything you can, inside, and outside of the station.”
Focus on what makes you different as a radio presenter
Making it into radio as a presenter is one thing. However, you will not have much of a career if you can’t differentiate yourself from everyone else on radio.
So believes OFM’s general manager, Nick Efstathiou. “Trying to imitate a presenter from your favourite radio station is a death sentence and is career limiting,” he says.
Rather develop your own “radio self” that will set you apart from any presenter you may feel is in direct competition to you.
“Anyone can be a radio DJ but not all can be radio hosts and presenters,” he adds. “The more you know about the industry and how best to execute a great radio show, the better you are conditioned to be part of the industry and easier it will be for you.”
Du Toit agrees with Efstathiou, saying, “Your life is different from every other person on the planet. Share it with the listeners. Presenters that can take the average day events and turn them into compelling radio always win.”
Be passionate about all things music and making a difference
It sounds like an obvious tip, but if you want to get into radio, you need to have a passion for music. However, for Suga, host of Drive326 on Heart FM, there is more to music than just knowing what people want to listen to and playing it for them.
“Music has the power to change people’s realities, so be respectful of the power of the music and strive to deliver it in that way,” she says. “When words fail, music speaks.”
That’s not where it ends for Suga. She also believes in the need for radio presenters to have a desire to have a positive impact on the world. It’s a responsibility that goes with the power of the microphone, she says.
“It’s important to remember to use this instrument to create debate, change, celebrate people and things, create awareness about issues affecting lives and above everything, change mindsets, patterns and behaviour.”
Want to stay up to date with the latest media news? Subscribe to our newsletter.
Heart FM recently changed the way they present the news on radio. Read more about the change in our article, Heart FM News pioneers the future of radio news broadcasting.