Ideas for How to Host Your Own College Radio Show
Whether you want to host a college radio show for your own amusement, or are hoping to pursue a career in the radio industry, hosting your own college radio show is fun and rewarding if you do a little show planning and preparation.
I hosted a radio show at my college and was able to land a paying job as the station's PR director. It was a great time, gave me the chance to learn a few things about publicity and management, and earned me some spending cash. If you would like to share your favorite songs and enjoy the idea of becoming a popular radio personality, at least in your community, follow these simple steps for success.
How to Host a College Radio Show
- Pick a Genre for Your Radio Show
- Take Notes From Professional Radio Hosts
- Familiarize Yourself With Radio Station Equipment
- Promote Your Radio Show
1. Pick a Genre for Your Radio Show
While there are popular mix radio stations, most stations have at least some cohesive theme. You should pick a type of music you are interested in, but do not be afraid to branch out and try new things. When picking a genre, try to avoid top hit pop songs you can hear anywhere on the radio dial. Instead, try to find a niche market and expose people to tunes they might not hear elsewhere. For example, if you love alternative rock and Modest Mouse, try playing some of the band's lesser known tracks and explore the web to find new alternative rock groups. Using the iTunes store genius tool or suggestions for you is a great way to find other, similar groups you might not have heard of.
You can play music, talk about current events, interview people, play quiz games, or whatever you like—it's your show! No matter what you do, sticking to a set format and genre helps you build your audience because listeners know what to expect and come back when they like what they hear.
2. Take Notes From Professional Radio Hosts
After picking a genre and format for your show, take the time to listen to nationally-syndicated radio shows. Take notes on what you like and what you don't like about the DJs. Do they incorporate jokes and games? How do they lead in to songs? Also, pay attention to when a DJ makes a mistake. Chances are, he or she will either briefly make a joke about the mistake, or will just ignore it. Dwelling on a mistake simply causes a DJ to make more mistakes, so if you slip up or have an equipment malfunction, simply get on with your show.
Make sure to check your music volume levels if you want to talk over a song! In the video clip above, you can't hear the music or the DJ because the music drowns her voice out.
3. Familiarize Yourself With Radio Station Equipment
Before taking your show live, practice with the radio station's equipment. Talk to your station manager (or whoever is in charge of the equipment at your station) to set up a time to learn bout the equipment and how to use it. Some station's have old equipment, but many college radio stations today are using digital, computerized DJ programs. Ask one of the radio staff members to show you how to use the equipment, or see if an experienced DJ will let you sit in on a show or two so you can get a feel for how the equipment is used. Also, a lot of radio equipment has an off air function that allows you to practice speaking into the mike, transitioning between CD players, etc. without actually broadcasting your content.
While practicing with the equipment, make sure to pay attention to how you sound. Talk clearly and project so listeners can hear and understand you, but do not yell into the microphone. Once again, pay attention to shows you hear on your local radio stations, think about how the DJs sound, and try to emulate them.
4. Promote Your Radio Show
Promoting your radio show is key to creating an audience. You have to have quality content to attract listeners, but it does not matter how fantastic your show is if no body knows it exists! Of course, you can always use a personal FaceBook account to promote your radio show. You can also use FaceBook to invite friends to listen by creating an "event" for your show. However, you may only want to do this when you are first getting the word out, or if you special guests on your show. An invitation every single week can get annoying!
Other websites, like Twitter and Google+, are useful ways to promote your show, but make sure to do some in-person promoting, too. If you have friends in a band, attend their gigs and talk to other people at the shows—chances are good they like the same music as you and would enjoy your radio program.
If you want, you can print up inexpensive business cards advertising your show. It is not necessary, but it is always fun to offer someone your card! Vistaprint and Staples frequently have online specials where you can order 250 business cards for $10 or less. I have Staples online business cards—you would never guess their price from looking at them! The cardstock and printing are both high-quality. Having a business card to hand out makes you look professional and put together, and is well-wroth the investment.
How to Be a Radio Host
Even if you don't dream of a career in radio, hosting your own college radio show is a great way to make friends and enjoy yourself. If you're really serious about your radio broadcasting career, consider enrolling in a broadcasting school or broadcasting class. While many broadcasting schools are expensive, less expensive options, such as Broadcast Connection, exist. Of course, the usual student loan and financing options exist for these classes, just like "normal" college.
Whether or not you want to enroll in a specialized class or school, you can be a successful radio host with some basic planning and preparation. Take the time to think out your show's content, familiarize yourself with the equipment ahead of time, and promote your show online and in person to make your show successful. And, of course, make sure to have some fun!
Learn How to Get Money for Your Radio Station
- College Radio Station Grants
Learn from my experiences with college radio and studying grant writing in grad school to increase your chances of becoming a successful grant writer who secures money for your college radio station.