When you join our radio station, after you go through the process of shadowing shows, working the board, and passing the written test you come up to the final test: on-air clearance. This is about a fifteen minute long period of time where you are going to be left on your own, and you have to show that you’re capable of doing everything that will be required of you on your show. It’s a simple process to look back on because all that it truly tests is whether or not you feel comfortable being on the air yet, but it also provides you with a bit of a defining point. This is the first chance that you have ever gotten to choose a song to play over the radio.
This ‘defining first song’ theory admittedly doesn’t mean much in the grand scheme of what your show will be, but I would bet that 90% of our DJs they would say that the first song that they played over the air meant something to them. For me I didn’t choose to go with a classic or something trendy at the time to define myself, I went with a message: “Most People Are DJs” by the Hold Steady.
This was a comforting notion in my mind. There was a bit of doubt about whether or not I was actually qualified to be a DJ, to be the guy who decides for other people what music they are going to listen to next. In reality it takes a lot of confidence in your music taste to be able to take this step, and while I knew I had a good taste in music I wasn’t sure if it was going to be good enough for me to feel deserving. I knew it was something that I wanted to do badly though, and I entered the station despite my fears with the mentality that most people in this world are DJs, and I was going to find my way at the station in time.
Most of us are DJs in some way. We all have found songs that worked really well back to back while we walked with headphones on from class to class. We’ve all been at a party and thought about what track would be perfect to hear right now. What more is a radio show than organizing a set-list, a mix tape, and letting that play itself out. If the masses like it, than great, if not, who cares? The wisest advice I’ve heard since joining the station came from DJ Show at a meeting when he stated to just play what you like, and other people out there will like it to. You don’t need to know what the public is hoping to hear because for the most part they don’t know what they’re hoping to hear, all that they want is good song selection and good transitions. If they want to hear a song, they can use the request line.
Continue reading Revisiting a Viewpoint: Are Most People DJs?