Normal job applications require a well-written resume and cover letter.
But if you’re interviewing for a radio position, you may receive a request to send your aircheck.
If you're familiar with airchecks or demos, this can sound like a simple request. But it is quite easy to mess up and never get the job.
As you may know, every job description states that the station is looking for a charismatic presenter with a great personality.
So, how do you deliver the best aircheck or demo?
Tips to make the best aircheck or demo
Well, let’s start by recognizing that applying for a job is a competition of some sort.
There will be other awesome and talented jocks. But, you don’t have to be the best-sounding person.
Just shine through the interview process to get a spot on the other side of the table. All we want is to wow anyone who will listen to the aircheck so they are interested to find out more about us. How can we do this exactly?
1) Keep it short
The acceptable length of an aircheck is 2 to 5 minutes, and if someone wants a taste of more content, they can always reach out and ask for it. The PD will have already made up their mind in about 15 to 30 seconds on whether you are good and deserve a call for an in-person interview.
2) Keep it concise
“Concise” means that it should not be hampered by the station's imaging or music tracks. It should not have any gaps, so the editing has to be top-notch.
3) Offer a unique observation
Radio hosts are supposed to be a creative bunch. And it helps to offer unique talking points. So, don't say how hot it is outside; say what it means for the ducks at the park. “It’s too hot to venture outdoors. Guess the ducks are going hungry.”
4) Tailored to the station’s format
Creating a 2 minutes air check can involve many hours of editing previous material that you have recorded. No one is blaming you for wanting to use the same air check over and over. But that will not win you the first spot among contestants.
The radio gods recommend tailoring each demo to the station’s format. For instance, if they are a top 40 station, they may have really short links with one-liners. An oldies station may have longer links that are more informational.
5) No introductions or personal stories
Airchecks should not have all that superfluous stuff. That is anything you would never say during a real broadcast. It’s weird that some people may put their entire life story in the sample audio.
6) Include your best moments
Do hosts send air checks where they mess up? Yes, and guess what, that will not win you any callbacks. The PDs will be looking for someone that sounds like a natural. They want to find someone who will be ready on day one. So, make sure your aircheck reflects that. Edit until you find your best parts.
7) Make the application about them
Carefully word the introductory email or cover letter to the s station. It’s not about the words you choose but showing that you’re a great fit from day one.
You can talk about what you’re going to do or how you’ll solve the station’s problems. For instance, does the station need to woe the younger demographic? Well, state how you plan to tailor your content to appeal to them.
Now, don’t sound like you know it all or lecture them. Come off as modest and avoid all that talk about your alma mater. And lastly, keep it within 1 page and comb it over for errors.
8) Include the good-feel segments
Music alone sucks. That’s why listeners patiently wait for the breaks because they are entertaining or informational. Now, making people feel good doesn't mean trying to be funny or saying unbelievable things. Just varying the way you greet listeners can mean the difference between the earth and the moon.
“Good morning vs. Good morning hearties.”
“It’s 6:00 am'' vs. `` It’s the crack of dawn. Kick the blankets aside, and kiss the dark nightmares goodbye.”
9) Sound natural and not forced or polished
Unless they are looking for an announcer and someone to read the weather forecasts, don’t come off as an announcer type. PDs are always looking for a talent that draws listeners with their individuality. Even the job application will tell you that the station is looking for a unique personality.
10) Sounding different is fine
Radio stations may not want all the shows to sound the same. So, try to showcase your originality in the airchecks. And again, it’s not the voice that differentiates you. Just the way you say things or offer observations can set you apart. The last thing you want is to sound like someone else unless you are a reincarnation of a legendary host.
11) Ask if you can send the aircheck
PDs are quite busy, So, don’t expect them to advertise every job. It’s good to be proactive but avoid sending unsolicited demos. Instead, reach out and ask if you can send your demo first. Then send it. That way, you have already established rapport.
12) No one likes large mp3 files but some like it old school
The conventional way of sending airchecks is to prepare an mp3 file and send it via email. But sending a link is becoming less offensive. Just make sure that when you link to SoundCloud, you link to a specific file and not your entire profile or playlist.
13) Ask for feedback
In many situations, the station will go with someone else. You should at least find out the reason they never chose your aircheck by asking for feedback.
PDs like to reinstate that they are the busiest cats in the game. So, they will not always respond. But when they do, their constructive criticism can elevate your presentation skills.
What is an aircheck?
In case you're still reading this, maybe you need a more formal introduction to airchecks.
The term refers to a recording of the broadcast. When the aircheck contains music or the studio’s programming, it’s referred to as an unscoped aircheck.
A telescoped aircheck is where the music and station’s imaging has been formatted out.
When a PD requests an aircheck, they are talking about actual broadcasting segments. Now, this may be different from producing demos in your studio without a live audience listening.
What are airchecks used for
Airchecks have several uses:
1) Producers often request air checks and go over them with the radio presenters to critique and find areas of improvement.
2) Radio stations also record airchecks and show them to clients to demonstrate how commercials will be placed.
3) Airchecks may be used to archive broadcasts for future generations who may want to look back at a bygone era. Radio stations may also make airchecks when transitioning to a new format.
4) When radio presenters participate in radio contests, they may also receive requests to send telescoped airchecks.
5) Airchecks are also important when applying for new jobs. They help the PDs gauge the expertise of the presenter and how they sound in real life.
How long should airchecks be?
Airchecks can be long or short. There is no defined time limit. However, it's good practice to send an aircheck that is not more than five minutes long when applying for radio positions.
Where to listen to airchecks
You can listen to airchecks from popular audio and video sharing websites such as YouTube, SoundCloud, or MixCloud. Some websites host airchecks exclusively, including:
How can I make an aircheck without broadcasting experience?
If you are trying to gain the vital experience needed to apply for paid radio presenter positions, you can consider creating your own radio station.
You can also volunteer at various stations as a DJ. Alternatively, create a free show and syndicate it to web radio stations that are always looking for new content to diversify their programming.