Are you destined to become a radio host? Just before you say no or yes:
Does your heart speed up when you picture yourself sitting behind a broadcasting desk with the clock counting down to your live air shift?
Are you prone to creating these elaborate playlists or mock radio programs?
Do you have an affinity for microphones – the shiny chrome plated ones – in particular?
Did the TV station tell you off, postulating that your talents would be better suited for radio?
Well, radio hosts are the coolest cats in the world. Whether you have been doing it for a while– or you’re just getting started, you’ll learn a thing or two from this post.
Let’s see what it takes to become the next Bob Grant, Brad Crandall, Ryan Seacrest, Howard Stern or any of the radio personalities you admire:
How to become a radio personality without a degree
Photo by Jeremy Enns
What is the education needed to become a radio host?
It's not a requirement to get specialized education as some job listings we reviewed only asked for a High School Diploma.
However, you'll have an advantage when applying with a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism or Broadcasting.
There are online and in-person media training schools that offer training for TV and radio positions.
Many radio stars have had an unconventional start.
Howard Stern started by making make-believe shows in his parent's basement. Every other day, comedians, authors, and actors become radio hosts.
Anyone can become a radio host without a degree. They just need to have practical skills to entertain listeners, interview guests, etc.
Probably not everyone can become an astronaut, though.
How do you gain experience as a new radio host?
When hiring new radio hosts, most radio stations like to cite that the need candidates to have at least 3 years of experience.
One of the easiest ways to acquire it is to volunteer at community or institutional radio stations. You can also intern at a commercial station.
Similarly, you can create an internet radio station, and tune up your presenter skills.
Don’t apply for radio roles solely. The core function of a radio station host is to entertain people.
Sharpen your skills by also emceeing during parties or corporate events, doing some stand-up comedy, acting, public speaking, making YouTube videos, or participating in debates.
Coming up –-
Tips to Help You Become a Great Radio Host
1. Get all the practice you can get
Time + Practice + Focus = Mastery
Trust in the process. No one is born a radio host.
To become a master at radio presenting, you start as an outsider looking in. If you focus on performing like the top talent from the first day, you might develop feelings of anxiety and doubts. And never imagine yourself at the same level.
Before they became experts at producing excellent shows, your favorite presenter was once an outsider entering into a strange and unknown world.
Through learning and practice spanning many years, the expert hosts honed their skills and developed an intuitive feel for making great shows.
You go through the same process if you’re learning to paint, act, etc.
So, don’t give up yet. Don’t compare yourself to the accomplished presenters. They have put in more work than you. It’s all in the effort and the passage of time.
2. Become a knowledgeable person
Cultivate an intense desire to learn. Learning makes you grow as a radio host.
If you have lots of information in your head, the more you can share and educate.
Find radio producers and hosts that challenge you to become better. Travel, take up a hobby, start listening to audiobooks, etc.
3. Know your listeners
Listeners graciously lend their ears to your station. In return, you should give them content that pleases and satisfies them. Provide content that they can’t find anywhere else.
Therefore, you should know what they like, what they don’t like, things that make them mad, their struggles & frustrations, their lingo, what they know, what they don’t know, etc.
With a clear picture of your audience, you can relate to their pain points, struggles, frustrations, and joys.
4. Always show up on time
You always want to show up at the studio in time or on time—regardless if you had a gig that extended through the night. It should be the case even if you're volunteering at a community station.
When you’re punctual, you come across as a professional. The listeners will feel your professionalism, even if they never see you. Make time your servant and not your master.
5. Stay on top of industry trends
Part of becoming a good radio host is keeping pace with all that’s happening in the radio industry.
Is radio getting more popular? What new ways are people listening to radio?
Are there any new technologies that your station should respond to? What about new equipment, software, or marketing techniques?
How to stay informed:
Subscribe to radio blogs, news websites, or magazines. Establish relationships with people from competing stations.
Join online radio communities, and participate in industrial events. You can even connect with the experts by following them on social media. Some have personal blogs where they share industry tips, personal experiences, and more.
6. Learn how to drive - the station’s van & broadcasting desk
Get acquainted with all the knobs on your broadcasting desk. Know each feature of your radio broadcasting software – always RTFM – read the friendly manual.
Many presenters don't know how everything works. They leave all the fun to the tech-ops. Even if the different equipment at your studio may overwhelm you, this knowledge will serve you.
Besides the broadcasting desk at the studio, hold a driving license that covers vehicles up to 3.5 tonnes. You might find yourself working at a station that needs you to drive the promotional van.
7. Polish your radio voice
You don’t need Annie Nightingale’s or Guz Raz’s voice to become an effective radio host. But you can make your current radio voice better sounding and more powerful.
You might be a skeptic and proclaim that improving a voice is like squeezing water from a stone.
Quite the opposite, you can develop your vocal capabilities.
For instance, if a loud voice is what you’re after, first understand how your body produces sound.
Three parts have to work together: The lungs, vocal folds in the larynx, and articulators. You breathe in air, and when the lungs pump it out, it vibrates your vocal cords.
Having a stronger voice entails increasing the amount of air that passes through the vocal cords.
So get yourself a voice teacher; or some online voice training courses, and start working towards a better voice.
8. Do the homework, rehearse— then perform
Do the homework
Prepare well, and you’ll have an easy time during your shows. Preparation actually gives you better flexibility when you perform. And how do you prepare?
You can write scripts, come up with a show rundown, outline talking points and research your on-air guest.
And don’t just allocate several minutes either. Invest all the time it takes to make your radio show great. Once you have done your ultimate best, go the extra mile:
Whether it’s standing before the mirror and reciting your lines, you need to rehearse your socks off! If you can commit the script to memory, all the better. You won’t panic when you forget to save your script on your computer, or if the print-outs are misplaced.
Do the work
Give your listeners the best show in the world.
9. Be honest and real
Being honest goes beyond not telling lies. It also entails conducting yourself in a virtuous way, exhibiting loyalty, sincerity, and trustworthiness.
Are these qualities important to become a great radio host, you may ask? Well, I’ll point you to some of the biggest personalities like Oprah, Joe Rogan, etc. Are they genuine people?
Being real, on the other hand, doesn’t involve attacking, heavily critiquing others, or saying inconsiderate things.
You make your feelings or opinions known in a respectable manner.
You’re direct with your feelings, making it much easier for listeners to connect with you.
Humans are feeling beings – keep that in mind.
10. Muster your temper
Your temper is a bucking, raging bull that can easily go off the bullpen.
Yeah, shows can go out of hand. A caller may say some unpleasant things. A guest may challenge your cool by walking out on you.
Radio shows are risky.
So – rattled – annoyed – challenged – irritated – agitated or vexed, keep a tight rein on your rogue bull.
Keep a blue head like the All Blacks.
And let the show go on.
11. Study other radio hosts & appropriate like an artist
Originally this tip was titled" spy on other radio hosts and steal like an artist." Without a flair for the controversial, I went with the milder, more palatable heading.
Footballers watch other footballers. Baseball players watch other players, observing them, searching for their secret strategies, and assimilating them.
Those spare hours should be spent crawling the numerous stations of the world, listening to how other hosts make things work.
No one should be off-limits in your act of reconnaissance: Presenters from your station. Presenters from other stations. And all the greats promoted to glory.
12. Love the act of presenting
Presenting is the best thing in the world. Entertaining listeners is a joy. Radio rocks!
Well, let me add on these statements—by also stating that presenting is mostly stressful, and delivering great shows is gruelling.
But if you love the process and the work, most of your days will be happy days.
You’ll not just look forward to the end of your on-air shift, so you can rush home or to the country club to pursue more pleasurable activities like a round of golf.
13. Be the presenter everyone wants to work with
Are you a big shot or a big ego-personality? That will alienate people you should keep close to you.
Make everyone feel great because they are part of your success. Respect the cleaners, messengers, producers, fellow hosts, listeners…
Let the station’s mission and vision become your driving force. Work for the success of the station, regardless if you’re just there for a short tenure.
14. Confidence, energy and being entertaining
How do you make listeners hang on to your every word? By being confident, full of energy and entertaining.
And don’t fret if you aren’t funny, yet.
News flash! You can work on your funny bone. For instance, by taking a comedy course, studying how people deliver jokes, figuring out why some jokes spur laughs and why others draw crickets.
On confidence and energy; take on things that scare you. Get psyched up before shows. Pump your chest, and even do your shows on your feet!
15. Words are your tools
The fishing rod is the fisherman’s tool. Words are the radio presenter’s implement.
You can buy a new fishing rod as new models roll out. Similarly, the host must polish his tool, his language skills. Doing so, you can speak the listener’s language, paint live pictures in their mind, and stir their feelings from excitement to dread.
Exercise: Listen to sports commentators, particularly Peter Drury, who is a true master of using words.
Now, if you build up an intricate vocabulary, don’t use it to confound and confuse ordinary folks like Russel Brand.
At the end of the day, you want to be clear and get the message across as simply as you can.
16. Address the individual, not the crowd
“I hope you’re having a great morning and the traffic in the city is taking it easy on you.”
“I hope all of our listeners are having a great morning.” Favor the one-to-one conversation. Tailor your message to that one person.
Make them feel special – even if a thousand people listen to you.
17. Listen to your own shows
Some presenters may cringe at the thought of listening to their voices. Well, writers feel the same way when they go over material they wrote a few hours ago.
They’ll see silly grammatical mistakes like confusing the word ‘there’ with ‘they.’
So apply this wisdom to your shows. Listen to your air-checks. Then ask:
How can I improve?
What should I have said instead to make the message more clear?
Were there better ways to say this or that?
18. Go big, or go home.
Rejection – that’s something you’ll need to get used to in your quest to become a radio host.
“No” – that’s only a word, though it can feel like getting stabbed in the belly twice like Arya Stark.
Surmount the challenges, push on and stay on course.
Books to read:
Essential Radio Skills: How to Present a Radio Show – teaches you the essentials like taking calls, etc.
Creating Powerful Radio: Getting, Keeping and Growing
Keep your game up and become the best version of yourself.
Start your internet radio with us
We offer an excellent hosting option with a fully customizable price. Get started easily.