FROM COMEDY WRITER TO DJ
QUESTION FOR DAN O’DAY:
I'm trying to break into radio in the small/mid-sized market where I live
with the eventual goal of working as a DJ and perhaps producing as well. I have no on-air experience but do have writing experience -- I've recently sold several comedy bits to both The American Comedy Network and United Stations Radio Network.
While the stations in my area don't have the luxury or budget to hire someone to write comedy for them, I had assumed proven comedy writing ability would at least get me in the door to begin learning the technical end of things. This doesn't seem to be the case. Am I overestimating the value of the comedy writing? What else do you suggest I do to open doors?
While a good comedy writer should have no trouble finding markets to which to freelance bits (as you have done) or finding local radio stations glad to receive free contributions, there is no reason for a station to assume that a good comedy writer is more likely than anyone else to develop into a good DJ.
Your best chance of breaking into radio is first to learn how to run a board and the rudiments of doing a DJ show. You might be able to do this as an unpaid intern at a local station. Or you can attend a radio broadcasting school (but stay there only long enough to learn what you need to know to get your first job). If you are persistent enough, you will find a small market station that needs a part-timer.
Or, if you're willing to give up your regular job to pursue your radio dream, once you graduate radio school you'll find a small market station somewhere that will hire you.
Someone who has sold comedy bits to nationally syndicated services can easily become frustrated by the refusal of relatively small, local stations to recognize his talents. But if you really want to become a full-time jock, you've got to approach those stations armed with the basic abilities they expect from any potential on-air employee.
Good luck in your new career!