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radio airchecks

At the closed door Repeat Offenders session of this year’s PD Grad School, we found ourselves discussing both smart and dumb things some people do when applying for on-air radio jobs.

Mike McVay got the ball rolling, and the PDs in the room added their own thoughts.

Here’s a quick rundown on some of their key likes and dislikes.


Have your aircheck run 3 to 5 minutes.

Demonstrate a number of different things you do: a contest call; interplay with a teammate; interesting song intro; sharing a part of yourself.

Submit a real show, not one that’s been “cherry picked.”

Follow directions. If the ad specifies a size limit to mp3 submissions, respect that limit. If it says you should include a resume in “Word or as a PDF,” include your resume in Word or as a PDF…not as a JPEG or in, say, WordPerfect. (One PD swears he received a resume in WordPerfect.) If it asks for references, include references.

As one PD said of job applicants, “Look closely at this individual, because this is the best they’ll ever look.” If you can’t follow basic instructions when trying to land a job, what would you be like as an employee?

Name your audio file so the PD can tell who it’s from! “3_2_10_edit_final.mp3” doesn’t do much to identify you. You might even go so far as to add meta data — your name, email address, phone number — for a prospective employer who dumps everything onto an mp3 player.


Preface your aircheck with a cute introduction. Or any introduction at all: (“Hi, Jim-Bob! This is Ed Jock, and I sure would like to work with you!”)

Have every break on your aircheck sounds like every other break. The PD gets to hear you do only one thing, repeatedly.

Edit your aircheck so tightly that the PD hears more of your station’s imaging guy than of you.

Apply for a job using your employer’s email address. (I was surprised at how unanimously they agreed. All felt it demonstrates either that you use station resources to apply for a job and/or — worse — that you’re sending off that email in the middle of your air shift.)

Send “bad audio” — an aircheck that is out of phase or with levels all over the place. Again, the PD assumes this is you at your best. If the audio you send is sloppily produced, that doesn’t speak well of your professionalism.

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  • Jim Griffey March 2, 2010, 3:00 am

    Years ago, a guy applied at our radio station and he submitted an air check of his morning show that had him interacting extensively with his newsman. We ended up hiring the newsman and not him.

  • Mike Bell March 2, 2010, 6:50 am

    Years ago (pre digital) I had a guy send me a package that included two of those airplane bottles of Chivas. He didn’t get the gig, but I had a very mellow time listening to his tape.

  • Scott Matthews March 2, 2010, 7:44 am

    Totally agree about following directions. I can’t count how many times I’ve put something like “resume in .doc or .pdf format only” and received resumes in other formats, or applicants have gone against other requests in the ad. If you can’t follow directions when applying, what makes me think you’ll follow them if I hire you?

  • Tom Daniels March 2, 2010, 9:11 am

    Excellent info thanks!

  • Monk & Kelly March 2, 2010, 10:27 am

    Hey Dan, thanks for the reminder…so many of us are trying to make our mp3s stand out, and forget we need to be on them!

  • H.M.Suprabha March 12, 2010, 11:49 pm

    I signed up for a junior rj contest and got my slot for the audition. i’m fifteen years old.I would be extremely happy to get relevant tips and do’s and don’ts .i have two days to prepare.. thanks in advance!!

  • Jake March 29, 2010, 9:34 am

    I may be alone on this one, but when I’m reviewing Air Checks for a position at our station, I think many of the candidates would have been better off not having the station imaging guy/girl anywhere in their air check. I don’t know how many times the demo starts off with a Big Booming Voice that sounds killer for radio, and I start to get excited thinking i found my talent, then i find out that is the imaging guy and a weaker voice follows right behind it. Through the entire demo I’m thinking, “man i wish that imaging guy was the one applying for the job” and I’m not really paying attention to what you’re doing.

  • David April 6, 2010, 9:00 am

    How hard would it be for an english speaking foreigner from another country to get an on air gig in the US?

  • Felix April 21, 2010, 9:53 am

    I have no radio gig experience but in filling out the application, it asks for an aircheck. Any ideas?

  • Alan Peterson (the "other" one, in D.C.) March 12, 2013, 6:48 am

    Great piece, but I think it would be fantastic with a freshen-up appropriate for the times; specifically, a radio talent’s non-radio expertise.

    Dan, when/if you get these guys together again, please address:
    * Social Media — how well a talent now uses his/her online visibility to advance the show and the station; and how savvy they are in the New Media Age (graphics, webpage authoring etc)
    * Video Performance — how much buzz a jock gets now on YouTube or live streaming show (such as UStream.TV). Big plus for the sales force too, showing their live talent in action. “A face for radio” is no longer an excuse not to be seen.
    * General computer skills — sure, jocks don’t need a First Phone anymore, but proof of general competency with the equipment found on the job means value to the hiring company.

    And of course, the proper way to package all this in the demo kit.

  • Rick Martinez July 5, 2013, 11:25 am

    If anyone would like their “Aircheck” enchanced and made “level-friendly,” please reach out to me.


    Rick 832.341.0954

    Full Sail Real World Education

  • Fister October 9, 2013, 6:13 am

    ok ok ok. How about we turn the tables a little for fun. 🙂
    PDs should put the location, format and shift in the subject of the ad. For example, on Allaccess a job opening might read “mornings” in the subject. I click on it to find it is a news format a 1,000 miles away. If you post a subject that is ambiguous at best… you are going waste ppl’s time and your own. If it is part-time in Alaska put that in the subject so 800 ppl do not click on it to find out it is not for them. Think about 800 ppl at :30 seconds each… you’ve wasted 400 minutes of ppl’s lives.

    I’ve got an aircheck for every occasion but the ad does not give me a single clue to what the PD is looking for…. I’ve heard one PD say, “I can’t describe the voices in my head.” Fair enough, but if you don’t know what you are looking for I can’t give you what you want.

    PDs posting jobs that do not exist or they have already filled. Yup, stations post jobs that they never ever fill. What about jobs posted by HR and they don’t even say the format. I’m in the SE and have never heard of KXYZ. Don’t make me google you to see you are an Urban.

    No one ever posts salary. If you are only going to pay 17,000 per yr plz say so. That will save everyone time. You’ll get the talent who can work for that scale instead of making 5 job offers and get turned down by each candidate.

    PDs are busy busy ppl will often more hats to wear than there is time in the day for. I don’t know where they get time to listen 100+ airchecks that are 3-5 mins long. If you are using the :07 second rule and are not specific to what you want in the ad then you may be missing your next talent. If you don’t tell ppl what you want, then listen to the entire demo. You just might hear the voices in your head.

  • Nora November 20, 2013, 6:45 pm

    Thanks Fister! I needed to red that!

  • Ron Gremlin Johnson July 17, 2014, 2:06 pm

    Thanks, Dan for the great advice!!!!!

  • Anonymous November 4, 2014, 9:16 pm

    Nice article and thread Dan.

    What about guys who have been off the air for years hoping to get back in?