There was a time when DJs on major radio stations were gods of coolness. Remember? We would listen to their effortless banter and wish we were that clever; we would lean toward the radio in amazement as they told us about the time they met Sammy Hagar.
Something happened as we grew up, though. It was no longer enough to dream about being DJs. If we’re going to dream, we figured, why not go all the way? Rock and roll life, how ’bout it? Or, as the decades pass, how about an office job and an unused encyclopedic knowledge of ’90s indie rock?
It’s just as well. Real adulthood is never as exciting as adolescent dreams. We scoured the internet for first-hand reports of honest-to-gosh radio DJs, who peel a bit of the varnish off our fantasies. Here are the illuminating secrets of radio DJs:
1. The hours aren’t always so great.
Jack Taylor of Kool 1079 in Western Colorado shared a few hints about DJ life with his audience. “Morning radio means waking up extra early,” he wrote in a blog post for his station. “Even roosters tell us to shut off the alarm. It’s one thing you never quite get used to, as you can see.”
2. Some of the listeners can have some offbeat opinions.
“Conspiracy theorists are drawn to radio stations like moths to a flame, and send emails accusing us of being part of the ‘MSM cover-up’ and asking why we won’t, say, tell our listeners the truth about the fact the royal family are alien lizards,” an anonymous “Scottish radio producer” told Buzzfeed.
3. Despite all that, it actually is a really fun job.
“Love the job,” wrote Reddit user RadioShmonty, who gave an AMA about his life as a DJ a few years back. “I get paid to make lame jokes, listen to music, and drink coffee. LOTS of coffee. Different job? If/when I get fired…I think being a teacher could be fun.”
4. Although it’s not so fun when things are going badly in your personal life.
“If you and your girl just had a big fight, or your favorite uncle just died and didn’t leave you anything, you still have to put all that b.s. aside and sound like a
5. Whatever you do, don’t ask a DJ for an on-air “shout-out.”
“Friends, family, Tinder dates, and complete strangers are constantly asking us to give them a shout-out,” reports that Scottish DJ on Buzzfeed. “Why do you need to hear us say your name? It’s quite odd.”
Virtually all the DJs we found mentioned somewhere what a great job it was. If you’re dreaming of growing up to sit behind the microphone, you should get involved in public radio or a college station, sharpen your wit, and never give up.