Q It Up: What was your first job in radio, and how did you get it?

What was your first job in radio, and how did you get it? -- Post your response in the comments section below. You’ll be automatically subscribed to the article and will receive notifications when others post their replies and when others respond to yours. You can unsubscribe at any time.

Comments (20)

  1. Andrew Frame

WDNA-FM Miami, 1979. I don't recall how I got in the door, but it was a non-comm startup being pieced together with donated equipment from other places. Ray Meyers was the Chief. I was the engineer's assistant, meaning I got to scrub out a 25kw transmitter with acetone. I still have flashbacks when I smell nail polish remover. It was a summer thing, my family moved out of the area when school restarted, but I was there long enough to see the antenna be tuned (on a set of sawhorses), and test transmissions with the exciter. The station is still on the air as one of Miami's jazz and ethnic music outlets.

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  1. Jay Helmus

My first gig was putting on a giant Teddy Bear costume and walking around remotes waving at people and giving them hugs. My college professors taught us that you have to get in the door any way you can. I offered to do it for free, but the station mercifully insisted on paying me minimum wage. So that's how I got in the door. The job sucked, and had nothing to do with production. But it got me in the door and eventually led to a bunch of other things so I'm totally glad I did it!

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  1. Shawn Schroeder

First job in radio was in 1992 at Power 98.9 WPXR in the Quad Cities. I was still in school for broadcasting and took an internship on the morning show with Jonathon Dylen and Tammy Pescatelli (yes, THAT Tammy Pescatelli). I was sent out to do stupid stuff on air. Neil Diamond was set to open the Mark of the Quad Cities and I was sent out to his "bus" (which I doubt he had a bus) and knock on it asking if he liked his "Love On the Rocks" and was Caroline actually sweet.... Other stuff like that.
Had to walk around downtown with wadded paper under my shirt on my back for Hump Day, and if anyone came to me I asked, "Do I look familiar?" and if they responded, "No. But your face rings a bell" (Quasimodo joke), they won tickets to something.
Once I was put on a city bus with a cell phone and 20 pagers placed all over me. Jonathon gave out the number on air (they were all set to the same number), and they would go off.... constantly. Annoyingly... Forever. I was eventually kicked off...

First job in radio was in 1992 at Power 98.9 WPXR in the Quad Cities. I was still in school for broadcasting and took an internship on the morning show with Jonathon Dylen and Tammy Pescatelli (yes, THAT Tammy Pescatelli). I was sent out to do stupid stuff on air. Neil Diamond was set to open the Mark of the Quad Cities and I was sent out to his "bus" (which I doubt he had a bus) and knock on it asking if he liked his "Love On the Rocks" and was Caroline actually sweet.... Other stuff like that.
Had to walk around downtown with wadded paper under my shirt on my back for Hump Day, and if anyone came to me I asked, "Do I look familiar?" and if they responded, "No. But your face rings a bell" (Quasimodo joke), they won tickets to something.
Once I was put on a city bus with a cell phone and 20 pagers placed all over me. Jonathon gave out the number on air (they were all set to the same number), and they would go off.... constantly. Annoyingly... Forever. I was eventually kicked off the city bus and someone from the station had to come get me.

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  1. Jerry Vigil    Shawn Schroeder

LOL... Great ideas!

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  1. Alan Peterson    Shawn Schroeder

Shawn, are you familiar with Part II of the Quasimodo joke?

After Quasimodo fell to his death from the tower, they hired his twin brother to take over the job (striking the cathedral bell with his face every night, hence the original punchline). But after a year on the job, the same fate befell the twin brother as he slipped on the edge of the parapet and plummeted to his death as well.

The villagers asked the same question: "Does this man look familiar to anyone?"

"Not by name, but he's a dead ringer for his brother"!

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  1. Shawn Schroeder    Alan Peterson

HA! I saw the end coming....

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  1. Alan Peterson

Hahaha ... usually when I'm asked that question, I reply, "I lost a bet."

But here's how it happened: It was 1979, I was working at Sam Ash Music in NYC, my first job out of college. It was an OK gig, but I missed the fun I had doing college radio and wanted to be on the air. A girlfriend who transferred to an upstate NY college told me there are a million little stations up there, and getting a job would probably be easy. So in March '79, I stuffed as much crap as I could into my old VW bug, dropped a deposit on a sight-unseen apartment, took half of my banked savings and headed to Oswego NY.

By May, I was weekending at WSGO AM/FM, a nasty little combo in a double-wide trailer next door to an abandoned toxic waste incineration plant. By July, I was doing evenings 6p-12mid. Over the next two years I worked my way around the clock and by the time I left for New England in Sept 1981, I was PD, morning man, and the primary production voice. And I was married to the girlfriend who...

Hahaha ... usually when I'm asked that question, I reply, "I lost a bet."

But here's how it happened: It was 1979, I was working at Sam Ash Music in NYC, my first job out of college. It was an OK gig, but I missed the fun I had doing college radio and wanted to be on the air. A girlfriend who transferred to an upstate NY college told me there are a million little stations up there, and getting a job would probably be easy. So in March '79, I stuffed as much crap as I could into my old VW bug, dropped a deposit on a sight-unseen apartment, took half of my banked savings and headed to Oswego NY.

By May, I was weekending at WSGO AM/FM, a nasty little combo in a double-wide trailer next door to an abandoned toxic waste incineration plant. By July, I was doing evenings 6p-12mid. Over the next two years I worked my way around the clock and by the time I left for New England in Sept 1981, I was PD, morning man, and the primary production voice. And I was married to the girlfriend who dragged me up there.

The prod room was equipped with a five-pot McMartin mixer, a Pioneer 707 reel machine, two turntables, two cart decks and a badly-caked RCA 77DX mic. Somehow, I survived.

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  1. Austin Michael

Part time on weekends and overnights, when real people did them live on both accounts, KQKY, Hits 106 in Kearney, Nebraska. That was straight out of college and after I’d received rejection letters from more than a couple PDs in other cities that ended up hiring me some years later. I sent a demo I’d made in college on a cassette tape with a homemade label. Before you know it, I’m living the overnight high life of creepy callers, the 3am album play (That’s where we would play an entire album straight through, for you younger jocks. What’s an album, you ask? Shut up.), and pulling prep for the morning guy to stumble in at 6:30 and read.

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  1. Sarah Shaver

My first radio job was working overnights at WCIR-FM (103CIR) in my hometown, Beckley, WV beginning in 1982. I had a teaching degree but there were no jobs anywhere I'd applied so I worked as a telephone operator, cord board and all, while I indulged in my childhood fantasy of going to broadcasting school at the county VoTech to become a "radio DJ." Ended up getting a weekend TV switcher/director job first, but i applied to CIR and was thrilled when the PD called and wanted to talk to me. Amazingly, I was hired and my "training" consisted of the evening guy showing me the board and saying, "this pot's your mic, here's the turntables, here's the cart machines. I have a date," and walking out the door. i was so scared i didn't say anything all night. A short time later the OM decided to add local news to his morning show so they asked me to stay over for three hours to read news and play a mini-second banana part. I was in heaven! We had a wonderful radio family there and...

My first radio job was working overnights at WCIR-FM (103CIR) in my hometown, Beckley, WV beginning in 1982. I had a teaching degree but there were no jobs anywhere I'd applied so I worked as a telephone operator, cord board and all, while I indulged in my childhood fantasy of going to broadcasting school at the county VoTech to become a "radio DJ." Ended up getting a weekend TV switcher/director job first, but i applied to CIR and was thrilled when the PD called and wanted to talk to me. Amazingly, I was hired and my "training" consisted of the evening guy showing me the board and saying, "this pot's your mic, here's the turntables, here's the cart machines. I have a date," and walking out the door. i was so scared i didn't say anything all night. A short time later the OM decided to add local news to his morning show so they asked me to stay over for three hours to read news and play a mini-second banana part. I was in heaven! We had a wonderful radio family there and I'm still in contact with some of them. Excellent times.

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  1. Robert McCubbins

First radio gig came from being in the right place at the wrong time, or the wrong place at the right time... I was actually working part time at our local TV station, college kid, running the switcher, BORED with the current soap opera, and I knew I had 15 mins before the next local stop set; so I headed down to the Creative Services Dept. to hang out with the fun guys... who were evidently all out to lunch... so just before I turned around to leave, the phone rang so I answer Channel 13 Creative Services Dept. ... and the lady who called said (I SWEAR!!) "You have a wonderful voice! Have you ever considered a job in radio?" I'm thinking who the heck would call TV to ask that, but I shrugged and said, sure why not? She gave me an interview time, I went to the classical NPR station - read some lines, nailed the pronounciations of Sergei Rachmaninoff, Gustav Mahler, and Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 6 in B minor, Opus 74, also known as the Pathétique. Luckily for me, I...

First radio gig came from being in the right place at the wrong time, or the wrong place at the right time... I was actually working part time at our local TV station, college kid, running the switcher, BORED with the current soap opera, and I knew I had 15 mins before the next local stop set; so I headed down to the Creative Services Dept. to hang out with the fun guys... who were evidently all out to lunch... so just before I turned around to leave, the phone rang so I answer Channel 13 Creative Services Dept. ... and the lady who called said (I SWEAR!!) "You have a wonderful voice! Have you ever considered a job in radio?" I'm thinking who the heck would call TV to ask that, but I shrugged and said, sure why not? She gave me an interview time, I went to the classical NPR station - read some lines, nailed the pronounciations of Sergei Rachmaninoff, Gustav Mahler, and Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 6 in B minor, Opus 74, also known as the Pathétique. Luckily for me, I was a classical music student at the time, so I charged on through. She hired me, and I said, I don't have any radio experience; she said, we'll train you can you start tomorrow night?"
Got my Third Class Radio Operators License (for 5 bucks!) to post on the wall in November, 1982.

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PS.. No idea what her original call was for, she hung up after scheduling my interview.!

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  1. Jay Rose

First was Emerson College's two stations in the mid 1960s, where I was [sort of] learning to be a disk jockey. College did serious voice and presentation training in those days, along with broadcast legal and copywriting and IPA and a whole lot else.

First real gig was classical announcer at a public station in Ohio. I'd listen to airchecks of stuff I thought I'd done well, and get sick. So I started spending more and more time in the production room, polishing little ideas I'd have. My biggest thrill was pulling Saturday all-nighters to finish cultural documentaries that would then run in the Sunday ghetto, and listen to them on my way back home.

By the time I got out of there, I was a production rat instead of an air talent. Never turned back.

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  1. Philip Weber

1986 I got an internship at KIMN/KYGO
Which turned into a "Promo vehicle driver/overnight board-op"...
Migrated over to KBX/KNUS as board-op to producer-to production director/asst PD and the rest was history! ;-)

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  1. Dean James

I was doing radio at the University of Lowell in MA. One night in 19 something - something, I went to a movie theater in Waltham, MA. In the basement was a radio station, a small AM WDLW (another story for another time) in the Boston area. I dropped off a demo the next day (not a good one). Got hired as a Red Sox game board op (not a good one). Did a DJ thing on the weekends. Grew to overnight board-op for the Larry King Show. Then a 10 to midnight shift M-F before Larry. Then production director. Then morning guy (Morning-time James) and assistant PD.... and the rest is history (in my mind).

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