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My job explained: Radio DJ

danielle perryIf you like the sound of music – and your own voice – then a job as a radio DJ could be the one for you. Read on as Danielle Perry talks about her life sailing the airwaves.

Could you tell us a bit about your job?

I present the mid-morning show on Kerrang! Radio every day and the drivetime flagship show on Q Radio from 3 to 6pm. I’m based in Birmingham, but seem to spend half my life on the M1 going back and forth to London. Most things happen in London and if you’re not a part of it then you might miss out. I make a special effort to attend EP launches, festival meetings and showcases all over the place. I’ve been in this business for over ten years, and the people I met on day one are still involved in everything, so you need to make a lot of friends along the way. I also promote gigs under my own banner of Miss Perry Presents, which is all about promoting independent music venues like the Hare and Hounds in Birmingham, supporting new and established artists, and using my platform on the radio to raise awareness of the huge amount of talent that sometimes doesn’t get the attention it deserves. I also do a bit of voiceover work, look after the marketing and PR of other bands, and play in one myself too.

Could you talk us through a typical working day?

I’m on air at 11am, so aim to get into the studio for about 10am. I’ve never been one to over prep for a show – personally I lose all natural flair if it’s scripted, so as long as I know what I’m talking about I’ll be fine. Every show is playlisted too, so there is no need to spend hours going through archives - although I’d love that! I’m in the studio broadcasting live for four hours, then once I’ve finished at 3pm, I quickly switch to Q Radio and sort out that show too.

Why did you choose to work in radio?

For a few reasons. Firstly, I was a frustrated musician who hadn’t found the right environment or people to write and perform with, so I thought that supporting other artists through a different format could be fairly satisfying. I like the mystery of no one really knowing what you look like, and apparently I have a very natural voice and style on air.

What do you most like about your job?

Meeting the bands who pass through the doors. It’s like one big whirlwind – everyone knows everyone else in the music industry, and that’s why sometimes it feels like one big family.

What qualifications do you have?

I have a music degree, but a big record collection and an unadulterated love for meeting new people has also been important.

Is it hard to get your first job?

I have worked my way up the ladder for ten years, and now there are even less jobs in radio, so you have to really love it to keep going. You never do radio for the money! I started out writing emails and letters to all the local television and radio stations to see if they had any jobs going. I received a lot of rejections but just kept on writing, ringing and hassling them! I quite quickly got a job reading and compiling traffic and travel scripts on Classic Gold 828AM and 2CR FM in Bournemouth. I had to get up at 4.30am every morning, drive an hour to get to work, and got paid under a tenner! As I said, you don’t do it for the money!

What advice would you have for people who want to be a radio DJ?

Don’t pretend to be someone you aren’t!

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