Tuesday, July 1, 2008

College Radio - Does Practice Make Perfect?

A post on the Fishtail blog talks about the author's dismay at learning that the college radio station on campus doesn't require much work from its DJs. Fishtail writes:

"THE college where I teach has an in-house radio station, where students learn to broadcast 'live', play music over the air, sometimes crack one or two lame jokes making it challenging for staff and other students trying to have a meal at the college canteen. Generally, they practise and try hard to speak like the professional radio DJs. Occasionally, however, they play too much of one type of music, or play too loud, or stutter on air, or use too much 'ah's and 'erm's, making an embarrassment of themselves 'live.'

I asked my class of Mass Communications students the other day how often did they work at the college radio station. 'Is it one semester? Or three days a week for a term?' My students replied, 'Two hours' and I asked, 'Two hours per day several days a week?' and her next answer was, 'No, just two hours, that’s it.'

I was dumb struck. Why only two hours? How can a person be a good radio DJ from just two hours of practice? Some people spend years at the microphone and still either talk too much or talk too little The answer was hardly convincing, 'There are many students.'"

Now, I'm not sure if the author is talking about training time or simply station volunteer time. From my experience, DJ training programs vary tremendously from station to station. I've been places where I was trained to be a DJ in a few hours. Other stations required attendance at a training class that lasted a few weeks, followed by a test. The most rigorous programs include classes, tests, on-air training with a DJ, and a required number of training/graveyard shifts.

Similarly, the amount of time that DJs are expected to spend working at a station varies from place to place. And, I kind of agree that requiring more time at the station does seem to help the station and the DJs. The place where I currently DJ expects that on-air DJs (with regular shows) do over 30 hours of volunteer work for the station each month, in addition to attending weekly staff meetings. It's daunting for new DJs, but I think the time commitment helps the station run more smoothly and makes the staff feel more like a community.

What sort of time requirements does your station have? What do you think is too much? What's too little?


Anonymous said...

Good information..
Just keep it up

rubes said...

at WTJU we have a two-hour training session, and then we have to shadow two shows (four hours, tops), and then you're good to sub (or take over a show). no service requirements, which probably ill-serves the station.

Anonymous said...

We're in transition from a 1-hour training with no apprenticeship to what will hopefully be a more robust experience including classroom instruction and more hands-on guided experience. Seeing as how I've experienced the extremes of this "benign neglect" and also the "take-a-class-before-you-touch-the-gear" method of Ms. SpinningIndie's own station, this is a subject near and dear to my heart. Bless you for asking.