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Disc Jockeys

Explore the job opportunities available to disc jockeys.

Club disc jockeys need to keep up-to-date with current music and dance trends. [©Jupiter Images, 2009]
©Jupiter Images, 2009
Club disc jockeys need to keep up-to-date with current music and dance trends.

Disc jockeys, commonly called deejays, work for radio stations and entertainment companies. The main role of a disc jockey is to announce music, news, weather and general interest topics. Disc jockeys may work as a team on a radio station and become well known in a local area, or they may announce nationally-syndicated radio shows that are played on a variety of stations. Select disc jockeys may even gain celebrity status and receive requests to deejay for special events such as birthday or awards parties. Some disc jockeys receive high salaries and perks from being in the entertainment industry, including media coverage of their latest deejay gig.

Types of Disc Jockeys

There are three main types of disc jockeys with different duties:

  • Radio disc jockeys work for radio stations and host radio shows. Aside from playing music on the radio, radio deejays also report breaking news stories, report the weather, record commercials, interview guests, run contests, make personal appearances, and attend concerts and business openings.
  • Mobile disc jockeys play music and help facilitate the activities at weddings and other events. Mobile disc jockeys are considered mobile because they bring all needed equipment with them, including the music. Most mobile deejays work independently or for an entertainment company.
  • Club disc jockeys are similar to mobile disc jockeys because they also bring all the needed equipment with them. The difference is that club deejays play at popular dance clubs and usually specialize in a particular type of music, like house or techno.

No matter which type of disc jockey hosts an event or works for a station, all disc jockeys must be familiar with deejay equipment, including mixers, lights, turntables, earphones, hardware and software.

Radio Disc Jockeys

Radio disc jockeys are the personality of a radio station. Because most stations air content 24 hours a day, radio disc jockeys often work varied hours. Morning radio hosts usually have a morning program aimed at early morning work commuters. These deejays start work quite early and may have to represent the radio station at a function later that day.

Disc jockeys with late-night programs work to entertain people who work at night or stay up late. Radio announcers with programs earn notoriety and occasionally local celebrity status. Most disc jockeys do not choose the music played on the station but facilitate the playing of music provided by station management or show producers.

Mobile Disc Jockeys

Since most weddings and other parties take place on Friday or Saturday, mobile deejays plan to book up their weekends. Being a mobile disc jockey is more than just playing music. The American Disc Jockey Association's San Diego Chapter defines mobile disc jockeying as a talent-based service. Mobile wedding and party deejays must time announcements correctly, play requested songs, keep the energy high, keep people dancing, lead the entertainment and use professional deejay equipment to enhance the music and entertainment experience. Party deejays may also need to meet with clients before the event and work with other vendors at the party to ensure success.

Club Disc Jockeys

Club deejays work in nightclubs mixing music to create a unique sound for partying and dancing. The club deejay is usually self-employed and must market his or her skills to prospective clubs. Club deejays work closely with club owners and managers to choose the right type of music and keep up with the newest trends in dance and music. Club DJs tend to work late or overnight hours. The most successful club disc jockeys practice the newest mixing and scratching techniques and use top-grade equipment.

Disc Jockey Training and Education

While deejays can be self-taught, those pursuing a professional career in broadcasting will need a degree or some form of technical training. The American Broadcasting School offers both on-campus and distance education opportunities. The school has a 43-week program for prospective broadcasters and offers the entire program online. Classes teach students about broadcasting, air shifts, digital production, copywriting, news casting and programming.

BroadcastingSchools.com offers a comprehensive list of broadcasting schools throughout the United States. Students who major in communications or journalism can also achieve a disc jockey job, especially if they work with the college or university radio station while pursing a degree.

Disc Jockey Salary and Job Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the field of radio announcing will remain competitive. With the downsizing of stations and the advancement of technology replacing overnight disc jockeys, prospective deejays need experience and technical skills. While the Bureau predicts the field of radio broadcasting to decline, self-employed deejays can expect steady job growth in the fields of party and club disc jockeying. The average hourly salary of a radio disc jockey is between $8 and $18, with the highest end of the scale averaging $29 per hour.

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