Most DJs, or disc jockeys, are radio announcers who broadcast music. A DJ has a variety of duties, both on-air and off, including talking about the music being played, making promotional appearances, talking to guests and listeners on-air, and reading commercials. They may also be referred to as radio or on-air personalities.
DJs read prepared scripts and commercials, and also chat with listeners. They often take listener requests, interview guests, and announce musical selections. As a part of their duties, some comment on the weather, traffic, or other topics, and may make public service announcements. Other tasks often performed by DJs include coordinating listener contests, making promotional appearances on behalf of the radio station, and broadcasting at a remote location. Most do not select the music that is played on the radio, because that function is now computerized and is usually determined by station management.
A radio disc jockey is usually hired based on a pleasant voice, musical knowledge, and prior experience. Organization is a skill critical to the position. Many DJs work their way up the ladder into larger markets by starting at a college radio station or as an intern at a radio station. The position requires the ability to use technical equipment and to speak comfortably and casually. One goal that most have is to build a loyal group of listeners that tune in regularly because they like the DJ's style.
A disc jockey can also work in a nightclub. Club DJs, of course, work night hours, and they are responsible for maintaining the mood of a club by mixing music, sound effects, and special effects. Because the goal is to keep people dancing, this person should be familiar with many music styles that appeal to a variety of people.
Many DJs work part-time hours and might initially work for free to establish a following. Those who work on the radio create tapes of their shows and use them, similar to a how other jobseekers would use a resume, when looking for a new position. Pay at small stations is relatively low, and as a career, competition for jobs is intense and shifts can be long. Most DJs cite isolation as the biggest career drawback.
Other disc jockeys work for entertainment companies and staff private parties or events. Some decide to start a mobile or special event DJ business, although it can be an expensive proposition. The basic required equipment includes an amplifier, a speaker, a mixer, and an audio source.