When I started college, I was print journalism all the way. I had no interest in hanging around the TV station and radio had never crossed my mind. But little did I know that my time at DePauw’s student-run radio station, 91.5 WGRE (Princeton Review’s #2 College Radio Station — yes, I like to brag), would be one of my favorite parts of my college years.
After six semesters as a deejay and two as a newscaster, I look back on my time working in the deejay booth as fun, rewarding and an awesome hands-on learning experience. Here are seven ways working for your college radio station can change your life:
1. It develops your verbal communication skills.
While playing music is a big part of a deejay’s job, talking on air is just as important. Hosting a radio show in college is a great way to sharpen public speaking without having hundreds of people staring at you. Plus, learning to think on your feet and develop what you want to say without a detailed script in hand helps you become a more thoughtful verbal communicator. Don’t want to go without a script? Reading news stories gives you something to read while helping you develop a strong and clear speaking voice.
2. It teaches you customer service skills.
Making the audience happy is an important part of being a deejay. Listeners are, in essence, your customers, so learning to answer the phone politely and professionally, answering questions and handling requests are important parts of the job. Learning how to talk to those listeners is an important business skill that will carry over into your professional life.
3. It gives you problem solving experience.
Radio isn’t perfect. Songs stall in the middle. CDs skip. You push the wrong button. The mic doesn’t work. Handling those technical glitches and mistakes is an important task when working inside the deejay booth, and it also helps you learn how to quickly solve and respond to a problem — even if it’s 2 a.m. and no one is around to tell you what to do.
4. It teaches you an appreciation for community issues.
In most cases, a college radio station is also a community radio station. WGRE serves as a news outlet for the town, covering local stories, interviewing public figures and broadcasting high school football games in the county. Working on the news team teaches you the importance of a community radio station to serve as an outlet for information, especially during emergency situations like storm warnings or important events like elections.
5. It gives you huge responsibility.
When you accept a role at a radio station, whether serving as a director or taking a deejay slot, the other staff and listeners depend on you to keep things going. You’re responsible for showing up on time and carrying out all your duties, plus you’re trusted to operate expensive equipment and keep things running smoothly. Taking the responsibility seriously is important and shows you just how it feels to have a truly important task.
6. It introduces you to new music.
College radio stations are often a popular place for new and upcoming artists to be featured. During my time as a deejay, I was introduced to artists like Bon Iver, Noah and the Whale and Kate Nash, all artists that now take up residence in my music library. If you get nothing else from working at a college radio station, you’ll probably find at least one new artist you like.
7. It gives you a fun and relaxing period in a busy schedule.
I spent my time as a deejay with one of my best friends, and we were lucky to have our show on Friday afternoons every semester (knowing the programming directors might have had a little something to do with that). But those hour-long periods where we hung out, played music and chatted in between our duties were some of the most fun and relaxing blocks in my otherwise stressful schedule.
Outside of Greek life, WGRE was one of the only activities I consistently participated in during my time at DePauw, and those experiences without a doubt shaped my college career. College radio can be a resume-boosting activity that helps you grow personally and professionally. Whether you are picking up important skills or just making some fond memories, college radio can change your life.
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