From where I sit On the Kowch, this is a busy time for college or university J-students and broadcast radio students who are putting together their demo tapes to get their first job or an internship.
So much rides on the demo tapes students are putting together. I tell my students the first 30 seconds are crucial. If you don't grab the program director or news director's attention from the get go you're dead in the water!
But I thought students or out of work broadcasters (probably as many of them as there are students looking for work these days with all the layoffs in broadcasting) might need more than my advice. So, I turned to LinkedIn and gathered tips from other broadcasters about what they look for in a demo tape.
Bill Young is a former PD and a partner at Broadcast Forensics in Malta: I always liked to receive demo's on CD or by email. It always impressed me that the applicant had taken the time to find out who should receive the demo and tailored it to the station format. PD's have so much to deal with ... they want the demo process to be as straightforward as possible.
Bill Hazen is a sports broadaster, developer of sports and podcasts programs in Chicago: The first 30 seconds of your demo is vital to an effective presentation. A well designed demo reveals your capabilities as early as possible, thereby encouraging the decision makers to listen further. Get your best work up front in your demo. You can always follow up with a longer sample upon request.
Rick Scott is president of RSA Sports International, Inc in the Seattle area: We all want to put our best work forward when pursuing a position, but make sure you can produce what is represented on your demo. When sending out your demos one strategy is to identify five or six markets where you want to work and reach out to the program director or operations manager at stations in those markets. It's a time consuming process that takes persistence. Much of it is about being in the right place at the right time.
Rey Ybarra, Los Angeles broadcaster: I got my first job doing exactly what Rick suggested. I went on line and researched the stations and the program director before sending out my demo. Today, it's a good idea to combine that with new media inbound marketing which includes YouTube, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.
Marty Lenz, radio & TV news anchor and host in the San Francisco Bay area: Create a website and place all your audio on the site where you can update, change and refresh. It should also include your bio with pictures and background on you. E-mailing files is so 2004! Send links of your audio.That way you do not clutter a potential hiring manager's e-mail with audio files and the links can play directly. The easier you make it for a PD to hire, the better your shot at landing a gig!
From where I sit On The Kowch, program directors, operations managers and news directors don't take enough time to respond to students looking for a job. I always thought it was important to respond and help the next generation of broadcasters who sent me a demo tape.
Once every other month I'd gather all the demo tapes and MP3s in my email and spend a few hours listening. Sometimes I knew within 30 seconds it was a no. Other times if I heard something promising I'd listen longer.
Then I would send a quick e mail to each person whose tape I listened to. I thought if they took the time to send me something, I should take the time to send them an email. Sometimes, if I thought the person had promise, I would critique their work and ask for another demo after they worked on my suggestions.
My last word of advice is that you need to chase your dream. The program director, news director or operations manager doesn't have the right to tell you to stop chasing your dream because they don't like your demo. They only have the right to say you can't chase your dream at their radio station.