The best place for an aspiring host to start is on a local community radio station. Baile Beyai is one of the co-founders of Leeds-based Sable Radio. He wants hosts and DJs to remember that radio is a two-way street: that the station and its presenters should work together closely. “Stations wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for the hosts,” he says, but he acknowledges that “not everyone has equal access to equipment”. With this in mind, Sable Radio is “happy to invest in ideas” and will source equipment for those who need it. If interested, they encourage applicants from all over the world to contact them.
In Liverpool, Melodic Distraction have a DIY attitude to running their music blog, event series and online radio station. They’re always keen on bringing new faces into their community. “We want to provide the facilities for people to learn,” insists co-founder Josh Aitman. “People may feel like the barrier for them getting on the radio is ‘I can’t use CDJs’ or ‘I can’t use turntables’, but you don’t necessarily need these skills to start. We’re happy to teach them.”
“The key thing for our station is having a genuine passion,” says co-founder James Zaremba. “It’s about you. We’re excited to welcome anyone who wants to come into the station to give it a go.” Much like Sable, Melodic Distraction have hosts from around the globe. “We try to represent the sounds of the city as much as possible, but we have regular hosts that live across the UK and as far out as Berlin, California and Ibiza,” says Zaremba.
While the technical fundamentals of DJing can be learned, that doesn’t mean that stations will take people on through confidence alone, or accept new, impatient hosts who want to skip learning the basics altogether. There are always those who jump ahead of themselves, and that attitude can be a deterrent to station managers and programmers.
“Some people email us like they’re automatically going to be given a radio show and then get picked up by national radio,” says Frankie Wells, co-founder of Foundation FM, South London’s female-led radio station. The station wants to ensure that its voices are broad and diverse: “We have shows from all over the UK and globally; Manchester, Berlin, Hong Kong.” Hopefuls can reach out to them directly with a demo and a pitch, but Wells reiterates the need for patience: “It takes a lot of time and it takes a conversation with yourself; to find your own voice, and your own sound, on air. It’s a long process.”
Adrian Newman has been the station manager at Reprezent for 10 years. “Just because you’re a big music fan or into our platform, that’s nowhere near enough,” he says. Bluntly, he tells us he’s inundated with emails from people who “feel entitled” to have a show. “We don’t expect people to come in knowing everything at all,” he says, “but be prepared to learn all aspects of radio, build your network and get an overview of Reprezent before getting a show — especially if you’re somebody that walks in with no profile or experience.” You don’t have to live in London to be on Reprezent, “but it helps”. Pitching your idea through their website is relatively simple. “We have a ‘join now’ button on our website and when we do a call-out we email everyone,” Newman says.