Thursday, March 1, 2012

DJs in the 21st Century

All forms of media are undergoing changes in this world of change and technology.  Newspapers are becoming digital and going towards an online presence, TV shows are becoming digital and going towards an online presence, and radio, not to be left out, is also becoming digital.  New media in the radio industry include satellite radio, Internet radio, and podcasting.  All of the changes are affecting the way the radio industry works.  In particular, they are affecting the role of the DJ.

The glory days of the DJ was in the 50s and 60s where strong radio personalities filled the airwaves and defined stations identities.  Nowadays, however, the DJ isn't as vibrant and flamboyant at it once was.  Their role however, to provide the radio with personality, has not changed much.  But the demand for them has.  According to the Labor of Bureau Statistics, the employment of announcers (radio DJs included) is expected to decline by 4% from 2008-2018.  More and more DJs are getting laid off or are simply switching to other jobs or other forms of media.  However, those DJs that do have jobs work both in new media and old media.

In new media, DJs find jobs in some satellite radio stations.  In old media, there are both local DJs and (what I have been calling) “centralized” DJs. Local DJs are of course DJs that work in the physical location of the local radio station. They are part of the community, they know about local events that are going on, they know the personality of the community, and they can give up-to-date weather and traffic reports. Centralized DJs are not part of the community which they serve. Centralized DJs work for network stations and their broadcasts can go out to several different radio stations in several different communities. These DJs do not know the personalities of the communities they serve.

Lastly, Howard Stern is an example of a strong radio personality who has recently, like other radio DJs and personalities, made the switch from traditional broadcast radio to new satellite radio. He has been in radio for many years and has his own show on Infinity Broadcasting. He has gotten in trouble numerous times with the FCC for the indecent and controversial content on his shows, however, despite all of this, he still has millions of followers. In 2006, Sirius Satellite radio made a 5 year contract with him for $500million, hoping to increase their number of subscribers (which they desperately needed to do).

1 comment:

Ceci S said...

How do older media serve as a template for a Wireless Culture?

The DJ was invented back in the 1930s ad 40s. Their purpose was to bring personality to radio stations and entertain listeners in between songs. In the 50s and 60s the personality of the DJ was at its highest. And since then, it has declined—almost back down to where it started. The role of the DJ, however, has not changed all that much. The DJ's job is still to bring personality to radio stations and entertain listeners in between songs. What they do today is very much influenced by the template that was set for them back in the 30s, 40s, 50s, and 60s. What made radio special back in the early days was the DJ, and that is still true today. If anything is going to save terrestrial radio from going under, it's going to be the DJ.