In my case, it was a mistake.Yep, you read correctly.
The Manager of our community radio station was a member of my church and one day in 1999, she approached me to ask if I would like to help out as a volunteer at the station. Naturally having worked in office administration for more than 15 years at the time, I figured that's what I would be doing.
The following week I turned up at the station ready to help out in the office and was led into the on-air studio to be trained as an announcer! I was stunned to say the least. The Manager must have seen something in me that she thought would be suitable for a radio presenter. I also figured if that's where God wanted me to be, who was I to turn down the opportunity.
The first six months was the hardest. Fortunately I had a fairly clear speaking voice to start with, though I had to fine-tune that a little further. One way to do this was to record myself, play it back and see how I could improve. I had to consider my intonation, my expression and the friendliness in my voice. Before I started on radio I thought I had a fairly expressive voice. Six months after I started, I listened to some of those earlier recordings and realised how flat they were! Wow! Practice certainly helped a lot!As I am naturally an introvert, speaking to a bunch of strangers over the airwaves was nerve-wracking to say the least. At first, my nerves were almost overwhelming. What do you say? How do you say it? How do you make it interesting? And I experienced so much self-doubt: "What makes you think what you have to say is interesting? Is anyone actually listening? Who am I talking to?
Early on I sat down and wrote every phrase that I could think of that said "That last song was ...." and "The next song is ...." Keeping the list with me, I began to use different phrases on the air. This was the beginning of scripting. Scripting is essential for radio presenters, especially at the start. It's a saviour for those moments when your mind goes blank, and that happens time and time again even after eleven years on the air. There is always something to fall back on when you've scripted, even if it's just to refer to something that's coming up..
Essentially a script is your list of phrases for back and forward announcing of songs, plus some other interesting information that your listeners want to hear. As a community station, I always try to provide information on local events and news, and endeavour to do interviews with local community groups and organisations to bring our listeners up-to-date on what's happening and available in their community.
When you're on your own it can be a lonely experience, no matter how many people you have listening to you. Sure you get the occasional calls, but it still can be very isolating. We only have limited technology at our station and can't do phone to air at present, so don't have the facility for talk-back, which means we don't get a lot of calls. I try to imagine I'm speaking to a real person and have created an imaginary person in my mind to whom I speak. This imaginary person is a combination of several people I know and is helpful when I speak, because I can project myself as if I'm just speaking to that one person. This makes a much more personal type of on-air presentation.
But to become a successful radio presenter you must create your own little niche, a program that is yours alone and reflects a little of your personality. How do you do that? For me it developed slowly. We already had lots of educational programs for the family and Christian teachings, so I had to find another avenue to pursue. I began to consider what interested me, and one thing was humour and another was strange but true stories. I soon exhausted the local library and put together a document (rewritten so as not to infringe on copyright). Next step - I exhausted the state library of all its books! Since then, I've purchased umpteen books and found various resources to expand my growing collection of trivia.
My program now includes various trivia spots through the week, a world record, a fascinating fact on a Friday, a joke and a true story bout an idiot on a Monday and radio rewind on Wednesday where we listen to programs of yesteryear. In addition there are those community items I mentioned earlier.
The great thing is that I enjoy presenting the show (most days) which makes going in so early almost bearable for someone who is not naturally a morning person!
But one of the most surprising outcome is how much I've grown in confidence during the past eleven years. In addition it looks pretty darn good on the resume! While initially I started helping out because the radio station was in need, I never considered that I would gain such benefits as well. ©