A radio personality (Randy J. Allum) at work at the now-defunct WKZV in Washington, Pennsylvania in 1997

A radio personality is a person who has an on-air position in radio broadcasting. A radio personality who hosts a radio show is also known as a radio host (North American English), radio presenter (British English) or radio jockey. Radio personalities who introduce and play individual selections of recorded music are known as disc jockeys or "DJs" for short. Broadcast radio personalities may include talk radio hosts, AM/FM radio show hosts, and satellite radio program hosts, and non-host contributors to radio programs, such as reporters or correspondents.


A radio personality can be someone who introduces and discusses genres of music; hosts a talk radio show that may take calls from listeners; interviews celebrities or guests; or gives news, weather, sports, or traffic information. The radio personality may broadcast live or use voice-tracking techniques.[1] Increasingly in the 2010s, radio personalities are expected to supplement their on-air work by posting information online, such as on a blog or on another web forum. This may be either to generate additional revenue or connect with listeners.[2] With the exception of small or rural radio stations, much of music radio broadcasting is done by broadcast automation, a computer-controlled playlist airing MP3 audio files which contain the entire program consisting of music, commercials, and a radio announcer's pre-recorded comments.


Main article: Radio disc jockey history

In the past, the term "disc jockey" (or "DJ") was exclusively used to describe on-air radio personalities who played recorded music and hosted radio shows that featured popular music.[3] Unlike the modern club DJ who uses beatmatching to mix transitions between songs to create continuous play, radio DJs played individual songs or music tracks while voicing announcements, introductions, comments, jokes, and commercials in between each song or short series of songs.[4] During the 1950s, '60s and '70s, radio DJs exerted considerable influence on popular music, especially during the Top 40 radio era, because of their ability to introduce new music to the radio audience and promote or control which songs would be given airplay.[5][6]

Although radio personalities who specialized in news or talk programs such as Dorothy Kilgallen and Walter Winchell have existed since the early days of radio, exclusive talk radio formats emerged and multiplied in the 1960s, as telephone call in shows, interviews, news, and public affairs became more popular. In New York, WINS (AM) switched to a talk format in 1965, and WCBS (AM) followed two years later. Early talk radio personalities included Bruce Williams and Sally Jesse Raphael.[7] The growth of sports talk radio began in the 1960s, and resulted in the first all-sports station in the US, WFAN (AM) that would go on to feature many sports radio personalities such as Marv Albert and Howie Rose.

Types of radio personalities

Notable radio personalities

Notable radio personalities include pop music radio hosts Wolfman Jack, Jim Pewter, Dick Clark, Casey Kasem, John Peel, Charlie Gillett, Walt Love, Alan Freed, The Real Don Steele and Charlie Tuna;[9] sports talk hosts such as Mike Francesa; shock jocks and political talk hosts such as Don Imus, Howard Stern and Rush Limbaugh.[10]



Many radio personalities do not have a post-high school education, but some do hold degrees in audio engineering.[11] If a radio personality has a degree it's typically a bachelor's degree level qualification in radio-television-film, mass communications, journalism, or English.[12]


Universities offer classes in radio broadcasting and often have a college radio station, where students can obtain on-the-job training and course credit.[13] Prospective radio personalities can also intern at radio stations for hands-on training from professionals. Training courses are also available online.[13]


A radio personality position generally has the following requirements:[14][15]


Due to radio personalities' vocal training, opportunities to expand their careers often exist. Over time a radio personality could be paid to do voice-overs for commercials, television shows, and movies.[17]

Salary in the US

Radio personality salaries are influenced by years of experience and education. In 2013, the median salary of a radio personality in the US was $28,400.

A radio personality with a bachelor's degree had a salary range of $19,600–60,400.[18]

The salary of a local radio personality will differ from a national radio personality. National personality pay can be in the millions because of the increased audience size and corporate sponsorship. For example, Rush Limbaugh was reportedly paid $38 million annually as part of the eight-year $400 million contract he signed with Clear Channel Communications.[19]


See also


  1. ^ L. A. Heberlein - The Rough Guide to Internet Radio 2002 - Page v. "In addition to putting songs together, a good radio host can tell you things you didn't know about the artists, the songs, and the times."
  2. ^ Rooke, Barry; Odame, Helen Hambly (2013). ""I Have to Blog a Blog Too?" Radio Jocks and Online Blogging". Journal of Radio & Audio Media. 20 (1): 35. doi:10.1080/19376529.2013.777342. S2CID 144905276.
  3. ^ Shelly Field (21 April 2010). Career Opportunities in Radio. Infobase Publishing. pp. 2–. ISBN 978-1-4381-1084-4.
  4. ^ Higgins, Terry. "Club Features New Breed of Disc Jockey". Milwaukee Sentinel. Milwaukee Sentinel, June 29, 1984. Retrieved 7 July 2016.
  5. ^ Udovitch, Mim. "Last Night a DJ Saved My Life: The History of the Disc Jockey By BILL BREWSTER and FRANK BROUGHTON Grove Press". New York Times Book Review. New York Times Company. Retrieved 8 July 2016.
  6. ^ Battaglio, Stephen (10 March 2002). "Television/Radio; When AM Ruled Music, and WABC Was King". New York Times. Retrieved 8 July 2016.
  7. ^ Jim Cox (26 October 2009). American Radio Networks: A History. McFarland. ISBN 978-0-7864-5424-2.
  8. ^ a b c d "Radio and Television Job Description". CareerPlanner.com. Retrieved 28 February 2013.
  9. ^ "Series: Charlie Tuna". www.radioechoes.com.
  10. ^ Leopold, Todd. "The kings of the radio: All-time great DJs". CNN. Archived from the original on 14 April 2016. Retrieved 9 January 2017.
  11. ^ "Radio Jockey Education and Job requirements". educationrequirements.org. Retrieved 12 March 2013.
  12. ^ "Announcers and DJs". Occupational Outlook Handbook. bls.gov. September 8, 2022.
  13. ^ a b "ASU Dept. of Radio-TV". Arkansas State University. Retrieved 5 March 2013.
  14. ^ "Radio Jockey education and job requirements". educationrequirements.org. Retrieved 12 March 2013.
  15. ^ "RJs Talk About Their Careers in Radio". YouCareer.in. 1 September 2013. Retrieved 28 October 2015.
  16. ^ a b "La locución es mostrarte tal cual eres -" (in Spanish). 2018-05-08. Retrieved 2020-05-09.
  17. ^ "Radio Jockey: Job Prospects & Career Options". webindia123.com. Retrieved 28 February 2013.
  18. ^ "Disc Jockey (DJ), Radio Salary, Average Salaries". Payscale.com. Retrieved 22 March 2013.
  19. ^ Farhi, Paul (3 July 2008). "Rush Limbaugh Signs $400 Million Radio Deal". Retrieved 26 September 2018.