My short bio: Due to contractual agreements and non-disclosure I must be vague, but I'm verified confidentially. I worked for Clear Channel Communications for nearly a decade in a prime market as the host of my own show. I interviewed several celebrities and went to nearly any event you can think of There is a lot to radio that isn't as it appears. My Proof: confidentially confirmed. EDIT: Alright folks I need to go. I'll check back later and try to hit the questions I've missed. Thanks for all the questions. EDIT: Thank you everyone for participating. For those of you who are interested in my new career I may do an AMA at your request, but I'm undecided as of now. Thanks again, but it's time for this to end. See you on Reddit

Comments: 4244 • Responses: 70  • Date: 

wellhelloitsdan3367 karma

One of the major radio stations in my area is known for something called the "War of the Roses" where they (allegedly) help their listeners do things like catch cheating spouses by calling them and pretending to be a florist and asking the person who they'd like to send a dozen free red roses to, and then they put the significant other on the line and drama ensues. What's the real story behind those types of things?

Camel_Knight3751 karma

I'm not going to say they are all fake, but they are fake. I have acted as a cheater or the cheated in several of these for jocks across the country. You have to regulate what's said so much that unless sit was all entirely pre recorded a jock wouldn't have the time to set all that up and edit the material. It is much easier to have someone who knows how radio works and what type of responses will pull in listeners to do it for you.

kneeanderthal2432 karma

How much of a typical daily broadcast is automated and how much is manual? I imagine a computer could eternally string together sections of music and ads pulled from designated libraries, so what stuff does a DJ actually do nowadays?

Camel_Knight6227 karma

Every Monday we would have a meeting and go over the playlist FOR THE WEEK! The jock looks at a computer screen with the audio wave length and just talks over the ending of one song going in to the intro to the next. Everything is pre-set on that Monday. The "all request all night" and "total request hour" is bullshit. When you call and request a song you are only getting on air if you happened to request a song that was already set to play meaning if you call in at 5:15 and request the panda song and it's set to play already at 5:45 then you think they played it for you but if you call in and request a song that isn't going to play like weird al yankovich (who I love) Amish Paradise then they are never playing it.

refOree1771358 karma

Wait, I know I called in as a kid when that album came out, I feel likea complete idiot for requesting that, but what did I know at the time?

Also, that would be hilarious if it was you I ended up calling into...

Camel_Knight218 karma

What state?

refOree177192 karma

NY, Western NY

Camel_Knight150 karma

No not me.

midnightFreddie391 karma

like weird al yankovich (who I love)

A real fan would know it's Yankovic without an H.

j/k thanks for the AMA

Camel_Knight579 karma

I'll use my phones autocorrect as an excuse. Lol. My bad. I can sing that whole song by heart if that builds my Yank cred.

FlowSoSlow381 karma

I think it's important to note that not all radio stations do this. I request songs all the time and they play them.

torpedomon850 karma

Sure- if you call in to many of the "classic rock" stations and ask for "Sweet Home Alabama", it's already cued, so they can just say "Sure thing!". But try requesting "Boris the Spider" and listen to see if they ever play that classic.

Camel_Knight482 karma

Exactly.

google-no-agenda322 karma

The only time I've actually believed a station was doing requests was when a local station did an annual fundraiser for the local children's hospital. You'd pay based on how obscure/long the song was (or however much you wanted to donate.) People requested some weird shit, and I definitely found some new music (first time I heard Dream Theater was when someone requested Metropolis for instance)

Camel_Knight294 karma

Yes that's an exception. The cancer radio thins are huge among radio stations. That's their Superbowl, because every business wants to have their name tied to it so money is pouring in for the kids and the station. Lots of things happen during that week.

Camel_Knight134 karma

They play them because they are set to play, but I can assure you 99.9% do this method because the playlist gets approved by the management at the company level. About the only ones that don't are really small stations and maybe some college stations.

GeronimoJak364 karma

Depends on the radio station. The one I worked at tried to minimize pre recorded voice, and have us live as much as we can.

Camel_Knight579 karma

The jock is usually live but talking over a playlist, but even then a lot of jocks just pre-record their whole show.

pmjm166 karma

What drives me nuts are the VoxPro jocks. I mean, I get using it for phone calls, interviews, or the occasional tricky copy. But there are some jocks that do their entire show in VoxPro and then run it back. They have some fear of a live mic. THEN WHY ARE YOU IN THIS BUSINESS????? /rant

Camel_Knight246 karma

Yeah drove me freaking nuts. Mess ups can be funny. Even if I recorded something if I messed up I'd leave it. It's funny. I'm human and my listeners are human (I think)

Keenan_Christopher2201 karma

Why does the new radio station in my area play only 9 or 10 songs, basically on repeat, all day long, with a few random ones sprinkled in?

Camel_Knight2458 karma

So the station I worked for was a CHR (contemporary hit radio) top 40 station. So songs are broken down in to categories by ClearChannel. Gold is a song that has been around for years and is still relevant, ie. Baby got back, California love, etc. Then there are the top 5 - 7 songs on the top 40 charts. Those play EVERY hour. Then the next 5 they play EVERY other and So on and so forth.

v0x_nihili1069 karma

My Top 40 station plays that one Aerosmith song from one of those comet movies a few years ago exactly once a day at seemingly random times. I wonder if that's contractually obligated.

Camel_Knight1543 karma

It may be a song the programming director loves or shares with his spouse as "their" song and he does it for them. A lot of jocks do this.

crestonfunk507 karma

I was in a band and we had a radio rep. He got us on modern rock radio in some large markets. How does this work?

Camel_Knight676 karma

Knew a guy. Lol maybe they really liked your music or the station had it set up where they would play some unknown artists from time to time.

im_always_fapping281 karma

A lot of stations know you probably only listen to the radio going to work and going home.

They don't have to pay someone to DJ if they can just have automation play a ton of music all day long.

Camel_Knight406 karma

They don't, but someone has to fill the dead air and introduce songs and talk about what's going on in the are and promote businesses. All of that is factored in to sales.

im_always_fapping163 karma

Very true but what I have been noticing is on the automation stations. They have a pre-recorded DJ talking and introducing songs to give the illusion it's a live DJ.

Does this aggravate you? We aren't going to get new talent if we never give new talent a chance.

Camel_Knight252 karma

When I listen to radio and I catch it, yes it does aggregate me. It also aggregates me when the jock uses filler words or doesn't have a music bed he/she is talking over dead space or just has no flow with lots of pauses. I rarely listen to radio anymore.

8urfiat1629 karma

Did you interview anyone you wanted to punch in the face? And if so,Who?

Camel_Knight4444 karma

EVERYONE OF THE AMERICAN IDOL FUCKS. Edit: thanks for the Gold. Cherry popped.

LauLau31984768 karma

The judges or contestants? Just curious.

Camel_Knight2207 karma

Contestants. They just acted like they were famous and made demands and were snotty. Even the losers of the show when they did the idol tours.

thejpfg648 karma

I heard a interview of Kelly Clarkson on a radio station a few months and she really sounded genuinely nice. Did you interviewed her?

Camel_Knight1333 karma

I didn't but another jock did and yeah she was nice.

chickachickabowbow1627 karma

How do they shrink you down small enough to fit inside my car stereo?

Camel_Knight1503 karma

Ever watch Willy Wonka?

Mistah_Blue548 karma

Dude that's a television. not a radio.

Camel_Knight881 karma

Have you tried it? Works the same.

ArcticBlueCZ1161 karma

Is it true, that person on air (moderator or DJ) don't have any control over the playlist? Even requests from an audience are pre-recorded?

Camel_Knight2250 karma

Yes. It is all pre-set a week in advance. I hated the music that I played (all the poppy top 40 garbage) so I would occasionally play a request if it was a song I liked. To do that was a pain because when you insert a song it adjusts the entire playlist by 3 to 5 minutes depending on the length of the song. If you don't have the song already on the playlists then you have to manually input it from a Disc which means you have to pause the playlist and play the song live which is a super pain, but I still did it.

Sophrosynic2598 karma

Dear God, he actually jockeyed a disc!

Camel_Knight1003 karma

Lol yeah they are actually a Disc/gassed. It's a CD in a cassette like deck and you put it in to the system.

blomqv104 karma

Got a pic?

vandelay82296 karma

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/f/f5/Cd_caddies_JPG.jpg

Probably like that, in the very early days of cd rom drives on PC they were popular. Our first drive had it and I was very happy to switch to a tray.

Camel_Knight169 karma

Yes

ArcticBlueCZ142 karma

And another thing. Why radios playing the same songs again and again? For example, interpret has dozens of songs and radio station plays just two over and over.

TuckRaker1022 karma

I worked in a small/medium market radio newsroom for close to 9 years. You aren't kidding. I was amazed when I first entered the industry at how much radio wasn't live.

Anyway, where do you feel FM/AM radio is going? Since I left, I notice less and less emphasis on local content, which is all FM/AM radio has to offer that other sources don't. If they aren't offering the only thing that sets them apart, how do these station remain open? I can get music anywhere and I set the playlist, which I can't do with traditional radio.

Camel_Knight1115 karma

This was just starting to be a problem when i left the business. Car dealerships were taking note of what station the cars coming in were set to and found that a large majority either had satellite or their phones connected. That reduced the advertisement sales price eventually. We used to have conference calls on how to keep free radio relevant and our Production Manager said we would soon be equivalent to newspapers.

hamsterbuns847 karma

This one probably answers itself, are the "hits" we hear over and over actually popular because people like them or they "hits" because record companies decide what songs will become top 40 and force radio to play them?

Camel_Knight521 karma

Both. So for us Clear Channel pays millions of dollars to determine what songs are hits, how, I don't know cause most of the hits are shits. Their data along with the billboard top 100 and American top 40 determined hits.

fistyday833 karma

What do you mean the radio business is all fake?

For example, if Lady Gaga was being interviewed by you, would you have scripted answers or an idea about what you wanted to say to her? Is that what you mean?

Michelanvalo1735 karma

Big celebrities will sometimes record their answers to pre-asked questions. Then your local DJ just records themselves asking those questions. Splice it together and now every local market now suddenly has an exclusive interview with some big celebrity.

Camel_Knight1381 karma

Yes I forgot this. This happens too and they just send you their answers and you will edit your questions in, but a lot why away from this because it's too easy to ask a question that is suspect and manipulate the responses.

Chaotichazard296 karma

That sounds dangerous, do radio hosts ever mess with the questions? For example you have a recording of lady ga ga saying "yes I do" has there ever been a case where the radio asks a different question, "like do have 3 nipples" or something really bad?

Camel_Knight546 karma

If do this with callers on my topic for the day. If I asked a question and they didn't give the response I wanted I'd ask something else which would generate a response that fit the previous question then edit it around.

Camel_Knight461 karma

Yes and no. So some celebrity reps will brief you ahead of time of what can and can't be asked. American idol was big at the time and they made sure you only asked what they wanted. Other celebs are the same.

fistyday127 karma

Thank you for the answer :)

Camel_Knight166 karma

You're welcome

Gay4BillKaulitz801 karma

When do you feel terrestrial radio started going downhill?

I remember growing up, the radio was pretty much the only option. Using a boombox and recording a song off a radio, song after song, hoping DJ Jackass and the Morning Zoo didn't add a fart or barfing noise at the end of the song is how I made my first playlist.

Camel_Knight797 karma

I remember recording songs off the radio and recording songs off MTV on my tape recorder. Lol. When iPods and napster/sharebear, and satellite radio came out, we saw a decline in sales and callers.

AustinTransmog461 karma

How much did you make? How many hours did you work? What are you doing now, professionally?

Camel_Knight1609 karma

Jocks make shit money $30-$50k, unless you are syndicated meaning your show is across the nation (Ryan seacrest or open house party) then you can make a million a year or way more. Each station that plays your show may pay you $10k+. The real benefits are the sponsorships and free shit. Bill bang my interns Clinton screwed this up in a way by creating the play for pay law which prevented companies and studios from giving gifts or paying jocks money to play songs or give free advertisements. Now it's done through sponsorships. I had a free unlimited cellphone, free cable/internet, discounts out the ass, free golf (I played almost every day any course I wanted), free stays at vacation spots, free drinks in clubs with VIP access, and any concert and sporting event I wanted with back stage access. Edit: Today I am a Federal Agent putting murders and rapists and child rapists behind bars. Big change.

bingoflaps821 karma

Do an AMA on being a federal agent.

Camel_Knight705 karma

Lol. Maybe.

BeantownSolah235 karma

As somebody who has gotten out of the music business and has always thought I would find that kind of work immensely satisfying/suited to me ---

How in the world did that career transition take place???

Camel_Knight552 karma

I was riding on a plane and the guy next to me was a Fed. We talked about it for a while he told me to shoot him my info. I did he sent me a packet I filled it out got accepted and that's that.

Techwood11110 karma

That is hardly "shit money."

Camel_Knight59 karma

Oh I forgot to include the hours. You are working long days 16 hrs. You have show prep which means reading and watching every dumb reality show and then going to live events all day and night when you are not on air and weekends do not exist for jocks. From 8am to 2am you are going non stop at dealerships and stores and sporting events and night clubs.

McJock428 karma

Wait, magic shows are fake?!

Camel_Knight648 karma

No they are just like wrestling.

ClassicPervert209 karma

Is porno fake?

Camel_Knight951 karma

Each night before bed it's real to me.

gmriksen387 karma

What's your favorite part of the job?

Camel_Knight1991 karma

The women. Seriously the notoriety was awesome. I did tv commercials too and I couldn't go anywhere without getting recognized and signing autographs. I felt like a tool doing it, but I also felt like I was in the top of the world. Girls everywhere, until they found out I lived in an apartment and drove a honda.

Keenan_Christopher359 karma

Ok maybe this is outside of your knowledge, but there's a radio station in Seattle where the morning hosts do a thing called "2nd date update" where they call a girl while a guy she went out with is on the line, and ask her to describe their first date, and explain why she won't return his calls or go on a second date. Some of these seem very scripted with events that seem impossible to have actually occurred and over-the-top interactions between the guy and girl ... They make us think it's legit but I swear half the time it's made up... Legit?

Camel_Knight420 karma

I talked about this already but I did the exact same thing for another station. I was the guy who didn't call back and my script was because she was ugly. Needless to say, it got a lot of discussion brought on to the show.

Lepew1345 karma

How much consumer information is being gathered from radio listeners by apps like I Heart Radio?

Camel_Knight431 karma

So the companies buy this data and that's one way they determine what songs are hits, what older songs are gold, but other than that, not too much.

Sgt_America306 karma

The callers for contests and giveaways: real people or is it John and Mary from sales acting like callers?

Camel_Knight586 karma

Some yes and some no. So you first have to realize that companies spend thousands and thousands of dollars to be associate with big contests so if for whatever reason the station isn't getting enough callers or enough entertaining callers then a friend or salesman or jock (disguising their voice) would call in and act goofy and bring about excitement to spark interest, boost ratings, and please the associated business. I have used and been used by other stations across the country to act as a contestant on a show. Specifically a blind date show and I just stand by they tell me the script and tell me I'm playing an assholes who thinks the date was ugly. The girl was also in on it and So I'm bashing her looks and saying how her picture was bullshit. This caused a whirlwind of callers creating excitement on the show. Guys defending me and girls defending her.

Meta2048117 karma

Not the OP, but have a friend who worked in radio. Mid-sized market, she says all the callers are real, but you always get the same people calling in all the time and an individual can only win once a month or once every three months or something.

One story she told me, they were taking the 100th caller or something and the same 5 people probably called 10 times each.

Camel_Knight132 karma

Happens a lot. I would change their voice in Adobe audition so they would sound like a man if they were female or visa versa or make young people sound older or older younger on these nights

Michelanvalo26 karma

I've heard these people referred to as "Prize Pigs." they have message boards (or atleast back in the day they did, probably facebook groups now) where they strategize and try to monopolize who wins what prizes.

Camel_Knight15 karma

Yeah prize pigs. I haven't heard that term in a while.

CallMe_Dig_Baddy112 karma

I've won a bunch of stuff from my local radio station. Money, concert tickets, tickets to shows, lottery tickets. It's very real. Just gotta be quick on the redial.

Camel_Knight272 karma

Not all of its fake, but if you win that much then you are what we call a "long time caller" we love you guys and hook you up every chance we get to keep you coming around.

Seraph_Grymm187 karma

What was the biggest shock that people not in the industry might have when learning about this profession?

Camel_Knight408 karma

My biggest shock was how important and "famous" jocks think they are.

Camel_Knight275 karma

My second biggest shock was "live" is never live.

FalconHunter155 karma

What about the low salary, lack of job security, and live promotional events? That's what caused me to leave.

Camel_Knight192 karma

Yep. All attributed to my walking away.

skunkhair187 karma

Why do radio stations never announce format changes? I've noticed they're very secretive when it comes to firing DJs or changing formats completely. Just turn it on one day and my favorite dj is gone. Or my alternative rock station is now meringue.

Camel_Knight134 karma

I didn't experience this so I'm not sure. I mean jocks quit or get fired and they would scramble to replace them with whoever they had available for the next day ( that's how I got my own show)

AFistfulOfVinylKXLU168 karma

This is a cool AMA. Thanks for sharing.

I DJ weekly on an independent college station.

  1. What metrics did you use to tell how many people were listening at a given time?

  2. Any run-ins with the FCC over something you said/did on-air?

  3. What ultimately will keep FM radio alive? Should it be kept alive?

  4. Thanks for working to take down creeps and criminals. How do you feel about the current perception of law enforcement in regards to force used, and question of its necessity?

Camel_Knight229 karma

  1. Nelson ratings. We would go through a book period where they were monitoring it through various methods for a month or so at a time like sweeps week for tv.
  2. I played some local bands that cursed on air I didn't get in trouble cause it was during safe harbor time (after 10) but my management got a call. I also answered the phone lines with the sound board on and blew both my ear drums and yelled fuck. They let it slide.
  3. If the internet goes out and satellite radio goes away.
  4. I think a lot of bad people exist in the world and some of them are cops. People don't understand though the reaction it takes to protect yourself and others. A person can stab you before you can pull your gun and shoot them from a pretty good distance. So when you are faced with the split decisions and the wrong one could mean you are dead, you tend to go with the other choice, sometimes it's wrong.

Keenan_Christopher151 karma

By fake, do you mean that we're meant to think it's live when most of it is "pre-recorded"?

Camel_Knight182 karma

Yes it's set up a week in advance. I elaborate more on it somewhere in this thread.

farva_06147 karma

Is there a surefire trick to winning radio contests, where you have to be X caller to win?

Camel_Knight300 karma

Be a regular caller all the time. If they know you they will be more likely to just pick you. Other than that the lines jam up instantly. Know the time that they typically run contest and call a minute or two before.

noahfischel123 karma

How are DJs able to keep talking right up to the point that lyrics in the song start? Is it practice, a visual thing you can see, or just listening to it while talking? Or some other thing?

Camel_Knight171 karma

You see two wave lengths on the screen and a moving line that shows where your at in the song. You see when to start talking and when to stop before you start talking over the words to the song

Consonant113 karma

How does one get into radio?

I'm constantly being told to do so as I apparently have a nice voice.

Camel_Knight196 karma

I was amanager of a store. We did promotions with the station. The jock and I hit it off and always had fun on the air. When we were off air I did silly voices and we were just joking and having fun. He incited me on his show and I did characters on his show then one thing led to another and I had a contract in my face. Then through luck chance and a little skill I got my own show fairly quick. I would say show up to a station and get your foot in by asking to be an intern. Unpaid and they will work the shit out of you, but if you are good they will keep you around and start giving you assignments and gigs.

mareksoon112 karma

Do y'all still speed up songs in order to get one more song (or commercial) into the hour?

We did this at the station I worked at in the '90s (was owned by Genesis Broadcasting).

Follow up to that: in my day, we literally sped the rotation of the record (2%, I think). This, of course, slightly affected the pitch.

I suppose today you have the tech to speed up the songs without affecting pitch.

We also cut out parts of songs that didn't fit our format. I remember we tossed the guitar solo out of Simply Irresistible because it didn't fit our top-40/pop format, but was a top-40 song.

Camel_Knight126 karma

Yes they do very minimally but yes. That's also how you can tell it's a requested song cause if they play it out of the playlist then it doesn't have that few % upspeed. The radio edit songs are typically already in this format.

Letmefixthatforyouyo107 karma

Whats your take on popular independent stations like KEXP?

Camel_Knight188 karma

I think it's great. They are the home brew of radio and some great bears come out of home brews. Edit: beers, but bears would make for one hell of a story.

WanderBun85 karma

Did you find your coworkers to have a lot of substance abuse problems?

I worked at a large, non-Clear Channel Top 40 station for a couple of years and nearly everyone had an obvious drinking problem that they'd pretend was just "being cool" and "partying". Obviously if you're paid to be at a bar for an event you're going to have a drink or two but these were full-grown adults getting so drunk they'd piss themselves in their sleep and just kinda shrug it off. It turned me off from the whole industry (among other things), which was a bummer because I do enjoy hosting things with a microphone.

Camel_Knight123 karma

Yes. I drank a lot. Never really got in to the drug phase but I saw a jock show up to a live event, mumbling, and staggering, clearly shitfaces and snort a line of coke then grab the mic and start talking. You couldn't tell he was the same person from a few seconds ago. Lots of pill poppers too.

ArcticBlueCZ42 karma

Do you actually hear music that is playing, or you can choose not to?

Camel_Knight72 karma

You can turn the volume down on the sound board but then you have to stare at the screen and watch for when to talk and if the music cuts out you wont know.

hoganusrex35 karma

What's the honest opinion in the radio business on Howard Stern and how much of an impact did his move to satellite radio have (if any)?

Camel_Knight81 karma

So a lot of jocks hate him because he "ruined radio for the rest of us" a lot of what he did cause rules to change. I love Howard. He is a pioneer of radio. No fucks given with that guy.

dh197727 karma

When they have those call-in contests where it's like be the 10th caller to win Metallica tickets...what's the best strategy to win those? Should I start calling right away and keep redialing till I get through?

Camel_Knight37 karma

Start calling early before the contest starts and start spamming the redial button until the contest starts.

lederwrangler23 karma

What does the on-air talent, and I guess more importantly, program directors, think of all the bullshit that people like O&A and Stern talked about when they'd shit-talk terrestrial radio: I'm talking about faked prank calls, prep service bits/talking points, the fake 'war of the roses' and 'busted' and 'the fugitive' bits, etc? Are these things actually considered to be positives for the station/shows, or are they acknowledged to be kind of garbage filler that is just sort of there because it's always been there?

Why do women on morning shows not get to actually ever say anything of substance and instead just laugh and scold the host and the wacky guy? Why is the morning format so standardized, anyway?

Were you ever involved in a 'radio war' with another station? How fake and dumb was it?

Camel_Knight29 karma

First question: Not really. They did their thing we did ours. We have our bullshit fillers too. I'm not sure. We had a female for a long time she was the main on air talent for the morning show. Yeah it was real. They talked shit about one of our guys and our station was way better and bigger than theirs so we went and bought out their best jocks contract and hired him (just to talk shit really) and then I absolutely crushed them in ratings right after. It was epic. Our jocks (i never did) would fight at live remotes and sabatoge eachothers sound equipment. It was an eventful year

Air_Hellair23 karma

The worst thing about the death of radio to me is we'll miss that experience of looking at the car next to us in traffic and seeing a beautiful girl bopping along to the same song as me, then I sing the next verse directly to her and she smiles and we pull away. How can I force pretty girls to notice me now that I'm using a Spotify playlist?

Camel_Knight59 karma

Blue hair.

beardbutter-11 karma

As a musician, it angers me that you are proud of how radio is. You have been killing our society's music taste for generations. Why do you feel comfortable rehashing and NEVER changing the music. You play the shitty singles and then never branch out into the rest of the album. Never. Not once. For any station. Ever. Also, PUT JAZZ BACK ON THE RADIO!!!!!!?

Camel_Knight5 karma

I'm not proud. I hated it, as I've made clear here and why I'm doing this ama and why I got out of radio. I broke all the rules, i even was under review for a fine because I played local bands music and sometimes they were not always radio edits. I'm with you man.