Making your radio demo

black recordering microphone
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TOPIC: The all-important radio demo

One of  the things that you’ll need to apply for a radio job is a radio demo. This is – in essence – a sample of your radio work. Usually you’ll include a series of your best, recent radio voice breaks in a style that suits the station that you’re applying for.

A good demo, like a good cover letter, will highlight:

  • Your best work
    This should highlight you and your skills, as opposed to your co-host or guest.
  • Your range of skills
    Include different types of common talk breaks. (If the job also includes audio production – consider making a separate demo of just your production work.)
  • How you’ll fit in to the radio station that you’re applying for
    Make sure that you’re including work that fits in with the station format and might suit its audience.


Guidelines of what to include

Music/workday shift demo:

  • Personality break
  • Music knowledge break
  • Local break
  • Caller interaction

Ideal length: 90 seconds. (Definitely DEFINITELY no longer than 3 minutes.)


Talk radio demo:

  • Sense of day
  • Caller interaction
  • Personal story
  • Live read

Ideal length: 2-3 minutes. (No longer than 5 minutes.)



Q. Do I have to structure it in the order that you’ve suggested?
A. Nope.
Start with your best and most interesting break. People tend to make decisions very quickly, so it’s important to impress the Content Director upfront.

Q. What do I do if I don’t have any good breaks to choose from?
A. Record something new.
Make a show specifically for the station that you’re applying for. You can even include their station IDs, choose content that would suit their audience, and give out their actual contact details.

Q. Should I include the songs?
A. Nope.
If you’re applying for a music shift, it’s worth including the beginning of the song (say 2-3 seconds) so the Content Director/Hiring Manager can hear how you talk into songs. Otherwise, not so much.

Q. Should I edit out any umms, ahhs or mistakes?
A. Nope.
The Content Director wants to hear what you’d actually sound like on live radio. Also – they can often hear where you’ve edited it. Much better to present your best work that doesn’t need editing.

Q. What are Content Directors listening for?
A. They want to hear you, your skills and your potential.
Will you fit in to their station sound? Can you connect with their audience? Do you have interesting ideas?

Q. I have until the application closing date to send in my application, right?
A. Sometimes, but often not.
Commercial radio stations regularly hire the first “right” applicant, even if it’s a week or two before the closing date. For commercial media, I recommend you get your application in asap.


Can I please listen to some other people’s demos?

Good idea.

Here are some good ones that I’ve found:

And here are the 2018 ACRA winners – which have some excellent examples.
Particularly listen to:

  • Music demo: Bryce Ruthven “Best Music Presenter” country
  • Music demo: Josh Olek “Best Music Presenter” provincial
  • Production demo: Andrew Andrews “Best Achievement in Production” country
  • Production demo: Matthew Fulton “Best Achievement in Production” provincial
  • Talk demo: Sarah Boorer “Best Talk Presenter” country
  • Talk demo: Katie Woolf “Best Current Affairs Presenter” non-metropolitan
  • Breakfast demo: Michael Moffett “Best Entertainment Presenter” country
  • Breakfast demo: Tanya Hennessy “Best Entertainment Presenter” provincial



One thought on “Making your radio demo”

  1. Don’t forget to add your name and address at the start of the demo.
    Send a mp3 audio file, not a wav file or mp4.
    Make sure your audio levels are correct.
    So that it sounds like a radio air-check, add audio compression to the file.
    I know several content directors that will delete the file if they cant hear it properly.
    They work on the theory that if you can’t get that simple step correct, then you shouldn’t even be in the business.
    Brian Newington
    Audio Guru

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