Jobs 101: Radio DJ

Justin Ang, one half of the "muttons", shares his thoughts about being in the radio business and his fascination with microphones.

Wan Munirah

Published: 12 September 2012, 9:40 PM

His familiar voice often accompanies you while you travel home every day. He is also known for his silly jokes and hilarious trailers on the radio.

Youth.SG sat down with Justin Ang for a quick chat before he went on air for “Muttons on The Move”, a show that he currently co-hosts with Vernon A on 987fm. The bubbly and friendly radio DJ shared some interesting facts with us.

For instance, did you know that radio DJs do not play songs at their own whim and fancy? The music director curates music playlists to ensure a good mix of songs and genre for the radio station instead. Well, now you know.

WHO: Justin Ang, 30.
OCCUPATION: Assistant programme director

Tell us more about yourself.

It sounds cliché but my hobby is radio. When I am hanging out with my friends or on the Internet, I am always thinking about what to talk about on the radio.

How and why did you become a radio DJ?

I have always loved talking. Since I was young, I had this fascination with microphones. Every time I see a microphone, I just had to talk into it!

When I was 16, I took part in a DJ competition and won. The prize was a contract with a radio station. I later chose to study mass communications in Ngee Ann Polytechnic, which has a direct link to radio. In a way, winning did influence my course choice, and I learnt more about radio in school while working with the radio station.

How long have you been in this industry, and how has it changed over the years?

I have been doing this for 14 years, and the industry has changed in leaps and bounds. When I first started, the Internet was just starting out. There was no such thing as social media, and there was little chance to interact with our listeners and fans. They had to call, send letters or even use IRC chat.

Today, listeners can give you feedback in a hundred different ways even if you do not ask for it. But we see it as a fantastic thing. It is always good to hear from and interact with our listeners.

Describe a typical day at work.

It depends. Since I am also the assistant programme director, I manage the radio station too. I work with the sales team to bring in revenue, I work with the DJs on their programmes and I work on my own show as well.

For a typical radio DJ, the four-hour show is one element. Preparing for the show takes another one to two hours in the studio researching for content or doing production work.

DJs also host events or do voice-overs. Most days, it is at least eight to nine hours of work.


Do you have any memorable experiences as a radio DJ?

While I was reading the news one day, one of the soundproof panels on the wall just came crashing down and I was stunned for about five seconds on air. In a ‘live’ environment, it is inevitable that things will happen, but the fun part is dealing with it.

Burping, sneezing and coughing happen all the time. One of the things I learnt in radio school is to never apologise for anything. If you sneeze and apologise profusely, you are just bringing attention to your mistake. If you keep going, no one is going to notice it.

What are some of the challenges that you face as a radio DJ?

The audience keeps changing. We broadcast to half a million listeners everyday and if one person is not happy and they know who to complain to, you could get into trouble. We cannot please everybody, but we will try our best.

Another challenge we face is the advent of many distractions like iTunes and YouTube. We live in a very “I-want-it-now-and-I-must-have-it-now” generation, but radio does not always work like that. Radio is a very curated playlist, so we have to use our personalities to draw people.


What advice would you give to youths considering an occupation as a radio DJ?

If it is something you really want to do, work towards it. Whether it is taking up mass communication in school or going to Singapore Media Academy for radio courses, work towards it. But do not put all your eggs in one basket.

Radio is a rather small industry. There are about 19 stations in Singapore, with about six DJs each. If you do the math, that is less than a hundred DJs. There aren’t always vacancies, but if you are really serious about it, learn about it and send in your demos. Sometimes, it is about timing and luck as well.


Educational requirements: To be a radio presenter, it is good to specialise in related fields like mass communications for a better foundation.
Qualities needed: An incredible and infectious personality, good voice quality, good diction and the attitude to learn and improve.
Working hours: At least eight to nine hours. It also depends on your engagements, such as hosting events.
Salary range: Starting pay ranges from $2,000 to $3,500.
Career prospects/advancements/specialisations: Promotions and marketing for the radio station, music director, creative producer, hosting, voice-over work. Once you move up the ranks, you can become a programme director, where you run the radio station.

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