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Radio presenters vs. Radio Djs what set them apart?

Posted by radio On May - 30 - 2013

[By: Boitumelo Mmakou]


It wasn’t till I switched stations from jamming to the Stir Up, a hip-hop show on 5 FM on a Sunday night to tuning to the more politically and socially driven radio station Talk Radio 702, that it dawned me how drastically different in content, and the hosts of the shows were from each other, which for me pointed out quite clearly what could be the difference between a radio Dj, and a radio presenter.


A radio hosts such as the one I had been listening to on 5FM is more of a disc jockey because she had primarily focused on playing music, and her show was more music driven than talking. This may or may not have been the very main thing that sets the two apart however, radio presenters are set to follow scripts, with content during links. The radio presenter is one that may do a lot more talking whether through pronouncing traffic news, doing sports, or doing weather reports. Radio presenters also conduct interviews with the guests, and do more interaction with the listeners. They carry a lot more work than a radio disc jockey would do.


Often, radio presenters carry required skills in being presenters in order to present their job well. A radio presenter may also have an appropriate degree or diploma in broadcasting, or even radio production, and know how to technically run the show they do. Institutions such as Boston Media House, Rosebank College as well as Witwatersrand Radio Academy to name a few are some of the places one would acquire radio skills. They assist the presenter, in knowing how to do programming for a show, how to produce, construct material, preparing the script, improvise, and control the technical duties.


Some radio stations such as 5FM will have radio Disc Jockeys (Dj’s) as well as radio presenters, hosting shows in the same way. According to Tim Zunckel, program manager at 5FM the biggest difference between a radio Dj and radio presenter is that, a presenter would often have content, and a Dj is someone that does music, “in the old days someone that does radio would be called a radio Dj because it was a generic thing, they were a Dj, they spun a lot of music themselves in the studio, as time has moved on the need for content driven shows has made space for radio presenters, and radio personality”, says Tim.

Tim also states that there is a difference between the radio presenters and radio personalities. Radio personalities come with that x-factor of which the audience would be attracted to, and radio presenters are given content to share with the audience, with a production team behind them. “From a 5FM perspective we have radio personalities who may be called radio presenters, or radio Dj’s in publications or on TV. We do have Dj’s who are disc jockey’s or club guys, who play music and are specialists in their genre and field of music, Ms Cosmo, Euphonik and Milkshake would be a great example of people who have evolved in the music scene and have connections and contacts to host a specialized music show’’, adds Tim.


Over time some radio presenters have also become Dj’s, and that would then make them radio presenters and Dj’s. Radio Dj’s are those that would sample a mix, and play it on a show, were as a radio presenter would have more personality and content for a show, despite the fact that they are also Dj’s. Overtime radio Dj’s do build up a personality while doing a show, so those who may be listening in on a show and won’t necessarily like the music would still listen because they enjoy the radio Dj’s personality on the show.



The duties which radio presenters do, often if at all, set them apart from the radio Dj. Ms Cosmo the Dj, is a club Dj, and also a television and radio disc jockey meaning she plays a music set not only on Channel O but also for her show the Stir Up on 5FM ; “in my opinion they are different views to it all, you could be a radio presenter just because you are holding down a three hour show, but if you are purely just playing music then you are a radio Dj. My show is a specialist show, I only come in once a week, so unlike the other shows that may be weekday shows, which are more scripted and have content for each day, and may also have a music composer and have no control of the music on the show, my show plays mainly hip-hop music of which I choose, the show is about the music and getting people to be captivated by the music. People like myself and Dj Milkshake, or Euphonik are more club Dj’s who want to share our music with everyone else on radio. I do need content though, because I have to talk with the audience during the show “says Ms Cosmo. Radio Dj’s may also be presenters as well, a number of Dj’s will be music orientated on their shows, but also have a content full show, with a script.



Dj Fresh a 5FM afternoon drive time host of “The Fresh Drive”, is a radio Dj and presenter, he works with his producer to create content for each show, he may follow a script, have ad lib’s, and host guests, but also has a segment on the show which introduces music mixes done by him or other Dj’s. Radio Dj’s will often have requests to play outside of the show at clubs, parties, and other events, radio presenters do not. ”I think what the radio industry has realized is that music has evolved over time and people can source music anywhere, they wouldn’t have to listen to a radio show to hear music, that’s why now, having a show with a presenter that has personality keeps the listener tuned in”, says Tim. 




In retrospect radio Dj’s may not necessarily be of any different to radio presenters if the two are the same person. Radio Dj’s may be there for the music, but may also produce content, interact with the audience, and conduct interviews Depending on the type of radio station radio Dj’s could live apart from radio presenters, Talk radio 702 will have more presenters than radio Dj’s, however stations such as Metro FM, Y FM and 5FM will be more music and personality driven combining both radio Dj’s with radio presenter. Thus, it is not about the two against each other, but rather one becoming the other to produce greatly constructed shows with content, straight forward links, with a radio host that interacts with listeners, and plays good music throughout the show.


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