I was discussing this with an on-air personality from here on the east coast of Australia – they have been thinking long and hard about leaving their current position and wanted to know what I thought – this was way, WAY out of my comfort zone.
After much discussion they suggested that I should look at the reasons why DJ’s leave their on-air roles…
So after a month of research and asking different people from around the world – here are my top 10 reasons why they leave from 154 different people – if only management could see their way to fixing some of these issues – the on-air talent would not be so fluid!
Here are ten possible reasons why radio DJs leave their on-air jobs:
1. 36 said the left for Better Opportunities: Almost all that I spoke to had left one job or all of their jobs for a better opportunity, such as a higher-paying job, a position with a larger audience, or one that provides more creative freedom and job satisfaction.
2. 30 said they left due to Contract Disputes: The top common complaint was issues related to contracts, compensation, and negotiations can sometimes lead to frustration, which force their hand to leave their on-air jobs.
3. 23 resigned due to Personal Reasons: Some of the DJs I spoke to said that they had to leave one job or another due to personal reasons, such as family obligations, health issues, or relocation issues, and those reasons I can totally understand – especially after hearing the circumstances behind their choices.
4. 19 had left due to Station Changes: While not as common as you might think, changes in station management, format, or ownership can sometimes lead to DJs leaving their on-air jobs – most common though was a change of their direct line manager who “didn’t like me!” being a common thread.
5. Not as common as I thought was 15 who quit due to Creative Differences: Some had said good-bye to their very lucrative on-air jobs due to creative differences with station management or with co-workers. But it was still surprising to hear that people sighted this as a common reason to leave.
6. 11 left their positions due to Burnout: The stress and pressure of working in the entertainment industry can lead to burnout, I was amazed that this wasn’t the number one position, or in the top 5.
7. 7 felt they needed New Challenges: DJs have left their on-air positions to pursue new challenges or opportunities outside of radio, such as starting their own business or pursuing a different career. But it is amazing how many have come back to radio after they find that the grass isn’t always greener.
8. 6 left because of Industry Changes: Some stalwarts sighted changes in the radio industry, such as the rise of digital media and podcasting, which they saw as the death of radio, or alternatively, they left to pursue new opportunities in these emerging areas.
9. 4 due to Contract Expiration: When contract’s expire, some choose to leave for a new opportunity, negotiate a new contract, or take a break from the industry altogether; others are given no option by management and no new contract is presented – harsh treatment!
10. 3 resigned due to Unforeseen Circumstances: Sometimes, unforeseen circumstances such as accidents, family emergencies, or personal tragedies can lead to DJs leaving their on-air jobs. We have lost some amazing talent due to these circumstances, and while not much can be done – some lee-way or wiggle room should be allowed for people to deal with these circumstances as they arise.
So there you are, 100 people were asked, and they told me their stories, and also the stories of people that they had worked with and their reasons for leaving – 154 in total.
It was enlightening, sad, and sometimes I was shocked by the brutality of how they were dealt with. But as more than one person pointed out to me – that was their perspective on it and probably not what management thought – or what their workmates thought.
So in closing – be gentle with that on-air fellow staffer who has decided to pull the pin and move on, or if they are pushed – remember we all work in this industry together, and if we can help each other out – we will all be better off for it in the long run.