Whilst student radio is a dream playground for creativity, speaking to an audience that would never normally hear your views, and for making new friends, having a bit of a laugh, and playing some decent music really loudly in a studio – sometimes it can be a bit more than that. For some people, in doing student radio they can realise that ACTUALLY they don’t want to be an actuary/accountant/teacher/world leader/[insert you profession of choice here] but would rather be a presenter for the rest of their lives.

So what’s the next step?

Well, creating a demo.

This a short piece of audio that showcases **you** as a presenter, and therefore it’s got to be great. It’s got to showcase your best moments, capture the attention of the programme controller of a radio station, and it’s got to be something that sounds true to yourself. It sounds a bit daunting, and you’re going to have to learn a bit of audio editing software in order to put something together, but there’s no better time to start then now.

And remember – your demo should always be evolving. Don’t think that something that you put together two years ago will do the job. You should be constantly updating the content, constantly sending it off to different people, and constantly getting people’s opinions on your radio content all the time.

But, because we’re lovely here at the SRA, we want to help you out. So we’ve gathered together Top Tips from lots of people in the industry, including the people who will be listening to your demos, for these ten bits of advice…


1. Always put your best link first

It stands to reason that you want to capture people’s attention QUICKLY before they move on to the next demo. Programme controllers go through hundreds of demos, so DON’T leave your best until last. Put. It. First.


2. Don’t try and imitate your favourite radio presenter

You don’t need two of the same person on the radio. Be yourself and showcase why you are individual and different.


3. Know what you’re making a demo for

There’s no point doing a high energy ‘I know lots about music!’ demo – and then sending it to Radio 4. Likewise, don’t send your best newsreading clips to Capital – even if you have just broke the news that there is a 50 foot tall superbug climbing Big Ben and is about to shoot lasers at Buckingham Pal – nope – just my dream. Sorry.

ANYWAY, there is absolutely no harm in making more than one demo and tailoring them to the stations you’re going to send them to. After all, programme controllers want to know how you’d fit in with their station. You can also say things like ‘this is Emma and I’m here on Capital…’ as if you were already on the station. That’s fine too.


4. Don’t edit your links too much

Here I pass to Metro presenter Jonny Chambers on his top piece of advice:

Make sure you don’t edit your links to a point where they lose their structure, all good links follow a journey and your demo should too. Hook them in, weave a tale, and get out whilst they’re still laughing. – Jonny Chambers


5. Don’t use toilet humour or crass humour

It’s just kind of unnecessary and more than likely you’ll offend someone – or they just won’t find it funny!


And that time you were drunk and it was hilaaaaarious?! No. Just no.


6. Don’t use in-jokes

This was a bug bear of mine when I was demo-ing students for shows at my old student station. I don’t know who Liam the Lad is. I don’t know what a double, super vodka-bomb is. I don’t know of this really niche club that you’ve just name dropped. Unless you put some context behind WHY I’m about to find this story absolutely hilarious – rather than you just recounting your night out – I’m not going to be interested. And nor will anyone else be.


7. Try not to start with a celebrity endorsing your show

Yeah it’s pretty cool that you’ve got a sound bite of Greg James endorsing your show. But it’s not YOU. We want to hear YOU.


8. Don’t start your demo with a jingle

They’re kind of distracting. And it also leads back to Point One – start your demo with yourself, and use your best content so that Mr Programme Controller will fall in love with your voice immediately. Get straight in there!


9. Don’t take it personally

Radio is subjective. What some people like, others won’t, so try not to take it personally. – Paul Sylvester, Content Director, Absolute Radio.

Be persistent – take on any advice that industry folk are kind enough to give you, be polite (ALWAYS be polite!), work with that advice, and try, try, try again. And remember Point Three – maybe your voice and tone wouldn’t suit Heart – but it might be perfect for The Hits Radio!


10. Get lots of feedback and advice from people you trust

Another tip is get get as many people as you can to listen to it before submitting. Not just radio people but family and friends, random people as well, people who aren’t looking at it from a radio point of view, they are looking at it from a listener point of view. If you have a funny link in there, and your mate doesn’t laugh, maybe its not as funny as you thought. Its hard to be subjective to audio you’ve put together yourself, so get as many opinions as possible!

Then step back. Take a couple of days off to listen to their feedback – and go back to your demo with a new perspective.

Get people to listen to it and see what they think! Avoid asking your mum and dad but ask other student radio folk and people at the station you’re doing work experience for example – they’ll give you constructive feedback on how to make your [demo] the best it can be. – Hattie Pearson, Presenter, Radio X


Want to hear it from a radio professional at the top of their game? Have a listen to Absolute Radio’s Paul Sylvester, Content Director, who has these three minutes’ worth of tips to give you:

If you’re in need of some inspiration, then we put together this podcast a couple of months ago to prepare you for the National Student Radio Conference’s Demo Factor. Demo Factor is where your demos are played out in front of a panel of leading industry experts – and they decide if they like it. The twist? It’s played out in front of hundreds of your peers and industry experts!

The Demo Factor judges are responsible for putting some of the leading student radio talent on air, including George Godfrey of Absolute Radio, Mo Ayoub who is presenting on The Hits Radio, and Matt Curtis, who is currently presenting on Capital East Midlands after a show on Absolute Radio 90s.

And for those of you who would like to come to the National Student Radio Conference next year? Here’s one last bit of advice to perfect that demo:

Over and out – Emma Bradshaw (Content Officer) off of the SRA.