Here’s what a veteran DJ says you should do to get on the radio

Dean Hill will sign and not return to the Vancouver airwaves.

Rock 101’s Dean Hill hadn’t planned on being on the air for almost 50 years when he was younger.

His road to radio first took a detour to a sawmill on Vancouver Island. One day he had a small accident.

“The paramedic in the back of the ambulance looked at me bleeding in the back and said, ‘Maybe that’s not your job,'” Hill said. Vancouver is great.

Once he recovered, he took that advice and his interest in music and record players, and introduced himself to CKDA, a radio station in Victoria. They liked his stuff, hired him, and he spent the next 47 years on the air, with stops in Calgary and Toronto before returning to the West Coast.

“The only job I ever asked for was to leave Toronto,” he says; which led him to CFOX in Vancouver.

Within a few years he moved to Rock 101 (a station manager hired him over the phone while Hill was in a hotel in Singapore), CKLG where he and the morning show team won a national award , then back to Rock 101 where he had been for over a quarter of a century, starting in 1995.

Leaving Vancouver for a cooler place

“It’s kinda weird, it’s scary, it’s kinda exciting, it’s also timing,” Hill said of his impending retirement. “It’s been 26, 27 years at Rock 101.”

“I found out by chance the other day that I’ve been doing radio for 47 years.”

During those years, he rubbed shoulders with rock legends (“ACDC’s Malcolm Young sent me a cigarette at the Coliseum”), watched the industry go from vinyl to digital, and was sent to Disneyland several times. to work (including a tour of the theme park’s Matterhorn Secret Room).

It’s one of the things Hill is grateful for in his career, the adventure he’s had, with highlights like MCing for the Who and interviewing Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant twice.

“It’s been, just, nothing but fun,” he says.

Some of that fun has been lost over the past two years, as the pandemic has turned the Rock 101 office (along with many others) into a lonely place. Only a handful of people have worked on the same floor as Hill these days.

At the same time, big city life exhausts him.

“I don’t enjoy Vancouver as much as I did in the late 70s. It’s a different place. I’m moving to Nanaimo, it’s cooler, there are no bridges, traffic is better,” he says.

The slow pace will match his plans to dive headfirst into “all the things you’re supposed to do in retirement” like travelling, meeting new people and joining clubs.

Dean Hill’s advice for future radio DJs

With decades in the radio booth, Hill has collected some tips and advice for those aspiring to get on the air themselves.

“You can’t graduate from broadcasting school and expect to get a job at CFOX,” he says. “You have to start small and learn to do everything; news, sports, be a DJ, know the music well, make sure you pronounce names correctly.”

It means leaving Vancouver for a smaller market.

“You have to get out of Vancouver, you have to go to a small town,” he says.

Another is to make sure you’re relevant to listeners when talking to them and avoid talking about yourself.

“Give me something I can use; be relevant and be local,” he says, noting that he’s a detail-oriented guy, which has helped him avoid some pitfalls.

By following this advice, he was able to have a long career on the local airwaves and he is grateful to people who spend time listening.

“It’s been a great career and I just want to thank everyone for listening,” he says.

“If you’ve ever listened to my show, I really appreciate it and I love you for it, whatever station it may have been on,” he adds.

Hill’s final show will be on Rock 101 (101.1 FM) in Vancouver on Friday, July 15, 2022.

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