Starting a Radio Career: Advice from Radio Veteran Shellie Hart

shellie hart starting a radio career

Shellie Hart in the early days of her radio career

Seattle radio host Shellie Hart started out with a plan to be a TV news broadcaster, but the exploding music scene in the late 80’s changed all of that, “Early Hip-Hop/Rap, New Wave, Punk, and the Seattle rock scene (later to be known as grunge) were all erupting. I was convinced the local radio scene was missing something and I was going to change that.”

Hart spent a year hosting a Wednesday and Saturday radio show for free, refining her hosting skills and building her ‘aircheck’ until her big break came at Seattle hip-hop/rap station KUBE 93.

“Once I was in, I made myself available for anything and everything.  I tried to learn every-part of the business and was incredibly eager to take on all challenges.”

Starting a Radio Career: Advice from Radio Veteran Shellie Hart #radiojobs Click To Tweet

With over 20 years of experience in the radio industry, Shellie Hart has learned all facets of the business and shares her thoughts on starting a radio career with us:

Take us back to the beginning, what was your strategy for getting your first job on air?

Hart: After volunteering for a year at a local station, I focused on networking with the music directors of both KUBE 93 and KPLZ by making myself as visible as possible. I went to all the events and constantly slipped whoever I could the demo of my show.  Eventually, KUBE hired me in 1990 to do a mix show on Saturday nights called HOTMIX.

snoop dogg shellie hart radio career

Shellie Hart representing the Mariners with Snoop Dogg

During my 20 years at KUBE and Clear Channel, I was Music Director, Program Director, Digital Content Coordinator, Operations Manager, Air-Personality and at times two or three of those roles at one time.  We had other stations that I programmed like Funky Monkey 104.9, Q-Country 102.9 which I launched, Gen-X and I consulted outside of the market.

That was probably the most memorable part of my radio career.  KUBE was instrumental in breaking so many artists like Boyz II Men, Dre, Snoop, TLC, Mary J. Blige…I could go on for days.  It was a pretty crazy time.

If someone walked up to you today and said, “I want a radio career!” What advice would you give them?

Hart: Get an internship ASAP!  When you get it, become known as the ‘yes’ person, willing to learn and do everything.

Stations are downsizing and bigger companies are consolidating, syndicating and importing talent from other markets. BUT, they are also always looking for talent, be willing to throw yourself into every opportunity and network like crazy.

Become known as the ‘yes’ person, willing to learn and do everything #careeradvice Click To Tweet

Once you get on air, the best advice I can give is to be yourself, absorb everything going on around you and learn to manage ‘up’.  Act like your own boss and be assertive and vocal about goals.

Radio is a personal relationship with the audience, be honest, real and fun and you will succeed.

Radio is a personal relationship w/ an audience, be real & fun & you will succeed Click To Tweet
p diddy shellie hart radio career

Do you think this picture was with Puff Daddy, Diddy, P. Diddy or Sean Combs?

You’ve worked at hip-hop, modern rock and soft hits stations – is that just based on opportunity, or is that how your tastes have changed?

Hart: I’m a music person; I listen to and love so many types.

I love Top 40, (I’m a total pop-culture nerd) and I love Hip-Hop/Rap and Oldskool.  I’m sentimental when it comes to ‘Grunge’ rock, and the influences it has on music today, having been such a strong part of the music scene. The 90’s we’re amazing, radio was finally playing what Gen-X wanted to hear.

Today it’s all about choice and opportunity.  I stepped away from programming and music director duties a while ago.  Today’s commercial radio, with consolidation and new rating systems, has kinda taken’ the fun and risk out of breaking ‘new’ music sounds.

You’re currently on the air from 9a-2p weekdays, run us through what a day on the job is like for you.

Hart: I get in around 8, go through show-prep services and try to get a snapshot of the day to be relevant and engaged without being too invasive.  Hosting a midday show is not as in-your face as a morning show since most of the audience is listening while at work.

shellie hart warm 106.9 radio career

Hart currently hosts midday radio on Warm 106.9 in Seattle, a slightly slower pace than her hip-hop/rap station days.

Then I’ll voice commercials, endorsement spots, meet and brainstorm with our sales team and or clients for sponsorship integration and marketing ideas.  I’m also the on-court Emcee for the Seattle Storm of the WNBA, so during the season I’ll go from WARM 106.9 right to basketball at Key Arena.  I also host and emcee several events around the Puget Sound.  I’m busier now, than when I first started!

Did you have any mentors coming up in the industry and if so is there any advice they gave you that sticks out to you today? 

Hart: Back then, not really, which is kind of a bummer.  So many women just read ‘liner’ cards or did traffic.  I wanted to break that mold, and just be me.  Relevant, fun, local and engaged.  I think that worked out ok.

Key Takeaways from “Starting a Radio Career: Advice from Radio Veteran Shellie Hart”

  • Get internships and learn everything you can. An internship is your first opportunity to show music directors you have potential and are worthy of a full-time job.
  • While on your internship, don’t say “no” to anything, do it all.
  • Develop an aircheck of your best on air work so you have something you can present to music directors.
  • Radio is about a relationship with the audience, be yourself and have fun!
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About Brian Clapp

Brian Clapp has worked in the broadcast media for over 14 years as a writer, editor, producer & news director. After beginning his career in Atlanta at CNN/Sports Illustrated, he switched coasts to Seattle to work at Fox Sports Northwest. In 2010, Brian began pursuing a new found passion on the digital media side, launching a successful website and then taking on the role of Director of Content for WorkinSports.com & WorkinEntertainment.com.

Recently Brian has become addicted to Google+ and LinkedIn so add him to your circles and make him a contact. No seriously, you should.

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