All in the mind

You don’t have to do media studies to become a DJ – Xfm star Rick Shaw talks to Dan Poole

Rick Shaw may have eschewed media training in favour of a psychology degree, but a flair for broadcasting soon got him tuned in to a career in radio, working his way up the ranks from his local radio station to the lofty position he currently occupies on XFM’s morning show. YouCan spoke to the Sony Award-winning DJ about university life, avoiding comedy cul-de-sacs and his advice on a media career.

You went to the University of Liverpool – did you enjoy your time there?

Yeah, it’s a brilliant city for students. We had a really good relationship with the locals, there is plenty of nightlife, a good music scene and really good facilities. Personally speaking I didn’t want to go too far from home, which made it ideal because I’m from Leeds –though I was far enough away to escape the influence of my parents!

What made you decide to study for a psychology degree?

On leaving school I didn’t really have a clear idea of what sort of field I wanted to go into, so I decided on a degree that would be relevant to any number of careers I wanted to pursue. I thought psychology would give me a good understanding of why people behave in the ways that they do.

Did you work hard?

For the first two years I didn’t really do much work as I hadn’t taken a gap year after leaving school, so the freedom was extremely appealing. In the second year I did a little bit more, but still not a great deal. However, by the third year I realised I had to start knuckling down and doing some work!

How did you get into radio?

I love music and listened to a lot of radio growing up, so I got involved with the campus radio station while at university. I found I had a bit of a flair for it but I didn’t really expect it to come to much. I sent demo tapes of stuff I had done to stations across the country, and after hundreds of rejection letters I got a positive response from Radio City in Liverpool. I worked there in my third year and got offered a full-time show, but it would have meant jacking in my degree so in the end I rejected it. Eight months later another position came up at the station and I ended up staying there for three years.

After that I found out that Kerrang! Radio was about to launch in Birmingham, so I went down there, managed to get a job with them and did the morning show for three-and-ahalf years. I ended up winning a Sony Award before moving to XFM in January 2007.

What does your job involve?

I present the morning programme from 9am until 1pm. It’s predominantly a music show, but I produce it myself so I have to devise features to run between the records.

I get into work around 7.30am and do some quick research before I go on at 9am. We finish the show at 1pm and have a debriefing session with the senior producer before starting work on the next day’s show, so I very rarely leave before 5pm. People think that presenters on radio stations just do the show and go, but it’s not really like that any more.

We like to have plenty of interaction with the callers so it involves going through the papers to find out what’s going on in the world and seeing if we can deliver it in a way that will appeal to our audience. It’s quite a difficult trick to pull off, because the link material has to be interesting, entertaining and topical but also succinct and snappy, so that the next record is only moments away.

It’s about finding a balance really. I usually know how I’m going to get out of every link, because there is nothing worse than hearing a presenter walk into a comedy cul-de-sac.

What do you like about the job?

I love the music we play and the interaction with the audience. I get an immense buzz out of it on a good day, when the audience become part of the show and really get involved in it.

Any advice for budding DJs out there?

I think it is important to get some kind of educational back-up, because the broadcasters who are going to enjoy the most success in the future are the ones who can turn their hand to a number of different tasks. You don’t necessarily need to have a media studies degree though – people who work here have history degrees and science degrees, for example. The fact is that if you have a flair for a certain element of the media then you can get on in the industry that way, building up contacts who can help you in your career.

Rick Shaw presents the Morning Show on Xfm from Monday to Friday between 9am and 1pm. You can listen in on 104.9 FM in London and 97.7FM in Manchester, or visit www.xfm.co.uk

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Ashdown Group: Graduate Developer - Surrey - £25,000

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Graduate Developer - Croy...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Marketing & Social Media Executive

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a Marketing Graduate or...

Ashdown Group: Graduate Developer (Trainee) - City, London

£25000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A large financial services company...

Recruitment Genius: Financial Services Graduate Training Scheme

£20000 - £100000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are a successful and establ...

SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory