After growing up in the United States for most of her life, Kim Hanna first came to South Korea in 2011 where she began her career as a radio DJ. However, her ultimate goal was not continuing her career in this field. It was becoming a program host for the PyeongChang Winter Olympics.
Soon after succeeding in achieving her dream in PyeongChang, Kim arrived at a life crossroads – she could not decide her next step. Then she was offered a radio host job on an interactive show for an English-speaking radio channel TBSefm. Kim soon found that the new radio hosting job reignited her passions.
“Each and every conversation with my listeners on the show means so much to me,” Kim said. “If I had to pick the most memorable moment working as a DJ, my choice would be meeting my audience in person.”
Radio is different. It does not have the visual inputs that TV has, making programs much more reliant on the host and how they hold themselves with the conversations they have about topics or with guests.
“A radio personality has to be likable,” Kim said. “It is not about voice nor pronunciation. They have to relate to the audience and empathize with them. That is what makes people come to you. I think people like my show because I am real and I am honest. I tell them the truth, not what they want to hear.”
Becoming a likable radio host does not happen overnight and depends on years of built-up experience. Kim worked as a presenter at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, TV weather forecaster, and voice actor. Presenting in front of thousands of people and multiple live experiences helped her gain expertise to become a better radio DJ.
“I received several job offers as a radio DJ before, but the show would not have been successful if I accepted then,” Kim said. “Experiences made me who I am today.”
Part of this experience was Kim’s background growing up in the U.S. and moving to South Korea to open another chapter of her life. Kim says her radio show is her way of creating a bridge between cultures and is her attempt at closing the cultural gaps to unite Korean and English speakers.
For students, especially those aspiring to become TV presenters or radio hosts, Kim recommends trying everything.
“First of all, whatever you want to try – just pursue it,” Kim said. “Try it first, rather than later regretting not trying it. Trying and not succeeding is not a failure, it is a new challenge.”
Conventional wisdom often says that in order to become an announcer, people must study professionally before making it a career. For Kim, however, this orthodox path does not make sense.
“I have never done such studies nor gone to academies,” Kim said. “If you want to work in a certain industry, you need to be an expert in it.”
Kim started off her first job in the broadcasting industry as an intern at Arirang TV. She was neither an announcer nor a DJ. Then the opportunity came to her, and she was ready to catch it.
“Instead of going to academies, I listen to other radio channels,” Kim said. “Whenever I am in the car, I do not listen to music. I only listen to the radio to learn from other hosts and what to do and what not to do.”
“Another thing in life people do not teach you is that you need to know when to give up,” Kim said. “There are people meant to be announcers and people meant to be producers. Try everything, but if it does not work, make a quick transition to the next stage of life. You only live once but if you do it right once is enough.”