There are no shortcuts to any place worth going. People, situations and so many other factors will try to stop you from moving forward. Let’s simply put that the road to where you wanna be will be packed. You have to brace yourself and be prepared of the many rejections and heartbreaking realities that are yet to turn up. No matter how talented you are or how much of an edge you have, not everyone gets it at first try. Well, that’s just how life goes.
The competition at any field can get a little tough. Today, it’s not just about how good you are at a skill, and DJ Dom of 97.9 Home Radio can testify that there’s no such thing as shortcuts to where you want to go. You might think he got it on his first shot. You might think that because he’s got the voice and the ability that a qualified jock must possess, he got chosen the moment he stepped on his first audition. Well, it was definitely a more interesting story than that.
In 2009, Dominic Nicolas at 16 was a student at the University of the Philippines in Baguio. Being a fan of Manila’s Magic 89.9 and RX 93.1, he tried to search for a similar music station and was able to find K-Lite 96.7 FM through a friend. He shares, “I was 16 then, had very poor English skills and lacked self-confidence but for some reason, they asked me to record a voice profile. I was called back a couple of weeks later, and then I started training.” It was an almost-beginning of his career but he admits that he didn’t get to do his very best on his first air check. “My nerves got the best of me so my on air performance got really, really, really bad. I wasn’t hired right away.” But because he was persistent and he wanted to be part of the station, he gave himself time to prepare for another audition. “I had to wait for another 3 years. K-Lite announced that they will be having a radio broadcast workshop [on the] summer of 2012. When I got in, I made sure that I will make a good impression. The rest is history.”
And the rest was indeed history. DJ Domino was finally heard on the airwaves. He was living the dream, as he recalls that he was a high school kid who locked himself inside his room to record spiels, song intros and extros. K-Lite 96.7 FM gave him the beginning of a blossoming career and he has made a name for himself in the city. But in 2014, he decided to take a leap from his comfort zone and tried out for Manila radio. But what was expected to be like a walk in the park turned out to be the other way around as he didn’t fully anticipate the huge competition that was going on in the big city. “When I left Baguio in 2014, I thought landing on an FM station would be quite easy because of my experience in K-Lite Baguio. Well, I was wrong. I tried contacting different stations, I sent voice profiles and on air recordings – I think almost everything to get noticed— but no one called back. Not even once. So, I figured that maybe Manila radio’s not really meant for me.”
Eventually, the turn of events didn’t go as planned so he ventured into other career options. “I went on doing other things: teaching English online, conducting trainings, hosting events and working full time as an activity facilitator at KidZania Manila, but something felt missing— I realized how much I missed radio.”
As it was dawning on him that Manila radio isn’t in the cards for him, it so happened that he was on his way home, and he heard a radio plug from 97.9 Home Radio and they were apparently looking for student jocks. It hit him like a light bulb. Technically, he was enrolled in graduate school during that time, so what are the odds? He decided to give himself another try. He went to the station, was asked to record, and got a call back. And let’s just say that it was the moment he was waiting for. He got in.
Today, he is beginning to make waves on Manila’s radio industry as DJ Dominic. It was undeniably fulfilling to finally get the job, he says, and to be heard on air once again took a long shot for the 24-year-old. As one of Home’s newest jocks, he shares that he realized how he missed everything that the business offers, especially the best thing about it, which he says are undoubtedly the listeners. “Getting reactions from your listeners will always motivate you and make your heart healthy!” What else excites him as a jock? “Pulling off amazing song transitions— also bonding with fellow DJs.”
You may wonder how a jock transforms from who he really is and to the person that he is on air. “I’d like to think that I’m the same person on air and off air but to tell you the truth, there was a time when I had to ‘manufacture’ DJ Domino to be the on-air boyfriend (laughs).” He admits that there can also be pressure when you’re expected to be unique and different from all the other on-air personalities around, especially in a place like Manila. “There’s a lot of pressure for DJ’s to have a standout personality and I can’t stress enough how important this is when you’re going against several, talented radio personalities.” He also shares his thoughts on how social media changed the industry. “From my years of experience in radio, I’ve observed how the industry works, or has probably evolved. You need more than just an amazing voice. You also need to literally look like your voice. You know how interconnected all forms of media are today? You can’t just do board work without fixing your hair or dressing properly because people can now see you through video streaming! That’s what I want to point out. There’s no mystery anymore and people would know if the person behind the voice fabricates a personality.”
So who is DJ Dom, really? “I can be two different persons on air and off air. Without the mic in front of me, I’m a really shy, reserved and soft-spoken guy, though I know my friends won’t believe me. However, over the years, I think I was able to incorporate how I wanted to sound on air in my daily interactions with people. I can still be very shy but I think this shy personality is continuously evolving to become ‘charming’ and eventually, be boyfriend material (laughs).” When asked about who kicked up inspiration for him to be a radio jock, he reveals that it was Mo Twister’s wit, Boom Gonzales’ mixing skills and Gino Quillamor’s on-air charm that tapped him to be who he is today.
Now that he is back on air, he admits that he still receives criticism, just as how everyone does, but he believes that it all boils down to perspectives. “It would be pretentious to say that criticisms never pull me back, because they really do, but they never stop me.” He also tries to live by what his mentor once said to him, “Always remember that you were chosen to be in that position. Show them what you got and be better and better.” In fact, the criticism urges him to work harder. “If the reactions are more on the negative side, it’s still great because you get to motivate yourself to do better and better.”
There is no doubt that getting out of the locality is a big leap and not everyone does that. It can be scary. Sometimes, proximity plays a role in reaching for a goal and it can be harder for people who are living far from the big city, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. For DJ Dom’s case, he was able to get out of his comfort zone, and it may have taken him some time to heat things up, he was still able to make things happen for him. He shares about what he realized over the whole experience, “Take calculated risks. Don’t just jump without a plan. As a brave soul, I learned that the hard way. It’s great to be bold but being impulsive can be dangerous. What you need is a good balance between taking risks and being practical.”
He also shares about him wanting to fulfill things at an early age. It may seem rewarding to accomplish something huge as a teenager, but he stresses that being a year older doesn’t make you less capable of reaching for one’s desires, “I wanted to get stuck at 16 because I thought being a radio DJ at 16 is cool. Well it is, but now I realize that growth is more important. I got to know someone who started going on-air at 14 but ultimately decided not to come back to radio. And then, I met someone who has been so passionate about radio since high school but became a full time jock at 38!” Eventually, he discovered that anyone can still do many incredible things no matter what age he or she has. “I used to think that I’d ‘expire’ at 25 but now that I’m a few months away from that age, I still feel that there’s so much for me to learn and experience.“
In fact, most people feel that it is necessary to start a career early or do things that you love when you are very young. While fulfilling dreams at a young age may sound exciting, it is still guaranteed that it is never too late to start anything. He shares, “You’re never too young or too old to do the things that you love, and be great at it!”
So what is his advice for people who want to head on to a different path but is afraid to take the chance? “If you’re feeling a bit stuck, remember that there’s always a way to solve problems. If you can’t do it alone, ask for help. If you start hating being at the same place and doing the same things over and over, ask yourself twice if you can still be productive. If ‘no’ persists, maybe that’s the signal for you to go elsewhere. You wouldn’t want to hate the place, dream, person or job you once loved.”
Talent can definitely take you places, but without drive, passion and persistence, nothing will ever be fulfilled. Nothing will ever be handed down to you because of what you have, because it is a matter of what you do with what you have. For DJ Dom, the price of patience and determination costed him a lot of time, but he surely got the break he was waiting for— most probably at the right time. Perhaps it was meant that he had to take the long cut. Had he been hired right away in 2014, he would have missed out on all the other experiences that he did over the past three years. Life can be tricky and unpredictable, but it’s a thrilling ride. The road to where he wanted to go had unfortunate slopes, but he kept up with the bent and took one more shot.
There are no shortcuts to any place worth going, and now that he’s right where he’s supposed to be, it’s fair to say that real success doesn’t happen overnight. In fact, wherever life takes him now— on the radio industry or maybe somewhere else, it is guaranteed that he’s learned so much from his determination.
Catch DJ Dominic on 97.9 Home Radio every weekend!