Learn How DJs Talk Right Up to the Vocal Perfectly

Talent and technology help DJs 'hit the post'

What to Know

  • Historically: 45s included a fixed amount of intro time. Magnetic tapes were coded to show how much time was allotted for the introduction.
  • Modern day: DJs use voice tracking. They record what they want to say and use technology to queue it in place between songs.
  • Some experienced DJs develop a second sense of how to hit the post to enhance the user experience.

This article explains how DJs talk right up to the vocal perfectly—a skill known as hitting the post.

Meaning of 'Hitting the Post'

Radio DJs seem to be able to smoothly introduce a song, speaking all the way through the song's introduction and then finishing just as the lyrics begin. They even seem to follow the flow of the instrumentals' beats and cadence.

This radio art form, where the DJ's timing is so perfect that they never step on the vocals, is referred to as hitting the post. Here's a look at what's involved with intros and outros when DJs seem to magically hit the post perfectly every time.

Disc jockey using turntable in a studio and smiling while speaking into the microphone
Marc Romanelli / Getty Images

Hitting the Post in the Past

Hitting the post has always required practice and talent because it's all about timing and having a feel for the song. Still, DJs have always had some help.

Before music was computerized, DJs used carts to hold songs or played music directly off special vinyl 45s. Record companies provided 45s pressed with a mono side and a stereo side (AM/FM). They often included a certain amount of intro time for the DJ's convenience.

Later, carts with magnetic tape became popular. The carts were always labeled, so DJs knew where the posts were in seconds. A typical label might have looked like this:


This notation indicated that there was a 10-second introduction until the vocals began. Also, the song was 3:42 minutes in length, and it faded toward the end.

When the DJs pushed a button to start the cart, a digital LED readout ticked off showing the point at which the vocals were approaching.

Some studios even provided countdown clocks tripped by an inaudible tone on the cart. This would let the DJ see the exact amount of time left before the vocals were to begin.

Hitting the Modern-Day Post

While DJs have always had a little help, making hitting the post sound good requires practice, timing, and even somewhat of a "third sense."

Think about it this way. When you're driving a car in traffic and you have to apply the brakes, you develop a feel for slowing down at a consistent pace over time so that you can stop just behind the car in front of you without hitting it. That's the kind of timing, or feel, DJs develop when it comes to talking over the music intros up to the exact point vocals begin.

These days, technology helps even more. With voice tracking, DJs can record what they want to say and physically place that recorded sound bite between songs.

Today, voice tracking can make even a less-experienced DJ sound perfect. Still, the old-school DJs who learned how to hit the post have developed a sense of timing and rhythm that elevates their talent and the listener's experience.

Was this page helpful?