Radio Presenter - Job Profile
About the role
Radio Presenters are the front of house for a radio station or programme and bring the station to life. Be it a talk station or a music station radio presenters are employed to create that touch of radio magic to the style of the output and embody the heart and soul of the radio station. Radio presenters inform, provoke, entertain and enlighten the listening audience thus creating a relationship with them.
In smaller stations radio presenters are required to undertake many other jobs such as creating content for the stations website, podcast downloads and attending outside broadcasts and events. Radio presenters work as a small team in a station and are assigned to different day parts depending on their presentation style and the stations programming.
Many presenters are self employed (freelance) and work on a fixed term contract for say 2 -3 years. Presenters work on many different types of stations from local commercial, BBC local, regional. Student. Hospital. community, satellite and DAB.
If you can think of a style or genre there will be a station for it and all will be manned by presenters catering for all types of audiences. From talk shows to, comedy, documentary to music and speech based radio they all need presenters to link the content together. Presenters can be expected to work different shift patterns from early mornings to overnights to weekends and bank holidays. Most stations are now becoming automated so overnights and bank holidays can be pre recorded to give the on air staff some time off.
Presenters are expected to understand the format, style and objectives of the station they are presenting on. They need to be aware of the target audience the station is aiming for and to present in a style that meets those needs.
Some presenters work on live or recorded shows, some may be scripted but the vast majority are not. A presenter needs to be knowledgeable about the subject matter they are presenting and be able to think on their feet, act quickly to changing situations and remain impartial.
Radio presenters are expected to prepare their show in advance and generate original programming ideas. Some may have a producer but in commercial radio if it’s not the breakfast show then the content will usually be self created.
A radio presenter will also need to be technically competent to be able to present the show whilst also working the studio equipment. They will be expected to handle interviews over the phone, run competitions, link outside broadcast and follow all programme broadcast regulations and guidance.
Radio presenters need to have the ability to back time and be able to take direction from other members of the team or a producer. Radio presenters are required to review their own output and seek feedback on their performance, take on board listener feedback and monitor complaints.
The modern radio presenter will be involved in many different streams of media such as creating podcasts, generating website content, writing on the station blog, posting items and photos to facebook and tweeting on twitter.
Typical career routes
There is no clear career path in radio presenting and there are no set rules to advancing to the next stage. Radio presenters have traditionally acquired their skills with hands on experience gained from working in hospital radio, student or community radio. Some presenters have entered the industry after studying an undergraduate degree or a post-graduate Diploma or MA in Radio or Media Production at college or university. Others have worked their way up to presenting from entry level positions within the radio station, from there moved to more mainstream time slots and then progressed to national shows.
Some radio presenters can be recruited due to their specialist knowledge or because of their celebrity status. Some presenters moved to radio from TV and some radio presenters have crossed over to working in TV.
To achieve promotion or career progression as a radio presenter involves moving up to a larger station or move to a different time slot that has a larger audience such as a breakfast or afternoon drive slot. Many radio presenters move on to more senior roles such as the programme controller or station manager.
Essential knowledge and skills
Radio Presenters need the following:
Possessing excellent oral communication and presentation skills
Having the capacity to work to a rigid schedule and manage their time effectively whilst working under pressure
Being up to date with current affairs and possessing research skills which can ensure accuracy of the information they are presenting on the air
Having the ability to create dynamic and original shows consistently
Having an easy-going sense of humour which appeals to the masses
Having a bubbly and outgoing personality which people are drawn to
Ability to generate original ideas, and to think creatively about how to communicate them
An understanding of how to use the voice effectively for radio
Ability to build credibility and rapport by communicating knowledgably and engagingly with audiences
Excellent interpersonal skills and the ability to draw information from people
Knowledge of the radio market, different station and programme styles, and audience demographics
A comprehensive knowledge of subjects relevant to the radio genre in which they wish to work
Ability to work independently but also efficiently as part of a team
Self-motivation and adaptability
Knowledge of media law and legislation, ethics and industry regulation as they affect radio presentation
Knowledge of the requirements of the relevant Health and Safety legislation and procedures
A high level of IT skills working audio play out software / music editing software
Ability to learn how to use a variety of recording equipment and to operate different radio studios
Ability to present while operating studio controls and co-ordinating a range of simultaneous technical activities
Training & qualifications
When PC’s are looking to recruit a new radio presenter their primary aim is to look for hands on experience that has been gained over time. Most PC’s would prefer to employ somebody that has taken the time to hone and craft their skills than somebody that has attended a media course at University. A degree is not essential for this role, skill and personality are.
Some presenters start out in roles such as technical operators or roadshow crew and then take the opportunity to develop their skills until such time as they can secure a role in the presentation team. Some presenters in larger organisations have attended development schemes although these schemes are very few and far between.
Many University and higher education establishments offer media courses. It is a good idea to check that these do in fact deliver a good grounding in radio presentation and that it is a course employers are looking for when recruiting.
Training for radio presenters is an ongoing process to keep their skills and knowledge up to date and to introduce them to new technologies. This can take the form of in house training courses or via the more formal qualification route. Training is usually dependent on the organisation, its size and budget available.
What can I expect to get paid?
Salaries vary widely, ranging from £14,000 for a presenter starting out on a local radio station to more than £150,000 for the best-known celebrity presenters. Many work freelance.
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