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Radio Producer - Job Profile

About the role

You can find radio producers working in all kinds of stations from speech to music based. A producer’s main role is to shape and help produce the content that will be broadcast to the listening audience.

In addition to creating the on air content, radio producers will most often be involved in generating content for other mediums such as podcasts or the radio stations website. As well as coordinating the creative process they will also be involved in planning and managing the business and technical aspects of the radio programme.

Depending on the size of the station the radio producer’s role will vary somewhat and they will usually work in a small team which may include a presenter, researcher, broadcast assistant, studio manager and engineer. The majority of the time radio producers will work in an office and deal with a range of outside contacts each day, such as interviewees or band promoters. There will be occasions to get out of the office and manage outside broadcasts.

What is the Job?

Producers that work in commercial radio are mainly employed in music based programming. Producers in speech based stations can be involved in topical talk shows, dramas, documentaries and comedy. Working on live radio can involve a lot of pressure to produce the content on time to be broadcast. Radio producers can work long and unsocial hours in the evenings and at weekends to ensure deadlines are achieved.

Many producers work on a freelance basis and work for a variety of stations. Wherever they work they will be required to have a thorough understanding of the purpose and format of the station or the programme they are working on. Producers will need to understand the characteristics of the stations target audience and be knowledgeable about the content that they are generating to be broadcast.

Radio producers will be required to research their content and create and manage the whole production process. They will be expected to respond to listener’s queries or complaints and to oversee the department’s budgets. They should have an understanding of how to research via the internet, source material such as music and news clips and to ensure that all content collated has been cleared for copyright. Radio producers are expected to have a knowledge of all broadcast regulations, broadcast codes and legislation that relates to the content they are generating.

Radio producers need to be technically minded to be able to work all the equipment in a radio studio. They will be required to edit, mix and produce audio for broadcast, podcast and the stations website. More often than not producers will be working in many different media such as producing images and video for social sites such as Facebook, tweeting and writing daily blogs. Some producers will have the responsibility to oversee work of other production team members and be responsible for the commissioning of material from outside sources.

Typical career routes

There are 2 typical career paths. For those using the educational route into the industry: an undergraduate degree in Radio or Media Production; or a first degree in any subject, followed by a post-graduate Diploma or MA in Radio Production. The alternative path is working up through the ranks of a radio station or by enrolling on a stations trainee scheme if they run one. Whatever the path employers like to see evidence of hands on practical experience. This can be achieved through working in student radio at university, community radio or via hospital radio.

Once employed in the role progression is via moving to a larger station or to a national outlet. Some radio producers make the transition into television whilst others progress into radio management.

Essential knowledge and skills

Radio Producers need the following:

Ability to come up with original ideas for interviews or features and to think ways to creatively communicate them
Creating planning and executing show schedules
Excellent writing skills that can be tailored for different audiences
Knowledge of the radio market and the stations core style and audience demographics
Ability to undertake research in a subject and obtain interviews and other material to support the story being told
Being able to interview guests, build rapport and gain information from people
Ability to pitch ideas to senior management and work as part of a team to achieve results
Ability to manage booking studios, sourcing archive material, music, organising licences, creating commercials, podcasts, responding to listeners, recording, mixing and editing shows and briefing presenters on questions to ask.
Manage programme budgets, motivate, coach and lead a team
Be able to liaise with people from all levels of the company and walks of life
Have a thorough understanding of the law, broadcast codes, copyright and legislation that affects radio production
Work under pressure and to meet tight deadlines
Have IT technical skills to be able to operate various recording and studio equipment

Training & qualifications

Although a degree is not always essential, the majority of Radio Producers are graduates. Entry requirements for a degree vary. Applicants for a media production course usually need a minimum of two A levels/three H grades and five GCSE's/S grades (A-C/1-3), including English and maths, or the equivalent. Most radio employers don’t always look at qualifications based just in media and may sometimes look for a qualification in another subject matter in which they wish to work.

Some big employers run trainee schemes which are highly sought after and are not always ran on a regular basis. A degree is sometimes required for these schemes while others may target non-graduates. Some radio producers have entered the industry by starting out in a low entry level and working their way up to the position.

For those heading down the higher education route it’s important to check that the course will offer a good level of practical radio production skills. Also check whether students attending the course have obtained employment in the radio industry after completing it.

Once in the role of a radio producer they are expected to continue to develop and keep their skills and knowledge up to date. This ongoing training can take the form of in house training or via external providers. Colleges and universities offer a range of short course or night classes in a range of professional or management skills.

What can I expect to get paid?

Salaries may range from £12,000 to £80,000 a year. Some work on a freelance basis.

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