Station Managers are responsible for the day-to-day running of Radio stations - leading the management team to ensure they meet the key objectives of the station in terms of output, audience, or revenue.
In Commercial radio the job title Station Director may also be used in reference to the manager of a local or national station. In some organisations a Regional Director may have responsibility for more than one station. Most stations also have a Programme Controller (link) or Programme Director.
In the BBC the job title Editor, Local Radio is used for local Station Managers who may be supported by Assistant Editors. The BBC's UK wide Radio networks are led by a Controller supported by a sizeable management team.
For the purposes of this job profile, the title Station Manager is used throughout, and the focus of the job description is that most relevant to local radio. The specific responsibilities of a Radio Station Manager vary between different broadcast organisations and between stations, depending on how the station is funded, the size of the organisation to which it belongs, and the division of responsibilities within a station management team. Station Managers are based throughout the UK.
What is the job?
Whether Station Managers run music or speech-based stations, they are expected to have a clear understanding of the purpose and format of their station, and the characteristics of their target audience.
They help to determine the objectives of their station, and are then expected to communicate these objectives effectively to all staff, providing leadership and motivation to ensure they are met.
Station Managers ensure the smooth running of their station, leading the management team and co-ordinating the activities of all the disciplines within the station, including the development of multi-platform content.
In Commercial radio, the focus of the Station Manager's role is sales: maximising revenue for the station, and managing its budget and resources. Although Programme Controllers or Directors usually have day-to-day responsibility for programming, their roles and those of Station Managers are interdependent.
In BBC Local Radio, Station Managers or Editors have editorial responsibility for all output, as well as managing the station's finances, but they are supported in this by Assistant Editors.
Attracting and retaining employees with a talent for Radio, establishing the station's culture, and managing staff welfare and morale, all fall within the role of Station Managers. They are responsible for communications with staff and other colleagues elsewhere in their organisation. They are also expected to represent the station externally at a local level, building relationships within the community they serve.
They must ensure their station's compliance with laws, regulations and industry codes governing Radio broadcasting, and to see that complaints are dealt with swiftly.
The job is demanding and can involve working long and unpredictable hours. It can also involve considerable travelling - particularly for those Station Managers who are part of larger and geographically diverse organisations.
Typical Career Routes
Station Managers in Commercial Radio often have a background in sales, having gained experience in Radio Sales over number of years - probably with a number of different stations and organisations. Others may progress through the Programming route, but they are always expected to have a thorough understanding of the commercial side of the business.
In BBC Local Radio, Station Managers are likely to be programme makers, and are usually Broadcast Journalists. They are likely to have gained their experience working for a number of local Radio stations throughout the UK. Some Station Managers may have worked for BBC Network Radio or News,
At this level there is also some movement of personnel in both directions between Commercial Radio and the BBC. Once in post, career progression for Station Managers may involve moving to a larger local station, to a regional role with one of the larger radio broadcasters, or to a management role with a national service. Some Station Managers may also move into TV.
Essential Knowledge & Skills
Radio Station Managers need the following:
- ability to generate original ideas, and to think creatively about how to communicate them
- excellent communication and presentation skills
- knowledge of the Radio market, different station and programme styles, and audience demographics
- business and finance skills
- sound editorial judgement
- confidence and decisiveness
- the capacity to work effectively under pressure, react quickly, and meet tight deadlines
- determination, diplomacy and excellent interpersonal skills
- a facility for managing creative teams, and encouraging acceptable creative risk taking
- ability to coach, and to develop talent in others
- ability to give and receive (accept?) feedback, and manage performance
- ability to deal effectively with team members of differing temperaments and morale
- ability to encourage frank and constructive reviews of output
- self-motivation and adaptability
- a thorough knowledge of the law, ethics and industry regulation as they affect Radio production
- knowledge of when it is necessary, and how to acquire, the relevant clearances and licenses, including copyright and music clearances
- knowledge of the requirements of the relevant Health and Safety legislation and procedures and a high level of IT skills - particularly good word-processing and data handling skills
Training and qualifications
Most Station Managers acquire some of their management skills on-the-job in previous roles, managing smaller programme or sales teams, overseeing projects, or standing in for senior colleagues. Some may have been recognised as having management potential in previous roles and offered the opportunity of some management training by their employer - or been supported to undertake a relevant qualification.
In other cases individuals may have pursued professional development independently - self-funding relevant short-courses or management qualifications - to improve their chances of promotion. However, such qualifications are not essential for the role.
Once in post, Radio Station Managers are expected to continue developing their skills on the job, but most employers also offer a variety of forms of training to keep their Station Managers' skills and knowledge up-to-date,. This training may be offered in-house, or supplied by external providers, depending on the size and structure of different Radio organisations and employers.
Colleges and private training providers offer a range of short courses which could be of benefit to Station Managers seeking professional development, and may offer opportunities for them to gain further promotion, or to change career direction
Where to go for more information
Creative Skillset is the Sector Skills Council for the Creative Media Industries. The first sources of information for all jobs in the industry are the National Occupational Standards. Browse Creative Skillset's website for links to our network of training partners, information about training and access to the comprehensive Creative Skillset/BFI course database.
- Radio Academy - industry wide charity dedicated to promoting excellence in UK audio broadcasting and production, running a comprehensive programme of conferences, masterclasses and other networking events across the country
- Radio Centre - industry association for UK Commercial Radio funded by the majority of stations - database of groups and stations, Radio Centre Player, information and advice on work placements and how to get job in Radio
- BBC - sites for all BBC national and local radio stations, listen live or listen again to much BBC Radio output, information and advice on work experience and jobs
- Community Media Association
- Student Radio Association
- Hospital Broadcasting Association
- BECTU - the UK media and entertainment trade union with information on pay and conditions, training, and access to individual advice on personal and contract issues
- National Union of Journalism - the trade union for journalists in the UK and Ireland - with information on pay and conditions, training, legal advice and more.
- Radio Today - radio industry news site
- Radio Now - Radio station directory, listen live to many UK radio stations
- Broadcast Journalism Training Council includes a comprehensive list of accredited undergraduate and post graduate broadcast journalism courses.
- National Council for the Training of Journalists - includes details of NCTJ qualifications, short courses and distance learning opportunities
- journalism.co.uk - online journalism site including news and comment; jobs across print, broadcast and new media; discussion forum; books and industry links directory
- Journalism.org - US journalism site - Pew Research Centre's Project for Excellence in Journalism funded by a non-partisan charitable trust
- Advertising Standards Authority - independent regulator for advertisements, sales promotion and direct marketing in the UK; details of radio advertising standards code
- Marketing & Sales Standards Setting Body - best practice standards for Marketing, Marketing Communications, Sales and Telesales, career information and other resources
- Chartered Institute of Sales & Marketing Management - UK professional body for salespeople, awarding body for qualifications in selling and sales management, list of training providers and other resources
- Chartered Institute of Marketing - the leading international body for professional marketers, details of qualifications and training and further resources
- The Marketing Society - network for senior marketers, some articles and other information available to non-members on website
- Broadcast - the weekly newspaper for the UK TV and Radio industry
- Media Guardian
- Campaign - weekly magazine for the advertising industry
- Marketing Week
- Creating Powerful Radio, Valerie Geller ISBN-10: 0240519280
- Essential Radio Skills, Peter Stewart ISBN-10: 0713679131
- The Broadcast Voice, Jenni Mills ISBN-10: 0240519396
- Presenting on TV & Radio, Janet Trewin ISBN-10: 024051906X
- The Broadcast Journalism Handbook, Gary Hudson & Sarah Rowlands ISBN-10: 1405824344
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Last update 2009.
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