Radio Presenters are the voice of a station or programme, whether they work in speech-based or music Radio. They are responsible for creating the tone and style of Radio output and establishing a relationship with listeners. They may also be required to carry out a range of other production tasks, as well as deliver content for related websites or other mobile platforms
Radio Presenters' specific responsibilities differ considerably depending on the programme or station. The majority of Radio Presenters are part of a small team, although some work with much larger programme units. They are mainly based in offices and recording studios, but may also work on location presenting outside broadcasts.
Most presenters are self-employed, working on fixed term contracts. Although the greatest concentration of jobs is found in London and the South East, Radio Presenters work throughout the UK. They may work for the BBC, commercial or community radio, on local or national stations, or for independent production companies.
What is the job?
Presenters in music Radio work for a range of stations and programmes, catering for all musical tastes. Presenters in speech Radio work in all genres, from topical talk shows to documentaries, light entertainment and comedy. Working hours can vary enormously and may involve early mornings, late nights and overnights, as well as working weekends or holidays. In some roles Presenters are expected to travel to work on location, both within the UK and abroad.
Wherever they work, Presenters are expected to understand the purpose and format of their station or programme; to be aware of the characteristics of their target audience; and to be knowledgeable about the subject matter of the output they present.
Radio Presenters may present live or recorded shows, scripted and unscripted. They can be required to generate original ideas; carry out research; write scripts and links; work from a brief supplied by other members of a production team; conduct interviews with contributors in a studio or over the phone; handle debates or phone-ins; and host live events.
They may also be required to carry out a range of other production tasks, as well as deliver content for related websites or other mobile platforms
They must work within production requirements and observe the disciplines of the production process, particularly those regarding timings. They are expected to understand and comply with media law, regulation and industry codes. They work closely with other members of a production team and may be expected to take direction from a Producer or Editor. Radio Presenters are expected to review their own output and to seek and accept feedback on their performance. They are also expected to monitor listener feedback, and contribute to responses to comments, or programme complaints
Radio Presenters should be able to operate various radio studios, and to record audio both in studios and on location. They may be also be required to edit audio material - using suitable computer editing software. Some Radio Presenters may be required to write material for websites, blogs or other platforms, and to prepare visual images and video footage, as well as audio material, for online use.
Typical Career Routes
Traditionally Radio Presenters acquire hands-on experience of presenting by working in community radio, student or hospital radio, or discos, in some cases while taking an undergraduate degree or a post-graduate Diploma or MA in Radio or Media Production. Some may benefit from talent development schemes run by some larger broadcasters to identify potential presenters. Others work their way up from entry level roles in Radio secured with or without a degree or other qualifications.
However, Radio Presenters may also be recruited for their specialist knowledge or celebrity profile - acquired from working on newspapers and magazines, or in the music business for example. Others make the move to Radio from presentation roles in TV.
Once in post, career progression for Radio Presenters often involves moving to a larger station, to a programme with a wider audience, or from a local to a regional or national service. Radio Presenters also move into TV, or combine working in both media. Some may choose to move into Programme Production or into Radio Management roles.
See the Radio Reporter job profile for information about the career route for Presenters in News and Sport.
Essential Knowledge & Skills
Radio Presenters need the following:
- excellent presentation and performance skills
- 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
- determination and tenacity
- 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 as part of a team
- self-motivation and adaptability
- ability to work effectively under pressure, react quickly, and meet tight deadlines
- 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
- a high level of IT skills - particularly good word-processing and data handling skills
- 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
- ability to conduct effective internet research, use relevant computer software for audio editing, and, when necessary, to manipulate visual images or edit video, and upload all such material for use on websites
Training and qualifications
When recruiting Radio Presenters, employers' primary concern is evidence of hands-on experience - and time taken to develop technical and presentation skills as well as a personal style. A degree or other qualifications are not essential for the role.
Some Radio Presenters start out in entry level roles in Radio and pursue every opportunity to develop their presenting skills until they are able to secure jobs presenting full-time. Places on talent development schemes run by some of the larger broadcasters are highly sought after, as places are limited, and such schemes do not recruit on a regular basis. In their selection process, the emphasis is on evidence of hands-on experience and performance, rather than specific qualifications.
With graduate recruits Radio employers do not necessarily expect the degree to be in a media-related subject, and may even prefer those with degrees in other disciplines - particularly those related to the radio genre in which they wish to work.
For those considering higher education there are a wide range of media courses on offer, but it is important to determine whether a particular course offers a good grounding in practical Radio presentation and production skills, has good contacts with the Radio industry, and whether its students are successful in obtaining work in Radio.
Once in post, Radio Presenters are expected to develop their skills on the job. Most employers also offer a variety of forms of training to keep their Presenters' skills and knowledge up-to-date, and to introduce new technologies. This training may be offered in-house, or supplied by external providers, depending on the size and structure of different Radio organizations and employers.
Colleges and private training providers also offer a range of short courses which can support the professional development of individual Radio Presenters, and may offer opportunities for them to gain promotion, or to change career direction.
Where to go for more information
Call 08080 300 900 in England (also available to callers from Wales and Northern Ireland) or 08458 502 502 in Scotland, or visit the website http://www.creativeskillset.org/careers/
- 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 the UK representative body for the Community Media sector
- Student Radio Association representative body which supports and acts on behalf of the UK student radio community
- Hospital Broadcasting Association the national charity that supports and promotes Hospital Broadcasting in the UK
- 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 the weekly newspaper for the UK TV and Radio industry
- Media Guardian daily industry news, trends, jobs and more
- 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
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Last update 2009.
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