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How to Become a Radio Broadcaster: Career Roadmap and Education

Majors Overview January 28, 2013

Presentations of current events, music, gossip, sports and news are made over the airways by radio broadcasters to an audience. They also perform interviews of guests and promotions of local festivals and events. A specific area or subject is often the focus of content of radio stations. For instance, country or rock music is played by some stations while news shows or sporting events are broadcast by others. Not only do broadcasters perform work at radio stations, but they also make appearances at promotional events and other venues.

A high school diploma is usually sufficient to get an entry level job in the profession though many employers prefer candidates that hold a bachelor degree. Completing a bachelor degree program will benefit students by allowing them to earn work experience before they begin their career. The table below shows the primary requirements on how to become a radio broadcaster:

Common Requirements

Degree Level

High school diploma is standard, but bachelor degree are required by many organizations

Degree Field

Broadcasting, journalism, and communications

Experience

Previous experience depends on the company; however, experience at television stations or college radio will be beneficial

Key Skills

Providing commentary to callers and news stories, ability to moderate and interview guests, writing and reading skills, research, and powerful speaking

Technical Skills

Operation of broadcast automation systems, mixer and control boards, and CD player

Other Requirements

Ability to work holidays, evenings, and weekends as needed

The following is a step-by-step guide that can be followed by those planning a career in this field.

Stage One: Completion of Training

There are more bachelor degree holders (36%) among radio broadcasters than high school diploma holders (27%) (Source: O NET OnLine). Education and experience prerequisites differ from employer to employer, but holding a bachelor degree in broadcast communication, journalism or communications can give radio announcers a competitive edge in the industry (source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)). Coursework typically includes subject areas such as interpersonal communication, sound production, broadcast writing, news reporting and speech. Aspiring radio broadcasters are also taught about Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulations.

Completing a broadcasting internship will benefit aspiring radio broadcasters. They can work on the air by seeking admission to schools that have radio stations. They can also seek internships at radio stations that would help them enhance their behind-the-scenes and on-air skills while improving their resumes for advertising to prospective employers. Such internship may involve making copies and getting coffee along with other related duties like screening phone calls, editing promotional clips and writing scripts. Prospective broadcasters can also use internships in developing connections in the industry and networking, thereby enhancing their chances of getting employment as on-air broadcasters.

Stage Two: Gaining Work Experience

Employers prefer candidates that have at least a year of radio broadcasting experience; some even expect up to three years of work experience. Entry level jobs could be in the form fill-in for other broadcasters. There is a concentration of broadcasting jobs in larger urban settings; however, entry level jobs are easier to come by in smaller markets. Smaller stations offer less specialized roles; thereby broadcasters can get broader experience. For instance, a broadcaster in an entry-level position may be required to work an overnight shift. However, opportunities for advancement are limited at smaller radio stations that are usually privately owned. Hence, broadcasters may have to change jobs if they aspire to positions that entail greater responsibility. Getting other job-related experience can benefit aspiring radio broadcasters. In other words, they should not restrict themselves to speaking on air; instead, they should seek to perform multiple tasks. For instance, they could appear at promotional events, sell advertising space, and update social media posts. Working in a smaller market could give broadcasters ample opportunities for multitasking.

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