How to Become a Radio Personality: Career Guide

Learn how to become a radio personality. Research the education requirements, training information and experience required for starting a career in radio broadcasting.

Should I Become a Radio Personality?

Radio personalities (also called on-air personalities, hosts or announcers) play music, provide commentary and interview guests for on-air entertainment. This position requires creativity to generate ideas for new on-air material and the ability to ad-lib for an audience. In addition to working in a studio environment, radio personalities sometimes make appearances and broadcast live from local events or promotional locations. They must interact with the radio audience over the phone, in person and through social media.

There is strong competition for these entertainment industry jobs. Many entry-level positions in the field include working irregular and sometimes long hours, and those beginning their careers may need to start out in smaller markets. Often, having strong on-air skills and experience are even more important to securing a job as a radio personality.

Career Requirements

Degree Level Varies by employer, but a degree is often desired
Degree Field Communications or Broadcasting
Experience 0-3 years of prior on-air broadcasting
Key Skills Strong voice, positive attitude, proficiency with control and mixing board operations, audio recording and playback equipment, posting material online through social media platforms, Adobe Audition software, and digital editing efficient multi-tasking and people skills, copywriting, excellent public speaking ability, capable of working on-call or non-traditional shifts, knowledge of various music genres, able to follow Federal Communications Commission (FCC) guidelines
Salary (2014) $29,790 (Median salary for radio and television announcers)

Sources: job postings from employers (August 2015); U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Step One: Research the Career

Radio announcers usually have a bachelor's degree in communications, journalism or broadcasting. Since there are a wide variety of career options, potential radio personalities should research the type of position they're looking for (DJ, program host, on-air announcer, etc.) and perhaps speak to professionals in the field to determine the best education path. Depending upon the market and scale of the radio show, employers will determine the amount of experience necessary for the position.

Step Two: Earn a Degree

While a degree may not be necessary, a bachelor's degree will help radio announcers remain competitive among entry-level workers. Many colleges have on-campus radio stations, so students can gain on-air experience and learn about broadcast operations. Courses in public speaking, writing and broadcast reporting may also prove useful to broadcast students.

Success Tip:

  • Participate in an internship. Many broadcast or journalism degree programs require students to complete internships before graduation. Radio broadcast internships provide hands-on experience in a station setting. Radio stations typically require applicants for on-air personality positions to have a certain amount of broadcast experience, which an internship can help fulfill.

Step Three: Gain Entry-Level Training

Potential radio personalities almost always start in an entry-level position before moving up the ranks. Several years of work experience may be necessary before a candidate might get a chance at hosting. The entry-level work allows them to build their voice, draw an audience and create ratings for their show.

Success Tips:

  • Start in a small market. Stations in small markets cater to smaller audiences and are less competitive in ratings than their large-market counterparts. Many announcers start their careers in small markets, which gives them an opportunity to learn the industry, gain confidence and build experience. Applicants may need to consider moving to a smaller market to take advantage of such an opportunity.
  • Learn more about the industry. It may be beneficial to join a professional organization, such as the National Association of Broadcasters. Membership allows individuals to stay abreast of industry information and further professional development.

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