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How to Become a Radio Talk Show Host: Career Roadmap

Find out how to become a radio talk show host. Research the education and training requirements, and learn about the experience you need to advance your career in radio talk show hosting. View article »

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  • 0:00 Radio Talk Show Host
  • 0:29 Career Requirements
  • 1:00 Career Steps

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Video Transcript

Radio Talk Show Host

Radio talk show hosts prepare and deliver content about issues of local and national interest for broadcast. Hosts often focus on one topic, such as politics or sports. They choose the program's topics and guests, conduct interviews, speak with call-in listeners on the air, and host special events. Hosts might find the work stressful, due to tight scheduling and hovering deadlines. Relocating also might be necessary to seek advancement in the field.

Career Requirements

Degree Level Bachelor's degree
Degree Fields Broadcasting, communications, journalism, or a related liberal arts major
Experience Varies by employer; several years of experience in radio typically required
Key Skills Excellent oral and written communication skills; people-oriented disposition; knowledge of radio programming software and ability to operate radio broadcast equipment such as a control board
Salary $40,794 (2016 median for all radio talk show hosts)

Source: Payscale.com

Breaking into this competitive field typically requires a bachelor's degree and radio experience. Key skills include excellent oral and written communication, people-oriented disposition, knowledge of radio programming software, and ability to operate radio broadcast equipment such as a control board. In 2016, radio show hosts earned a median annual salary of $40,794 according to PayScale.com.

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Career Steps

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree

Aspiring radio talk show hosts can pursue a degree in broadcasting, communications, journalism, or a related major. These programs typically cover research techniques, media writing, reporting, ethics, and communication. Some schools offer a focused degree program in radio, which includes courses in radio writing, announcing, and production. Additional coursework in public speaking, computer science, English, theater, and drama can help students develop the technical and performance qualities relevant to a professional broadcast career.

It can be helpful to gain practical experience. Most entry-level radio jobs require previous experience, so students should get involved with their college radio or broadcast station. They may be able to work on a talk show or run their own. Prospective hosts can also complete professional internships at local radio stations, which can give students a behind-the-scenes look at radio production. The duties of an intern may include conducting research, editing audio clips, screening callers, and choosing guests and themes for the show.

Step 2: Enter the Field

Entry-level talk show host or announcer positions are rare, but candidates may gain work experience as equipment operators or schedulers. This could open the door for additional opportunities, such as the chance to read the weather forecast or make public service announcements.

Step 3: Advance to a Talk Show Host Position

Radio talk show hosts may be required to perform a variety of duties, including operating radio programming software and equipment, maintaining program logs, recording commercials, and selling time to advertisers. They may also arrange station-sponsored contests, provide social media updates and make public appearances to interact with fans and promote their employers. Many talk show opportunities are part-time, but full-time host jobs are available. Talk show hosts may build their skills and audience in a smaller media market and then relocate to a larger market or station.

Step 4: Join a Professional Organization

Aspiring radio talk show hosts who desire to advance their careers should consider joining the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB). The organization offers various membership benefits including access to industry resources, tools, trends, conventions, job banks, networking opportunities, and other avenues for professional training and advancement.

To recap, with a bachelor's degree and experience, a radio talk show host can earn about $41,000 a year to prepare and deliver content about issues of local and national interest for broadcast.

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