How to Become a Radio Broadcaster: Education and Career Roadmap

Apr 28, 2020

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

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Should I Be a Radio Broadcaster?

Radio broadcasters present news, sports, gossip, music and currents events over the airways to an audience. They may also interview guests and promote local events and festivals. Radio stations often focus their content on a certain subject or area. For example, some stations will play rock or country music, while others will broadcast sporting events or news shows.

In addition to working on the radio, broadcasters may also make promotional appearances. Some of these workers are self-employed, which allows them to set their schedules and possibly work from home. However, the radio industry can be stressful, with plenty of deadlines. Many radio stations run 24 hours a day, which might require some late hours.

Career Requirements

Requirements for this career vary by employer; however, applicants can anticipate they'll be expected to possess strong speaking, research, reading, and writing skills. Radio broadcasters are skilled in interviewing and moderating guests and providing commentary alongside callers and news stories. They perform technical skills on broadcast automation systems, control and mixer boards, and CD players. Radio broadcasters generally work flexible schedules.

Degree Level Bachelor's degree
Degree Field Journalism, communications or broadcast communication may include courses in speech, news reporting, broadcast writing, sound production and interpersonal communication
Key Skills Speaking, research, reading, and writing
Salary (May 2019) $33,220/year

The median salary for radio and television announcers, a closely related career, was reported in 2019 to be $33,220, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Steps to Be a Radio Broadcaster

Radio broadcasters generally have a combination of education and experience.

Step 1: Complete Training

Education and experience requirements vary by employer, but the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that radio announcers should have a bachelor's degree to remain competitive in the field. Majors such as journalism, communications or broadcast communication may include courses in speech, news reporting, broadcast writing, sound production and interpersonal communication. Prospective radio broadcasters also must become familiar with Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulations.

Step 2: Gain Work Experience

Some schools have radio stations that allow students to work on the air. Many aspiring broadcasters enhance their on-air and behind-the-scenes skills by interning or working at a radio station. The on-air experience can also be used in putting together a demo for prospective employers. While interns will perform tasks such as getting coffee and making copies, they may also screen phone calls, edit promotional clips and write scripts. Interning can also help prospective broadcasters develop connections in the field and network so that they can obtain an on-air job.

The BLS noted that radio broadcasters often perform more tasks than just speaking on-air. Some tasks future radio broadcasters could learn while working in smaller markets could be: updating social media posts, selling advertising space and appearing at promotional events.

Step 3: Begin Entry-Level Work

Employers typically look for candidates with at least one year of radio experience, but sometimes as much as three years. On-air talent could begin by filling in for other announcers. Although most broadcasting jobs are concentrated in large, urban areas, it's typically easier to break into the field in a small market. At smaller stations, roles may be less specialized, allowing workers to gain broad experience; for example, an entry-level broadcasting position may include working the overnight shift. However, small, privately owned radio stations don't offer much opportunity for advancement, so it may be necessary to change jobs to move to positions of greater responsibility.

Step 4: Move to a Large Market

After gaining sufficient on-air experience, announcers seeking career advancement may need to move to larger markets. Many large-market channels or stations expect announcers to perform other tasks as well, like appearing at promotional events or courting advertisers. Advancement opportunities should be best for experienced announcers who have numerous skills beyond on-air broadcasting.

Radio broadcasters generally have some postsecondary education; a bachelor's degree is commonly preferred for competitive jobs. Hands-on and on-air experience often comes through internships and entry-level work. Career advancement may require moving to a larger market.

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