Radio has delivered iconic tunes, news stories and sports moments to generations of listeners. Audiences turn to radio stations for entertainment, inspiration, routes to avoid traffic snarls, discussion of political and social issues, and information to prepare for and survive storms and disasters. To provide the vast array of broadcasts, radio station owners seek job candidates with communications, technical, journalism, entertainment and business skills.
The program director sets the radio station's menu, determining what music, programs and on-air talent the station broadcasts. At music stations, the director screens recordings submitted by musicians seeking airtime and exposure for their songs. Stations rely on program directors to evaluate the ratings and popularity of their shows and personalities. The director's promotion of the station includes concert-ticket giveaways and live remote broadcasts from community events.
Disc Jockeys and Announcers
Radio stations rely on disc jockeys and announcers as entertainers and informers. Disc jockeys and announcers play music and announce upcoming songs and show lineups, station promotions and concerts -- especially those their stations sponsor -- host talk shows and provide news, weather, sports and traffic reports. On-air personalities often invite and respond to listener phone calls, emails and social media comments and even lend their voices to nonprofits and local businesses for radio spots. The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects limited demand for announcers as stations resort to more national feeds, syndicated program and recording show hosts for repeated play; some stations may even eliminate positions for live late-night announcers.
Producers shape the content for radio programs. They develop and decide topics, find guests, prepare news stories and features, create playlists and suggest on-air skits and stunts; show hosts may collaborate with producers and use them as on-air sidekicks or contributors. Producers must keep abreast of current events and breaking news; write and edit proficiently; and cultivate relationships that help, say, a sports talk show land reporters, coaches and players as regular guests.
Board operators manage the transmission of broadcasts. Control boards, run by computers, determine the length of programs and segments, and ensure that the station airs commercials, public service announcements, station or show promotions, and other content when scheduled. Operators monitor the boards to ensure that transmissions comply with Federal Communications Commission rules, and that the equipment runs properly. Through their board operators, stations test and activate the Emergency Alert System, which delivers severe weather advisories from the National Weather Service, missing children alerts from state and local agencies, and national emergency information.
Commercial radio stations rely on advertisers for much of their revenue and profits. Account executives sell air time and manage the accounts of the advertisers. Selling points include the demographics of the station's listeners, the ratings of its shows -- especially those on weekday mornings or other times of high listenership -- and affiliations with sports or other networks. Account executives seek potential new clients and cultivate relationships with current ones; they must research the businesses before the initial calls, assess new and existing clients' needs, and receive feedback on the success of radio spots. Since many local advertisers cannot afford advertising agencies, many account executives write the content of advertisements.
- National Association of Broadcasters: NAB'S Guide to Careers in Radio
- Vermont Public Radio: Board Operator/Announcer
- Public Radio Program Directors Association: Job Listings & Resources -- Radio Producer
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Advertising Sales Agents: What They Do
- Public Radio Program Directors Association: Job Listings & Resources -- Program Director
- FCC.gov: Emergency Alert System
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Announcers -- What They Do
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