Before you ask ‘Radio? What’s a radio?’ understand that this medium of communication was around long before television and the Internet. In fact, it’s been said that families used to gather around this pictureless box in order to hear news, sports and entertainment. Amazing. Radio stations provide an important function in society, relating news, sports, talk and music. In fact, with the recent opening of the airwaves by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), more and more individuals will be able to start their own radio stations. For now, though, there are large radio stations that employ a radio producer, someone who is responsible for the on-air programming. Radio producers decide what type of music will be played and supervise on-air personnel. Most radio producers come to the profession after years as a disc jockey. For stations that play music, the ability to tell the difference between the Beatles and Barenaked Ladies is sort of required. Radio producers for stations that do all news formats are sometimes called upon to edit and write the news stories from information collected by reporters. Radio producers often hire station employees, work with sales associates, and act as a go between for upper management and the on-air talent. In smaller stations, radio producers take on many different roles, including bookkeeper, administrative assistant, and marketing manager. Some radio producers plan, develop and create live or taped productions. A touch of artistic talent is needed when writing scripts, helping sound technicians, and developing other production elements. Radio producers deal with station managers, accountants, the community, and the FCC.
Wanna job in radio? Get a degree. Over 450 colleges offer programs in journalism and mass communications, including programs in radio and television broadcasting. Some trade schools offer 6-month courses in radio and television announcing, writing, and production. Most people who want a career in broadcasting gain initial experience working at college radio stations or through internships at professional stations. Interns are often unpaid, but the hands-on training they earn can be invaluable, often leading to higher paying jobs. Some radio producers start out as production assistants, helping the producer create the programming. They also provide clerical and research assistance. Radio producers just starting out usually find a job in smaller stations serving smaller markets. Competition for positions in large metropolitan areas is strong. The chance for advancement is small unless employees change employers. Relocation to communities in other parts of the country is frequently necessary.
The skills needed to run a radio station translate well into various other professions in the broadcasting arts, including video editors, announcers, disc jockeys, reporters, correspondents, newswriters newscasters, technical directors, station managers, and account executives. Any experience managing large groups of diverse people lends itself well for people who would like to move to the business world as managers.