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A Day in the Life of a Radio Producer

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.

Paying Your Dues

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.

Present and Future

Radio stations have been around since the early Twenties. Even with the advent of the idiot box and Internet, radio isn’t going away anytime soon. In fact, some companies are working on a national radio system. No matter where you are in the country, you will be able to receive radio broadcasts from radio stations all over. Want to listen to a broadcast of Bangladesh music out of Bangor, Maine, but you live in Baton Rouge? That won’t be a problem with a national radio system. That doesn’t mean that radio producers will find more job openings. Even as new stations are being made, a lot are being consolidated to cut costs. New technologies that allow greater use of prepared programming will require less management duties in most large radio stations.

Quality of Life

PRESENT AND FUTURE

Most radio producers with two years experience are coming off internships or college radio station jobs. Some have worked as assistants in larger markets. With two years experience, radio producers can find jobs in small radio stations in small to mid sized markets.

FIVE YEARS OUT

If a radio producer is willing to move, breaking into a larger market, even at a smaller station, is possible for radio producers with five years of experience. The move can mean more money, and less overall responsibilities. Moving to a larger radio station means there are more employees to take care of bookkeeping, marketing, and other duties a radio producer may have had to take on in a smaller station.

TEN YEARS OUT

Radio producers with ten years experience are in high demand. If you’re already in a large metropolitan area, the move to a more popular radio station is easier with so much experience. Radio producers that have been around this long usually have an assistant that deals with the minutia of every day work (clerical work, small production design, and so forth), freeing up the radio producer to work on guiding his on-air talent and programming to bring in more and more listeners.