A Breakdown of Jobs at Radio Stations

In this post, you'll learn about different jobs at radio stations. And here is a statistic to kick us off:

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were about 52,700 announcer jobs in 2016.

With that tidbit...let's get started:

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Music Director

The music director, as the title gives, takes charge of the station's music. Key responsibilities include:

  • Sifting through music submitted by independent musicians.
  • Receiving and evaluating records submitted by promotional representatives.
  • Managing the station's music library like categorizing music into rotations as new, current, hits, etc.
  • Submitting music logs and overseeing the payment of royalties to performance rights organizations.
  • Coordinating with the program director on the shows.

Program Director

The program director is also the program controller (shorted to PC) or the head of programming.

At the station, the PC reports to the head of radio or the station manager. And managing the overall programming (radio content) is the PC's main business.

The role further entails: 

  • Managing the station's programming teams.
  • Ensuring that programming, what draws the listeners to the station, meets the expected standards of the station and furthers its business goals and overall mission.
  • Making sure that radio station content appeals to its audience.
  • Working closely with the programming departments in developing content such as the station's imaging. 
  • If the station doesn't have a music director, the PC assumes the related tasks.
  • Taking part in the recruitment and training of the programming team members.

Radio presenter

Synonyms abound: the presenter is also the on-air talent, talented host, on-air personality, or DJ. This very talent person has the long-suffering role of keeping the audience entertained, informed, engaged, and ear-glued to their shows.

A shining personality is vital as you may have noticed. So the presenter is often likable and relatable.

On-air shifts typically last for about 2 to 4 hours. But the radio presenter won't just pack up and leave...there is more work do including: 

  • Developing content for the station's website & social media pages.
  • Attending the station's events or hosting remote broadcasts like road shows. 
  • Researching, editing, and writing scripts.
  • Pre-interviewing scheduled guests to build rapport.

Announcer

Surprised this not the same job description as the radio host? An announcer is the voice of the station. While the presenter often voices a single show.

The announcer is valued for their voice; the presenter for their personality and ability to entertain.

Now that we have made the distinction—and feeling like a couple of brainiacs: What set of responsibilities does the announcer take on?

  • Introducing music and shows.
  • Read the news copy and commercial copy.
  • Voicing the station's imaging like the call letters, station ID, weather announcements, trails, promos, etc.
  • Researching and formulating scripts.
  • At smaller stations, the presenter may also take on programming tasks, sell advertisement packages, schedule promos and ads, prepare content for the station's website and more.

Creative Writer & Copywriter

Liaising with the sales, marketing & content teams, the copywriter writes promotional copy for the station and also scripts commercials for clients.

The copy writer may also prepare email campaigns, brochures, show summaries, website content, and proofread copy written by other employees at the studio.

Traffic Manager

What comes to mind when you read the words "traffic manager?" Do you picture a person directing the traffic with a huge handheld sign with the words "STOP"?

Well, a traffic manager's domain is the commercial studio. The job entails prepping the entire schedule for the broadcast day.

To do this, the manager will collaborate with the sales and programming department.

The goal is to establish a proper balance between the needs of the advertising clients and the programming team whose central role is to thrill their listeners.

It is also the job of the traffic manager to know how many ad slots are available and relay this information to the salespeople.

The traffic manager also ensures that content is available either from outside sources or in-house production teams; and that it meets the legal requirements imposed by the FCC (in the USA) and the quality standards of the station.

And the traffic manager will load the promos, ads and other items into the station's playout system. 

With regular orders streaming from the sales department, traffic managers operate in fast-paced environments. 

Broadcast Engineers

Who do you call when the microphone that has been working minutes before suddenly dies on you?

"The Broadcast Engineer."

Radio broadcast engineers handle all technical issues revolving around the broadcast equipment.

It may include installing new systems and performing preventive maintenance on existing hardware to minimize failures.

And when the problems arise, the engineer must troubleshoot and solve them quickly.

Time is of the essence in such situations—because when the broadcast is down, the station listeners may tune in to competing stations.

Producer

When a movie is shot, the producer oversees the movie's production. For instance, ensuring the schedule is adhered to, the film is within the budget, etc.

In the studio, the producer oversees live and remote broadcasts.

Usually, the producer will coordinate with the host to create awesome shows. In this capacity, the producer might suggest the best questions to ask guests or signal when an ad-break is approaching.

In a talk show (tech-operated studio), the producer operates the broadcast desk in a separate room. Other tasks may include:

  • Protecting the radio station's license from invocation by ensuring that the programs don't feature obscenity, indecency or profanity.
  • Booking guests for live interviews. 
  • Screening and pre-interviewing callers before they go on-air.
  • Running the board and working with the station's automation software.
  • Scheduling 
  • Creating content for the radio's website and social pages. 

Reporter

Finally, we have reporters or broadcast journalists. 

This role involves gathering, investigating, and preparing news stories for on-air delivery or for publishing in station's website. 

News reporters may also prepare documentaries, radio series, rundowns, social media copy, weather announcements, etc.

Some news reporters are based in the office such as editors. Journalists are often out in the field following up with leads, attending events, carrying out interviews and more!

More careers at radio stations

There are more personnel at radio stations including interns, assistant sales associates, assistant producers, etc.

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