Working in Radio is a very popular career choice so the competition to secure a career is fierce. People start listening to the radio at a very young age so the inspiration to work in Radio is injected very early on. Many Radio presenters are seen as either local or national celebrities and it’s this status that encourages many young people to pursue it as a career choice.
Through new technology advances like Digital Radio, Podcasting and Internet Broadcasting more stations and more jobs have opened up. It’s not just new technology which is driving new jobs and new stations but also changes to licensing and Radio laws which has seen the recent rise of Community Radio Stations across the country.
It isn’t all good news though as in an increasingly competitive market Radio Stations and Networks have had to cut costs and change their output which has seen many local radio stations become part of large Networks. This has meant that many shows on their station have been replaced by shows which are syndicated through out the entire network which has meant less airtime for local presenters. Add to this the fact that many Community Radio Stations and Internet based Stations are run on shoestring budgets with most of their presenters and staff working on a voluntary basis the amount of paid positions have not increased in line with the growth of Radio broadcasting.
All of this said there is always room in the industry for talented and gifted young people. So if you haven’t been put off by our review of the current Radio scene you now want to know how to become a Radio presenter and how to make it in the Radio industry.
The first thing you need to do is to start learning by listening to a wide range of stations and programmes. You can pick up the tricks of the trade by listening to and analysing presenters paying attention to how they link in and out of songs, how they keep their listeners interested and how they make themselves unique.
If you have access to a computer you can now start practising by using a microphone and some audio editing software. Being able to listen to yourself and have others listen to your recorded voice is very important as you can sound very different on tape than what you think you sound like in your head. When you are listening to yourself you need to be able to critique your own performance and gain the feedback of others.
Content and ideas are very important elements of a good Radio show. The great Radio Shows that flow and keep you interested have usually been well planned out in advance. So you need to keep yourself on top of all the latest news, current affairs and anything your listeners may be interested in. You need to always be aware of what your viewers are interested in and what news affects them so that you can produce a show they can relate to.
Try and record and store as much of your work as possible as it is a great learning tool and when looking for a job you always need to have your latest audio showreel / demo with you to give to prospective employers. An audio showreel / demo will consist of your best bits which you think will get you employed at the station you want to get in to.
At a young age it is very hard to get practical experience in Radio. This is when you need to start writing to and speaking to local Radio stations asking for work experience. You also need to be willing to do anything for little or no pay and do it with enthusiasm and to the best of your ability. Your jobs may include anything from answering the phone to licking envelopes but work experience is about putting your name around and making contacts.
You can however at any age present your very own Internet Radio Show. There are many websites, downloads and applications that will assist you to do this on the Internet. You can use this to showcase your work and to gain a fan base. Before entering in to this you need to be sure of the laws and regulations surrounding Internet Broadcasting as there have been many changes since it’s birth and getting in to legal trouble can damage your career before it’s even started. If you are unsure of these regulations you can apply to Internet Radio Stations already broadcasting and present a show on their station. By doing this you have a ready made base of listeners but you may lose creative control over the content of your show. This in itself can be a good thing as it will gain you vital experience for a professional job in Radio.
At a young age you can also apply to local Community Radio Stations as many of them are always on the lookout for good volunteers although policies and procedures may change from station to station on what the minimum age their volunteers have to be. Community Radio is a great experience as people in your local area will be able to tune in to your show as it will usually be available
When you reach the age of 16 you can start thinking about Hospital Radio. Many Hospitals have their own Radio stations who are always on the lookout for volunteers. You can find your nearest station by going to:
Some stations policies and procedures differ some you have to be over 18 to join but some will let you in from the age of 16. Hospital Radio is a great place to gain experience and is where many media professionals started their career. Working at Hospital Radio is a very unique experience as your listeners are right on your doorstep so you can gain valuable experience in how to create a show for an audience. Also at Hospital Radio you get to gain a knowledge and experience on how a station is run as many volunteers end up acting in many roles for the organisation.
Another form of Radio where many famous DJ’s started is Store Radio. This is when a shop or a chain has its own radio station which broadcasts throughout its premises. Radio 1 Presenter Chris Moyles started his career at Radio Topshop. Store Radio is something which is hard to get in to with not many shops or chains using live presenters but is an excellent experience to have on your CV.
If you decide to go to College or University find out if they have a Student Radio Station. If they haven’t try and start one. Student Radio is a great experience and by presenting on Student Radio you will become a fundamental part of student life on your campus. To find out more about Student Radio go to the Student Radio Association website:
The Student Radio Association have annual awards which are supported by BBC Radio 1. Current BBC Radio 1 early morning presenter Greg James got noticed by the BBC after winning a Student Radio Award. Awards can help your career so always be on the look out and enter as many as you can other organisations like the Hospital Broadcasting Association also run their own annual award.
Always be on the lookout for Radio training. Organisations like the Radio Academy http://www.radioacademy.org and CSV Mediabridge http://www.mediabridge.org.uk are great websites for information on Radio training.
Outside of Radio there are other activities you can get involved in to help your development. Take up any chance you can to do public speaking whether that be announcing the bingo or being a MC for a local event. Other things you can try to develop your personality, character and tone are getting a vocal coach and joining a local Theatre or Dramatics group. To be a great presenter you need to have personality and be a character which you have to be able to put across by your voice alone so this is why extracurricular activities like these can help.
As soon as you feel you are ready it’s time to take the plunge you need to start contacting Radio Stations and start reading magazines, newspapers and websites which feature adverts for Radio staff. You have to also be prepared that you may have to move around a lot to get the job that you want or even just to get a job at all as the competition is fierce. You need to also be able to survive in an industry which has little stability or job security as it is an industry driven by ratings and advertising and if you aren’t delivering the station will bring in someone who can. So even when you have a job secured be sure to always keep an eye out and be ready to change if needed to.
When you are looking for work always be sure to check with organisations like Ofcom:
To see if there are any new Radio licences being awarded around the country. Being in first with your CV and showreel / demo can make a big difference over your competition.
When you do get your first job you will usually be expected to go and cover things no one else wants to or present in shifts no one else wants but you have to go in and be prepared to make the best of the situation. You also need to be prepared to be flexible as things can change in the media industry in a blink of an eye so one moment you may be doing early morning the next you are doing early evening.
So if you want to be become a Radio Presenter or if you want to work in Radio be sure to always work hard, keep your eyes and ears open and never miss an opportunity.