What Is Needed to Become a Radio Personality?
Growth Trends for Related Jobs
Radio personalities typically get their start in one of two ways: They'll either study media in college, or they'll dive right into the world of radio and audio production by working or volunteering. Either path will help you learn some of the typical duties of radio announcers, including how to record and edit audio, prepare it for production, host shows and promote your material both off and on-air.
While there may not be one particular path for becoming a radio personality, you will need to develop your own personal style and work hard at getting your voice heard in order to be most successful.
Some people start out by studying broadcast journalism, communications or a related subject at a two- or four-year college. That will provide you with the required education necessary to get hired at a broadcast radio or TV station, suggests the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Taking community college or university classes in audio editing and voice and diction will also help you develop your voice and learn the basics of the business.
Gain on-the-Job Experience
Education isn't required, but being well-spoken, with good research skills, strong opinions and even a dose of humor will be essential to being a radio personality who listeners enjoy. If college is not an option, look for community radio, TV or theater programs in your area, where you can get trained in editing audio, and hone your acting and performance skills. The other benefit there is that you'll already be a presence at the station, should any new announcer or personality spots open up.
You might also start your own podcast and website and slowly develop an audience there, where you'll learn what your listeners enjoy about your unique style. Having a comedy act that you perform at local clubs can be another way to hone your skills.
Whatever type of material you're creating, improve your skills by listening to the airchecks of what you've done, making notes about how you can get better -- or ask target listeners and program directors for feedback.
Apply for Jobs
When announcer jobs open up, apply for them. Your application materials should definitely include a demo reel that displays the various types of shows you've done -- from comedy to news to talk radio, for example, as well as any character voices you're able to do. In addition, your resume should give station managers a sense of all the experience you possess. In addition, it can help to include a head shot in your application material. Radio and TV announcers earned an annual mean wage of $42,010 as of May 2014, according to BLS.
Like any other job in the entertainment industry, landing a job as a radio personality has a lot to do with who you know. Wherever you start out, look for mentors to guide you and introduce you to other people in the industry. Join associations such as the Radio Television Digital News Association, where you can network with other people and attend conferences. Attend industry events and let people know who you are and where to find your show or your website.
The connections you make outside of your local area -- through conferences or associations, for example -- can also help you when you're aiming to syndicate your show. Often, getting your show aired on another station outside your local community is a matter of contacting a target station manager or program director, showing her your demo reel, and pitching a proposal for syndication. Naturally, the show will need to have a more universal appeal than a local show, but your experience in the industry will help you develop ideas that will appeal to wider audiences.
2020 Salary Information for Announcers
Announcers earned a median annual salary of $36,770 in 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, announcers earned a 25th percentile salary of $21,320, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $50,780, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2020, 76,000 people were employed in the U.S. as announcers.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: How to Become an Announcer
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2014 27-3011 Radio and Television Announcers
- Broadcasters Mentoring Group: Discover How to Be a Radio Host
- Syndication.net: FAQs
- Radio Daddy: How to Become a Better on Air Personality
- Pacifica Radio: Ten Radio Syndication Tips (Plus Five Mistakes)
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Announcers
- Career Trend: Announcers
Nicole Vulcan has been a journalist since 1997, covering parenting and fitness for The Oregonian, careers for CareerAddict, and travel, gardening and fitness for Black Hills Woman and other publications. Vulcan holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism from the University of Minnesota. She's also a lifelong athlete and is pursuing certification as a personal trainer.