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Despite the rise of online media, traditional broadcast television stations still deliver news and entertainment via cable and satellite. It takes a veritable army of managers and employees to keep these stations humming. According to an online article by media expert James Glen Stovall, television stations are organized into five basic departments under the guidance of a company president and a general manager. These departments are news, programming, engineering, sales and advertising, and business administration.
The news department is the local face of any television station. News anchors, reporters, meteorologists and sports anchors usually become recognizable personalities in their communities. But behind the scenes are several people that facilitate news coverage, including the news director, makeup artists and a variety of producers, editors and content writers. Entry-level staffers at the news assignment desk, for instance, are on the front lines of the news-gathering operation. They man news-tip phone lines, listen to police scanners, wade through emails and press releases and assist editors and producers in assigning stories and scheduling interviews.
Programming departments have a manager and assistant staff. The manager coordinates with other departments, especially the production or engineering department, to ensure scheduling and local television listings are accurate and up to date. This person also negotiates with parent companies to secure airing rights for new shows. However, the National Broadcasters Association reports that many large stations have reduced programming departments due to content being pre-determined at higher corporate levels. Another department with a similar function is the traffic department, which sets the advertising schedule and helps develop and edit a station’s master list of programming.
This department handles the technical aspects of broadcasting and on-air time. Under a chief engineer, otherwise known as director of broadcasting operations, there are a host of managers, engineers and studio crew members, including show directors, cameramen, audio board operators, teleprompter operators, photographers, videographers, tape room editors and engineering technicians. Master control supervisors oversee the master control room and all switchboard operators. They monitor transmitter readings, align satellite receiver equipment and make sure video airs in proper sequence.
Sales and Advertising
This is the department of the television station that generates revenue. The director of sales oversees sales managers, including the national sales manager and local sales manager. The former handles sales representatives from national advertising firms, working on tight deadline to book air time for high-profile clients. The latter supervises a sales staff comprised of account executives. Often working on commission, account executives focus on the local market, making contacts with businesses and other organizations in the community to sell advertising. Advertising departments might also have production staffs that include art directors, electronic graphic artists and voice talent, as well as market researchers who review and interpret ratings.
The business administration department handles the day-to-day business of a TV station. Office managers or station managers work under the general manager and oversee clerks, receptionists and other help staff. Controllers, usually certified public accountants, are responsible overseeing the station’s financial transactions, reports and budgets. They consult with other department heads regarding cash flow and expenditures. The human resources or personnel manager hires employees and ensures a safe workplace in all departments. Business administration might also house building maintenance workers who take care of the facility, from the studio to the restrooms.
Scott Neuffer is an award-winning journalist and writer who lives in Nevada. He holds a bachelor's degree in English and spent five years as an education and business reporter for Sierra Nevada Media Group. His first collection of short stories, "Scars of the New Order," was published in 2014.