Growth Trends for Related Jobs
How Much Money Does a Local Newscaster Earn?
Salaries for newscasters in local markets cover a broad range, depending upon the size of the market, the size or profile of the station and whether the medium is radio or television. However, top salaries for local newscasters are on the decline as the seasoned, prime-time anchors are rapidly being replaced with younger — and less expensive — faces.
The 2010-11 Occupational Outlook Handbook published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the overall median salary for newscasters for both radio and television combined in 2008 was $51,000. Newscasters in the middle 50 percent earned from $32,000 to $89,000, while the lowest 10 percent earned less than $23,000 and the top 10 percent earned more than $156,000.
Radio vs. Television
The Radio Television Digital News Association’s (RTDNA’s) 2011 survey conducted with Hofstra University reported that the median salary for television local news anchors is $70,000, with the minimum at $18,000 and the maximum at $737,500. The median salary for a local news reporter was $32,000, with the minimum at $16,000 and the maximum at $201,500. Radio newscasters make considerably less. A radio local news anchor has a median salary of $42,500, with the minimum at $25,000 and the maximum at $100,000. Local radio news reporters have a median salary of $30,000, with the minimum at $18,000 and the maximum at $75,000.
Broadcast stations earn their revenue through the sale of advertisement time, and advertisers look for the largest market share in their targeted demographic. For this reason, markets are a critical factor in salary negotiations. The RTDNA’s 2011 survey found that television local news anchors in the top 25 markets make an average of $165,000, while news anchors in the bottom 150 markets make $35,000. Radio markets are classified as small, medium, large and major. Local radio news anchors in major markets make an average of $52,500, while those in medium markets make $30,000. Local radio news reporters make an average of $40,000 in major markets and $30,000 in medium markets. Ratings are merciless when it comes to job security. Randy Price, local news anchor on WHDH-TV in Boston, dominated the ratings for 12 years but left the station in 2009 when his ratings slipped to third place.
According to the BLS's 2008 report, 74 percent of local newscaster jobs were with large companies in large metropolitan cities, although 38 percent of all broadcasting companies employed fewer than five people.
In 2008, there were only 14,800 newscasters in the United States for both radio and television combined, which made up 6.41 percent of the broadcasting industry. You should expect that even entry-level positions will require a degree in broadcasting or a related field as well as some on-air experience, such as a college radio station or through a college internship at a professional station. The BLS expects employment demand for newscasters to increase by 6.5 percent for the decade between 2008 and 2018.
Lisa Dorward was a corporate financial executive and business consultant for more than 15 years before becoming a writer in 2003. She has B.A. degrees in both history and creative writing and earned her M.F.A. in creative writing in 2008, specializing in novel-length historical fiction.