Have you been told that you have a great voice for radio? A radio personality is the host of an on-air program that offers music, news, commentary or any combination of these. Although a few high-profile personalities earn more than a six figure income, the average radio host salary is $31,500 per year. It's the love of the medium, not the money, that attracts people to a career in radio.
A radio disc jokey, or a DJ, plays music and communicates with listeners between songs. Some may provide commentary about music and artists, and may engage with listeners via the phone. DJs may also read the news and weather, and lend their voices to commercials. They may be live on the radio or they may pre-record their programs, or they may record portions of their programs. Most DJs do not assemble playlists on their own, and they take direction from station management. DJs usually specialize in one musical genre, such as hip-hop, classic country or jazz.
Many radio personalities host talk shows, and they might not feature music at all. Politics, sports, world events, interviews and health are popular topics for programs. Some shows have celebrity guests and also subject matter experts. Some take phone calls from listeners who want to weigh-in on the topic of the day.
There are no formal education requirements for becoming a radio personality. A college degree in communications or broadcasting can be an asset, since it can give you some experience and may help you make connections that will be helpful in a job search. Working toward a degree may also afford the opportunity to have an internship. Aspiring radio personalities should volunteer at a local radio station, if possible. If you're already out of school, consider taking non-credit classes in public speaking or voice. Joining a group, such as Toastmasters, will give you practice articulating your ideas in a public forum. Hosting your own podcast can also hone your skills.
Usually, radio personalities are on the air for several hours, spending many more hours off the air, when they are reading, writing and preparing for their shows. Radio stations typically broadcast 24 hours a day, seven days a week, so a radio broadcaster - particularly when starting out in the industry - may work nights, weekends or holidays.
The industry is extremely competitive and salaries are generally low. Nationally syndicated radio personalities such as Howard Stern and Delilah earn millions, but their careers are atypical. Some radio DJs supplement their incomes by hosting live events. Others write, do voice-overs or teach.
Salary and Job Outlook
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics tracks data and makes projections for civilian occupations. It classifies radio personalities as announcers. The average radio broadcaster salary is $31,500 per year and can vary, according to a number of factors, including the size of the market and on individual ratings. The BLS projects a 9-percent decline in job opportunities through 2026. Formally trained, experienced broadcasters should have the greatest number of options when seeking employment.