Education and Training: Varies—see profile
Salary: Median—$10.64 per hour
Employment Outlook: Poor
Definition and Nature of the Work
Radio and television announcers work within the field of broadcasting. Their main goals are to capture the public's interest, build a large audience, and provide accurate information on a variety of topics.
Radio announcers may have a wide range of duties, depending on where they work. Some announcers read preprinted scripts into a microphone; headphones enable them to hear the way their voices sound to the listeners. Announcers generally work with a broadcasting technician, who operates broadcasting equipment, and an engineer, who starts and stops the tapes on which music, commercials, and programs are recorded and tells the announcer when to start and stop talking.
Radio announcers generally read commercials and messages to listeners. They introduce songs, radio shows, and periodic station breaks. During these breaks, the announcer tells listeners the station's name or call letters and the city from which the show is being broadcast. At some small stations, announcers sell commercial time to advertisers, write commercial and news scripts, and run broadcasting equipment. Announcers for small stations may also read the news and the sports scores. At large stations newscasters and sportscasters—typically experienced journalists or well-known sports figures—handle those tasks.
Most radio stations play recorded music. Announcers who play programs of popular or classical music are called disc jockeys. They are expected to know a lot about the music they play. They must also be able to speak intelligently or amusingly about various performers and about popular culture in general. Disc jockeys often spend as much time talking as they spend playing music. Announcers frequently appear at community events, such as fundraising activities or the opening of an advertiser's store.
Television announcers provide viewers with information on upcoming shows. Their extra duties vary from station to station. Some announcers appear in or do voice-overs for commercials.
Education and Training Requirements
College or technical school training is a valuable asset in the broadcasting field; however, the most important requirement is an impressive taped audition that highlights the applicant's delivery and style. High school courses in writing and communications and after-school activities that require public speaking are highly recommended for prospective announcers. In college, interested individuals may seek work at campus-run radio or television stations, take classes in videotape production, or audition for roles in school productions. Other opportunities for interested individuals include internships at local radio and television stations. Acting and voice lessons may also improve a candidate's chance of landing a job in this extremely competitive field.
Getting the Job
Small radio and television stations are more likely to hire beginners than large ones are. Prospective announcers can apply directly to stations all over the country. Most beginners start out behind the scenes as production assistants or writers. From these jobs, they move into positions as announcers. Announcers are generally required to audition, or try out, for their jobs. They are asked to read several short pieces that they have prepared, as well as material they have not seen before. The candidates who perform best are hired.
Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook
The aim of radio broadcasting is to attract as many listeners as possible so that companies will pay more money to advertise on a particular station. One way to get people to listen to one station over another is to hire likeable announcers. Popular announcers often get jobs at big stations. Some disc jockeys who have attracted large followings sell their services to stations on a freelance basis. Staff announcers may get their own radio shows, and many announcers move into management jobs where they can plan and produce new shows.
Staff announcers on television stations may get shows of their own or become freelancers, picking and choosing jobs that suit them. Some weather, sports, and financial update announcers—both in television and on the radio—are in such demand that they are able to do shows for several stations. Announcers sometimes narrate special programs such as television documentaries.
Radio and television stations hire only a few announcers, so competition is intense for these jobs. Employment opportunities for announcers are expected to decline through the year 2014 due to the increasing consolidation of radio and television stations, the advent of new technology, and the growth of alternative media sources such as cable television and satellite radio. Other job openings will occur as workers retire, advance, or take up other kinds of work.
Staff announcers at television stations generally work forty hours per week at a comfortable pace; however, they may be required to work nights and weekends. As their responsibilities increase, their work becomes more hectic and they may be required to work many extra hours.
In addition to reading scripts and commercials, radio announcers have to improvise, or speak without a script, much of the time. Disc jockeys must keep up a rapid fire of talk. Most radio announcers work forty hours per week. They work in shifts to fill all the time the station is on the air.
Earnings and Benefits
Salaries for announcers depend largely on experience, talent, and where they work. Announcers at large stations usually earn more than those at small stations, and earnings are generally higher in very large cities. In addition, salaries are typically higher in television than in radio broadcasting. Educational stations offer less money than commercial stations.
Where to Go for More Information
Broadcast Education Association
1771 N St. NW
Washington, DC 20036-2891
National Association of Broadcasters
1771 N St. NW
Washington, DC 20036-2891
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for radio and television announcers is $10.64 per hour. The highest 10 percent earn $27.61 per hour. Some announcers receive extra pay for overtime work. Additional benefits include paid vacations.