Our new segment “Behind The Scene” is designed to inform those looking for employment and specifically young people who will soon enter the workplace that there are a variety of career opportunities that they may have never considered. Millions tune in every day to listen to radio announcers provide us with a variety of music. Rarely, however, do we realize what goes on behind the scene to bring the music and news to your radio each and every day.
Locally Davis Broadcasting, Inc. is the only Black and family-owned company in the tri-city with eight radio stations in Columbus and Atlanta. As with television, when one thinks of a career in the radio industry their first thought is to be an on-air personality. There is something to be said about knowing hundreds of thousands of people are tuning in just to hear you every day. But before you get too excited about being in front of the microphone you might want to know that radio has changed considerably over the years.
Todays’ radio is no longer run like WKRP in Cincinnati, the sitcom that appeared on CBS from 1978-1982. The program featured the misadventures of the staff of a struggling fictional radio station in Cincinnati, Ohio. Unlike the sitcom’s DJ “Venus Flytrap” Radio announcers no longer have the luxury of playing the music of their choice. Radio stations have playlists of songs, which can change weekly. These lists are put together by radio programmers (and others) who use information from many sources to "add" songs. Disc jockeys have not truly been making decisions on what to play for many years. The job falls to the program directors (PDs) who develop lists that direct the DJ on what to play and when to play it.
Here is some basic information when considering a career in the radio industry. The educational requirements for a career in radio broadcasting vary from completing high school to acquiring a graduate degree. For example, some employers prefer general managers with a master's degree in business administration. Other career options available to individuals with less education include radio announcer, sales manager, radio engineer and programming director.
Radio broadcasting careers can generally be broken down into four categories: management, professional, sales, and technical occupations. A background in journalism, broadcasting or communications would be a helpful start for entry into many of these careers. In addition to radio announcers, other job opportunities available in radio broadcasting include:
The general manager is responsible for the overall financial health and performance of a radio station. At smaller stations, the general manager and a bookkeeper may deal with all of the administrative and accounting matters. At larger stations, managers may have an administrative staff that assists them with these functions.
Programming directors determine the creative vision for a radio station or show, develop programming content and handle radio promotion projects. At smaller stations, they may also be responsible for choosing what music is played, which is a job that is usually handled by the musical director at larger stations.
The sales or marketing department is a driving force behind a station's success. General, national and local sales managers and their staff work together to generate revenue from advertising and other non-traditional sources of income, as well as promote the station's image and on-air personalities. Depending on the position, sales managers may give presentations to clients, spend long periods of time on the phone managing accounts, train sales staff and develop marketing strategies.
The technical department for a radio station may include directors of engineering, chief engineers, master control engineers and communications engineers. Engineers maintain the equipment used in radio broadcasts and make sure that all systems are functioning properly. They are responsible for a station's facilities and technical integrity and may provide technical support.