Careers

A broadcast presenter is the face or voice of programmes broadcast via television, radio and the internet. You'll work on a variety of platforms including national, regional, satellite and cable television, local and national radio and online.

Your role is to entertain and inform an audience by presenting information or entertainment in an accessible and attractive way. You'll introduce, host (or co-host) a programme, create links between items, introduce and interview guests and interact with the audience. The exact nature of the job may vary according to a programme's subject matter, for example if it covers news, weather, sport, music or lifestyle.

Responsibilities

As a broadcast presenter, you'll need to:

  • - research topics and background information for items to be featured on the programme
  • - plan and rehearse shows
  • - write and sometimes memorise scripts
  • - liaise with other members of the production and technical teams
  • - introduce and host programmes
  • - interview guests in the studio, by telephone or on location play music
  • - read short news, traffic, sport or weather reports
  • - provide links between programmes
  • - read from a script or autocue, or improvise
  • - in radio, 'drive' the desk and operate some of the technical equipment for recording and playback, using computers to cue up and play music and jingles
  • - keep the programme running to schedule, responding positively and quickly to problems or changes and improvising where necessary
  • - in television, keep in contact with the director and production team in the studio gallery, via ear-piece link
  • meet with the production crew to assess or review a broadcast, and to plan the next one.

Salary Salaries vary enormously, depending on whether you're working full time for a channel/radio statio, or working freelance on an ad-hoc basis. Having experience is a significant help in negotiating an increase in fees. Successful or celebrity presenters earn significantly higher salaries.

Working hours You'll work much longer than the actual broadcast hours and work is rarely, if ever, 9am to 5pm. Pre-show preparation, such as meetings with the producer, researching, writing scripts, rehearsing and post-show review, which includes discussing the broadcast with the producer and beginning advance planning for the next show, all add to the working day. Hours may be long and unsocial, involving early mornings, evenings or weekends, although this depends on the timing of the programme and whether it's live or pre-recorded.

What to expect

  • Working conditions vary, depending on the broadcast medium and type of programme. For example, conditions for a presenter on a small local radio station with a show in the middle of the night will be vastly different from those for a high-profile celebrity with a prime-time television show.
  • Most presenters, particularly those on national radio and television, employ an agent to negotiate working terms and conditions on their behalf.
  • Most work is based in a radio or television studio, but may also include outside broadcasts, which can involve working in all conditions. 
  • You'll have a public image to maintain and, as a result, must be prepared for some loss of privacy.
  • Travel during the working day varies according to the type of programme. Radio roadshows, for example, involve a significant amount of travel and you may be required to work away from home for extended periods of time. Similarly, documentary-makers or roving reporters can also be expected to travel in the UK and abroad to cover stories and news events.

Skills

You'll need to have:

  • - excellent communication and presentation skills
  • - performance skills and a clear voice
  • - the ability to generate original ideas
  • - a personable and confident manner
  • - a broad range of interests, including current affairs
  • - good research and interviewing skills
  • - the confidence and the ability to sell yourself
  • - an awareness of media law
  • - the ability to take initiative and make quick decisions under pressure
  • - team-working skills
  • - creativity and problem-solving skills.

Work experience

You'll need to develop the necessary practical skills for the job, including getting related work experience that shows your presenting ability. This can be gained from on-campus media activities, such as student radio, work with local television stations, or hospital radio. Make sure you get copies of recordings to be able to show potential employers.

There's no fixed entry route to the career of broadcast presenting. Requirements vary according to the type of programme and broadcast medium. For example, television presenters in light entertainment shows may come from journalism, acting or even modelling backgrounds, while music radio presenters may have had performance careers or been a club DJ or radio producer.

Career prospects

Broadcast presenting is an unpredictable profession and career development may be more about achieving your personal ambitions than following a set progression route.

Many presenters begin in local radio or in minor roles on television. Good starting points are also found through opportunities in hospital, community and university radio stations. Others start out in print journalism, taking radio opportunities and then television opportunities, as and when they occur.

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