TV/Radio Announcer/Presenter

The Job and What's Involved

Presenters and announcers are the 'anchors' of broadcasting. They have a high-profile role that demands great technical expertise as well as an outstanding communication style.

Presenters are found in news and documentary programmes, and on sports, music, entertainment, reality and children's shows. They may introduce material ranging from political analysis, to pop music and quizzes, or weather forecasts. They must communicate by building a rapport with the unseen audience.

While presenters may have to 'ad lib' - responding spontaneously to events - announcers are more likely to work from a script. They include newsreaders and continuity announcers who introduce and link different programmes on a network.

Depending on the role, tasks may include:

  • Being briefed by researchers.
  • Preparing scripts, links and interview questions.
  • Working with colleagues to set down the sequence of items in a show.
  • Taking part in rehearsals.
  • Presenting on the air and carrying out interviews.

Presenters and announcers work as part of a team with directors, producers, floor managers, camera, sound and lighting operatives, and other colleagues.

In radio, the job may include running the control desk during a programme. In TV, presenters may read scripts from an autocue.

The role can be highly pressured, particularly if a programme is going out live. A recorded show may require many 'takes' to achieve the right effect.

While on the air, presenters may need to respond to requests from the director, fed through an earpiece - for example, they might be asked to cut short an interview to make sure the show runs to schedule.

The hours vary, depending on the type of show. Some presenters and announcers have to work long and irregular hours to complete shows, including early, late or night shifts.

Many of the most experienced and best-known presenters work freelance.

The work is office-based, with the on-air work taking place in studios. Presenters may also work on location, which can mean outdoor work in all weathers. A driving licence is useful.

In TV, a meticulous appearance is important. Make-up is usually applied to counter the effects of the lighting before going on camera.

Starting salaries may be around £14,000 a year.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

The main employers include:

  • Local and independent radio stations, based in all parts of the UK.
  • The BBC's nationally-networked and digital radio stations, based mainly in London and Manchester.
  • BBC TV, mainly in London, but with increasing opportunities in other major cities.
  • ITV's national network of stations.
  • Digital, satellite and cable TV companies.
  • Independent production companies which make programmes for the main channels or produce films for business clients.

The number of opportunities is increasing with the growth of digital and satellite channels. However, competition for jobs is still very fierce.

Vacancies may be advertised in Ariel, The Stage and The Guardian. However, some jobs are not advertised, so it is important to have good contacts and a profile in the industry.

Education and Training

There are no set entry qualifications, but a degree in communication or media studies may be helpful. Personality, enthusiasm and determination are as important as qualifications. Being able to demonstrate a track record in the industry is essential.

It is a good idea to get some experience as early as possible, either through university or college radio or newspapers, or through community or hospital radio. A demo tape or showreel can help showcase your abilities.

Entry routes are varied:

  • A presenter can get experience in a junior broadcasting role as a runner or production assistant.
  • Presenters in news or current affairs generally need training and experience in journalism, often including a degree.
  • Some music radio presenters start out as club DJs or as volunteers on their local hospital radio station.
  • Presenters on entertainment shows often have a background in acting or the performing arts and may have drama school training.
  • Some presenters get jobs because of their detailed knowledge of a specialist field, such as sport or interior design.

Trainees in radio or TV are likely to need some qualifications as well as experience, such as:

  • Five GCSE's/S grades (A-C/1-3) and a relevant A level/H grade (A-C/1-3), or equivalent qualifications.
  • BTEC National and Higher National Diplomas in Communications and Media Studies.
  • NVQ's/SVQ's Levels 2 and 3 in Broadcast Journalism and Production.
  • NVQ/SVQ Level 4 in Broadcast Journalism.

The Diploma will give you the knowledge and skills that you will need for college, university or work in an exciting, creative and enjoyable way.

A Few More Exams You Might Need

Many companies offer short courses for announcers and presenters. Some can be expensive, so check their content to make sure they are going to be useful.

Skillset, the Sector Skills Council for the Audio Visual Industries, offers practical advice and recommends relevant courses.

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

A presenter or announcer must have:

  • A clear and attractive speaking voice.
  • Confidence.
  • A likeable personality.
  • Quick wits, to handle unexpected events smoothly.
  • A comprehensive knowledge of the specialist subject, and of current affairs generally.
  • A strong awareness of the technical aspects of getting a show on air.
  • Good planning, organisation and timing skills.
  • A fluency for language and a natural reading style.
  • An easy rapport with an audience.
  • The ability to work well in a team.

Your Long Term Prospects

There is no formal career structure for announcers and presenters. Many presenters seek to move on to a national station or to a more high-profile, peak-time show.

Get Further Information

BBC Recruitment,
PO Box 48305, London W12 6YE
Website: www.bbc.co.uk/jobs

Broadcast Journalism Training Council,
18 Miller's Close, Rippingale near Bourne,
Lincolnshire PE10 0TH
Tel: 01778 440025
Website: www.bjtc.org.uk

Radio Centre, The Radiocentre,
77 Shaftesbury Avenue, London W1D 5DU
Tel: 020 7306 2603
Website : www.radiocentre.org

Equity (the British actors' union),
Guild House, Upper St Martins Lane,
London WC2H 9EG
Tel: 020 7379 6000
Website: www.equity.org.uk

National Council for Drama Training,
1-7 Woburn Walk, London WC1H 0JJ
Tel: 020 7387 3650
Website: www.ncdt.co.uk

The Radio Academy, 5 Market Place,
London W1W 8AE
Tel: 020 7255 2010
Website: www.radioacademy.org

Skillset, Prospect House,
80-110 New Oxford Street,
London WC1A 1HB
Tel: 08080 300900 (in Scotland, 0808 100 8094)
Website: www.skillset.org

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