Radio Presenter

Being the voice of a radio station or programme

The lowdown

  • Being the voice of a radio station or programme
  • Creating the tone and style of radio output and establishing a relationship with listeners

Is this role right for me?

To do this role, you will need to:

  • have excellent presentation and performance skills
  • be able to generate original ideas, and to think creatively about how to communicate them to audiences
  • understand how to use the voice effectively for radio
  • be able to learn how to use a variety of recording equipment and to operate different radio studios
  • be able to present while operating studio controls and co-ordinating a range of simultaneous technical activities
  • be able to communicate knowledgeably and engagingly with audiences
  • have excellent communication skills and be able to draw information from people
  • be able to work calmly effectively under pressure, react quickly, and meet tight deadlines
  • have knowledge of the law, ethics and industry regulations around radio production
  • understand when it is necessary, and how to acquire, the relevant clearances and licences, including copyright and music clearances
  • understand the requirements of the relevant health and safety legislation and procedures
  • have strong IT skills, including word processing and data handling - and, ideally, audio editing and image manipulation software
  • have knowledge of the radio market, different station and programme styles, and audience demographics

What does a Radio Presenter do?

Radio Presenters are the voice of a station or programme, whether they work in speech-based or music Radio. They create the tone and style of radio output and establish a relationship with listeners. They may work for the BBC, commercial or community radio, on local or national stations, or for independent production companies.

Most presenters are self-employed, working on fixed term contracts. Although the greatest concentration of jobs is found in London and the South East of England, Radio Presenters work throughout the UK. Working hours are varied and may involve early mornings, late nights and overnights, as well as working weekends or holidays. In some roles Presenters are expected to travel to work on location, both within the UK and abroad.

Presenters in music radio work for a range of stations and programmes, catering for all musical tastes. Presenters in speech radio work in all genres, from topical talk shows to documentaries, light entertainment and comedy.

A Radio Presenter’s specific duties vary depending on the programme or station. They may present live or recorded shows, scripted and unscripted. They may write scripts and links or work from a brief supplied by other members of a production team. They may conduct interviews with contributors in a studio or over the phone. They may handle debates or phone-ins, or host live events. They should be able to operate various radio studios, and to record audio both in studios and on location.

They must understand the disciplines of the production process, particularly with regard to timings. They work closely with other members of a production team and may be expected to take direction from a Producer or Editor. They are expected to review their own output and to seek and accept feedback on their performance. They are also expected to monitor listener feedback, and contribute to responses to comments, or programme complaints.

Will I need a qualification?

You do not need to have a degree to be a Radio Presenter. Employers will want you to have hands-on experience and to have developed technical and presentation skills, along with a distinctive personal style.

If you do have a degree, employers won't necessarily expect it to be in a media-related subject. They may even prefer you to have a degree in another discipline, especially if followed by a postgraduate qualification in radio production.

If you are considering taking a radio course in higher education, the following courses have been rigorously assessed by the radio industry and awarded the Creative Skillset Tick for the high standard of education they provide and the degree to which they prepare you for a radio career:

What’s the best route in?

You could start out in an entry-level role and take every opportunity to develop your presenting skills until you’re able to secure a full-time presenting job.

Larger broadcasters sometimes run talent development schemes. Places are highly sought after as places are limited. To stand a chance of being selected, you will have to show that you have hands-on experience, rather than specific qualifications. To gain this hands-on experience, you could seek a place presenting community, student or hospital radio.

Occasionally, Radio Presenters are recruited for their specialist knowledge or celebrity profile, acquired from working on newspapers and magazines, or in the music business. Others make the move to radio from presentation roles in TV.

Where might the role take me?

Once in post, with enough experience and all the skills you gain, your career progression could involve moving to a larger station, to a programme with a wider audience, or from a local to a regional or national service. You might also move into TV or combine working in both media. Alternatively, you could choose to move into programme production or into a management role.