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Radio Producer


Radio producers are the behind-the-scenes creators and producers of radio broadcasting. They coordinate the making of radio programs, including everything from the initial concept to the final production and distribution. Since there is quite a diverse selection of radio programming on the air these days, radio producers will ultimately fill a number of interesting and challenging roles.

Radio producers are usually assigned to a specific show. For example, a call-in talk show, a morning drive (which is the most popular listening time), or the "drive home" show. It is their responsibility to make an informative and entertaining show that generates and holds a dedicated audience of listeners. Some producers are involved in research and writing work; finding guests to interview and then doing research before the host will conduct the interview. Most people think that all announcers and hosts come up with their own material but this is not the case. The majority of producers either write the material or make sure that their personalities are sticking to the guidelines of the station and the producer's vision.

Many radio producers work in the control room, directing the music and the information portion of the program. They will collect taped interviews and natural sound to make packaged reports. If you call a talk radio station, you might speak to the producer before you get on the air, so that they can screen your call. Some producers write commercials for their advertising sponsors and do voice-overs for some advertisements. Now you know that it is often the producer's voice you are hearing when generic-sounding commercials come on the air.

Since most programs are aired live, there is a high stress level involved in the job. Producers must make sure that everything is perfectly in order before a production airs. For instance, they must make sure the sound is correct, and that the news is presented clearly. Since the radio medium is only an aural stimulant, listeners must be able to understand what the producers are trying to say. Unlike television or film, which have a visual component, radio producers must be experts in the radio medium.

Some radio producers are also involved in the marketing and business aspects of production. They are the money and management people of the industry and without them; a radio station would be lacking in its basic necessity -- funding. Producers deal with contract negotiations over salary and conditions of employment, and must be familiar with minimum wages and working conditions established by industry unions. The producer must approve every purchase made in a radio studio from a new microphone, to lunch to travel budgets.
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  Interests and Skills  
Radio producers need to have organizational ability, and research, writing and interviewing skills. They should have a clear speaking voice, as they sometimes have to speak on air, and good communication skills because they deal with the public. They must also have technical skills such as digital editing and sound recording skills.

Radio producers need to be friendly, motivated, patient, creative and imaginative. They need to be able to work well under pressure, motivate other people, keep to a schedule and meet deadlines. They should also have a good ear for sound.

  Typical Tasks  
  • Determine the program content within station guidelines
  • Attend production meetings and help decide what will be broadcast
  • Keep up-to-date with the music industry and current affairs
  • Supervise the researchers, writers and production assistants
  • Organize individuals and groups to be recorded or to appear on the radio
  • Ensure expenditures do not exceed a set budget
  • Record live concerts, studio sessions and interviews for radio shows
  • Edit recordings, such as concerts or interviews, into a radio show
  • Transfer pre-recorded segments onto a computer system for broadcasters to play on air
  • Answer phone calls during shows and pass relevant information on to broadcasters
  • Research information for radio shows
  • Depending on the radio show or station that a producer works, hours will vary accordingly. Some may be in charge of a "drive home" show, a call-in talk show or the morning drive, which can start as early as five a.m. and go into the afternoon. Also, for producers just starting out, they may be required to work the graveyard shift on an overnight station. There is a high level of stress involved because many radio shows are live on the air, therefore, this leaves little room for making any mistakes. Most producers spend their time indoors in a studio setting.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Radio broadcast companies or individual stations employ most radio producers. Some will also choose to work overseas at English language radio stations.

  Long Term Career Potential  
Advancement for radio producers is quite challenging, as the producer is one of the top positions within the industry. They run the show, so unless a career change is what one has in mind, the movement could be to other positions in radio, such as announcing and hosting a show.

Also people do not immediately become radio producers. They must make the right connections in order to build trust with potential stations and investors. The most successful producers have spent years in various jobs in radio, such as writing and research.

  Educational Paths  
Although school is not 100 percent required by radio stations, the majority of radio producers have a university or college diploma in broadcast journalism or radio and television arts. These days, most stations will not consider you without formal education. Many radio producers begin as writers, broadcasters, researchers or assistant producers and with experience move into the production role.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002, http://www.bls.gov/oes/2002/oes_nat.htm

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