The Internet revolution may have changed the way people get their news and entertainment, but there’s one thing that’s certain: radio isn’t going away any time soon. It’s still one of the main ways to communicate with people who are on the go, and there are still opportunities for successful careers. If you’re interested in a career in radio production, here are the most important skills you’ll need:
Radio production is where new ideas are born. Whether it’s an idea for a new radio talk show or the type of music the station plays, radio producers are the ones responsible for developing the vision and communicating it to the people who will make it happen.
2. Feel for what’s trending
Radio is about what’s happening right now. Whether it’s a breaking news story, a local political scandal, the latest celebrity gaffe, or ongoing culture wars, it’s up to the producer to know what people are interested in – and to react immediately when that interest changes.
3. Writing skills
While some larger radio stations have specialists for every task, it’s a lot more common for the producer to do a little bit of everything. That may include writing scripts for the DJs and announcers, writing public service announcements (PSAs) for the community, shout-outs to the station’s sponsors, et cetera. Radio requires a quick, witty, and right-to-the-point style that takes a special type of writing skill.
Budgets are always tight in radio, and, the smaller the station, the tighter the budget. Radio producers have to be able to do more with less. At some stations, they may be responsible for lining up advertisers, while bigger stations may have a sales staff for that. Producers are also responsible for figuring out how to produce the show with the funds available, and for monitoring the project to make sure it stays on budget.
5. People skills
Interpersonal skills are critical to success in radio production. Producers have to be able to cajole and please sponsors/advertisers on the one hand, and work with the on-air talent on the other. Bad interpersonal skills can result in the loss of sponsors, and resentful on-air talent, neither of which bode well for a station’s success.
6. Technical skills
At a minimum, radio producers need to understand the technical side of production so that they can talk sensibly with the people who do the work. In smaller stations, the producer may be a lot more hands-on, responsible for editing, splicing, creating graphics and audio, and so on.
7. Organization and attention to detail
Organization and attention to detail are also essential skills. Details matter in radio, and letting something fall through the cracks can cause major problems. Neglecting to thank a sponsor at the agreed-upon timeslot, for instance, can cost valuable funding. Regulations change frequently. And then there are things like traffic reports and weather forecasts, all of which rely heavily on accuracy.
When you’re in radio production, the buck stops with you. You’re the one who has to come up with the ideas, figure out what it will take to bring those ideas to fruition, line up the resources, make it all happen, and measure the success.
9. Calm in stress
Radio producers are like the air traffic controllers of the airwaves. There is an overwhelming number of moving parts, and they all have to come together smoothly. Plus, in times of stress, the on-air talent will be looking to you for guidance. If you’re panicking, your talent might start panicking, too, and listeners will pick up on that.
10. Ability to react quickly
There’s one more skill that’s absolutely necessary to survive in radio production, and that’s the ability to react quickly. If a major story breaks, all of your plans for the day get thrown out the window. You have to be able to operate on the fly, whether that’s calling in extra broadcasters or speaking without a planned script.
Radio production is an exciting career, but it’s not for the faint of heart. If you can juggle many different details at the same time – and make it look easy – this could be the career for you.
Image source: Salford City College