Career Level: Mid-Level
What Do They Do?
A Radio Drama Producer develops, casts, directs, edits and promotes radio dramas. They work with script-writers and actors to make their programme as engaging as possible. It is a very specific role, and with a different skillset from that of a live radio producer’s role.
Drama doesn’t operate on a daily timeline like many other radio production roles, but roughly instead there are four key stages of production, at each of which the role changes slightly:
- Development. Finding writers (visiting plays/watching films/reading scripts) and finding markets.Developing and pitching ideas, negotiating budgets. At the BBC, there’s a mandate to include a certain amount of public service work in our daily jobs - talking to new writers/new actors, listening to voice reels, liaising with drama schools, etc.
- Pre-production. Once the show is commissioned, the producer is responsible for booking actors and studios (with and without audiences) and for ensuring the relevant forms get filled in (bookings, music reporting, compliance etc) and the scripts are in the right format for recording.
- Production. The best days are studio days. The Producer acts as the director, overseeing any rehearsal and/or performance, and noting when there are any retakes/pickups needed. It’s their job to make sure they get everything they need recorded.
- Editing. Radio Drama Producers don’t always attend to every aspect of the edit themselves, but they do have editorial control over the edit, choosing what stays in and what gets cut, as well as directing the sound design (effects/music) that may need to be added.
Who Do They Work With?
- The most important relationship a producer will have is with the writer – they need a trusting relationship where they can give feedback and the writer won’t reject it out of hand.
- Drama Producers often work with a production co-ordinator (similar to a broadcast assistant), who needs to know what’s in their head in order to help them run the production smoothly.
- Drama Producers also need positive, constructive relationships with Commissioners – as these are the people who will green-light and fund programmes.
- A Drama Producer also needs a good relationship with their engineer because they are the people doing the actual recording and they need to know what you want to hear.
What Skills Do I Need?
- Radio Drama Producers must have a love of story-telling and a love for drama.
- Radio Drama Producers need to be confident communicators with strong writing skills, as they need to explain ideas to commissioners, and give notes to writers, performers and engineers.
- Radio Drama Producers need excellent Editorial judgement and be able to direct the action in a drama studio. How does that sound? Will the audience at home get what’s going on? Does this make sense?
- Radio Drama Producers must stay calm under pressure – particularly when working against deadlines.
- Radio Drama Producers need strong interpersonal skills, as they need to support their talent to produce their best work.
- Radio Drama Producers need excellent time management and planning skills to make sure that the recording days go smoothly.
How Do I Get This Job?
There is no set path into this role. Producers come via all kinds of background, many of them via production coordination, some from theatre, some from acting, writing, sound editing, documentary making. Radio drama is all the richer for the varied nature of its career paths.