Also known as: Host
Career Level: n/a
What Do They Do?
Presenters are at the heart of everything we do in radio. They are the voice of the station, its heart and its soul. They bring stories, news, music and facts to life, and enable audiences to connect with what they’re hearing. Radio without presenters is like a table without legs!
Presenters can be music specialists, broadcast journalists or expert voices sourced from other industries and trained up to broadcast, but they all need one thing: a great voice. Speaking clearly, with warmth, emotion and humour will all set a great radio presenter apart, but the best presenters will do all those things and be able to connect with an audience, on their level.
Presenters are outgoing, love meeting new people and learning new things. They are creative and curious, likely to read widely and stay across emerging technologies and social platforms. They have a natural ability to put people at ease and are able to think on their feet to get the best out of interviews.
Presenters are great multitaskers, technically adept and able to stay calm under pressure. Most presenters are expected to be able to “drive” the show desk, although specific technical expectations will vary from station to station.
In national and network radio, most presenters will have a producer, but in smaller stations and in the voluntary sector presenters may be expected to produce their own show as well.
A Presenter’s daily tasks might involve:
- Coming up with ideas for their show
- Researching guests, music or other content for their show
- Writing links or structuring their ideas
- Listening to new music, compiling running orders and playlists (if it’s a specialist music show)
- Discussing features, guests and other plans with the show team
- Keeping across the news and cultural agenda, reading newspapers and websites, staying on top of what’s trending or zeitgeisty on social media.
- Listening to other shows on their station so they be part of the station’s wider conversations.
- Driving their own desk in the studio if it’s a self-op show.
Who Do They Work With?
- Presenters will work closely with a producer. This relationship is crucial as it helps create the right atmosphere in the studio. A presenter must feel confident in their producer’s editorial knowledge, planning skills and ability to handle any tricky situations that may arise.
- Presenters may also work with other presenting talent, such as a co-host, news presenter, travel presenter, or other expert contributor.
- Presenters may be further supported by an Assistant Producer, Broadcast Assistant or Team Assistant.
- Presenters may also work with Execs, Editors, Heads of Station/Network and others in station management.
- Depending on the type of show, the Presenter will also speak to experts in their field – such as music pluggers if it’s a music programme.
What Skills Do I Need?
- Presenters need to have a great voice for radio, and the ability to communicate over the airwaves with warmth, humour and personality.
- Presenters will understand how audio works and have a natural flair for timing their own delivery.
- Presenters need to have a deep and detailed knowledge of their subject area – whether that’s a specific music genre, culture section, geographic area, or particular area of current affairs.
- Presenters are creative and must be able to continuously source or generate ideas for their show.
- Presenters are the voice of the station, so they need to have the ability to stay on brand at all times.
- Presenters must stay calm under pressure – particularly in a live broadcast environment when unexpected things can happen.
- Presenters need strong interpersonal skills, as they need to build relationships with guests and other contributors in a short space of time.
- Presenters need to be confident communicators.
- It’s helpful (and fun!) if presenters have excellent time management skills as then they can “back-time” when playing music and hit vocals at the right moment.
- Presenters need to be technically confident in a studio, and ready to learn about emerging technologies or new equipment.
- Presenters need to be flexible.
- Presenters tend to have curious minds, a fascination with people and a love of story-telling.
How Do I Get This Job?
Being a radio presenter is a vocation, so although there are courses that will teach you the technical skills, you will need to prove yourself worthy of an audience in other ways.
There are many routes to becoming a presenter – from starting in the voluntary sector, to starting your own podcast or YouTube channel. Some presenters will start as an expert in another field and then move into radio once they have amassed an audience. Occasionally stations may run a “search for a star” competition, where totally unknown voices will get an opportunity to broadcast on their favourite network.