Radio Announcer Career Profile

A radio announcer is a lot more than a voice. This is highly specialized work, and involves dealing with the technical and professional requirements of on-air broadcasters, sponsors, and in some cases news reading.  

Education and training

Radio announcers are usually formally trained speakers. There are no particular qualifications required for this work, although radio announcers are usually formally qualified in media studies. Their normal level of training includes:

  • Elocution
  • Reflective speech (proper spoken diction and pronunciation of words)
  • Broadcast speaking (training to speak at broadcast rates, 120 words per minute)
  • Microphone techniques
  • Studio and audio systems
  • Voice-overs
  • Commercial speaking techniques
  • Presentation skills (broadcast techniques and practices)
  • Broadcast law

Types of radio announcer jobs

Radio announcers work with all kinds of spoken materials. The types of jobs can be quite varied:

Presenters: As presenters, they may be required to do commercial content for sponsors, news reading, talkback, voice-overs, editorial commentaries, all in one broadcast. Although there's always a market for good broadcast quality voices, the "streamlining" motif, using fewer people to do more, also applies in broadcasting. Radio announcers are usually required to cover a large part of the spoken content of their shows as presenters. 

Commercial voice-overs: These people specialize in spoken performances, often working for radio stations as general voice-over content speakers, and/or commercial speakers for other media. 

News readers: The specialist news reader is often a journalist with radio announcer training. These news readers often help prepare the materials for broadcast from the news room, and in some cases contribute materials. 

Voice characterization speakers: Voice characterization can be extremely lucrative, and trained broadcast speakers often gravitate to this area. These speakers provide recognizable novelty character voices for promotion purposes. Radio is an excellent medium for this work. 

The work environment

Radio announcers work in a studio production environment. Their work is based on recording, live presentations, and broadcast time and content management requirements. This work is sometimes difficult, because of the diverse nature of materials and special requirements for certain speaking assignments. In many cases the advertiser has particular production requirements for the nature of spoken materials, like "enthusiasm" for commercials. The work often has some elements of theatrical presentation.  

Wages and salaries vary enormously. Top line radio speakers can command major fees for performances from major corporations. The majority, however, work on a contract or job by job basis. Contract work is much more lucrative than the job to job approach, which is fee based, and may be a pittance.

The career environment

Radio announcers are trained speakers, and they have a major advantage over workers in other media in career terms for work in commercial areas. Radio announcers are commonly used for public recorded messages for major industries, phone queue services, and other work. These jobs, which are all audio based, are excellent sources of income for trained radio announcers, and can attract huge contracts and fees. Commercial product voice-over work can be worth millions. 

Radio announcers also have a "portfolio" of experience, a primary source of work. Their work is a career progression, each type of job opening up potential opportunities for higher paid work.