Clare Burgess talks to Geoff Hillyer, drivetime DJ at Norwich 99.9 about what it is like to be a radio presenter.

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Jobs24 factfile: radio presenter

Training

Radio presenters are the public voice of a station or particular programme, responsible for creating its tone and style as well as establishing a relationship with listeners.

For most roles, the right personality, voice and expertise are what is required rather than purely qualifications. Usually, presenters gain experience by working in community, student or hospital radio or as DJs. Some larger broadcasters run talent development schemes or you can work your way up from entry level roles.

Timescale

The key to secure a position is getting good quality experience and establishing a network of contacts. Qualifications can take a couple of years to complete.

Local training

Colleges in the region providing qualifications in media production include

• City College Norwich 01603 773773/ www.ccn.ac.uk

• Great Yarmouth College 01493 655261/ www.gyc.ac.uk

• College of West Anglia 01553 761144/ www.cwa.ac.uk

Local volunteering opportunities

• BBC www.bbc.co.uk/careers/home/

• Future Radio www.futureradio.co.uk

• Hospital Radio Norwich www.hospitalradionorwich.co.uk

For further information check:

• Community Media Association www.commedia.org.uk

• Hospital Broadcasting Association www.hbauk.com

• Radio Centre www.radiocentre.org

• Skillset www.skillset.org

Salary range

Most presenters are self-employed, working on fixed term contracts. Freelance rates vary widely.

Belle Jones

Why is it a good profession to get into?

Being a radio presenter is very different to your average job and I think that is what I like about it. Every day is different, you get to interact with a lot of people and it is a really fun job to do. It can be a really rewarding profession that allows you to make a difference to the lives of your listeners who rely on you for things like travel updates. On top of all that you also get the satisfaction of informing and entertaining your listeners, so it is a good profession to get in to.

What does the work involve?

The work you do as a radio presenter largely depends on the company you work for. The main thrust of it is what comes out of the speakers so you have got to plan your show well, but you would also get involved in other things such as attending events and helping to put ideas together. Being able to multi-task is a big thing as while we are doing a show you need to keep an eye on the travel situation around the city, check the weather and communicate with your listeners who will call in, and use social networking. Being a radio presenter gives you the opportunity to get involved in a lot of things but it all centres around what you do on air.

What are the positives/negatives of this profession?

The number one thing about being in radio is that it is a lot of fun. You get to meet lots of people and it is really rewarding when your listeners tell you how much they like your show. It is not your standard nine to five job and you get paid to do something that you love. However working in radio can involve working unsociable hours and you need to be prepared to move around a bit to get your experience. It is a very competitive industry and there is nowhere to hide because tens of thousands of people listen to you everyday, so you need to be on top of your game even if you are having a bad day.

Is there much local demand for people trained in this area?

There aren’t many ‘established’ local radio stations, but there is a growth of online stations that people can get into to pursue their hobby, which can lead to a full-time career. Getting into radio presenting is not easy – in many cases, it’s about being in the right place at the right time and having a combination of experience, drive and persistence to be able to get noticed. But I am a strong believer that if you want it badly enough eventually you will get there.

What would employers look for in someone applying for a vacancy?

The two main things are your personality and your voice. You have to have a personality because that’s why people like listening to the radio and you have to have a voice that people like to listen to. Knowledge of the local area is really important particularly on a local radio station like this and you need to have adaptability as this industry is constantly changing. You don’t need any specific qualifications to be a radio presenter as it is more about your aptitude, ability to communicate with people and the way you conduct yourself.

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