How do I Become a Radio Journalist?

Sheri Cyprus

If you want to become a radio journalist, you'll need at least a diploma or certificate earned at a broadcasting school. Jobs at radio stations are often very competitive. Some types of radio stations, such as an all-news format, may prefer their journalists to have a bachelor's degree such as one in broadcast journalism, English or communications. When choosing a journalism school, consider a university with a job placement component as well as a student-run radio station.

Radio stations broadcast programming in the form of signals that are received by radios.
Radio stations broadcast programming in the form of signals that are received by radios.

Education plus some experience at any type of radio station can help you get an entry-level job as you start to become a radio journalist. Entertainment news may be an easier area to break into than hard news reporting, but the best idea is to pursue an area that interests you. Passion and an interesting way of looking at a subject can bring a radio journalist much success, so it makes sense to try to stay true to your interests. At the same time, though, you have to have a style and topic knowledge that relate to what your listeners find informative.

Radio journalists might take notes during events to report on them later.
Radio journalists might take notes during events to report on them later.

If sports journalism is your goal, it may be easier to break into if you begin covering games on a student radio station. Bringing audio files to your interview of your successful student sports coverage may impress a radio station's hiring manager. Remember to show that you understand the games you'll cover. If you can convince the manager of a small radio station to give you a chance, such as to cover sports news once a week, this could be a great opportunity for you to start to become a radio journalist in your desired field. Remember that you can use the same strategy to try to get entry-level radio journalism work in any subject that will interest the station's listeners.

To become a radio journalist, having a clear voice on the air is essential.
To become a radio journalist, having a clear voice on the air is essential.

The radio station manager must always ensure that all types of reporting and entertainment broadcast interests the target audience or listeners could be lost to competing stations. If you want to become a radio journalist, you'll have to be able to suggest and write effective story ideas as well as communicate them to listeners. If you can convince the station manager of how you can maintain or even gain listeners, you're likely to be hired. Network with radio station managers and be politely persistent in your efforts to get radio journalism work.

A radio broadcaster may report news and sports.
A radio broadcaster may report news and sports.

Having a clear voice on the air is essential if you hope to become a radio journalist. Your voice can be distinctive or different, but listeners have to be able to understand everything you say. To develop your own unique style, listen to all types of radio journalists. Reflect on which styles work with specific radio stations; this can help you determine which station type your voice and style fit with best. For example, a laid-back jazz station is unlikely to hire a hyperactive-sounding, fast-talking radio journalist.

If possible, ask to speak to recent broadcast journalism graduate about their experiences as a student, as well as their impressions of the field.
If possible, ask to speak to recent broadcast journalism graduate about their experiences as a student, as well as their impressions of the field.
A radio journalist must be comfortable speaking live on the air.
A radio journalist must be comfortable speaking live on the air.

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