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Announcers and newscasters are well-known to radio and television audiences. Radio announcers, often called disk jockeys, select and introduce recorded music; present news, sports, weather, and commercials; interview guests; and report on community activities and other matters of interest to their audience. If a written script is required, they may do the research and writing. They often "ad-lib" much of the commentary. They also may operate the control board, sell commercial time to advertisers, and write commercial and news copy.
Some announcers at large stations usually specialize in sports or weather, or in general news, and may be called newscasters or anchors. Others are news analysts. In small stations, one announcer may do everything.
News anchors, or a pair of co-anchors, present news stories and introduce in-depth videotaped news or live transmissions from on-the-scene reporters. (See statement on reporters and correspondents elsewhere in the Handbook.) Weathercasters, also called weather reporters or meteorologists, report and forecast weather conditions. They gather information from national satellite weather services, wire services, and other local and regional weather bureaus. Sportscasters select, write, and deliver the sports news. This may include interviews with sports personalities and coverage of games played.
Broadcast news analysts, called commentators, present news stories and also interpret them and discuss how they may affect the Nation or listeners.
Show hosts interview guests about their lives, work, or topics of current interest.
Announcers frequently participate in community activities. Sports announcers, for example, are masters of ceremonies at touchdown club banquets or are on hand to greet customers at openings of sporting goods stores.
Announcers and newscasters usually work in well-lighted, air-conditioned, soundproof studios.
The broadcast day is long for radio and TV stations-some are on the air 24 hours a day-so announcers can expect to work unusual hours. Many announcers present early morning shows, when many people are getting ready for work or commuting, or do late night newscasts.
They work within tight schedule constraints, which can be physically and mentally stressful. For many announcers, the intangible rewards-creative work, many personal contacts, and the satisfaction of becoming widely known-far outweigh the disadvantages of irregular and often unpredictable hours, work pressures, and disrupted personal lives.
Radio and television announcers and newscasters held about 50,000 jobs in 1994. Nearly all were staff announcers, but some were freelance announcers who sold their services for individual assignments to networks and stations, or to advertising agencies and other independent producers.
Entry to this occupation is highly competitive. While formal training in broadcast journalism from a college or technical school (private broadcasting school) is valuable, station officials pay particular attention to taped auditions that show an applicant's delivery and-in television-appearance and style on commercials, news, and interviews. Those hired by television stations usually start out as production secretaries, production assistants, researchers, or reporters and are given a chance to move into announcing if they show an aptitude for "on-air" work. Newcomers to TV broadcasting also may begin as news camera operators. (See the statement on photographers and camera operators elsewhere in the Handbook.) A beginner's chance of landing an on-air newscasting job is remote, except possibly for a small radio station. In radio, newcomers generally start out taping interviews and operating equipment.
Announcers usually begin at a station in a small community and, if qualified, may move to a better paying job in a large city. Announcers also may advance by hosting a regular program as a disc jockey, sportscaster, or other specialist. In the national networks, competition for jobs is particularly intense, and employers look for college graduates with at least several years of successful announcing experience.
Announcers must have a pleasant and well-controlled voice, good timing, excellent pronunciation, and correct English usage. Television announcers need a neat, pleasing appearance as well. Knowledge of theater, sports, music, business, politics, and other subjects likely to be covered in broadcasts improves chances for success. Announcers also must be computer literate because stories are created and edited on the computer. In addition, they should be able to "ad-lib" all or part of a show and to work under tight deadlines. The most successful announcers attract a large audience by combining a pleasing personality and voice with an appealing style.
High school courses in English, public speaking, drama, foreign languages, and electronics are valuable, and hobbies such as sports and music are additional assets. Students may gain valuable experience at campus radio or TV facilities and at commercial stations. Some stations and cable systems offer financial assistance and on-the-job training in the form of internships, apprentice programs, co-op work programs, scholarships, or fellowships.
Persons considering enrolling in a broadcasting school should contact personnel managers of radio and television stations as well as broadcasting trade organizations to determine the school's reputation for producing suitably trained candidates.
Announcers who operate transmitters must obtain a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) restricted radiotelephone operator permit. (For additional information on FCC requirements, see the statement on broadcast technicians elsewhere in theHandbook.)
Competition for jobs as announcers will be very keen because the broadcasting field typically attracts many more jobseekers than there are jobs. Small radio stations are more inclined to hire beginners, but the pay is low. Because competition for ratings is so intense in major metropolitan areas, large stations will continue to seek announcers and newscasters who have proven that they can attract and retain a large audience.
Newscasters who are knowledgeable in such areas as business, consumer, and health news may have an advantage over others. While specialization is more common at larger stations and the networks,many smaller stations also encourage it.
Little change in the employment of announcers is expected through the year 2005 due to the slowing in the growth of new radio and television stations and cable systems. Most openings in this relatively small field will arise from the need to replace those who transfer to other kinds of work or leave the labor force. Many announcers leave the field because they can not advance to better paying jobs.
Employment in this occupation is not significantly affected by downturns in the economy. If recessions cause advertising revenues to fall, stations tend to cut "behind-the-scenes" workers rather than announcers and broadcasters.
Salaries in broadcasting vary widely. They are higher in television than in radio, higher in larger markets than in small ones, and higher in commercial than in public broadcasting.
According to a survey conducted by the National Association of Broadcasters and the Broadcast Cable Financial Management Association, the average salary for radio news announcers was $27,901 a year in 1994. Salaries ranged from $23,000 in the smallest markets to $39,291 in the largest markets. Sports announcers' average was $38,950, ranging from $26,663 in the smallest to $75,029 in the largest markets.
Among television announcers, news anchors' average salary was $65,520, ranging from $24,935 in the smallest to $199,741 in the largest markets. Weathercasters' average was $52,562, ranging from $25,638 to $130,919. Sportscasters' average was $48,704, ranging from $22,400 to $128,877.
The success of announcers and news broadcasters depends upon how well they speak to their audiences. Others for whom oral communication skills are vital are interpreters, sales workers, public relations specialists, teachers, and actors.
For a list of schools that offer programs and courses in broadcasting, contact:
Broadcast Education Association, 1771 N St. NW., Washington, DC 20036.
For information on FCC licenses, write to:
Federal Communications Commission, Consumer Assistance Office, 1270 Fairfield Rd., Gettysburg, PA 17325-7245 or call toll free 1-800-322-1117.
General information on the broadcasting industry is available from:
National Association of Broadcasters, 1771 N St. NW., Washington, DC 20036.
For information on careers in broadcast news, contact:
Radio-Television News Directors Association, 1717 K St. NW., Suite 615, Washington, DC 20006.
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