Announcers provide information and entertainment on radio and television. When the average person thinks of radio and television announcing, he or she probably conjures up images of talk-radio personalities or sports commentators. But announcers perform a number of other duties. Advertisements need announcers, as do public service announcements. Disc jockeys and talk show hosts are also announcers.
The work of an announcer varies depending on the size and purpose of the venue. Small radio and television stations often employ a small number of announcers, who are asked to fulfill a range of functions. A local announcer may deliver the news, research interview subjects, and make appearances in the community. Sometimes, the announcers in a small market have responsibilities off the air as well. They may be asked to run a switchboard or sell advertising. Many announcers at stations large and small are required to write their own material.
At larger stations, however, it is more likely that an announcer will specialize. For instance, a large radio station might employ several announcers who are tasked with developing programs for a couple of hours a day. A television station is likely to employ several in-house announcers for news, programming notes, and weather.
Many announcers specialize in narrating events, like athletic contests or parades. These announcers spend a great deal of time on the road. A sports announcer has to be knowledgeable about the event he or she is covering.
Whether they are in a studio or on location, announcers can usually count on decent working conditions. Some announcers will work odd hours and on holidays, however. Announcers typically have regular schedules, unless they are bound to a sports season or to surprise events.
Becoming a successful announcer requires a great deal of education and training. Colleges and technical schools offer degrees in broadcasting with a focus on announcing. The coursework for these degrees includes computer equipment training, Web site editing, and other technical subjects. At the same time, it is important for aspiring announcers to obtain some training in public speaking, linguistics, and English. Many announcers find that drama courses are very helpful in developing the skills required to make it in this profession.
It is just as important to acquire experience through apprenticeships, internships, or part-time jobs. Many radio and television stations will hire students who are interested in entering the profession. This is a great way to develop technical skills and make some connections in the business. Some of these jobs are unpaid, but they can be invaluable in terms of experience.
Many people who want to become announcers are surprised to find out that their first job may not include any time on the air. Indeed, most announcers begin as production assistants or researchers. While performing these more technical duties, would-be announcers have a chance to impress their employers. Oftentimes, announcing careers begin with substituting for an established announcer. There is a tremendous amount of competition for these jobs, so luck often plays a large part in the beginning of a career.
There are no reliable statistics for the average annual income of announcers, in part because most of these professionals are paid an hourly wage rather than a salary. The median wage for radio and television announcers is about $13 an hour. The top 10 percent earn more than $36 an hour, but the lowest 10 percent earn less than $7.50 an hour. Announcers for public address and other systems earn slightly more on average.
Unfortunately, the supply of announcing jobs is expected to decline in the coming years. This trend will be accompanied by a continuing surplus of individuals looking to enter the field, which will result in fierce competition for available jobs. Part of the reason for the decline in the number of jobs is the improvement of broadcasting technology, which will diminish the amount of production and technical work. In addition, many local radio and television stations now air a greater number of syndicated programs, which diminishes the need for homegrown talent. Nevertheless, there will still be some demand for local broadcasters. The best opportunities for advancement in this field will be for those who are willing to start in small markets for little pay and work up in the field.