This is the question which every aspiring announcer asked himself before embarking on a career in radio: "How do you become a radio host?"
There are many different ways: some people get there by chance, some have studied a lot, some have attended a specific course, some people have studied diction and acting, some have grown up in a station’s studios thanks to friends and relatives, and some have passed from directing to the other side of the glass. There is no one way, and every announcer has his own personal history. There are, however, some important steps which are more or less common to all. Let’s take a look at what they are.
The professional path of a radio host is nearly always uphill (unless he’s the son or daughter of someone in the profession – note our subtle irony here). Imagine a ladder from the bottom up: you start from the lowest rung (a local radio or web radio), and rung after rung you go up (or try to), climbing higher and higher (towards bigger radio stations).
Allow me to attempt a comparison with soccer. The career of an announcer can easily be compared to that of a soccer player. An aspiring soccer player gets his start in his school soccer field, then he passes to C1 and if he has the talent, he captures the attention of a team in the A series. An aspiring announcer will also start at a friends-or-family web radio in order to then pass to more important “teams”! Fortunately, or unfortunately, not everyone completes this journey. It’s a matter of talent, passion, and luck, just like with any professional career.
Another concept to clarify before we dive into our theme in detail is that it is not enough to simply have a good voice and excellent diction in order to be a radio broadcaster (sometimes these two qualities are not strictly necessary). The essential talents of an announcer are often innate and learned with difficulty, if at all. Among these qualities we can include: personality, communicability, sensitivity, and a certain open-mindedness. These are often natural gifts which cannot be learned in school. To these gifts, along with years of hard work and experience in the field, we add know-how – what it takes to have self-assurance and be comfortable in front of the microphone.
A radio host launched on a long, fortunate career will have, along with his own personal skills and attributes, great technical competency and a certain amount of general culture (music, films, history, geography, news, fashion, trends, politics, sports, etc.). The way to reach technical competency in radio broadcasting is decidedly longer and more complex and implies lengthy time spent daily at a Radio Station.
How to start a Career as Radio Host?
As we said at the beginning, it is fundamental to start at a local radio or a radio website. No important Radio would entrust an inexperienced announcer with a live broadcast, unless it were a person who was already famous for other reasons. Getting practice in local radio or web radio is therefore fundamental in order to acquire familiarity with the microphone, practice with a broadcast clock, ease and familiarity with live radio, and especially to see if you are truly cut out for this job.
Working at a small local radio or web radio will help you realize what it means to “entertain and inform the public everyday". You understand how hard it is to keep your own problems away from the microphone, to always seem happy and willing to listen, even if your significant other has just dumped you. It’s fundamental to be serene, happy, and smiling. A microphone doesn’t forgive. Everything passes through it and it all reaches the other side. That’s why you need great concentration to be able to understand what you’re saying and how you’re saying it.
A radio announcer’s difficulties are right there waiting for him. Hesitation, the wrong tone, a syntax error, a distraction, an uncertainty, even a laugh at the wrong moment can ruin your career. Therefore, it is best to get practice in a small local station or a online radio, before taking the giant step towards more important possibilities because from that point on, errors are no longer permitted.
In order to be considered by larger radio stations, you must present your voice via a demo. Later on we will explain in detail how to make your own broadcasting demo
Advice: practice on the microphone every day at home
For those who are inexperienced and haven’t yet found a local radio or website where they can practice, the advice is to begin practicing at home. Simulate a live broadcast on your own, in your own room. Record your voice, make a demo and send it to all the local radios or web radios you know.
If our voice performance is good enough, we’ll be called by the Station (local or web) and we can start building our “technical competence”: handle the software for live broadcasting with self-assurance (Mb Studio, Dj Pro, Selector, Music Control etc.), edit interviews and voice recordings at the computer, find news and give our own version to read live, stay within the time, enter and leave the piece on the air with expertise, handle self-direction, increase our music competence, learn to speak into a microphone with ease and many other little things which turn any old announcer into a radio professional.
Only steadfastness, passion, and commitment will allow us to acquire increasingly more important broadcasting opportunities. Our work is a craft which is learned by listening to others, “stealing secrets”, and building an artistic personality step by step.
Once having achieved great technical competency, familiarity with a microphone, and a certain public appeal, you’ll need a little luck and lots of tenacity. You’ll have to knock on many doors. You may even need to wait for years before the right one opens. However, in order to become a radio announcer you must solidly believe that you are one, right from the very start.