How to Get Into Radio Broadcasting: Four Tips to Break Into the Industry
November 17, 2014
•SBC-Brooklyn Center, SBC-Mendota Heights, Audio Production, Digital Media Production
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If you're thinking about getting into broadcasting, it might surprise you to learn that radio is still a very relevant industry that is well worth exploring. In fact, according to the Department of Professional Employees (DPE), almost 92 percent of adults listen to the radio once a week. If you're curious about how to get into radio broadcasting — whether it's on-air work, producing or even sound engineering — there are steps you can take to gain experience and learn how to become a professional in the field.
1. How to Break In Depends On Where You Want to Go
When people think of radio broadcasting, they usually think of disc jockeys, but there are a variety of jobs in the field to consider. The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) provides a well-rounded overview of the different kinds of jobs in radio broadcasting — from sports broadcaster to traffic director, sound board operator to promotions, there are numerous roles in the field.
Take some time to find out more about each of these roles, and'to the professional who works in your preferred role there.
2. Research Small Stations and Ask to Intern in Person
Most stations these days are conglomerate-owned, meaning they're owned by a major parent company. A good rule of thumb is that the weaker the radio signal, the more likely the station is to be locally owned — which means you'll have a better chance of getting in the door and learning the ropes in all areas. If you're unsure about how to learn about the stations in your area or find out their signal strength, use a resource like Zip Code Signal that lists all the stations in your area and their power strength. Though there are exceptions, smaller stations tend to be locally owned and more amenable to in-person requests for internships, which increases your likelihood to land an internship where you can gain experience in all departments.
3. Use a Larger Internship to Build Contacts
You might love Howard Stern or have dreams of moving to Los Angeles to work with Ryan Seacrest, but while many college students do gain pivotal internships at major syndicated shows and stations, there's actually a little-known downside. Unless you're in one of the many unions that represent broadcasters at the top echelon of broadcasting — like Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) for on-air positions or the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) for the technical side — your role as an intern is limited. Interns often aren't allowed to touch equipment or do any of the nuts-and-bolts work of putting a show together, but you'll do a lot of administrative tasks. However, these internships are great to shoot for after you have some technical experience because they can help you make important contacts in big markets.
4. Volunteer at Your College Station
If you're not taking classes in radio broadcasting, almost every college has an on-campus radio station. Anyone can volunteer at the college level, and this is where you can get great experience in every area of broadcasting — from engineering to sportscasting, on-air work to overseeing a department. Get involved with College Broadcasters, Inc., the largest organization for college radio, for more resources on how to get into radio broadcasting.
A career in radio broadcasting can be exciting. You may find yourself relocating and traveling to different markets as your career progresses, or working with celebrities, athletes and musicians. Gaining both experience and contacts — at a large or small station — is a great way to get into radio broadcasting.
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