Career in radio

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Tracy Jones presents her gospel show on BBC Radio. Apart from the normal tasks associated with being a radio performer, she needs a good command of English to be able to communicate with both her audience and interview her guests.

Can you describe your areer in radio?

I put on a gospel show every Sunday in Birmingham. It's a mixture of music and chat. I also invite guests into the studio and take live calls from listeners. This means I have to work out the key questions I will be asking. Although I am only on air for three hours, it takes up to five hours to prepare a show. Beforehand, I have to answer emails from listeners, invite people to take part or answer requests from people who want to come on to talk.

What do you do while the show is live on air?

The first hour is general music and a 'what's on' spot. In the second hour, I chat with guests either in the studio or over the phone. And in the last hour, I slow it down and do a late night thought spot with a local minister. Callers come on live with requests and information and I also respond to text messages or emails that come from listeners during the show. I have to be able to communicate clearly both writing and speaking.

What do you like best about your career in radio?

Being me. I can have a cold and it doesn't matter what I look like because no-one can see me. People respond to the music and they call me to tell me they're feeling better. It's a public service.

What do you see yourself doing in the future?

More shows. I work as a part-time teacher as well which fills in the rest of the working week, but I would really like to be able to present as a full-time job.

What skills do you need for a career in radio?

You have to be a people person with good communication and social skills. English is vital as you need to be able to express yourself clearly and in an easily-understood way. You have to be proactive and come up with ideas. When you're on air, you have to think on your feet and stay calm under pressure.

Tracy's route to her career in radio

  • Trained as a teacher, but wanted to work in radio.
  • Heard a show on Galaxy Radio and called the presenter. He liked the sound of her voice and her ideas – she got a job when a presenter left.
  • Moved to BBC Radio in 2003

Tracy's radio career tips

  • Show what you can do. Get into hospital radio or track down a local station with a restrictive service licence – the stations that come on air for a few hours a week. The radio authority can tell you your local station. Send tapes, but be yourself and show you can hold an audience's attention.
  • Anything that shows you've got confidence – like taking part in school events or public speaking – can prove you've got what it takes.

Radio related jobs

  • Actor/actress
  • Disc jockey
  • Journalist
  • Production assistant/co-ordinator(Media/Stage)
  • Public relations officer
  • Researcher (Media)

Salary working in radio

  • Salaries at small independent stations start at around £12,000.
  • This will rise to £25,000 if you are working for a larger station or doing more shows.
  • Experienced announcers or presenters working in national radio or TV can get £50,000 or more.

Career in radio

  • Training and education in subjects such as media and communication studies is useful but doesn't guarantee a job. Experience and communication skills may be just as important.
  • It's best to combine some form of work experience with studying for qualifications such as: Relevant A level/Higher or Intermediate GNVQ/GSVQ in media studies.
  • BTEC National and Higher National Diplomas in communications and media studies.
  • NVQ/SVQ Levels 2 or 3 in broadcast journalism and production.
  • NVQ/SVQ Level 4 in broadcast journalism.
  • The BBC and the larger independent TV companies offer training schemes for suitably qualified people, usually those with a degree or equivalent.
  • A relevant degree can also help you get into the higher levels of announcing and presenting.

Modified: 16 June 2013

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