Radio producer

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Sharon Barker is a freelance radio producer. She is based in Manchester, but her work has been heard on national and local radio stations.

Can you describe your role?

I produce specialist music shows for radio. My role is to plan and prepare for the show before the recording date.

What does the work involve?

I'm responsible for booking guests for the show. I also do background research on guests' careers so that I can prepare questions for the presenter who will be interviewing them. We use a studio to record the show and I'm responsible for booking it, as well as recording the show, editing it and making a copy to keep in the archive. I also make jingles and adverts.

Is there such a thing as a typical day or week?

Not really, as I am often working on several different projects at once. However, there are some jobs I have to do on a regular basis. They include updating the show's website with the list of tracks we play, responding to emails from listeners and completing forms for the Performing Rights Society, so that the artists whose tracks are played on the show can receive payment when their work is broadcast.

Who else do you work with?

I work most closely with DJs and studio engineers, but I also deal with station programme directors, club and gig promoters, DJ booking agents, website support staff and representatives of record labels.

Record companies employ 'pluggers' who promote new artists and tracks and try to get them played on the radio, and it's also part of my job to liaise with them.

What makes a good radio producer?

You have to have self-confidence to deal directly with DJs and artists and to promote your radio show. Good communication skills are essential to work with colleagues like presenters, DJs and station managers, and most importantly, your audience. It helps to be organised as you work to deadlines. Above all, creativity is an essential quality. You must come up with fresh, original ideas to set your work apart from the rest.

Do you do anything else?

I also co-ordinate basic radio production and radio journalism workshops. I work freelance, usually with community groups, youth services and teachers. The work involves planning and preparing the sessions, ensuring that registration is completed and an evaluation is carried out at the end of the workshop.

As a freelance, how do you find work?

In the beginning it was quite difficult. I had regular work producing Hot Pot and then I began to do some work with community groups. Most of my work comes through word of mouth.

What hours do you work?

I don't really have set hours. I work until the job is finished. I suppose I work about 45 hours a week.

What do your like most about your work?

I'm so lucky to work on a show that features my favourite music. The best part is working with the artists who create it. It's also great when a group finishes a workshop session and they really feel that they have achieved something.

What ambitions do you have

I feel really fortunate to have worked on some of the shows I enjoy most as a listener. One of my ultimate ambitions is to create a new radio station for Manchester, which will reflect the strong and diverse musical culture and heritage of the city.

Sharon's route to becoming a radio producer

  • Degree in Modern Languages.
  • Trained as a workshop trainer. Six months on various Radio 1 shows as a broadcast assistant.
  • Decided to freelance full time.

Sharon's tip

  • Work experience on a local or community radio station will give you skills and confidence and help you to meet people that work in the radio industry.

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Salary information

  • Starting salaries range from £15,000 to £22,000.
  • At a senior level you could earn £30,000.
  • Freelance rates range from £150 to £300 a day.

How to work as a radio producer

  • Relevant practical experience and enthusiasm for the industry are as important as qualifications for entrants to this career.
  • Qualifications in subjects like media production and broadcast journalist can be helpful.
  • A Skillset professional qualification is available in Radio Production at Level 3.

Modified: 16 June 2013

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