Radio Broadcast Assistant
- Personality type:
- Offering support to radio Producers and Presenters
- Performing a wide range of key administrative tasks to ensure the smooth running of radio programmes
- Helping with research, planning and production
Is this role right for me?
To do this role, you will need to:
- have strong organisational skills
- pay close attention to detail
- be able to think creatively and problem-solve
- have knowledge of the UK radio market, different station and programme styles, and audience demographics
- have the confidence and tenacity to pursue information and overcome obstacles
- be self-motivated with the ability to work independently but also as part of a team
- be able to work effectively under pressure, react quickly and meet tight deadlines
- have excellent communication skills, including diplomacy and the ability to build rapport and draw information from people
- have a basic understanding of the law, ethics and industry regulation as they affect radio production
- have knowledge of when it is necessary, and how to acquire, the relevant clearances and licences, including copyright and music clearances
- have strong IT skills - particularly Word and Excel - and, ideally, audio editing and image manipulation software
- be able to learn how to use a variety of recording equipment, and to operate different radio studios
- have knowledge of the requirements of the relevant health and safety legislation and procedures
What does a Broadcast Assistant do?
Broadcast Assistants work in both speech-based and music radio, offering practical support to Producers and Presenters. They carry out a wide range of key administrative tasks to ensure the smooth running of live and recorded radio programmes, and may also help with research, planning and production.
This job title is used widely within the BBC for entry-level roles. It is not often used in commercial radio where the job title Producer is broader and may apply to a range of roles at different levels, and where a Broadcast Assistant’s duties are shared between Producers, Presenters and others. The work is mostly office and studio-based, but can include work on location.
The duties of Broadcast Assistants differ between music and speech radio. The role also varies from station to station and programme to programme.
However, all Broadcast Assistants need to understand the purpose and format of their station or programme. They need to be aware of the characteristics of the target audience. They must deal promptly with correspondence and queries. They are expected to access information for research purposes, and ensure that it is accurate. And they need to keep up-to-date contact lists, and to produce transcripts, running orders and programme logs.
They look after guests and programme contributors, and organise contracts and payments for contributors, performers or freelance staff. They answer and log calls for phone-ins or competitions. They obtain permissions or licences for recording or broadcasting on location, and for the use of music, sound effects and audio archive material. Their duties may also include booking resources and facilities, recording expenditure, and assisting with the monitoring of programme budgets.
Some Broadcast Assistants may have the opportunity to contribute to programme ideas, particularly where the role is more focused on technical and production tasks. Where this is so, they may also record basic interviews and other material, edit audio using suitable software, and even present short items for broadcast. They may also be expected to operate radio studios and to record audio both in studios and on location.
Will I need a qualification?
It isn't essential for you to have a degree for this role. If you do have a degree, employers won't necessarily expect it to be in a media-related subject. They may even prefer you to have a degree in another discipline, especially if followed by a postgraduate qualification in radio production. Given the competition for jobs in radio, many Broadcast Assistants are graduates, and some even postgraduates.
If you are considering taking a radio course in higher education, the following courses have been rigorously assessed by the radio industry and awarded the Creative Skillset Tick for the high standard of education they provide and the degree to which they prepare you for a radio career:
Once in post, you will be expected to develop your skills on the job, but your employers will also offer a variety of forms of training to keep your skills and knowledge up to date.
What’s the best route in?
This type of role is highly sought after, so in most cases you'll need to have built a relationship with a station or programme through voluntary or casual work over a long period. Alternatively, you might be able to move into programming or production from an administrative role elsewhere in radio.
Whatever your qualifications, employers will expect you to have an interest in, and hands-on experience of, radio broadcasting, particularly skills gained through community radio, student or hospital radio.
Where might the role take me?
With experience under your belt and a broad range of skills gained, you could progress by moving to a larger station, to a programme with a wider audience, or from a local to a regional or national service.
You might also aspire to be a Producer or Presenter, and you could even move into Programme Editor or management roles.
Interested? Find out more...
- Radio Academy - industry-wide charity dedicated to promoting excellence in UK audio broadcasting and production
- Radio Centre - industry association for UK commercial radio with a website including information and on work placements and how to get job in radio
- BBC Academy - College of Production - information and advice on the skills required to make engaging radio, including interviews with producers in music, speech, factual and comedy about what it takes to work in radio
- BBC College of Journalism - oversees training for BBC News staff, focusing on best practice in core skills, and providing an overview of specialist areas, legal and ethical issues, as well as a style guide
- Community Media Association the UK representative body for the community media sector, committed to promoting access to the media for people and communities
- Student Radio Association representative body which supports and acts on behalf of the UK student radio community
- Hospital Broadcasting Association the national charity that supports and promotes hospital broadcasting in the UK
- BECTU - the UK media and entertainment trade union with information on pay and conditions, training, and access to individual advice on personal and contract issues
- National Union of Journalism - the trade union for journalists in the UK and Ireland - with information on pay and conditions, training and legal advice
- Radio Today - radio industry news site
- Radio Now - radio station directory, listen live to many UK radio stations
- Broadcast - the weekly newspaper for the UK TV and radio industries
- Media Guardian - daily industry news, trends, jobs and more
- Creating Powerful Radio, Valerie Geller ISBN-10: 0240519280
- Essential Radio Skills, Peter Stewart ISBN-10: 0713679131
- The Broadcast Voice, Jenni Mills ISBN-10: 0240519396
- Presenting on TV & Radio, Janet Trewin ISBN-10: 024051906X