- Personality type:
- Identifying and researching news stories and presenting them on air to a wide range of different audiences
- Reporting live from events as they unfold, or recording and editing material to create pre-recorded items, or producing longer features or documentaries
Is this role right for me?
To do this role, you will need to:
- understand and have an instinct for what makes a good news story
- have excellent writing and storytelling skills, with the ability to tailor and adapt content for different audiences and platforms
- be able to generate original ideas, and to think creatively about how to communicate them to audiences
- understand how to use the voice effectively for radio
- be curious and inquisitive, and have a willingness to ask questions but also to listen
- be able to work calmly effectively under pressure, react quickly, and meet tight deadlines
- be able to cope with the demands of live reporting and interviewing
- have excellent communication skills, complemented by diplomacy, empathy and patience, along with the ability to build rapport and draw information from people
- have the confidence and tenacity to pursue information, overcome obstacles and pitch ideas to senior colleagues
- be able to maintain objectivity in order to be fair and balanced in the treatment of stories
- have an interest in news and current affairs and good general knowledge
- be able to learn how to use a variety of recording equipment and to operate different radio studios
- have knowledge of the law, ethics and industry regulations around radio production
- understand when it is necessary, and how to acquire, the relevant clearances and licences, including copyright and music clearances
- understand the requirements of the relevant health and safety legislation and procedures
- have strong IT skills, including word processing and data handling - and, ideally, audio editing and image manipulation software
- have knowledge of the radio market, different station and programme styles, and audience demographics
What does a Radio Reporter do?
Radio Reporters identify and research news stories then present them on air to a wide range of different audiences. They may report live from events as they unfold, or record and edit material to create pre-recorded items for inclusion in news bulletins, or produce longer features or documentaries.
Reporters may work for a variety of different outlets, ranging from single local radio stations to international news organisations and their related websites. They may be part of a small local team, or based in a regional or national newsroom, or in a foreign bureau. Some Reporters may also work from home.
Some of their work is office or newsroom-based. However, they are expected to spend much of their time out and about gathering information, witnessing and recording events, and interviewing those involved.
In commercial radio, the job titles Reporter, Journalist or Broadcast Journalist may be used for fairly similar roles. The BBC employs Reporters, News Correspondents and specialist Correspondents with expertise in particular fields.
Radio Reporters may be required to work a variety of shift patterns, including night shifts, weekends and holidays. They must be prepared to travel to research and report on events. They may be assigned to specific stories, but it is also their responsibility to generate ideas, carry out research and check information from other sources. They must also pitch ideas and present news items for consideration by Editors and Commissioners.
Radio Reporters carry out thorough research into all item ideas, including suitable interviewees and locations, and relevant audio archive material. They should know how to access, evaluate and use all relevant information sources.
They prepare questions and, where possible, brief interviewees in advance. They conduct interviews and gather suitable illustrative and background material to enable them to tell a story with sound. They may also take photographs or shoot basic video footage to illustrate their story on websites.
Reporters edit the material they have recorded and sourced, selecting relevant sections of interviews and other content, using suitable software. They must ensure that they meet the timing and duration requirements of each item, segment or programme. They may also have to present precisely-timed live on-air links into previously edited packages.
Will I need a qualification?
You don’t need to have a degree to be a Radio Reporter. That said, most Reporters are graduates. 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.
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:
If you have specialist knowledge in fields such as politics, business, science or languages, this should work in your favour, particularly if you want to become a specialist Reporter or Correspondent.
To get onto one of the few industry trainee schemes that are out there, you’ll probably need a degree or equivalent and you should be prepared for a rigorous selection process.
If you start off in newspaper or magazine reporting, you can transfer across to radio, but you’ll need to have at least two or three years' experience as a journalist, and to have completed the journalism qualifications accredited by the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ).
The undergraduate degree courses, postgraduate diplomas and MAs in Broadcast Journalism accredited by the Broadcast Journalism Training Council (BJTC) meet the standards expected by broadcast employers in terms of the practical skills and knowledge that you will gain.
What’s the best route in?
In the main, there are three entry routes you can take into reporting in radio:
- traineeships offered by a few of the larger employers;
- moving into radio after first working as a print journalist; and
- completing an accredited pre-entry degree or postgraduate qualification.
Employers will expect you to have hands-on experience. To gain this hands-on experience, you could seek a place presenting community, student or hospital radio.
Where might the role take me?
Once in post, with enough experience and all the skills you gain, your career progression could involve 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 specialise in a particular field such as politics, finance and business, or sport. Or, you could become a foreign correspondent based abroad.
It would also be possible for you to move into presenting, to pursue an alternative route by becoming Bulletin or Programme Editors, or by taking up programme production 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
- 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
- journalism.co.uk - online journalism site including news and comment, jobs across print, broadcast and new media, a discussion forum, books and industry directory
- journalism.org - US journalism site, Pew Research Centre's Project for Excellence in Journalism funded by a charitable trust
- 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
- 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
- The Broadcast Journalism Handbook, Gary Hudson & Sarah Rowlands ISBN-10: 1405824344
- Broadcast Journalism, Sixth Edition, Andrew Boyd, Peter Stewart & Ray Alexander ISBN-10: 0240810244
- Basic Radio Journalism, Paul Chantler & Peter Stewart ISBN-10: 0240519264
- Broadcast News Writing, Reporting, and Producing, Fourth Edition, Ted White ISBN-10: 024080659X
- The Universal Journalist, David Randall, Third Edition ISBN-10: 0745326552
- Journalism Principles and Practice, Tony Harcup ISBN-10: 0761974997
- The Elements of Journalism - What Newspeople Should Know & The Public Should Expect, Bill Kovach & Tom Rosenstiel ISBN-10: 0307346706