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Radio Programme Controller

Personality type:

The lowdown

  • Leading programming teams on commercial radio stations, ensuring that they produce programming which meets the creative and commercial needs of the station

Is this role right for me?

To do this role, you will need to:

  • be able to generate original ideas, and to think creatively about how to communicate them to audiences
  • have excellent presentation and communication skills, complemented by diplomacy
  • exercise sound editorial judgement
  • have excellent writing and presentation skills 
  • possess business and finance skills
  • be able to work calmly effectively under pressure, react quickly, and meet tight deadlines
  • be able to lead with confidence and decisiveness
  • be able to manage creative teams, and encourage acceptable creative risk-taking
  • 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
  • have knowledge of the radio market, different station and programme styles, and audience demographics
  • be able to coach and develop talent in others
  • be able to give and receive constructive feedback, and manage performance

What does a Radio Programme Controller do?

Programme Controllers or Programme Directors lead programming teams on commercial radio stations, ensuring that they produce programming which meets the creative and commercial needs of each station.

They oversee the work of the programming teams and work closely with the Station Manager who has overall responsibility for the station, but whose focus is on sales and maximising revenue.

In the BBC, the closest equivalent may be an Assistant Editor in local radio. The BBC also uses the title Controller for the head of each of its national radio networks, but that is not the job being referred to here.

Programme Controllers recruit, train and develop their teams, and undertake day-to-day management of all staff in the programming departments, encouraging creativity and commercial awareness.

They work collaboratively across their organisations and contribute to the development of multiplatform content. They must continually review and refresh programme output, and devise new programming to attract and retain audiences, and to contribute to the station’s success.

Along with Station Managers, they represent the station externally at a local level, building relationships within the community. They ensure that programming complies with the laws, regulations and industry codes governing radio broadcasting, and make sure that complaints are dealt with swiftly.

Will I need a qualification?

You do not need a degree to be a Programme Controller. You could gain the required management skills and experience on the job in other roles, and may decide to hone these skills by undertaking a relevant management qualification.

What’s the best route in?

To achieve the position of Programme Controller in commercial radio, you will need to have gained substantial experience in programming over a number of years, probably with several different stations and organisations. You will also need to have a thorough understanding of the commercial side of the business.

Where might the role take me?

You could progress to a larger local station, to a regional role with one of the larger radio broadcasters or to a management role with a national service. You could also move into TV.

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
  • Advertising Standards Authority - independent regulator for advertisements, sales promotion and direct marketing in the UK; details of radio advertising standards code
  • Institute of Sales & Marketing Management - UK professional body for salespeople, awarding body for qualifications in selling and sales management, list of training providers and other resources
  • Chartered Institute of Marketing - the leading international body for professional marketers, details of qualifications and training and further resources
  • The Marketing Society - network for senior marketers, with some articles and other information available to non-members



  • 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
  • Marketing: Concepts & Strategies, Sally Dibbs, Lyndon Simkin, William M. Pride & O.C. Ferrell ISBN–13: 978–0618532032
  • Making Waves: Radio On The Verge, Mark Ramsey ISBN–10: 1440102570
  • An Advertiser's Guide to Better Radio Advertising, Andrew Ingram & Mark Barber ISBN–10: 0470012927


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