Announcers work in radio and television and are responsible for a number of different duties both on and off the air. They may announce programming information, public service information, or they may introduce or close programs. They present news, sports, weather, time, and commercials either from a written script or ad-lib. They may complete the research and writing for a script they will eventually read on the air. They interview guests and moderate panels and discussions. Sometimes they may make promotional appearances for the radio or television company they are employed by.
Announcers working in radio are often referred to as disc jockeys (DJs). Although most disc jockeys do not select the music they play on the air, most specialize in one type of music. DJs comment on the weather, traffic, and music of the station and may take on-air requests from listeners. Announcers in television are often called newscasters or anchors. They work at large stations in an area of specialization such as sports, news, or weather. Television show hosts prepare programs on topics such as politics, health, or personal finance, interview guests, listeners, or the studio audience. Public address announcers work at sporting, performing arts, and other types of public events, announcing information to the audience.
In order to succeed as an announcer, individuals must have a good voice, meaning excellent control, timing, pronunciation, and grammar. In television, announcers need to have a neat, well-groomed, and attractive appearance. Strong knowledge in the subject matter to be announced can be hugely advantageous. Announcers should have well-developed writing skills and be computer literate. They need to have the ability to ad-lib part or all of a broadcast and to work under strict deadlines.
In 2002, announcers earned a median hourly wage of $9.91. Earnings ranged from the lowest 10%, who earned less than $6.14, and the highest 10%, who earned more than $24.92. Earnings in television were higher than in radio, and earnings in commercial were higher than in public broadcasting.
Training and Education
Broadcasting is a highly competitive field to enter, and formal training from a college or technical school can immensely help aspiring announcers secure employment. A majority of announcers hold a bachelor's degree in communications, broadcasting, or journalism. Employers place enormous weight on candidates' taped auditions that demonstrate their delivery and , in television, their appearance and style. In television, entry-level employees start out as production assistants, researchers, or reporters and may work their way into an on-air position if they show their ability. In radio, new employees begin by taping interviews and operating equipment.
Aspiring announcers should take high school and college courses in English, public speaking, drama, foreign languages, and computer science. Hobbies like sports or music can be a plus as well. Students can gain experience at college radio or TV stations, or through internships at local public or commercial stations. Internships are a great way for students to make contacts in the industry. Students wishing to enroll in a broadcasting program should contact radio and television stations to find out which programs they recommend.
In 2002, announcers held about 76,000 jobs. More than 50% were employed in the broadcasting industry, although some were freelancers who contract with networks and stations. A third of all announcers work part time.
Between 2002 and 2012, employment of announcers is expected to decline as a result of the lack of growth in the radio and television industries. Also, consolidation of radio and television stations will increase syndicated programming, which will also add to the decline in employment of announcers. Competition will be high for announcer positions, and opportunity will be best for those who are knowledgeable in business, consumer, and health news, and who have completed internships.
For more information on a career as an announcer, please see our directory of schools offering Media Training