Do you want to be the next Alexa Chung, Nick Grimshaw, Andy Akinwolere or…erm…Noel Edmonds? Well, you’re in the right place! Curl up on the sofa and grab the remote; it’s time to find out all about the professional life of a broadcast presenter.
Broadcast presenters are the smiling (Tess Daly), disgruntled (Jeremy Paxman) and cheeky (Ant and Dec) faces of the television industry. They are also the avuncular (Terry Wogan), irritating (Fearne Cotton) and delightful (Huey Morgan) voices of the radio industry.
Presenters are some of the most recognisable and engaging people in the UK. They divide opinion, but they make the entertainment industry what it is. Television and radio just wouldn’t be the same without them.
When the cameras are rolling, or the red light is on in the studio, presenters are there to keep the audience entertained and informed. They welcome the audience to the show, interview guests, read news, share information, read off autocues, prompt audience participation and ‘do links’ (i.e. fill gaps between stories, songs, sketches and other short pieces of entertainment with friendly banter).
Essentially, they are responsible for keeping television programmes and radio shows ticking along at a decent pace, so the audience doesn’t get bored and change the channel.
However, a presenter’s job isn’t over once a broadcast has finished. Behind the scenes, presenters attend rehearsals, conduct research into their guests, write scripts alongside producers and scriptwriters, and attend meetings with production teams. It may be a glamorous life, but it can also be an incredibly busy one.
Salary & benefits
Although annual salaries for broadcast presenters are not uncommon, many presenters work on a freelance basis and are often paid on a show-by-show or series-by-series basis. High-profile celebrities can earn millions of pounds for their services.
It’s really hard to pinpoint a salary range for presenters. After all, you could earn anywhere between £20,000 and £150,000+ per annum. Television, however, is generally the most lucrative area of broadcast presenting.
Understandably, broadcast presenters don’t work a standard nine-to-five. Early morning, evening and weekend work is common.
However, your working hours will really depend on what kind of show you are presenting. If you’re presenting a breakfast radio show, you will need to be up at the crack of dawn (if not before!). However, if you’re presenting Match of the Day, you’ll have to work late on a Saturday night.
Travelling, both domestically and internationally, might also be a regular fixture, but, again, this will depend on the kind of show you’re presenting.
Unfortunately, there is no typical route into broadcast presenting. Indeed, there are no graduate schemes that you can apply for.
Many successful broadcast presenters will profess their good fortune and simply tell you that they were “in the right place at the right time.” However, there are various things you can do to make sure that you give yourself as much of a chance as possible.
Successfully breaking into the exciting world of broadcast presenting will really depend on your personality, your appearance, your communication skills, your likeability and your confidence. However, completing a degree in broadcast journalism, performing arts or media studies might give you a little boost.
A degree, however, is by no means essential. The most important thing for you to do is make contacts in the industry, so network your socks off, make a name for yourself, meet people, be charming and jump at any opportunity that comes your way.
Gaining experience as a presenter is essential. Get involved with your university’s radio station, compere events at university or dabble in other areas of the entertainment industry, such as stand-up comedy.
Once you’ve got plenty of experience, create a show reel and send it off to talent scouts and other influential people.
Many people get their break as a presenter after working in another role in the television or radio industry, such as runner, radio broadcast assistant or programme researcher. Other people work as models or actors first.
Training & progression
Becoming a successful broadcast presenter is all about developing your own style. As a radio presenter, you may be trained to handle some of the technical equipment in the studio, but, apart from that, you will receive very little, if any, extra training.
There is no set career path for presenters. Some expand their expertise across different media platforms, presenting both TV shows and radio shows, while others branch out into other areas of the entertainment industry, such as acting or stand-up comedy.
Alternatively, you could try your hand at scriptwriting or producing. A handful of successful presenters even try their best to ‘make it’ in the United States, e.g. Steve Jones and Cat Deeley.