Radio broadcast assistants provide support in the development and day-to-day production of local and national radio

In the role of radio broadcast assistant, you'll give practical assistance to programme producers and presenters to ensure that shows run as smoothly as possible.

As well as assisting in the planning, research and production of live and pre-recorded radio programmes, you'll also carry out key administrative activities. Depending on your role, you may also provide creative input into the development of new shows or features.

The broad scope of the role, similar to that role of a production assistant, encompasses both production and technical skills. It is a common starting point for a career in radio.


Day-to-day activities can differ between different stations and programmes, but in general you'll need to:

  • undertake general research for programmes
  • carry out administrative duties
  • arrange and oversee guest visits and freelance staff
  • maintain up-to-date contact lists
  • produce transcripts, programme logs and running orders
  • record programme costs
  • prepare contracts and payments for guests and contributors
  • answer and archive details of calls for phone-ins and competitions
  • archive past programmes
  • book resources, facilities, studio time and equipment
  • secure clearances and licences as necessary
  • edit audio packages with digital editing software
  • assist with time-keeping and the recording of transmissions
  • support the production team
  • 'drive the desk' for some pre-recorded or live programmes
  • contribute to the creative input of a show, for example writing cues and updating scripts
  • liaise with publicity departments about programme trailers and competition prizes
  • update the programme or station website, ensuring that the on-air and online content are the same.

You may also be able to:

  • research and interview guests
  • research news stories and pitch new ideas
  • create and produce items of a programme
  • choose music
  • present shows or small sections of a programme, such as news items and reviews of music, films or books.


  • Salary levels are fairly low in many parts of the industry. Within local, commercial radio, salaries usually start at around £16,000.
  • Starting salaries at the BBC tend to be higher, and especially in London, where broadcast assistant positions usually start at around £20,000.
  • With a few years' experience and increased responsibility, salaries of up to £29,000 can be achieved.

Freelance radio broadcast assistants need to negotiate their own rates, which can vary significantly.

Income figures are intended as a guide only.

Working hours

Working hours are usually long. Shifts vary depending on the programme you're working on but typically include some evening and weekend work and occasionally overnight shifts.

Tight deadlines may require you to work overtime. You'll also need to be prepared to cover for colleagues who are on holiday or absent through sickness.

What to expect

  • Your working environment may vary depending on what you're working on. For example, your day could consist of a mix of working outside doing broadcasts, preparing material in the studio and completing administrative duties in an office.
  • The atmosphere is informal and sociable, but the work can be pressured with tight deadlines and hours are often unpredictable and led by how well a recording is progressing. Work on live programmes can be more predictable due to set on-air times.
  • Posts are available all over the UK in towns and cities where there are local BBC and commercial radio stations. National BBC and commercial radio stations are usually broadcast from major cities including London and Manchester.
  • The ability to relocate can be beneficial when developing a radio career.
  • Self-employment and freelance work are possible. Radio broadcast assistants at both the BBC and independent radio are often employed on a freelance or short-term contract basis.


A degree or HND isn't essential to become a radio broadcast assistant. However, competition is extremely tough, and many assistants are graduates. Therefore, a relevant qualification in radio or media production may improve your chances.

Knowledge of a specialist subject, such as science or politics, may give you the edge for certain types of programmes.

Generally, though, the subject you study is less important than relevant practical experience and energy and enthusiasm for the industry. These skills and attributes, combined with the right personality, are often more important to employers than education.

Postgraduate study is not a requirement, but some entrants do complete a postgraduate diploma or MA in radio production. This can be helpful if your degree is not in a related subject, and it can develop your practical skills and knowledge.

Search postgraduate courses in radio production.

ScreenSkills holds a list of Select courses, that the screen industry charity has assessed and approved, and which have strong links with employers in the radio industry.

A good overall knowledge of the radio industry, and the specific output of the station you wish to join, is crucial. Keep up to date with developments in the sector by reading:

Be sure to listen to a variety of radio genres via analogue (FM and AM), digital audio broadcasting (DAB), cable, satellite, digital TV and the internet to build your awareness of radio and its audiences.


You'll need to have:

  • creative flair
  • good organisational skills
  • computer literacy
  • a flexible attitude
  • strong written and oral communication skills
  • an interest in radio
  • technical skills relevant to the role
  • the capacity to work as part of a team
  • the ability to plan, prioritise and work under pressure
  • a clear speaking voice - can also be an asset.

Work experience

Pre-entry experience is vital for developing additional technical skills and demonstrating commitment to the industry. This can be obtained through student, hospital or community radio. You could also try to get part-time or casual work at your local station - building a relationship with the team may lead to further work.

Other relevant sources of work experience, information and opportunities include:


The BBC is one of the biggest employers of radio broadcast assistants and has numerous local and national stations. There are also hundreds of commercial stations. Some are independent and some form part of larger radio groups.

The country's regional and national commercial stations are owned by a small number of larger media groups, which include:

DAB digital radio has helped to increase the number of BBC and commercial stations available over the past few years.

Specific job titles may differ between employers. Some commercial and local BBC stations may not employ people in a specific broadcast assistant role, as the work can be carried out by the presenter or producer.

Many people work freelance or on fixed-term contracts, moving between stations and programmes.

Look for job vacancies at:

You can also check commercial radio station or group websites and the local press.

Although the BBC advertises vacancies, they are not always made available externally. Vacancies for commercial radio are not always advertised and are often filled by people undertaking voluntary experience on shows.

Professional development

Most training is likely to be delivered on the job or through short courses. Learning from colleagues, such as other broadcast assistants, researchers, producers and presenters will be an important part of your training.

Most stations expect you to start with a good working knowledge of the broadcasting environment and programme production. Any training available usually focuses on the technical aspects of the job.

ScreenSkills also provides a range of Training, events and opportunities that may be helpful to developing your career in radio.

Online articles, videos and recordings are available at BBC Academy. Relevant topics include:

  • creating successful radio phone-ins
  • how to make it in radio
  • connecting with listeners
  • art of the interview.

The BBC also offers mid-career training to broadcast assistants.

It's important that you keep your skills up to date throughout your career. Various events and resources that can help with this are available from The Radio Academy. They run an annual radio festival, which gives news on developments in the industry and allows for networking with others in the field.

Career prospects

The natural step from broadcast assistant is to radio producer and you can achieve this in around two to five years by gaining experience across a variety of programmes and stations. Taking up opportunities to provide additional support or cover colleagues' leave will help you broaden your experience out in different areas.

No formal qualifications are required to move from broadcast assistant to radio producer, but extensive experience is essential. Being able to relocate will open up more job opportunities.

Staff turnover is rapid in the radio industry, and especially in local radio where the average length of time in a role is around two to three years. This is due to many using it as a stepping stone to either national radio or television work. Progression in a large organisation, such as the BBC, may take longer because of the extensive competition compared to a local radio station.

Other career paths for similar roles include becoming a technical studio manager, music programmer, presenter, journalist, editor or researcher.

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