Fake it til you make it…as a radio newsreader
In a piece that first appeared in Encore, Emily Hoskins from ARN tells us how to do her job.
What does a radio newsreader actually do?
A radio newsreader has to be switched on from the moment they sit at their desk. At the Australian Radio Network each journalist writes, researches, edits and reads their own news bulletins under tight deadlines – every 30 minutes during the breakfast shift and every hour after 9am. Via the Classic Hits network, we offer the most comprehensive FM news in the country. We make every bulletin different by constantly looking for fresh stories and re-working existing stories with new angles. This is done by utilising contacts, conducting phone interviews and scouring sources like newspapers, AAP, Twitter etc. If there is a late-breaking story, there can be just minutes to frantically write it before the news theme starts. If the bulletin itself sounds effortless on air, we’ve done our job right.
What skills do you need to be good at the job?
An inquisitive nature is a must, along with a good voice and the ability to condense a lot of information into three tight, punchy paragraphs. Being adaptable, organised, persistent and able to handle the pressure of deadlines is also important.
News is a 24/7 beast, so it’s not the sort of job you switch off from at the end of a shift. You need to keep up with what’s going on in the world of politics, sport, entertainment – a bit of everything really.
You also need a good news sense and to understand what is an interesting story for your audience.
Who are the people you work closest with?
As well as being the news director, I read the breakfast news for the Chrissie & Jane Breakfast Show on Mix 101.1 in Melbourne which involves working closely with the on-air team and producers, but also content directors and various media officers.
I have the pleasure of working with a great news team. It’s so important to have a good chemistry and working relationship with those around you at four in the morning. There’s no room for drama.
Is there any lingo we need to know to do the job?
Snippets of audio are called ‘grabs’, ‘reax’ is reaction to a story, a phoner is a phone interview, a presser is a media conference, a pre-pack is a story that’s prepared ahead of time for the next day.
What does a typical day on the job entail?
Rising at 3am, writing, writing, writing, choosing what stories to run and what order they will fall, walking into a news booth, presenting a bulletin, taking a deep breath, and then doing it all over again until around midday.
What’s the best part of the job?
I get a buzz out of being the first person to tell listeners what’s happening as they wake up or jump in the car to head to work.
As a journalist, there are also times when you have the opportunity to witness history in the making which can be exciting.
And as a news director, I enjoy mentoring the younger staff and watching them develop their skills.
What’s the biggest challenge?
Other than deadlines, simplifying complex stories into bite-size pieces that are easy for the listener to digest. Fitting a selection of stories into a designated two-and-a-half minute window can also be tricky.
How do you become a radio newsreader?
Get as much practical experience in news as possible. I started by writing articles for my university magazine, then writing advertorials for a local newspaper and working on community radio.
Be prepared to move anywhere. Most of the people in my team started out at a radio station in a country town. Be ready to work early mornings, late nights, Christmas and public holidays.
And if you’re not already, become a news junkie.
This story first appeared in the weekly edition of Encore available for iPad and Android tablets. Visit encore.com.au for a preview of the app or click below to download.