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Radio Staffing Report Paints Dull Picture

The newest RTDNA/Hofstra University survey showed a nearly stagnant market

Employment opportunities in the field of news radio are dim, according to the newest RTDNA/Hofstra University Annual Survey on staffing and profitability.

Bob Papper, Hofstra University journalism professor and chair of the Journalism, Media Studies and Public Relations Department, began the Radio Staffing portion of the report with a frank remark. In the 17 years he has conducted these surveys the typical radio news operation has consisted of only one full-time employee, and this year was no exception.

Papper went on to note the “highly centralized” nature of radio news, with one news director regularly overseeing three stations’ worth of content, and most news directors (80%) reported additional station duties outside of the news.

The report noted a trend in employee numbers vs. station type and ownership. Commercial stations reported higher than noncommercial, and group-owned stations reported more employees than independent, though noncommercial and independent radio stations were the most likely to have grown.

In all, nearly 75 percent of radio stations expect no staff changes this year, and six times as many expect staff to increase rather than decrease. Station budgets improved in general, with less than half as many stations reporting an overall budget decrease from this time last year. Still, it seems as though station managers are quick to cut the news budget in lean times, and slow to fill those empty desks when the revenue comes back.

— Brian Smith