Education & Requirements to Become a Radio Talk Show Host

Learn about what it takes to work as a radio talk show host. Discover education requirements, key skills and potential salaries to see if this is a good career fit for you. Schools offering Radio Broadcasting degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Information at a Glance

Radio talk show hosts present entertaining or informative material on the radio, typically on a particular topic like sports, entertainment, politics or finance. Most got their start in the industry by studying a broadcasting-related field like journalism or communications. For a quick overview of the job, take a look at the chart below.

Degree Required Bachelor's Degree
Education Field of Study Communications, journalism, broadcasting
Training Required On-the-job training
Job Growth (2016-2026) -12% (radio and television announcers)*
Median Salary (2019) $43,756 (radio show host)**

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **

What Do Radio Talk Show Hosts Do?

Radio talk show hosts predict, discuss and argue over important or entertaining topics with their radio audience, usually on a daily show. Most hosts put their personality into the program, so no two radio shows are exactly the same. Some make jokes and do humorous 'bits,' and some talk openly about their private lives, while others stick to more serious subject matter. Many take phone calls from listeners to keep the conversation going or conduct interviews with interesting guests in the studio.

What Degree is Required?

Most radio announcers go to college to study broadcasting, communications or journalism. Indeed, the majority of employers in the radio industry will prefer applicants -- even entry-level ones -- who have at least a bachelor's degree in a related field. While in school, aspiring radio hosts usually learn how to write material, how to speak on air and how to operate the computers and equipment in a typical radio station.

What Special Skills Do You Need?

Formal education isn't all you need to be a successful radio host. Even after graduating from college, many disc jockeys and radio show announcers hone their craft by working in smaller markets first, learning what works and what doesn't. Hosts need to be able to write effective material, speak eloquently (or at least expertly) on a range of topics and carry on an engaging conversation with callers and guests. Most importantly, if they hope to stay employed and move up to bigger markets, radio hosts have to be able to attract listeners and keep them listening, a feat that's much easier said than done.

How Much Do Radio Talk Show Hosts Make?

What you would make as a radio show host is a difficult question to answer. The website compiled anonymous salary reporting to come up with an average wage of $43,756 per year as of February 2019.

However, radio is an industry where you're paid what someone is willing to pay you (much like television and the movies). Radio stations run on advertising dollars and advertising dollars depend on audiences, so if you can bring -- and keep -- a sizable listenership, you may be worth a lot more. For instance, hosts like Howard Stern, Rush Limbaugh and Ryan Seacrest have a devoted fanbase and their pay reflects that. All three earned between $70 and $90 million a year in 2018, according to Forbes.

How Many Jobs Are There in the Radio Talk Show Industry?

There aren't a lot of radio talk show host jobs out there, and that trend is expected to continue as radio stations consolidate and more hosts are syndicated. In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that employment for radio and television announcers will decline by 12% from 2016 to 2026.

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