Graduate careers: Fast Track: Get a foot in the door of your chosen career 1. Radio Producer

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The Independent Culture
Job description (what it says): To make radio programmes for national or local broadcast. In local radio, it's possible that the producer may also be the presenter.

Job description (what it means): Buttering up everyone from the commissioning editor to finding potential contributors; taking the flak from the listeners; getting reprimanded when you've run over budget, your script is too long, your tapes are badly edited or your guests fail to show up.

Qualifications: A degree - preferably media-related and at least a 2:2 - is necessary but a few years' worth of experience is more important still. If you participated in journalistic activities at school, university and in your community (think hospitals and cheesy local events), that's a good start. It may be impossible to avoid a stint on Cara's Cat Rescue Phone-In unpaid on Sunshine FM (most local radio work is freelance and almost all local radio work involves phone-ins).

Way in: BBC training schemes exist, but it's pretty hard to get on them. They advertise for the scheme every September and receive several hundred applications for a mere seven places. To get a place you need to have done some radio work - back to Cara's Cat Rescue Phone-In. You can get an application form from the BBC during the summer. BBC jobs have to be advertised externally, but they are often filled from within, so you need an edge. It helps if you have a contact, but you could get into national radio as a researcher, production assistant or junior reporter.

Starting salary: a BBC producer earns from pounds 24,000, while a producer at a commercial radio station will start at pounds 26,000.

In five years, you could be earning: pounds 26,000-pounds 35,000.

Role model: Orson Welles.

Perks: Bad hair days need never matter again. And who says radio is an outdated medium? Brian Redhead used to say he loved the Today programme because he had "the ear of the nation".

Drawbacks: Long and unpredictable working hours mean you will never watch your favourite soaps again. The unstable income and boredom of working for Cara's Cat Rescue Phone-In might just have killed your enthusiasm for the medium before you land your coveted job at the BBC.

Read: Media sections of the broadsheets; Ariel, the BBC internal publication, contains vacancies and contact names and numbers (a friend who works at the BBC is the best way to get hold of this); local press; Writers' and Artists' Yearbook; The Media Guide Broadcast Production Guide.

Need not apply: Over-35s are increasingly unwelcome. And anyone who requires a lot of sleep.

Career prospects: Progression is to senior producer role and then to editor. The amalgamation of radio and television production departments should result in more varied career opportunities.

Do say in interview:

"I totally believe that the

best media pictures can be found in radio."

Don't say: "Actually, I tend to get all my news from TV."

KH

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