To become a radio presenter in South Africa, you’ll need a mix of relevant high school subjects, tertiary qualifications, and practical experience.

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…but do you know what roles exist in the Radio Presenting Space?

Here’s a guide to the various roles in the radio presenting space, specifically relating to the South African context:



1. On-Air Radio Presenter

Role: The most visible role, presenting shows, conducting interviews, and engaging with listeners. Examples: DJ Fresh, DJ Sbu, Anele Mdoda. Skills Needed: Excellent communication, charisma, a good voice, and the ability to engage the audience. Path: Start with community or campus radio stations, volunteer, and gain experience.

2. News Presenter/Anchor

Role: Delivering news updates, weather reports, and other information segments. Examples: Bongani Bingwa (also known for his work on TV). Skills Needed: Strong understanding of current affairs, clear and concise delivery, and research skills. Path: Study journalism or media studies, intern at news radio stations like SAfm or Power FM.

3. Sports Presenter

Role: Reporting on sports events, interviewing athletes, and providing live commentary. Examples: Robert Marawa, Thabiso Mosia. Skills Needed: In-depth sports knowledge, enthusiastic delivery, and the ability to analyze games. Path: Combine a love for sports with media training, start with smaller stations or online sports platforms.

4. Traffic Reporter

Role: Providing live traffic updates and advising on the best routes. Skills Needed: Quick thinking, clear speech, and good understanding of local geography. Path: Start with training in broadcasting, intern at stations that have regular traffic updates like 702 or Kfm.

5. Producer

Role: Planning and organizing shows, booking guests, and coordinating with the technical team. Examples: Behind-the-scenes figures at major stations like Metro FM or 947. Skills Needed: Organizational skills, creativity, ability to work under pressure, and technical knowledge. Path: Study media production, gain experience as an assistant producer, and work your way up.

6. Content Creator

Role: Developing engaging content for radio shows, social media, and podcasts. Examples: Digital teams at stations like YFM or Good Hope FM. Skills Needed: Creativity, writing skills, social media proficiency, and the ability to understand audience preferences. Path: Study digital media or communication, intern with radio stations, and create a portfolio of your work.

7. Technical Operator/Sound Engineer

Role: Managing the technical aspects of broadcasting, such as audio levels, equipment, and live feeds. Examples: Essential roles at every radio station, from community radio to big names like 5FM. Skills Needed: Technical skills, problem-solving ability, and a good ear for sound quality. Path: Study sound engineering, gain hands-on experience, and start with smaller stations to build your expertise.

8. Radio DJ

Role: Playing music, mixing tracks, and engaging with the audience, often during live events or parties. Examples: DJ Euphonik, DJ Kent. Skills Needed: DJing skills, knowledge of music genres, and the ability to create a lively atmosphere. Path: Start DJing at local events, build a reputation, and transition to radio through networking and showcasing your talent.

9. Advertising Sales Executive

Role: Selling advertising slots, managing client relationships, and creating sponsorship deals. Examples: Sales teams at major commercial stations like East Coast Radio. Skills Needed: Sales skills, understanding of the radio market, and negotiation skills. Path: Study marketing or business, gain experience in sales, and start at smaller stations to learn the ropes.

By exploring these roles and understanding the specific requirements and paths, students can find the best fit for their interests and talents in the radio industry.

Here’s a comprehensive guide to get you started on Radio Presenting career path:

High School Subjects

Tertiary Qualifications

  1. Diploma or Degree in Media Studies: Many universities and colleges offer programs in media studies, journalism, or communication. Some notable institutions include:
    • University of Johannesburg
    • Rhodes University
    • University of Pretoria
    • Walter Sisulu University
  2. Specialized Radio Training: Short courses specifically focused on radio presenting are also valuable. These can be found at:
    • National Electronic Media Institute of South Africa (NEMISA)
    • Academy of Sound Engineering (ASE)
    • Various private media training schools

Practical Experience and Internships

  1. Campus Radio Stations: Get involved with your university’s or college’s campus radio station to gain hands-on experience.
  2. Community Radio: Volunteering at a community radio station is a great way to build your portfolio.
  3. Internships: Many commercial radio stations offer internship programs. Look for opportunities at well-known stations like 5FM, Metro FM, or regional stations.

Building a Portfolio

  • Voice Demos: Create a collection of your best on-air moments, interviews, and segments.
  • Networking: Attend media industry events, join relevant social media groups, and connect with professionals in the field.
  • Freelancing: Offer your services as a freelance presenter for events or smaller media outlets.

Additional Skills

  • Public Speaking: Strong public speaking skills are essential.
  • Technical Proficiency: Basic knowledge of radio equipment and editing software is beneficial.
  • Social Media Savvy: Understanding how to engage with audiences on various platforms is increasingly important.

By following these steps and gaining a mix of educational background and practical experience, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a successful radio presenter in South Africa.

7 Important Facts to Consider Regarding

  1. Qualifications Aren’t Everything: Many successful radio broadcasters like DJ Fresh and DJ Sbu don’t have formal qualifications. While a diploma or degree in media studies or communication from institutions like the University of Johannesburg or Rhodes University can help, your skills and natural talents are often more important.
  2. Skills Matter Most: Being a great radio presenter requires excellent communication skills, a good voice, and the ability to engage and entertain listeners. These skills can be honed through practice and experience, not just through formal education.
  3. Natural Talent is Key: If you have a natural flair for speaking and storytelling, like Bongani Bingwa, you’re already on the right path. Radio is all about connecting with your audience, so your personality and charisma are crucial.
  4. It’s Not Easy to Become Popular: Gaining a significant following and becoming a well-known radio presenter, like Anele Mdoda, takes time and effort. You’ll need to be patient, persistent, and ready to start in smaller, less glamorous roles before you make it big.
  5. Experience is Crucial: Hands-on experience is invaluable. Get involved in community or campus radio, volunteer at stations like YFM or community stations, and grab every opportunity to be behind the mic. The more you practice, the better you’ll get.
  6. The Evolution of Radio: The radio industry has evolved significantly. It’s not just about being on-air anymore; you’ll also need to be tech-savvy, understand social media, and sometimes even create content for online platforms. Look at how DJ Sbu has leveraged his radio career into a multifaceted media presence.
  7. It’s a Dynamic Career: Radio presenting can be unpredictable and fast-paced. You’ll need to be adaptable and ready to handle everything from live interviews to unexpected technical issues. Flexibility and a cool head under pressure are essential traits, just like those seen in seasoned professionals such as Thando Thabethe.

By understanding these realities and focusing on building your skills and experience, you can carve out a successful career in radio presenting, even without a formal qualification.