Profile: Production coordinator, Radio 4

Helen Surtees talks us through the important role of the production coordinator on Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour. Every week may be different, but the same challenges remain: finding guests, arranging studio facilities and getting people to say interesting things on air.

Production coordinators do the administrative work that keeps programmes running. In some radio companies they are also referred to as broadcast assistants. The role is varied and may include processing payments for actors and reporters, booking guests and studios. Production coordinators also need to understand copyright, as they will usually clear the clips and music used in the programme.

"Every week is different." – Helen Surtees

The key requirement for this role is the ability to multi-task. Coordinators must be able to work calmly under pressure and need excellent organisational and communication skills. They need to be good team players, and able to communicate well with a range of people and personalities.

Working on the live magazine programme Woman’s Hour, Helen sometimes has to juggle up to half a dozen programme items. Before the record she will book travel, organise payment of guests and create the running order for the show. During the recording she is responsible for checking the timings on each item and for recalculating the running time remaining so that the programme fits its allotted slot in the schedule. Helen also has a standby item to fill in time just in case it doesn’t all go to plan. And, as she remarks, if you ever hear an item about Gorton Monastery in Manchester, you’ll know something has gone wrong in the studio.

Every week may be different, but the same challenges remain: finding guests, arranging studio facilities and getting people to say interesting things on air.