Who does what in a radio studio?

In the studio during BBC's Today programme
Image caption In the studio during BBC's Today programme

Broadcasting news on the radio requires a closely co-ordinated team with a variety of important editorial and production roles.

When your reporting team is working on School Report, it's a good idea to think about which members of the team would be suited to different roles.

It's important to remember that all the roles are important! The editor might make a big decision about what stories to cover, but if the reporters don't complete a story or the presenter loses their script, the whole thing starts to go wrong!

You can also find more in-depth guides and tips in the links alongside the roles.

Key roles in a radio studio

The programme/output editor has overall control of the journalistic aspects of the programme.

They lead the production team and their main responsibility is to decide which stories will be covered, how long the reports will be and what order they appear in.

All of this information will be contained within the programme running order, which is a plan of the whole programme, and is compiled with input from the whole news team.

Making a news bulletin running order [99 KB]

The programme editor also has overall responsible for the accuracy, legality, suitability and style of the programme.

Reporters will be sent out to investigate a story that interests the programme editor. This involves gathering the news by finding out all the relevant information and checking the facts, sometimes working alongside a producer.

This can involve interviewing those involved or affected by the story, or attending news conferences, where organisations such as the police address a number of reporters at the same time to inform them about the story.

The reporter will create a "package" (an edited piece created for the programme beforehand) or conduct a "two-way" (an interview between the presenter in the studio and the reporter on location).

Presenters sit in the studio and read the scripts, which are either complete stories or introductions to reports.

Sometimes, the presenter will have to interview either a reporter or a guest.

While reading, they also have to follow instructions from the programme editor. This is usually done through the presenter's headphones using a mechanism called "talkback".

Story producers will be assigned a story by the programme editor to prepare.

Once they have the facts and are sure they are correct, a story producer will write a brief script to be read by the newsreader or presenter. This is called a piece of "copy" or a script.

This may involve contacting a reporter or sourcing an appropriate guest or interviewee to be on the telephone or come to the studio.

For more important or complicated stories, the editor might decide that it is worth assigning a reporter to produce a package. The story producer will then assist the reporter, either on location or back in the newsroom, and will often help to assemble a package from the material gathered by the reporter.

Studio managers ensure that the news material gets on air. The 'SM' operates the mixing desk. They also ensure that all the microphones and the computers, which play out the clips, are working.

During a broadcast, an SM uses foot pedals to turn on a green light when there is 10 seconds to go before the end of a report. This warns the presenter that it is nearly time for him or her to speak. When the presenter's microphone is turned on, a red light appears.

Sometimes the SM will get involved earlier in the process by helping a story producer to assemble, or mix, a package.

Studio producers are responsible for ensuring that the correct material is available for the studio manager (SM) to play.

They also have to ensure that the SM always knows what item is coming up next. Usually, they will provide the SM with a set of scripts.

During a broadcast, they sit next to the SM in the cubicle. They are like a co-pilot or co-driver, telling the SM what's happening and what's coming up.

If there are any live guests, the studio manager will make sure they are in the studio or on the phone at the right time.

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