Sunday, December 6, 1998
WORLDWIDE communication networks have changed the way we think, work and plan. Whether it is the bureaucrat, politician, industrialist, student or housewife, there is an addictive need to access the latest information, entertainment and leisure options. The electronic media be it radio, television or cable is understandably reeling under severe performance pressure. Policy-makers and even staid politicians acknowledge the power of Government-owned, private and international media, since transmissions reach millions of people in the remotest areas in a fraction of a second.
With the spurt in radio and television air time, there has been a corresponding increase in the demand for good on-air people. The spot-light is on anchor persons, news broadcasters, sports, weather, arts, music political announcers, interviewers, talk show hosts, those doing voice-overs for documentaries, advertisements and corporate films. The visible side of the electronic media, namely broadcasting, is fast acquiring finesse.
To be a broadcaster you have to be endowed with oratory skills, a clear voice and a telegenic personality. The need to have strikingly good looking people, flaunting trendy designer outfits may be confined to music count down shows, fashion and beauty programmes. The general thrust is on having sensible presenters who understand their target audience and who appear credible.
If, for instance, there is an industry person hosting a talk show featuring industrialists, finance secretaries and ministers or a print media journalist who is hosting a show on the latest books and authors, it is because he would be able to extract the best from the interviewee and also add his own input, making the programme content based.
Khushwant Singh, with his unkempt beard and crumpled kurtas, is certainly not every viewers aesthetic delight, but he delivers because of his grounding on the subject. This makes him an effective presenter who calls for compulsive viewing. That is exactly what the producer and advertiser are looking for.
The bulk of broadcasting is done by stringers, freelancers and part-time announcers who have trained their voice, diction and pronunciation to suit the medium they operate in. There are also those who are on the pay rolls or on contract to a particular channel or production company. This is a short-lived profession with a high turnover. A newcomer must do his groundwork who to approach, how to prepare his CV and negotiate terms and conditions.
If you are good at dramatics in college, try compering a few live shows in your city. Get used to the mike and sound systems, throw and modulate your voice and figure out the presenting skills you have before you walk into a radio or television network. With staff announcers being replaced by freelancers, there is a lot of scope for fresh talent, if you can discount the competition, sifarish and dirty politicking. The day is not far when you will have freelancers who live hundreds of miles from the stations they identify or promote. They would pre-record their announcements and ship them to the point of transmission by post. Express satellites and instantaneous audio synthesis of text files by means of hardware and software will mark the final stage of the staff announcers evolution.
Training in journalism or a postgraduate course in electronic journalism helps. You could be a science, arts or commerce graduate. Overseas, you have excellent options in courses of short and medium duration. Some places offer on the job training. All radio stations and television networks will first put you through an audition test before taking you on trial or contract. Channels like MTV and Channel V conduct publicised nation wide hunts for VJs and announcers.
Language proficiency is important. Knowledge of current affairs, presence of mind, ability to take split-second decisions are qualities which matter.
Along with presentation skills you have to study studio operations offering fundamental instruction in the operation of broadcast equipment, proficiency with camera operation, video editing, VTR operation, teleprompters, broadcast consoles, audio boards, video routers, studio intercoms, computerised digital work stations and lighting boards. Most well-equipped broadcasting schools and institutes offer opportunities to students to work individually and in-groups in simulated and real cable television productions.
Newscasters like Nidhi Kulpati and even Prannoy Roy dont just read the news. They also produce, package and market it. Another success story is that of Oprah Winfrey, perhaps one of the richest women in the world who is a household name not just in the USbut all over the world, thanks to her feed good family based talk show. She also is much more than a pretty face speaking someone elses lines.
Internet broadcasting is a popular career overseas. Here you have programming on a wide array of topics including business technology, travel, events, live radio and television stations, business and sporting events, specialised full length CDs, concerts, news and audio books on the net.
Radio in India with its 160 stations and a captive audience of more than 90 per cent still has a hold over the nations pulse. There are more than 30 commercial broadcasting stations and the News Service Division produces and broadcasts news bulletins in about 20 languages within India and 23 languages for its External Services Division. Selection is through the Staff Selection Commission. While producers, transmission, programme executives and station directors are appointed through selection/promotion the presentation staff has to go through an audition test.
At small radio stations you have announcers introducing recorded music, presenting news, sports, weather and commercials, interviewing guests and doing community round ups. They may also have to operate the control board, sell commercial airtime, write news and other copy.
Larger stations have separate research, documentation and presentation cells. With news story layouts becoming interactive, relying on spot inputs, there is a need for on-air reporters. Most employers take a voice test, screen test and interview. This could be in the form of writing announcements, presenting scripts, preparing questionnaires and providing quick analyses. Programme preparation, merchandising, creative preparation for development and on-the-air voice projection are critical skills which can be developed.
Presenting music programmes on the radio has become a recent fad with a complete FM band devoted to the same although RJs (radio jockeys) have been around for much longer. A date with you and Forces requests were popular music programmes where the presenters enjoyed adulation and fan mail in the early 70s. Today, thanks to the more visible face of television, popular anchorpersons have become cult figures for the new generation.
Television performing is a
part of the curriculum in international broadcasting
schools which orient you towards different styles used in
commercials, industrials, news and sports broadcasting,
terminology, discussion of audition techniques and resume
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