The House that Radio Bought … Is Small and Rented

Ashley Milney-Tyte is a radio and print journalist. She just got back from a conference of radio journalists and has written a post criticizing that no one at these career development conferences talks about the hard truth of the industry: “You cannot make a living as an independent radio producer. It’s what one of my radio friends calls radio’s ‘dirty little secret.’”

She writes that the most pay that new journalists should expect is “$200-$700 a story, depending on the outlet and the ‘tier’ of pay the outlet decides the producer deserves.” Some pay better—she mentions “everyone wants to get on This American Life or Radiolab, which I realize pay better, but only a fraction will.

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3 Comments / Post A Comment

Emma Peel (#317)

I liked her post a lot, but really, are there people considering a career in media who know so little about it that this is considered a “dirty secret”? Nobody goes into public media to get rich, period, and I’d think common sense would tell you that a studio job is more lucrative than being independent (ie working for yourself without a steady paycheck).

Rule of thumb: If you want to be creative without a steady paycheck to back it up (creative or no), you might want to think deeply about how you will pay your rent.

msafiri (#2,202)

@Emma Peel Bit difference between getting rich and being able to support yourself. I’m in journalism and people definitely talk about how you can’t get rich (and imply that not wanting to is a virtue), but not about how you actually, often, can’t support a family, especially not in media markets where jobs are more prevalent.

Also, this isn’t just true for more creative media (literary journalism), but more straightforward, less artistic reporting as well.

Lindsay Lou (#2,481)

@msafiri Agreed! I’m an independent radio producer and I have two other gigs that combine to pay the bills (most of the time). When I went freelance, I had no illusions about the fact that I was not going to make a lot of money, or sustain the lifestyle if my savings ran out. But the point of the post is that the radio community is really self-congratulatory about how many people are working as independent producers, and encouraging that kind of work over the type of daily radio work that DOES pay the bills (again, not making you rich). But at the same time, we don’t talk about how we’re basically starving artists.

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