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What is announcing?

Module by: Philip Thompsen. E-mail the author

Summary: Defines the term announcing.

What is Announcing?

Defining any concept involves some risk that someone might disagree with your definition. So it is with the term "announcing." But some kind of definition is needed in order to clarify the subject of this book. So here's one simple definition of announcing: Announcing is the professional practice of vocally communicating messages to an audience through broadcast media. Let's expand upon the seven components of this definition:

  1. The professional...... Announcing is not just a "job" that anyone can do. Announcing is a profession: an occupation that demands specialized skills and unique talents. Indeed, it's not uncommon to hear people in the industry refer to announcers as "talent." For that's what the announcer has that others are willing to pay for: talent. That doesn't mean announcers make a lot of money (although a few make quite a bit). But it does mean that announcers are able to do something others are willing to pay for. And as in other professions, announcing has its own associations and unions dedicated to protecting and enhancing the profession, like AFTRA, the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. Some announcing specialties have professional ethical codes that seek to establish professional standards, such as the Radio and Television News Directors Code of Ethics. So while announcing can be fun, it's not something people do just for the fun of it. Announcing is a career choice that most announcers take quite seriously.
  2. ...practice... Because skillful announcing requires talent, announcing is a practice as well as a profession. Announcers are continually practicing their craft, trying to make the most of their talents. Although some announcers may be blessed with a naturally pleasant voice or an attractive appearance, most announcers find they must work hard to develop and maintain their "on-air presence." A nice smile and "good pipes" won't get you very far if you don't know how to use them. So announcers practice; they practice how they sound on a microphone, how they appear on a camera, and how they interpret and deliver message. Announcing is a very competitive field; only a few make it to the top of their profession. Those that do know that becoming a successful announcer takes practice, and typically, a lot of it.
  3. ...of vocally... The voice is one of the announcer's most valuable assets. It is the primary "tool" announcers use to convey messages to an audience. While announcers don't necessary have to have a "beautiful" voice, announcers must be able to effectively use their voices, sometimes for long stretches at a time. The voice is important for performing on both radio and television: whether an announcer is behind a microphone or in front of a camera, it is the voice that carries most of the "content" of a message. That doesn't mean that announcers don't need to know how to communicate in other ways; many announcing jobs require writing as well as speaking skills, and some give considerable attention to physical appearance. But all announcers use their voices, and vocal quality is often what distinguishes the most successful announcers.
  4. ...communicating... Fundamentally, an announcer's job is to communicate. Announcers just doesn't read words out loud; they use their skills and talents to effectively communicate the meaning of those words. If the message an announcer is trying to convey isn't successfully communicated, the announcer has failed to do what he or she is being paid to do. Announcers should thus possess a solid understanding of the process of communication in order to organize, synthesize and present information in a compelling manner. Many announcers have advanced training in public speaking, rhetoric and communication studies. But regardless of their academic credentials, successful announcers demonstrate they know how to effectively communicate.
  5. ...messages... The meaningful content of what announcers seek to communicate is embedded in the messages they communicate. Sometimes announcers are directly involved in the writing of scripts, commonly called "copy" in industry lingo. Sometimes announcers are asked to "ad lib" a message for a specific purpose. But regardless of whether they are involved in creating the messages they convey, announcers must be able to interpret, understand and communicate the meaning of those messages. Announcers "breathe life" into copy, using their talent to convert simple words on a page into an engaging message.
  6. an audience... Ultimately, the success of an announcer is dependent on the audience. You can't communicate a message if no one listens to it. And announcers typically don't have captive audiences; they rely, at least in part, on the power of personality to attract listeners and gain and maintain their attention. Put another way, announcers try to be people other people want to listen to (and perhaps look at). Announcers are often assessed by how well the audience responds to them, which is typically measured in audience ratings. It may seem unfair, but announcers live or die by the ratings. They must use their talents to attract and "connect" with the target audience...and keep them coming back for more.
  7. ...through broadcast media. Most people equate the term "broadcasting" with "over the air" radio and television. Certainly the term "broadcast media" includes radio and TV. But in a more general sense, broadcast media can include any technology that extends the power of the human voice to "cast broadly," that is, to "cast" (convey) messages to a "broad" audience. That could include technologies for sending audio and video signals over cable systems, via satellite, or over the internet. It could include public address systems, such as that used by announcers at sports stadiums, race tracks and night clubs. It could include technologies used to record and playback prerecorded announcements. Of course, using the term "broadcast media" in such a general fashion does stretch its meaning a bit, but does so in a way the more completely captures the variety of technologies used by announcers.

Exercise 1: Review

Given the definition of announcing in this section, which of these do you think would NOT be considered an announcer?

  • A. A television news anchor
  • B. A radio disc jockey
  • C. A soap opera actor
  • D. An audiobook narrator


Of these four choices, the one least likely to be considered an announcer is C, a soap opera actor. Announcing and acting may have similarities, but they are generally considered distinct professions.

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