Are Radio Reporters Paid Well?


Bob Papper, Professor Emeritus at Hofstra is out with his annual report on radio news department salaries. Papper reports that news salaries at radio stations increased more slowly in the last year, but for the second year in a row, overall radio news salaries have exceeded inflation in a five-year comparison.

The report was released by the Radio Television Digital News Association.

Let’s dig into Papper’s new data…

Local radio news salaries rose by 1.7% from last year. That’s down from last year’s 2.8% increase. Factor in the low inflation of 1.9%, and radio salaries almost held even over the last year, with a loss against inflation of 0.2%. While it was a largely stagnant year overall, some positions fared much better than others.

With just a couple exceptions, five-year comparisons look strong, with overall salary growth well ahead of inflation for most radio news positions. Aided by the disastrous year of 2009, the 10-year comparison is strong across the board. This is only the second year in a row where overall radio news salaries have exceeded inflation in a five-year comparison, at least for quite a few years. Ten-year comparisons have been stronger, but that’s heavily based on some very low salaries a decade ago.

Overall, non-commercial salaries are 37.4% higher than commercial ones, but as Papper’s report points out, that’s not quite a fair comparison. The majority of non-commercial stations surveyed are in large and major markets and commercial news stations tend to be in the smaller markets.

Using median (or more typical) salaries, non-commercial radio salaries come out 23.6% higher than commercial radio salaries – just looking at comparable market sizes.

The average starting pay in the radio news department increased a healthy $3,300 after increasing $500 last year, $600 the year before, and $700 the year before that. Median (more typical) starting salaries rose by $100 after a $3,000 jump last year.


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