Program Staffing

Many PD's argue that the minimum staff needed for a one-hour M-F call-in talk show with an average of one or two topics per hour is 2 F/T staff (host and producer). Recommended minimum staffing for two hours using that same format is 3 F/T staff (1 host, 1 producer and 1 associate producer). Others would argue those minimums are too low, especially if you want an internet component. As a rule of thumb, the more discrete topics per hour, the more production staff that is needed. Whatever the staff size, the two key positions are always the producer and the host.

The Producer

The producer is the ringmaster with oversight and ultimate responsibility for the sound of the show and the many tasks required to make it a success. These include; 

  • Editorial planning
  • Guest booking, including pre-interviewing
  • Research support for the host
  • Call screening
  • Show and forward promotion

The job requires excellent organizational and people management skills.

The Host

The host is the show’s performer, the person who embodies the show’s goals and vision on the air. Our best hosts have endless curiosity. They love to learn. They’re articulate. They’re able to ask tough questions but maintain the civility so valued by public radio listeners. Here are four tools to help you identify, hire and evaluate hosting talent:

  • The Selection and Shaping of Talent - Key insights from one of public radio’s most successful producers.
  • On Air Talent Hiring Checklist  -  A series of questions to help you find the right person for the job. 
  • Talk Show Host Ledger -  A yardstick for evaluating hosting performance
  • Job descriptions and sample job interview questions  - developed by Oregon Public Broadcasting for the on-air and online hosts for their daily program Think Out Loud.

A clear organizational chart and specific language in job descriptions will help all staff understand their relationships to one another.