A phrase that is added to many advertisements as a requirement for jobs in radio news is ‘… and a good microphone voice’. But what is a ‘good microphone voice’?
A lot of it is down to interpretation, but it is certainly one which has clarity and credibility and is free from verbal ‘ticks’. Those with weak r’s or lisps are still uncommon on radio (Jonathan Ross being the celebrated exception!). The balance of male and female voices has levelled – indeed, there are probably more female news presenters than male – although undoubtedly more male music presenters. Most listeners are said to dislike shrill voices, which may put some women at a disadvantage, but they also dislike male voices which sound overly young. And although more ‘regional’ voices are heard on national radio news bulletins (Scots, Irish, Welsh), the likelihood of a strong Brummie, Glaswegian or Geordie accent being heard in the same role seems a while off yet. On local stations, a newsreader with the same local accent as their listeners will be welcomed much more than a local accent from elsewhere – ‘received pronunciation’ (RP or ‘the Queen’s English’) is still the most accepted newsreading voice. When commercial radio started in 1973, many stations employed ‘newsreaders’ alongside ‘journalists’. The readers were those who had good voices, maybe actors, and their job was simply to read the news. Now most stations have journalists who can read, write and report, although news hubs may again employ specific readers to read several bulletins each hour.