TV Producer  What They Do

Just the Facts

Insider Info

dotTV producers work behind the scenes to produce television news and other programs. They are involved in all aspects of the show, from deciding the title of the show to directing the on-air personalities to deciding what is televised.

TV producers are the ones who decide how a news story is covered. Will they send a reporter to the scene? Who will they interview about it? What angle should they take? What exactly will viewers find out? For a TV producer, this is all in a day's work.

Depending on what kind of show they're working on, they initiate the idea for the program, obtain rights to a script if required, hire key staff, find the funds to back the show and oversee budgets. They also coordinate the day-to-day production and make sure all post-production gets finished. They may have to promote the program and negotiate with broadcasters and distributors.

dotThe most important aspect of the job is making sure the show is "accurate, clean and on time," says Kurt Christopher, a newscast producer in New Mexico.

dotMost television producers work for independent stations and television networks. Or they may work for independent production agencies, which sell their shows to television stations. Others, like Emmy and Peabody Award winning producer Scott Evers, have found their own niches in TV production.

Evers says a lot of his company's work is in public relations and political advertising. "That seems to be a real growing area within the industry," says Evers. "And it's pretty lucrative."

dotA producer's responsibilities depend on whether the TV station is in a major, medium or small market. For example, small- and medium-market television producers may also be called on to host or anchor the shows they produce.

Since they often are in charge of managing others, a working knowledge of minimum wages and working conditions set out by associations and unions is a bonus.

dotSome producers oversee the production of a whole program. Others work in the field, gathering video items to be inserted into a program. Either way, it is the producer's ideas that shape what the viewer sees.

"I like the fact it's a different job every day. Every day you're working on something new and learning things all the time. It's fun," says Alan Echenberg, a producer.

dotA TV producer's schedule depends on what is being produced. The producers of live television programs, like news, have to work when the program airs. The producers of taped shows and items tend to work traditional hours.

dotTV producers need to be in good physical health in order to work in the field with reporters and to withstand the stress of the job. They must also be able to lift television equipment, like cameras and other gear.

Evers used to be a daily television news producer, which is a job his wife still holds. He describes daily television news as "highly stressful, but she's used to it and that's reduced the stress. I think daily news production is a high-stress job."

Working on political advertising projects isn't nearly as stressful, he says. "It's a lot of hours, though."

At a Glance

Breathe life into television

  • Producers make sure the show runs smoothly
  • Your work hours depend on the kind of show you do
  • Producers often start in the industry as directors' assistants