Former TV TOKYO Announcer Leaves the Company in July and Moves into the “Education Industry
The ratio of applicants for announcer positions at Tokyo’s key stations is said to be as high as 1,000 times. Recently, however, an increasing number of TV station announcers who have survived the fierce competition are retiring in their 30s. In addition, many of them are not working as freelance announcers, but are changing their jobs to something completely different.
Announcer Shusuke Harada, 29, who left TV Tokyo in July, is one such case. He currently works in the brand marketing and PR area of “atama plus,” an educational start-up company, where he is in charge of information dissemination to the media and marketing work.
I have always dreamed of doing something that would light the way for children’s future. In fact, when I was a child, there was a time when I had a hard time because I didn’t fit in at school. …… Because of that experience, I knew I wanted to work in education someday.”
The reason why she decided to become an announcer instead of taking the shortest path to her dream, such as becoming a teacher or working for an education-related company, is related to her memories of that time.
When I was going through a tough time, TV brought me smiles and energy. Even if I were to get a job outside of television, I wanted to work in some form of entertainment to make children smile. At the time, I didn’t fit in with a group, and I wasn’t good at standing up in front of people and speaking or standing out. I wanted to become an announcer partly because I was curious about what the world would be like after I overcame my complex.
In fact, Harada, who overcame his complex and became an announcer, says that the view that appeared before him was “wonderful. He is blessed with a good workplace and colleagues, and the work is rewarding and gives him a sense of mission. Through his experience as an announcer, he has also improved his communication skills and become more positive. But why did she give up her wonderful position as a station announcer?
I had a vague idea that I wanted to work with children someday, even after I became a station announcer. What actually triggered my interest was the “Jikkyo Baby” project I started with COVID-19 crisis, in which I would give live commentary on the cute videos of small children. It was a personal activity, but after working with children, I felt anew that I wanted to create products that would make children smile.
It was surprising to learn that even after becoming a bureau announcer, he continued to think about working with children someday, but he was even more surprised by the circumstances surrounding his career change.
Mr. Harada had been thinking about changing careers in the education industry since the beginning of 2021. His initial plan was not to change jobs, but to start his own business. This was due in part to his experience as a field caster on “World Business Satellite (WBS),” where he covered many business leaders who were working straight for their dreams.
I wanted to create a place where children could learn more than just basic skills,” he said. I thought about starting a business for that purpose, but I didn’t know exactly how to go about it. So first, I sent DMs to people who were presidents of education-related companies, asking for their guidance.
I approached top executives in the education industry and asked for their advice. One of them was Daisuke Inada, the president of “atama plus,” one of the most popular presidents in the EdTech industry, whose AI-based learning system has been adopted by many tutoring schools and prep schools.
When I consulted with him, I felt that we had a lot in common with the direction I was aiming for,” said Inada. I felt strongly that I wanted to accomplish the mission together with talented and highly motivated members. I was supposed to be consulting with him about starting a business, but before I knew it, I was saying, ‘Please let me be a part of atama plus! (laugh). Later, I had another interview and was officially hired.”
Although a career change from a TV station to an educational company, even a major one, would likely be met with some resistance from his family, Harada’s wife did not object.
I had already told my wife that I wanted to work in education someday,” he said. However, our children are still young, so she was concerned about starting a business. I was rather relieved when I ended up belonging to a company (laughs).
As mentioned earlier, one of the things that prompted Mr. Harada to change careers was the “Live Action Baby” program. The video of a professional announcer giving a play-by-play account of a small child’s condition became the talk of the town and generated a huge response.
Although he did not mention any names, out of consideration for the children who play the leading roles and TV TOKYO’s understanding of his personal activities, listeners immediately recognized who was doing the video.
The news that featured the “Jikkyo Baby” was reprinted on Yahoo! Topics, and I was delighted, “We were able to do an activity that made social news! I was delighted. Immediately after that, however, we were inundated with interviews from other stations. In one case, a 15-minute feature on an information program was made, and the total number of …… programs was about seven. Even though I appeared anonymously, I didn’t expect to be featured so prominently, and I was panicked, thinking, ‘This is too conspicuous for an individual activity.
The buzz was good, but the response was so great that “Jikkyo Baby” had no choice but to slow down. However, he was “really happy” to receive direct feedback that he could not have received as a station announcer, such as from a parent who thanked him for “giving her child a good memory,” which was something he could not get as a station announcer.
It was also rewarding to receive feedback directly from people who had watched the videos in the comments section, and to realize that the skills I had cultivated in the field of play-by-play broadcasting were benefiting others. I wanted to share this experience with others, and since there are limits to what one person can do alone, I asked my fellow announcers to join me, and since November we have been working as a team.
With the addition of announcers from other stations and freelance announcers, “Jikkyo Baby” now has five members, including Harada. In addition to the composition of the live broadcasts, there are other time-consuming tasks such as account management and various checks to ensure privacy. Mr. Harada, who has extensive knowledge in this area, is in charge of these tasks, and for the time being, he plans to post about five live video clips a week.
Although there was a time when updates were slow, the videos, with their exquisite combination of children’s adorableness and professional play-by-play, have an appeal that is hard to resist once you start watching them. As the number of postings increases, it is likely to become very popular once again.
Even in a general career change, it is difficult to jump into a different industry. And announcing is a rather specialized profession.
Immediately after changing jobs, Mr. Harada wrote on Twitter, “I went from working in a costume to a company that suddenly allows me to wear whatever I want, and I don’t know what to wear because I have no sense of style. !!!!” I’ve only been with my new job for three weeks, and I’ve been using katakana terms in an arrogant way, and as a result, I’m using them incorrectly and I’m embarrassed.
I had never faced a computer like this before. In a sense, announcers are physical workers because they have to go to various sites for interviews and report while moving around. Now that I am working at a desk, I get aches all over my body. I sometimes embarrass myself by using the wrong side letters (laughs). There are still many things I am not used to. But the speed with which information is shared, which is unique to a start-up company, is refreshing. The entire company is able to share information on tasks that I am not in charge of, and I can feel that “the company is united as one and we are working as a team to realize our mission. This atmosphere suits me.
Mr. Harada is enjoying working in a new environment. Although he is in a completely different position from his previous one, he says that his experience as an announcer has come in handy.
Everyone enjoys my unique experience and sees it in a positive light,” he says. We recently had a video production as part of our marketing work, and I was able to use my experience working as an announcer at a TV station in creating the script, placing orders with outside sources, making appearances, and editing. In terms of PR, my perspective from my days as a station announcer has also been useful. I had my own experience of taking maternity leave and being interviewed by the media, and I thought, ‘Male taking maternity leave is one of those trends that makes the news,’ but when I looked into it, I found that ‘atama plus’ had a male taking maternity leave rate of about 90%. I thought this was unusual, so I sent out a press release to the media and immediately received coverage. The accumulation of such experiences gives me confidence.
Now, three months after changing jobs, how do you compare your current job with being an announcer?
I feel that making a program is a team effort with co-hosts and staff, but as an announcer, you are the anchor, and at the end of the day, it is an individual job. That’s a big part of it, and the people around you support you, but there was also a lonely side to it, where you had to stand alone at the front. Now it’s side by side in a good way. I have colleagues to work with. I am still limited in what I can do, and I still get a lot of support, but I feel like we are moving forward together.
Not only has the quality of work and working style changed, but also the mentality when facing work has changed significantly.
She says, “Being an announcer, such as for live sports and live broadcasts, requires instantaneous concentration, and is often exciting and nerve-wracking. Now I can work calmly. I can work with a sense of stability. However, I have been working as an announcer all my life, and sometimes I want to be tense and stimulated. Thankfully, there are people who still call on me, and I do about two freelance announcing jobs a month on the side, such as playing video games, playing basketball in the B-League, and narrating,” he says.
Although his main job is in education, he is also considering utilizing the “communicative skills” he has developed as an announcer, such as in “Jikkyo Jikkyo Baby” (live broadcasting baby).
I believe that the skills I have developed at TV Tokyo should not be allowed to decline, and I will continue to value the experience I have gained from my many on-the-air experiences.
It was about two months after Mr. Harada started working in PR that the author began corresponding with him to request an interview. Having dealt with many PR people, I was impressed by the speed of his replies and the content of his e-mails, which already gave me the impression that he was a “good PR person.
When I told him this at the end of the interview, he asked me, “Really? I’m glad I got it right,” he said shyly, showing his white teeth. It was a bold change of career, but seeing how he was able to adapt flexibly to a different environment made me believe that his ability to pass the extremely difficult announcer exam would blossom wherever he went.
Interview and text： Miho Kuwata