Why only NHK female announcers can be popular…? Convincing Reasons | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Why only NHK female announcers can be popular…? Convincing Reasons

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NHK’s “W aces,” Mayuko Wakuda (left) and Maho Kuwako. Both of them were in charge of the live broadcast of the opening ceremony of the Olympics and have hosted the Kohaku Uta Gassen several times. They are well-known throughout Japan and can be called “signboard announcers.

I was suddenly surprised while browsing news sites. Maho Kuwako, Mayuko Wakuda, and Nahoko Suzuki …… were and still are the “flower of entertainment news,” but I noticed that the NHK’s “news” site was lined with articles about female TV announcers. The names of the announcers are all over the place.

Why are NHK female announcers the only ones who can become popular nowadays? In fact, there is a good reason for this. There are four major reasons.

(1) NHK’s unique “in-house production system” nurtures announcers.

The first one to be mentioned is NHK’s unique “in-house production system.

As you know, NHK is a huge organization with approximately 10,000 employees. NHK has a strong culture of “in-house production,” which means that the staff who make programs and the announcers are all produced by the company itself. This is in contrast to commercial broadcasters, where the majority of program production staff are from outside production companies, and where talent is increasingly used as cast members.

A simpler explanation of what this “in-house production culture” means is that if a commercial broadcaster were to produce “Bratamori,” they would surely not have a local announcer as Tamori’s partner.

Tamori is one of the biggest names in the entertainment industry. A commercial TV producer would probably never think of using a local TV announcer as a “streetwalker’s partner. Considering Tamori’s various considerations and the viewer ratings, I am sure that they would have used a “popular and talented female celebrity” who is in season right now.

The fact that they dared to use a local announcer is a reflection of NHK’s nature of wanting to use its own announcers as much as possible. And by being given the privileged position of being Tamori’s partner, NHK’s female announcers have the perfect opportunity to greatly increase their name recognition and ability.

The same kind of “NHK’s unique use of female announcers” is also used in NHK’s other main programs.

In my previous article, “No More Star Announcers? As I pointed out in the article “Background of the arrival of the “era of the humble announcer””, while commercial broadcasters’ female announcers are losing more and more opportunities to “freelance announcers affiliated with firms” such as St. Force, NHK is the only broadcaster where female announcers are given many opportunities to appear in the station’s flagship programs and are steadily gaining popularity among the viewers. The people remember their faces, and their abilities are improving.

This is probably one of the most important reasons why only NHK female TV announcers have become popular.

(2) The principle of competition created by “traveling throughout the country and having many waves

In the past, NHK was unpopular as a place of employment among students who “wanted to become female announcers.

This is because NHK has more than 50 broadcasting stations throughout Japan, from Hokkaido in the north to Okinawa in the south. It is good to get a job, but you never know where you will be sent. Compared to commercial broadcasters where, in principle, “if you are a Tokyo broadcaster, you can stay in Tokyo for the rest of your life,” NHK is like “go to the end of Japan and Q”. This was a considerable negative factor for the female announcer eggs.

Moreover, NHK has a large number of “waves. While commercial broadcasters have at most one terrestrial wave and a radio station, NHK has a number of channels, including general, educational, multiple BS, multiple radio, and international broadcasts. Only a handful of announcers are appointed to “famous programs on general TV”. Therefore, the popularity of NHK announcers was relatively low.

However, this “large number of broadcasters and waves” has conversely become a big advantage.

First of all, as NHK has been streamlining its operations, announcers at small regional broadcasters have been increasingly entrusted to “contract employees”. Unlike in the past, full-time employees are less likely to be sent to “small stations on the fringes of Japan,” but can instead train at “base stations” that produce a large number of programs in the regions.

In this way, they can develop their skills at a young age by being entrusted with relatively large programs in the regions, and the large number of programs due to the large number of channels provides them with “overwhelmingly more opportunities for success than commercial broadcasters,” and the positive aspect of “the large scale creates the principle of active competition” has come to attract attention.

In this “principle of vigorous competition,” announcers who survive the battle to win, in which their overall human skills and “old man killer” skills are tested to see how well they are liked by influential people in a huge organization, and win a seat on a flagship program in Tokyo, are far more polished and “truly talented” than female announcers in commercial broadcasters. This means that the company has naturally grown in both competence and popularity as a “newcomer” to the market.

(3) Strict work management unique to public broadcasting, which “cannot be allowed to decrease in use

As I pointed out in my previous article, popular female TV announcers tend to be overworked because of their popularity, and this often leads to unfortunate situations where their mental and physical health is damaged.

Appearing in too many programs in a short period of time often leads to what is known as “attrition,” which is a sad consequence of being overworked and then disappearing after a short period of time because viewers get tired of them.

At NHK, however, this is much less of a concern than at commercial broadcasters. This is because NHK is a public broadcaster, and it has a much more robust work style reform, labor management, and work-life balance system than commercial broadcasters.

No matter how popular an analyst becomes, it is unlikely that he or she will be forced to “use less” or work “overtime” to the point of illness.

From another point of view, there are a number of complicated “power struggles” within the station, so it is not easy for a single female announcer to gain total dominance.

In any case, the situation where a female announcer is exhausted and is worked hard from morning to night, as is the case with popular female announcers of commercial TV stations, can be avoided, and in this sense, a healthy career as an announcer can be expected.

4) “Costume Department, Bare Meals, and Split Accounts” to Prevent Scandals

Not long ago, there was an issue of “allegations of stigmatization” by female announcers at Fuji Television Network. Needless to say, “scandal” is a major obstacle to the success of popular female announcers.

However, in fact, NHK has “unique customs and rules” that prevent scandals among popular announcers, and this may be one of the reasons why only NHK female announcers can become popular.

First and foremost is NHK’s Costume Department, where those who appear on NHK programs can go to the Costume Department within the station to borrow costumes for their appearances. Although there have been some complaints that the costumes rented out are not very good, the fact that they do not have to worry about the costumes for their appearances is a great source of relief for female TV announcers.

Almost every female TV announcer in the commercial TV industry worries about the outfits she wears when she appears on TV programs. For smaller programs such as the regular news, they have to wear their own costumes, and even for programs of a certain scale, they have to hire a stylist to prepare their own outfits.

This “what to wear” problem creates room for “favors provided by manufacturers, etc.” to enter the picture. In addition, it is a common practice for “encouragement from manufacturers” through stylists and make-up artists. It is not an exaggeration to say that the “Anna’s stealth allegation” was born from this kind of soil.

NHK has a wardrobe department, which prevents any temptation to engage in “stepping on people’s toes” or collusion with corporations. As one would expect from a “public broadcaster,” NHK’s guards are as tight as those of a public servant.

The “launches” held after the recording of programs and other events, as well as entertainment with station executives, are also places where scandals can easily occur for female TV announcers. This is because those who would approach female TV announcers to plot something or those who are crooked and want to “get along” with them usually try to get close to them at these “places for eating and drinking”.

However, NHK has an absolute rule of “bale-meshi and splitting the bill. In principle, there is no party after a program taping, but rather a “bare-meshi” (a meal after work is over), and even if there is an opportunity to eat or drink, the cost must be split, with a strict limit on the amount of money to be spent.

This “hardness of guard” like that of civil servants prevents “evil approaches” to female announcers when they eat and drink. In this way, NHK’s popular female announcers are strongly protected from scandals.

I hope you now understand why only NHK female announcers can be so popular.

It is often said that “when there is a recession, public servants are strong.” A similar situation is occurring in the broadcasting industry. NHK’s female announcers, carefully protected by the iron armor of “public broadcasting,” are now sitting in the “best position in the broadcasting industry” and are active at will.

  • Text Hiromichi Chinmoku / TV Producer and Writer

    Joined TV Asahi in 1992. After covering the Great Hanshin Earthquake and Aum Shinrikyo-related events as a reporter in the Social Affairs Department, he worked as a director for Super J Channel, Super Morning, and News Station before becoming a producer. He has covered many foreign events, including coverage of China and the Korean Peninsula and the terrorist attacks in the U.S. He has also worked as a producer. He also participated in the launch of ABEMA's service, planning and producing programs such as "AbemaPrime" and "Tragic Comedy of W." In August 2019, he became independent and is active in multiple media as well as broadcasting programs. He is an adjunct lecturer at Sophia University, Faculty of Letters, Department of Newspaper. As a member of the Society for Public Communication, he has studied local media and has researched and written articles on face-framing panels as his life's work. His recent books include "Dramatically Increase Access and Registrations! Video Production" Professional Tricks 52" (Nippon Jitsugyo Publishing Co., Ltd.)

  • Photography Keisuke Nishi

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