Local TV anchors seem to have glamorous jobs. They report the latest happenings on-air, are privy to news as it breaks, and typically become local celebrities. Off-camera, they may be invited to host or MC private or community events. Local news anchor salary levels depend on the size of the metropolitan area, or "market," and the experience level of the anchor.
What An Anchor Does
Anchoring television news is serious business. Generally, it requires at least a bachelor's degree in TV broadcasting or journalism. Anchors must own a degree of authority and credibility. For example, a person with a comical demeanor will not be believable as a news anchor, though he might do well as a weather person or sports reporter.
In addition, the glamorous aspect of the position may be overshadowed by the odd, unpredictable or long hours. Morning news show anchors may rise as early as 3 or 4 a.m., altering their body clocks and perhaps restricting precious time for family life. Late-night anchors contend with the same issues at the opposite end of the day. In addition, any anchor may be called upon to work long hours during extraordinary events, such as earthquakes, wildfires, hurricanes – or elections. Morevoer, as each broadcast is timed to the second, stress levels can be high.
Stamina, a passion for news, confidence, the ability to react quickly to changes in programming or emergency situations without causing a break in delivery or relating any discomfort to the viewer are desired anchor characteristics. To deflect stress and be endearing to viewers, a strong sense of humor is invaluable.
Small Market TV Anchor Salary
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, anchors working in small markets may earn as little as $20,160 annually. As of May 2017, the annual mean wage for TV broadcasters in southeastern Mississippi, for example, was $22,820. On-air talent in Huntsville, Alabama, fared better at $29,040 per year. Western Nebraskan newscasters averaged $29,380 annually, while in the south central part of Tennessee, the mean was just $21,550.
Medium-Sized Market Pay
As anchors gain experience, they update their reels, find better agents and, hopefully, move up to better-paying markets. In western North Dakota, as of May 2017, the BLS reports the mean annual wage was $34,550. Anchors in Portland, Maine, earned a mean salary of $35,800, while Des Moines, Iowa salaries averaged $56,410. Anchors who despise big-city living, but enjoy living large, might consider West Palm Beach where, in 2017, the mean salary was nearly $38,400.
Large Market Salary Potential
Large markets are where the big bucks are. According to the BLS, the average news reporter salary in New York City was $94,640 in May 2017, making it the highest metropolitan area pay in the country. The San Francisco, Portland, Milwaukee, San Antonio, Atlanta and Washington, D.C. metropolitan areas are also high-paying cities.
Anchors in San Francisco, thanks in large part to award-winning news station KTVU in Oakland, earned a mean annual wage of $71,480 as of May 2017. Seattle talent made on average $64,490, while those in Houston made $77,610. The news broadcaster salary in Rockville, Maryland, was $86,710 on average. The pay in Los Angeles and Chicago came down to a mean of $54,570 to $59,120. Anchors with more experience, higher ratings and better reputations can expect to earn significantly more than the mean.