Community Radio: Everything You Wanted to Know

In today’s blog post, learn about community radio stations. Some topics covered include:

  • What is community radio?
  • Does it pay its staff?
  • How does it raise money?
  • And more.

With this handy info, you might go on to establish a community radio station, or at least start thinking about one.

Without further ado, let’s get started:

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What is Community Radio?


It’s radio by the people, for the people, from the people, and about the people.”

The people start the station. They fund the station. They create programs for the station, and certainly, they make decisions on behalf of the station.

In short, we can sum it up as “listener-backed, supported, influenced, & run.” 

Fundamental Approaches to Community Radio


There are two approaches to the way a community radio station is run:

1) Community-minded – In this modus operandi, the emphasis is on how a station can serve the community best.

2) Participation-driven – The goal is to get more people involved in the day-to-day affairs of the community radio station.

What’s defined as a community?

People who share the same interests may be designated as a community. For instance, the scientific community. 

When it comes to community radio, the categorization is based on geographical bounds. 

That’s because radio signals are transmitted via low-powered transmitters with a limited range of several kilometers.

Radio stations can now broadcast on the web, so an international community can own a radio station that transgresses any geographical bounds.

Key Pillars of the Community Radio Station


  • People should own the station and feel responsible for its success
  • Democracy is a must and participatory decision making given leeway
  • Transparency in all operations & facets
  • The community has to originate 50% or more of all the programming
  • The station must have a clear vision and mission statement

Roles of Community Radio

We can boil down the roles of the community radio station as:

1) Informing

To inform, the station reports on the activities happening on the local level.

The station also discusses how decisions made thousands of miles away from the community affects its members.

For instance, the personal impact of the latest presidential executive order. 

2) Educating

Each community has its challenges. For instance, the community members may be dealing with a sudden spike in the cases of food poisoning.

It’s a contentious & pressing problem that the community radio station can explain & teach on.

For instance, inviting specialists to talk about good hygiene practices. One member can research and present an informative show.

3) Entertaining

It is the reason for creating music shows, comedies, radio dramas, radio contests, etc.

The need for entertainment has been with us since the dawn of the human race.

So, it’s vital to offer listeners good quality shows that go above and beyond what should be expected from a user-content driven station.

Are there are paid staff at a community station?


Ideally, every facet of the station should be filled with volunteers who contribute their time and resources for the betterment of the community.

In most community stations, volunteers handle all tasks from production to cleaning.

Sometimes, it’s not possible to have a station entirely run by volunteers. So some have hired a small professional team. 

For instance, a few DJs, reporters, engineers, or office staff. The small team then trains and manages a large team of volunteers.

How do community stations raise cash?

  • Pay to play – DJs pay to host their shows. 
  • Businesses – For instance, Hermitage FM from North West Leicestershire operates a coffee lounge that employs members of the local community.
  • Grants – There are several grants availed to broadcasters and content producers.
  • Fundraising
  • Rent generated from cell phone companies that use the station’s transmission towers.
  • Selling advertisements 

How can you spot the need for a community radio station? 

When the community is under-served by larger radio stations, the community radio can step in to cover the issues close to home.

9 Advantages of Community Radio Stations


1) Relevant – The radio station is in touch with the personal lives of its listeners. Its content producers walk the talk. 

2) Mitigates isolation – Listening to the radio can be solitary. 

However, when you hear familiar voices or topics, it helps alleviate the scourge of loneliness.

3) Local promotions – A big public station might not promote the heck out of the local "Saturday Morning Community Run."

Private stations will ask for bucket loads of cash. But the local radio can be the main propagator of local events.

The listener should easily tell what band is performing at City Hall tonight.

4) Local coverage – The community station should cover local events, and it helps having a portable radio station booth. 

5) Dialogue – Community radio fosters dialogue on local issues.

For instance, if your teeth are browning, an advert from a commercial radio station will tell you about a toothpaste that can whiten your teeth in 7 days. 

But issues are tackled in a different way on community radio. Since no sponsor is advocating their product as the only one solution, a dialogue may reveal that one of the community members has been using certain herbs to keep their teeth sparkling.

Listeners may hear the story of the Maasai who have a diet consisting of milk & red meat, but somewhat manage to keep their teeth white by brushing their teeth with stems from a particular tree.

7) Boosts confidence & people skills – Once community members are involved in creating shows, conducting interviews, and working inside the studio with others, they will become confident and develop their people skills. 

8) Fosters unity – The community radio brings people together. They would otherwise remain stranger than strangers.

9) Opening doors to others – A community radio gives learning opportunities to aspiring radio hosts, producers, DJs, and more. 

The station is a real-life training environment with broadcasting equipment, live listeners, and colleagues. 

Since broadcasting licenses are too few to go around, the community station can allow non-profits, schools, colleges, and other institutions to create & broadcast shows on their platform.


Looking to Broadcast Community Radio Online

Community radio stations should now more than ever broadcast on the internet. Some community stations have gone on to garner a cult-like following far from home.

Choosing CloudRadio as the online home for your station will ensure that you have a clear & reliable stream.

Our platform has been serving stations for over 8 years and counting.

Start your internet radio with us

We offer two excellent options. It’s easy to get started.

  • Hugues
  • Updated December 2, 2019
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