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How To Launch A Radio Station.

2024, May 6th

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SUMMARY / KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • If you have a love of music or broadcasting, starting your own radio station could be an exciting endeavor.
  • Of course, it’s not always easy to get a radio station started.
  • There are many things to consider including getting licensed, acquiring the right equipment and attracting listeners.

If you have a love of music or broadcasting, starting your own radio station could be an exciting endeavor. Of course, it’s not always easy to get a radio station started. There are many things to consider including getting licensed, acquiring the right equipment and attracting listeners. This post outlines some of the steps you’ll need to take to launch your own radio station.

Terrestrial or Online?

The first question to consider is whether to launch a terrestrial or online radio station…

Terrestrial radio stations are the most traditional format. Radio waves are broadcast from a land-based radio station to listeners within a local area. These types of stations are very expensive to set up due to the need for physical premises, FCC licensing and specialist equipment. Finding an available frequency is also not easy – when a frequency does become available, there is often a lot of competition, unless it is somewhere very rural. However, terrestrial stations are often much easier to build an audience of listeners for once you have secured a frequency  – drivers may automatically connect to your station in their car, so you don’t have to do as much marketing.

Online stations can be set up from a bedroom with minimal equipment. They require cheaper licensing and can be broadcast digitally to listeners around the world. This makes them a more popular option for aspiring radio station hosts. The downside of online radio stations is that there is a lot of competition – not to mention competition from non-live broadcasting solutions too like podcasts. Such stations often need to do much more marketing to make people aware that they exist.

It’s worth noting that some stations have a terrestrial and online presence. In fact, most terrestrial stations nowadays will simulcast an online version of their show in order to increase their listener range. Launching an online station to begin with and evolving this into a terrestrial station if it becomes successful could be a good strategy.

Choosing Your Audience.

Radio stations typically have a specific audience in mind. The type of audience you choose to target may vary depending on whether you choose to set up a terrestrial or online radio station.

Because terrestrial radio stations mostly have a local audience, it’s worth looking at the type of listeners in your chosen area and catering to their interests. You may want to consider giving shows a local angle (such as providing local news, interviews with local personalities and promoting talent from your area). Music choices may need to be quite broad to appeal to the different types of people living locally.

Online radio stations can be catered to very specific demographics. You could choose to only play a specific genre of music such as jazz, heavy metal, reggae or country. Alternatively, you could dedicate your radio station to things like sport, religion or politics.

Companies like Nielsen, Behavio, Ipsos and Kantar can all help when conducting market research. You can also conduct your own surveys. Don’t forget to also research your competition – it’s important that you find a way of standing out so that you can amass your own unique audience.

Making a Financial Plan.

This is the boring (but necessary) part. You need to create a financial plan to work out how you will fund your radio station. If it’s not a hobby, you’ll also need to work out how your station is going to earn you money.

Many stations are initially funded using loans or help from investors. There may even be grants that you can take out to provide some extra funding. Take time to budget all of the initial costs so that you know exactly how much funding you need to acquire.

On top of startup costs, you need to consider ongoing costs. This could include licensing fees, marketing fees and premises rental fees. You also need to consider whether you will be hiring paid staff or working with volunteers. Paying your staff wages could help to guarantee a high quality service, but will obviously cost you more.

Advertising is the most common way in which radio stations earn money – brands pay money to broadcast your adverts on your radio station at various intervals. You can also make money by encouraging listeners to call in for discussions, competitions or requests – by charging every caller a fee, you can make some money this way.

Getting Licensed.

Every radio station that plays music needs to pay some sort of license. This license is used to pay royalties to all the artists you play on your station – the licensing company tracks all the artists you play and then divides your licensing fee between all of the artists.

Terrestrial radio stations must apply for an FCC license. This can be a complex process that involves waiting for an available frequency, filing an application and then waiting for approval. This guide explains more about how to apply for an FCC license.

Online radio stations do not need an FCC license. If you are setting up an online talk show, you may not need any license at all. US-based online radio stations that play music typically need a music license from one of these governing bodies: BMI, ASCAP, SESAC or SoundExchange. The only exception is if you are playing royalty free music. This post delves more into obtaining an online radio music license.

Acquire Equipment.

You will need to invest in certain broadcasting equipment when launching a radio station. The type of equipment you need varies depending on whether you’re setting up an online radio station or terrestrial radio station.

When setting up an online radio station, broadcasting software and a microphone may be all you need. That said, most online radio stations that want to be taken seriously will also invest in processors for amplification and equalization – this can guarantee better quality audio. If you want to invite guests into your station, other microphones and a broadcasting desk could be useful. Good quality headphones are also recommended so that you can monitor the sound quality.

Terrestrial radio stations need all this equipment and more. An FM broadcast transmitter and antenna is necessary for firstly broadcasting your show. This is the most expensive equipment you will need. You may also want to invest in a decent broadcast audio monitor and mixer consoles to maintain good sound quality. GSM interfaces and telephone systems are extras that most terrestrial radio stations also need. You can find guides online that go into greater detail about the type of equipment you need.

Hire Staff.

Many radio stations require teams of staff to run. Firstly, if you want to be broadcasting shows around the clock, you’ll need to hire some extra broadcasters to take over shows when you are unable to. Meanwhile, it could also be worth hiring sound technicians to help manage audio quality while broadcasters focus on the show itself. Extra staff could meanwhile be worth hiring to handle calls and messages to the station, as well as welcoming and directing guests.

You can choose to hire paid staff or run your station using volunteers. The latter is possible given that many people want to get into radio broadcasting and many are passionate enough to do it as a hobby. However, paying staff can allow you to guarantee a better quality broadcasting service, as you can attract the best broadcasters and technicians in the industry.

Create a Winning Program.

A radio station’s success all comes down to the quality of its program. This involves understanding who your audience is likely to be at different times and making sure that you put on the best show for these different listeners.

You can dedicate different shows to different topics or styles of music. However, it must all fit in with the overall theme of your station. Working with different broadcasts will allow you to brainstorm different ideas. It is popular to have some shows that are more music-focused and others that are more discussion-focused or game-focused. Generally speaking, the shows that require the most amount of listener interaction should be hosted at peak listening times. Of course, putting on a good quality show at any given time could attract more listeners to that show.

Promote Your Radio Station.

A new radio station needs a lot of promotion. It’s worth taking the time to build up hype beforehand with lots of advertising, and then pouring some money into continuous marketing beyond that.

At the very least, you should have a website (this could be where your online radio station is broadcasted). SEO will help direct people to your site, while PPC advertising can further alert people of your station. Social media is often a great place to attract potential listeners – through distribution of engaging content you can get people to listen to your show. If you’re a terrestrial radio station, lots of local advertising could be necessary – including getting features in local news outlets, paying for billboards and distributing flyers. The more marketing channels you try, the greater your reach will be.

Please cite as:
Ontology of Value (2024, May 6th). How To Launch A Radio Station. Retrieved from: https://ontologyofvalue.com/how-to-launch-a-radio-station/

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