Below is a set of answers to the most commonly asked questions we receive. Please read through to see if your questions can be answered here. If they cannot, please feel free to contact us.
1. I want to set up a radio station. Where do I start?
Here are some things to think about when you are considering starting a radio station.
Do you have sufficient start-up funds? You will need to pay for the following:
- Broadcast Licence (click here for a country by country list of broadcasting authorities)
- Premises (at least one room is required for a radio station, although preferably you would have several, one for the presenter, one for the equipment, one for editing and pre-production, one for a reception and a manager's office.)
- Studio and Transmission Equipment (please see our equipment packages that include all the equipment you needed to start broadcasting.)
- Studio Furniture (you will need at least a table for the equipment, a table for the microphones, several chairs and a shelf to put the transmitter on.)
Do you have sufficient funds for on-going costs? You will need to consider the following on-going costs:
- Staff (you will need at least two full time staff or several part time staff to run your radio station, and probably more depending on the number of hours your are planning to broadcast. See this excellent guide by Louie Tabing on staffing and other considerations in running a community radio station.)
- Electricity (unless you have a renewable energy power source you will have to cover the cost of powering your radio station, which will use at least 300 Watts with even the smallest station.)
- Transport (to connect with the community, send staff out to interview people and gather reports and go to meetings, there are almost inevitably some transport costs involved in running a radio station.)
- Consumables (printer paper and ink, batteries, CDs, stationery)
b. Licensing (have you looked into the process of getting a radio broadcast licence? This can often take lots of time and financial resources too. We recommend that you contact your broadcast authority [click here for a country by country list of broadcasting authorities] and also approach other organisations that have applied for a broadcast licence in your country to find out what their experience.)
c. Premises (studio building, antenna tower or tall building or hill, security, accessibility, height of antenna location vs local area)
d. Electricity (is there a stable electrical supply where you plan to start your radio station? Will you need back up power such as a generator or batteries to cover times when the power goes out? Or will you need a complete stand alone power system such as PV solar power or wind power? We can provide advice and quotes for these if you need. Be warned though! They are not cheap! Powering your radios station entirely with PV solar or wind power will increase the cost of your equipment package significantly.)
Once you have considered all of these things, please fill in our Application Form describing your exact needs so that we can prepare a quote to suit your project.
2. What does RadioActive do?
a. We sell complete radio station equipment packages, individual pieces of equipment for radio stations and provide qualified engineers and radio trainers to build your radio station and train your staff in how to use all of the equipment.
b. We send volunteers with professional radio experience to work for 1 week - 2 months at community radio stations around the world. If you are interested in volunteering please see our Volunteer page.
3. Where does RadioActive work?
Worldwide. We have worked on over 40 radio projects in over 20 countries around the world. We can supply engineers and trainers who speak English, French, Portuguese, Spanish, Hindi and Malagasy. Please see our References page for what our previous clients have said about us.
4. We are ready to get started and would like to buy some equipment and /or services. How do we go about it?
First of all please fill in the RA Application Form for equipment and services. If you have not had a look at the equipment packages we offer, please do so. Once we have received your application, we will send you a quote for your specific needs. Once you have received the quote, if you are ready to go ahead with the order, we will wait for 50% payment in order to start assembling your order, and then once the equipment is ready to be shipped, we will contact you to ask for the remaining 50% payment in order to ship the equipment.
If you have asked for an engineer to come and install the equipment, we will often send the equipment with the engineer in order to save you money on shipping.
5. Does RadioActive provide funding for radio projects?
- Not very often. We have provided funding for projects in the past but now almost all of our services must be paid for by the client.
However we can point you in the direction of possible funding for your station. Here is a list of organisations that may be able to fund your project.
It is also advisable to seek funding for your project within your own local community. If you are able to get a small donation from many people living in your area you might be able to raise enough funds to be able to build and run your station. If the community really wants the station to exist they should be willing to support it, even with a small donation. There are several stations that have successfully raised funding from their local community even in areas where people have few resources to offer. Please see Louie Tabing's guide to How to do Community Radio to find out more.
6. We have not yet applied for a broadcasting licence. Will RadioActive work with us?
- Yes. We can provide equipment and services to help you start your radio station, but we advise you to get a broadcast licence before you switch on the transmitter, as in most countries it is illegal to broadcast on FM without a licence.
For a list of broadcast authorities by country, please click here.
7. How do we go about getting a license for our radio station? Can RadioActive help?
- The best place to start is by contacting your local representative of the national telecommunications authority. For a list of broadcast authorities by country, please click here.
8. How can I pay for RadioActive equipment or services?
- You can pay for your station equipment by making a bank transfer to our UK account. If you fill in our services form to tell us what you need, we will send you a quote with our bank details. We require a 50% payment to begin assembling your order and then the remaining 50% payment in order to ship the order when it is ready.
9. Can I pay for RadioActive equipment and services in installments?
- No. RadioActive cannot provide any form of credit. Our equipment packages and services are designed to be affordable and accessible for small community associations, but must be paid in full in advance.
10. We want to build a station in a small, remote village, but we are worried about the station earning enough money to survive. Can RadioActive help?
- RadioActive cannot provide long-term financing for radio stations. However, we have helped to build several financially sustainable radio stations around the world, even in very remote and rural settings. We can provide you with training to help ensure financial sustainability. You can find tips and strategies for making your station sustainable in Louie Tabing's guide to How to do Community Radio.
11. We do not want to build a station, but want to produce community radio programming and possibly have a show on an existing radio station. Can RadioActive help?
- Yes, we can provide training and technical support for your group, even if you do not need equipment or installation services. Click here to submit an application to us, indicating which services and training sessions you may be interested in. You can also find links to other resources for producing radio programming on our Resources page.
12. How much does it cost to build a community radio station?
- RadioActive offers a range of broadcast and station packages, and will happily modify any package to suit the particular needs of a station. Package prices range from 900 to 8500 pounds. Click here to see the details of each equipment package, as well as prices for individual items.
13. Does the equipment come with a warranty?
- Yes. All of our equipment is tested in-house before being shipped out and comes with a 12-month manufacturer's warranty.
14. I want to set up a community radio station in the UK. How do I go about it?
- If you are considering starting a radio station in the UK, there are several things to consider.
It is not that easy to get a licence to broadcast on FM in the UK, either as a commercial radio station or a community radio station. To find out how to get a licence, please read the guidance pages on the Ofcom website. Ofcom is the authority in charge of giving out broadcast licenses and monitoring broadcasters in the UK.
Community Radio Licensing
To get a community radio licence you will need to be registered as a company or a registered charity. No other type of organisation can get a community radio licence. Please read this excellent guide to applying for a community radio licence or visit the Community Radio Toolkit website. You will need to register (for free) to have access to the community radio toolkit, which provides excellent guidance on all things to do with running a community radio station, with particular focus on the UK.
How are you planning to pay for the cost of setting up and running the station and who is going to run it? Running a radio station requires a team of dedicated people, even more dedicated if they are not being paid. Start up costs to think of include: the equipment, the premises (a studio) and licensing. On going costs include: electricity, staff, promotional costs, purchasing music, transport and consumables such as CDs and batteries. Who is going to pay for it all? Is the station going to make money?
It is well worth writing up a simple business plan to look at what your costs might be and how you will be able to cover it. Some stations have very low overheads, while others have a large team of staff and lots of other costs, but with a good business strategy and the right people on board your station could even make some money!
There are funding options out there for community radio stations in the UK. Have a look at the Community Radio Fund pages on the Ofcom website for more information.
Do you have a team of people with the relevant skills and experience to make programmes for and run your radio station? If you would like training in radio broadcasting, we can offer short courses or there may be a course you can attend in your local area. We offer full day training at £120.00 per day or half day training at £70 pounds per day for up to 8 people.
IF YOU WANT TO START BROADCASTING NOW...
Even if you are able to get a community or commercial radio licence, it will take a while to come through. In the meantime you may want to get some experience at broadcasting, before you take on the responsibility of running your own station. There are three choices that are immediately open to you:
1. Internet Broadcasting
It is quite straightforward to start an online radio station. All you will need are the following:
- a computer with a soundcard
- a small mixer
- a microphone
- a broadband internet connection.
An online station can be listened to by anyone online, anywhere in the world. It is cheap and simple to set up and gives you the chance to practice producing your own radio show before broadcasting on FM.
To find out how to start broadcasting online, read the following guidance. This will lead you step by step through what you will need to start broadcasting.
We would recommend using either shoutcast or icecast for your broadcast.
If you need any more help, we can provide you with training or technical assistance to get you up and running. We charge £120 plus travel costs for a day's training or technical assistance, £70 for half a day. Our experienced engineers have trained many people to set up and run their own radio stations. Here are some references on our work. To order a training session please use our contact form.
For licensing and royalty issues with regard to internet broadcasting, please read the following guidance.
2. Look for a community radio station in your local area where you can get a show / experience.
Before taking on the responsibility of running your own station, you may want to get some experience in broadcasting (if you don't have any yet). To do so, you could volunteer at your local BBC, commercial or community station, or see whether the local community radio station has any slots available for your type of show. If you are planning to set up a station that addresses the needs of one particular group living in the area, then perhaps the existing local community radio station would be willing to give an hour a day or an hour a week for a show addressing their needs.
There are many community radio stations around the UK that give a certain amount of time each week to each ethnic or religious group living in the area. To find out whether there is a community radio station in your area that might be able to do that for you, have a look at the list of existing community radio stations.
Have a look at the schedule of Sound Radio in East London for an example of an eclectic range of shows covering different groups within the listening area. They are currently off the air, but this gives you an example of how an existing community radio station can operate.
3. Apply for an Restricted Service Licence (RSL)
An RSL is a short term broadcast licence given out to community groups, companies and other organisations so that they can broadcast for a short period (between 1 and 28 days). This gives these groups a chance to try broadcasting without taking on the commitment of having a full broadcast licence. It also gives Ofcom the chance to monitor your broadcasts to see whether you are capable of running your own radio station full time. Many community groups run RSLs once or twice a year for up to a month each time. Please visit this page for a full list of existing RSL licencees.
Here is a page on the Ofcom website which explains all about RSLs.
It costs £400 to apply for an RSL, and you will also have to pay a certain amount for each day that you broadcast, as well as any performing rights licence fees that might apply if you intend to broadcast commercial music.
Running your own RSL is a great opportunity for groups considering setting up their own radio station to experience what it is like to have a regular broadcast. We can supply all the equipment you need to run your RSL, including studio and transmitter equipment, as well as provide training for your staff or volunteers who will be working in the station. Please contact us if you would like a quote.
If you have any questions about applying for or running an RSL, please contact Ofcom, who will be happy to answer your questions.
So these are your three best options if you want to start broadcasting in the UK as soon as possible! Please get in touch with us if you have any questions.
15. Questions about the Equipment Packages
a. How far will the signal reach?
The Basic Complete Radio Station Package uses a 40 Watt transmitter with a halfwave stacked dipole antenna with a gain of 3.7dB. This should be sufficient to broadcast to a distance of 25km, depending on the height of the antenna and the terrain of the local area. In big cities where there are lots of other radio signals your radio station will not be picked up as easily or as far as in rural areas where there are not many other radio stations.
The Mid Range Complete Station Package uses a 100 Watt transmitter with a halfwave stacked dipole antenna with a gain of 3.7dB. This should be sufficient to broadcast to a distance of 35km, depending on the height of the antenna and the terrain of the local area. In big cities where there are lots of other radio signals your radio station will not be picked up as easily or as far as in rural areas where there are not many other radio stations.
The Deluxe Complete Station Package uses a 300 Watt transmitter with two dipole antennas with a gain of 3dB. This should be sufficient to broadcast to a distance of 50km, depending on the height of the antenna and the terrain of the local area. In big cities where there are lots of other radio signals your radio station will not be picked up as easily or as far as in rural areas where there are not many other radio stations.
REMEMBER: The higher the antenna the further your signal will reach. This is the most crucial issue when it comes to getting FM to go further. We recommend that your antenna be no lower than 30 metres off the ground relative to the local terrain. 50 metres would be even better!
b. Do the prices listed include Shipping and Customs Clearance?
No. The prices listed DO NOT include Shipping and Customs Clearance. If you fill in our application form, letting us know which package you would like and where you need the equipment to be shipped to, we can then send you a quote including the cost of shipping. Customs clearance is normally taken care of by the client, however we can arrange customs clearance through our freight forwarders, Maina Freight, for an extra fee.
c. Do the prices listed include Installation and Training?
No. The prices listed DO NOT include Installation and Training.
Our engineers have many years experience in installation radio stations and providing technical training to station staff in how to use and maintain all of the equipment we provide. We can send one of our engineers to install all of the studio and transmission equipment and train up your staff.
We would normally recommend having an engineer come out for between 7 and 10 days depending on how much work needs to be done at the studios and how much training is needed.
We would also recommend that you have your studios as ready as possible and your antenna tower built in time for when we come to do the installation. If you need help with the design of the studios and antenna tower we can provide this via email before coming out to do the installation.
d. How much does Installation and Training cost?
For NGOs and community groups building community radio stations with a clear social goal we will charge less for the installation and training than for a commercial radio station. Please contact us for a quote.
In addition to the engineer's fees, you will also be required to provide:
- the engineer's return travel costs including visas.
- accommodation and three meals a day during their stay.
- local travel costs between the studio and hotel/guesthouse and any other journeys undertaken to ensure the station is succesfully up and running by the end of their stay.