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.
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
- Premises (at least one room is required for a radio station, although preferably you would have several, one or two for the main studio, a second studio, an editing and pre-production room, 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. Or you may choose to order one of our radio desk / rack packages, which come in standard sizes or can be custom designed to suit your studios)
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.
- 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. These include printer paper and ink, batteries, CDs, and stationery.
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 national broadcast authority to find out what the process is, how long it will take and what it will cost.
It might also prove worthwhile speaking to existing stations that have applied for a broadcast licence in your country to find out what they had to do get licensed.
Things to consider:
- Studio building
- Noise complaints, accessibility, security, electricity supply
- Transmission site
- Height of antenna location (the higher the antennas, the further your signal will reach)
- Cost (renting space on an existing tower vs building your own tower)
- Distance from studio building (this will affect what type of link you need)
- 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 Contact Form describing your needs so that we can prepare a quote to suit your project. Or you can order a package directly from our site.
What does RadioActive do?
- We sell complete radio station equipment packages 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 and produce radio content.
- We send volunteers with professional radio experience to work for 1 week – 2 months at community radio stations around the world. If you have radio experience and are interested in volunteering please get in touch.
Where does RadioActive work?
We have worked on over 80 radio projects in over 30 countries around the world. We can supply engineers and trainers who speak English, French, Arabic, Portuguese, Spanish, Hindi and Malagasy.
Please see our testimonials for what our previous clients have said about us.
We are ready to get started and would like to buy some equipment and / or services. How do we go about it?
To buy equipment:
First of all, if you have not had a look at the equipment packages we offer, please do so. You can order a standard or tailor-made package directly through our website.
We require a minimum 50% deposit payment in order to start assembling your order. Once the equipment is assembled and ready to be shipped, if you have not made a 100% payment, we will contact you to ask for the remaining amount due in order to ship the equipment. You can visit our warehouse here in the UK to inspect the equipment before it is shipped if you wish to do so.
For technical services and training:
We offer a free preliminary technical consultancy service to help you determine what equipment is best suited to your project. Please contact us describing your needs to begin this process. If you require a site visit, predictive coverage maps or any other more extensive consultancy services, we will charge a fee for our time and expertise.
We offer a wide range of training services, including one-on-one technical and production training, group workshops and training courses at our studios in North West London, on-site training for staff at your radio station anywhere in the world and month-long supervision of RSLs across the UK.
Please contact us to discuss your needs.
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.
There are a number of organisations and agencies around the world that have supported and continue to support community radio projects, such as UNDP, UNESCO, OSISA, Ford Foundation, UNICEF, DANIDA, SIDA and DFID.
In the UK, you can apply for funding from the Ofcom community radio fund.
You can also 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.
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.
How do we go about getting a license for our radio station? Can RadioActive help?
The best place to start is by contacting your national broadcast authority to find out the process they have put in place for applying for a licence, the cost and the time it will take.
Once you begin filling in the licence application form, we can help you with:
- the technical aspects as required
- the whole process – one of our consultants can take you through the entire licensing application process.
How can I pay for RadioActive equipment or services?
You can pay for your station equipment by placing an order online or making a bank transfer to our UK account.
We require a minimum 50% payment to begin assembling your order and then the remaining payment due in order to ship the order.
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.
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.
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. Contact us to discuss which services and training sessions you may be interested in.
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 (GBP).
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. The only thing not covered under warranty are the main transistors in the transmitters – these are not covered due to the potential for damage due to lightning or electrical surges.
Due to the nature of RF equipment, we cannot guarantee installations done by external engineers. However if you use one of our engineers to install your equipment, our installations come with a 12 month warranty against technical issues. After 12 months, we will provide technical assistance at a fixed hourly fee.
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.
b. 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 basic guide to community radio or visit the Community Radio Toolkit website for more information. 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. The Community Radio Fund page on the Ofcom site has 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 £200.00 per day or half day training at £120 pounds per half 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:
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 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 £200 plus travel costs for a day’s training or technical assistance, £120 for half a day. Our experienced engineers have trained many people to set up and run their own radio stations.
For licensing and royalty issues with regard to internet broadcasting, please read this guidance.
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.
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 licensees.
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.
How far will the signal reach?
The further you wish to reach, the more powerful the equipment you will need and the more powerful the equipment, the more expensive it is to buy and to run (the more power it consumes).
So think carefully about your target audience and where they are, and focus your radio station on reaching them.
But you can also reach further by raising your antennas higher up. So if you can build a tall tower, or find an existing one within 20km of your studio, it might be worth putting your antennas on it to get your signal to go further. We say within 20km of the studio, because you can use an STL (studio to transmitter link) to send your signal from the studio to the transmitter site if they are less than 20km apart.
FM signal range is limited by:
- How far the transmitting antenna can effectively see. If you stand where the antenna is mounted and look out with a pair of binoculars, wherever you can see it is possible to transmit to. This can sometimes be up to 20, 30 even 40 miles if you are looking out from a mountain top. If there are buildings or hills blocking your view, they will block your FM signal as well.
- Other sources of interference or other stations operating on the same frequency. For example the antenna may be able to see 20 miles, but if another station is on the same frequency 20 miles away, it will block/interfere with the signal.
- Transmission power. If the antenna can see 20 miles, but say 1 Watt ERP of power used, it’s very likely that about 1 mile of range will result. This is quite simply because there is not enough power to propagate the signal 20 miles. If 50 Watt ERP is used, it’s very likely that 20 miles of range will be achieved. This is because 50 Watt ERP is ample power to propagate a strong signal 20 miles. If 1 Million Watts of power is used, it is very likely that signal will only propagate just over 20 miles. This because the range is limited as described in point a) above.
ERP ( Effective radiated power ) is the power radiated from the antenna. All antenna systems have a degree of power gain. When calculating the gain of an antenna system the main factors are the amount of gain ( dBi ) and the amount of loss ( dB ) through coax.
Assuming the antenna has a clear view, the frequency is clear and an average quality portable receiver is used, typical transmission power range figures are as follows:
Do the prices listed include Shipping and Customs Clearance?
If you order through our website, we will provide a shipping quote to your chosen destination.
You will be responsible for any customs duties payable on importing the equipment into your country.
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. We can also design your studios and transmission sites if required.
How much does Installation and Training cost?
We offer a sliding scale for our fees for installation and training, depending on your budget. For a commercial broadcaster or large NGO we charge more than a small NGO or community broadcaster with a clear social goal. Please contact us to discuss your project and how we can help.
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 successfully up and running by the end of their stay.