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How To Start A Traditional Radio Station

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 0 1

High Demand

Credit: playstationlifestyle.net

Demand for starting a radio station is still very high.  Over 30,000 applications are submitted every year by people all over the U.S.  And the demand doesn't show any sign of slowing.  


If you are ready to start a station, the first order of business is to decide where you want to base your studio.  Do you want to start at home (if practical) or rent/buy some space?

Where To Put Your Transmitter?

Radio transmitter
Credit: pira.cz

Secondly you must decide where you want your radio transmitter to be based.  Do you want it based at your studio or in a remote location?  Note this decision may be affected by whether you want to broadcast locally or nationally.

FCC License

Thirdly you must have a license from the FCC in order to broadcast radio. There are 3 types of license:

  • Local coverage: Low Power FM stations (LPFM) are authorized to broadcast educational, non-commercial content only. The range of such stations is typically up to five and a half kilometres. 
  • Commercial: full power FM stations are authorized to broadcast commercial content and have permission to have a much greater range.
  • Streaming Media: Internet radio stations


Fourthly budget for equipment. Here is a checklist:

  • FM radio Transmitter. Your choice will likely be determined by budget, but consider your target range when deciding which to purchase. 
  • Antenna. There are 2 main types directional and omnidirectional. The directional transmit most power in one direction, whereas the omnidirectional transmit obviously transmit in all directions.
  • The coaxial cable is responsible for transferring energy between your transmitter and antenna.
  • Power supply. Your transmitter may require an external power supply (check your transmitters documentation)
  • Audio equipment such as tape decks, a laptop, mp3 player and mixing tables.


Finally you need to plan the scheduling of your shows. You need to decide on the music genres you want to play and the show formats for the station.  In order to do this effectively, research your target market carefully. Your listeners will be the lifeblood of your radio station. You need to make and keep them happy enough to keep tuning into your station day after day. Every decision that affects your audience, should be made with them in mind.

The easiest way of understanding your listener is to define your target market. Create a persona profile that mimics your ideal listener. The profile should have demographic details (sex,age,maritial status etc), favourite activities (music, books, films) and common problems.

An Easier Way

Alternatively to save time and money, but achive the same goal of starting a radio station, consider starting an online radio station. The only requirements for this are internet radio broadcast software, a laptop and stream hosting.  If you opt for internet radio software that allows radio automation, you could have the station running 24-7 without the need for you to be present very often.



Aug 22, 2012 5:50am
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