If you are interested in starting a business in the broadcast industry, then you may want to consider the option of starting a radio station.
Starting a Radio Station Business
This comes with a lot of consideration such as the type of radio station (there are three main types namely; low power, full power, and internet radio).
Whichever your choice is, our goal is to show you how to start a radio station and to reach your desired audience.
Types of Radio Stations
Before making your mind up, it is important to know the type of radio stations available. You also need to have an understanding of which best fits your needs.
As we briefly mentioned earlier, there is low power, full power, and internet radio stations. Let’s discuss each separately as follows;
- Low Power Radio Stations
Low power radio, as the name suggests is restricted by the low electrical power. This limits radio broadcasting to a smaller area.
In terms of costs, this is cheaper to operate compared to full-power radio stations. The broadcast industry is highly regulated. Hence to establish a radio station, you will need to apply for a license.
Low power radio is popular within groups such as universities and colleges, faith groups like churches tribal nations, and many other diverse groups. While planning to apply for a radio license, you need to know that such doesn’t come easily.
There is an application window that is open for a space of time after which it is shut on expiration.
- Startup Cost for Low Power Radio
Low power radio is cheaper to operate which makes it quite popular among communities and groups. If you are working on a tight budget, then this is the option to consider.
On the minimum, equipment costs should start from $15,000.00. Operational costs will include rent, equipment maintenance, staff wages as well as license renewal fees among others.
Depending on the situation (such as having an existing studio), the cost may range from $15,000.00 to $30,000.00.
One of the ways to start your low power radio station is by identifying which equipment is needed. Equipment for a low power radio is not as much compared to a full-power radio.
Another advantage you have is that you could purchase some used equipment. The choice is entirely yours. Such equipment includes the Emergency Alert System EAS which goes from $3,000 to $4,000.
For persons working on a tight budget, the used studio setup will cost $6,000. Apart from studio equipment, others are transmission equipment. These consist of antenna and transmitters and go for $13,000 and $5,000 respectively.
- Obtaining Construction Permits
Before you can commence the construction process of your radio station you need to have received permission. This is known as construction permits. You also need to have an organized structure in place. Such is vital to the flow of business operations and also allows for organizational efficiency.
Construction permits will come with your operational license.
- Full Power Radio Stations
This is yet another option to choose from. Full power radio stations cost more and are more expensive than low power radio and internet radio stations. Full power radio stations are also known as commercial radio stations. This non-internet radio reaches the widest audience when compared with low power radio stations.
You will need to apply for a license that requires approval. You must know that it takes a long time before licenses are approved. This is caused by the sheer volume of applications that need to be considered on an individual basis. This can be frustrating but requires patience.
- Startup Costs
For a full-power radio station, this is quite substantial. This is one of the major steps in starting a radio station and shouldn’t be overlooked. Your source of funding should be enough to cover all areas of the business such as equipment, power (bandwidth), hiring a space for your radio station, running costs as well as your wage bill among others.
- Purchasing the Right Equipment for your Radio Station
Operating a successful radio station requires that you purchase the right equipment. There is a long list of equipment to be purchased. These are divided into studio equipment as well as the transmitter.
Some of this equipment includes 2 SM7 microphones, telephone hybrid, FM tuner/amplifier, Denon dual cassette recorder, a pair of studio monitor speakers, dynamic microphones, Numark CD/MP3 players DN77 and audio portable digital recorders.
Other equipment for starting a radio station includes 2 pairs of monitors/loudspeakers MK1, Desktop PCs with an audio production and radio playlist software, an RS12 broadcast mixing console, BS6 6+6 channel production mixing console, table mic stands, cables and connectors, voltage stabilizers, and RSD coder among several other studio equipment.
- More Equipment
For transmission equipment, there are FM transmitters, dipole antennas with clamps, power divider, coaxial cables, among others. We can go on and on in listing this equipment. However, you need to find out what exactly is required yourself. It is expected that you will have some knowledge of the needed broadcast equipment.
However, if you don’t, you should seek the recommendation of an expert (an engineer).
- Starting an Online Radio
Compared to the other two (low power and full power radio stations), starting an online radio station is much easier and requires less equipment too.
Some essential equipment needed includes a PC/Macbook, the right broadcast software (an engineer should help you with this), processors, microphones, stand and shock mounts, as well as an audio interface.
Other pieces of equipment include a broadcasting desk and a boom arm.
Starting a radio station commences from the time of application for licensing to its final stages of starting your first broadcast with several steps in between. You should know that broadcasting at full blast without the approval of regulatory agencies is considered illegal.
A lot of background work is needed to commence full operations.