Radio has become one of the most used devices to while away time or finds leisure. Surprised? Yes, it is true. Today most filmmakers, actors, television stars, and popular figures are inclining towards radio shows to voice their opinions and entertain the audience. And it’s more convenient, don’t you agree? You can hear a radio show while working out while cooking, and even while driving. Much comfortable than moving your eyeballs back and forth!
Radio has carved various career options, more so in the Asian countries, such as India for budding talents. So, if you are wanting to become an RJ or planning to own a Radio Station, your future is bright and full of money, let us guarantee you.
Radio Station Types
There are different types of Radio station you can start your career with. Each has its own pros and cons, and different monetary values. There are low-power radio stations that are usually taken by non-profit organizations.
Then there are full-power radio stations, which are used for commercial purpose. And, you have broadcasting live online radio stations, also known as internet streaming.
Today we will share with you how to start a commercial radio station. Towards the end of the article, you will also learn a few tips on running a radio station.
Steps to Start a Successful Radio Station
First of all, you need to obtain a license to broadcast on a specific FM frequency. Since the competition is extremely high, there are only so many available frequencies to transmit FM signals. You have to find an available one for broadcasting your station and put a huge effort to get it. Buying an FM radio frequency can be quite a task.
Step 1: Choose Your Location
You have to apply to the FCC for constructing your new station. You have to find a location for broadcasting your station that has extremely powerful radio signal transmission over the community you are planning to cover. Okay, a commercial radio station can serve a specific community or region.
You have to conform to all local and environmental land restriction while choosing the location. The transmitters should be placed in an area that minimizes disturbances and maximizes potential frequency range. Also, your radio should be accessible by your guests.
Mind you, the application cost of a radio station is non-refundable and quite heavy in the pockets. You do not want your application to be denied, right? So, choose your location wisely. If need be, get help and suggestion from other broadcasters.
Step 2: Find Your Radio Frequency
Once you have booked your location, it is time for you to select your FM frequency. You have to log in to FCC FM allotment finder and search through FCC database to find whether an unused and open Class A frequency at your chosen location is open, which you can use. Class A frequencies cover a small broadcast area with their signal and generally are a low-power commercial station.
You have to find an open frequency in your area or else you cannot start your radio station.
Step 3: Apply for the License
Once you have the frequency, you can apply for the license. As long as the application fits to serve the community interest, such as geography, religion, choices, etc., you will be granted the license. The application fee to the FCC should be roughly around $3800. Along with the forms, you are also required to submit a petition for rulemaking in the same office, to the FCC secretary.
The petition is required to identify the community you want to broadcast and to find out whether you are looking for a different class frequency other than Class A. The petition is also used for FCC spacing requirement – to ensure that your allotment matches the requirements for spacing between other stations and station applications, and your frequency.
You can choose between two types of FM radio licenses in order to legally broadcast on FM frequency bands.
- Low Power FM or LPFM: They have limited range, are localized and are allotted to only non-profit organizations. They do not include advertisements or publicity content and usually run on sponsorships and donations.
- Full Power (Commercial): Commercial Radio stations have larger band range and if you want to earn profit from your radio station, this is for you.
Like mentioned in the previous section, you can start (and should) with a low power FM and move on to a full power FM station as you become a strong player.
Step 4: Winning the Auction
Just because you chose a frequency, there is no guarantee you will be able to buy it. You cannot buy a frequency as such, you need to bid for it and win it. Your frequency allotment will be put up for a bid in the auction by the FCC once they approve your petition. Since the FCC auctions several frequencies at a time, your result may take days or even several weeks to come. If your bid is winning, you will be asked to pay a down payment for the license. Thereafter, you will be granted a time period of 10 – 15 days to make the payment along with all KYC documents. If you are not able to make the payment by the period, your bid will automatically be canceled and be offered to the next highest bidder.
Step 5: Gathering Your Equipment
One of the most important elements of running a successful and all-inclusive radio station is gathering the right equipment. You will need a large variety of equipment, such as transmitters, audio mixers, microphones, headphones, a broadcast antenna, generators, and other tools and software.
We suggest that you don’t compromise on the quality of your equipment. So, don’t purchase the equipment from any dealer or shop. Choose an authorized and professional radio broadcast equipment seller, tell them what you want and let them assist you with your choices and selection.
Some sellers also guide you with the process of obtaining licenses, help you build the station and offer technical assistance.
Step 6: Build and Broadcast
Three structures you need to build for your radio station include a station building for your transmitter, a radio studio, and an office. If you have found an old or existing building, you can refurbish it to suit your needs. Otherwise, you will have to build one from scratch.
If you are able to find an existing broadcast tower that you can rent, you can install your antenna there. However, if you do not find one, you may have to build one of your own. This may cost you more as you must find programmings, such as local news, music or any other show to fill in airtime. You can contact record labels to provide music for your station or you can connect with commercial advertisers for the purpose. Ad commercial is a great way to make money.
Step 7: Lead Generate to Grow
If your radio is bombarded with unnecessary advertisements, people will switch to another station. You have to attract businesses and listeners – not by throwing yourself at each person who blocks your way but by attracting those who are looking for you.
You can successfully bring in more business, grow your audience, and attract a bigger following by identifying and cultivating your potential customers. This is called lead generation. Use social media to promote your channel and station and (or) blog about your show or anything related to the radio station. Link your channel site wherever you find it necessary.
You have to communicate with your audience. Use emails, include call-to-actions and embed email captures on appropriate articles or pages for more leads.
Successful Tips to Present Great Radio
If you want to build a stronger bond with your listeners, these exclusive tips, used by world-best radio professionals, will help you through the awkward starts.
- Know and understand your listeners. Learn what your listeners are currently interested on radio and what they would like to listen. The moment they hear you out on the radio, they should be able to relate it to their own lives. Something like a positive “MeToo” scenario.
- Your listener should care about what you say. Radio is all about how well you use your voice and communicate. Your audience is not able to see you, your reaction, and your body language. It is just the voice, the language, the tone, and the voice expression. If you do not do this in the right way, no one would care.
- Create a great brand identity. You have to be recognizable. For instance, you have to develop a style that people can easily identify. Choose the same logo for all platforms. Whether it is the mobile app or your website, don’t use more than 2 to 3 colors. Use the same style everywhere.
Define your editorial line. Produce excellent sound design and personalize your jingles. Don’t forget to organize your regular shows, highlight your RJs and their personalities.
- Make yourself visible. Unless you are ‘Big Brother’, you cannot always stay behind the screen and just talk. Today’s audience asks for more. And we have to give more. In order to make your audience feel connected towards you, they should see you and know you personally.
Make yourself visible on the social networks, such as create pages of your radio station on Twitter and Facebook and online radio directories. Directories help you reach number of people in short time.
- Talk to ONE person in your radio show. Your audience is experiencing the talk show as a sole person and not as a group of people. They should feel that you are addressing them personally. Cultivate ‘you and I’ instead of ‘hey, you all’ or ‘hey guys’, or ‘all of you out there’ etc.
- Keep an Eye on the competitors, but Be Yourself. Plagiarism is bad, both in content development and in media. The radio station is part of you and is your business. Your personality should define the station and not the other way around.
Therefore, you cannot and should not resemble others. You have to stand out in your own quirky, witty, and funny way. Stay relevant but don’t go by the same path.
- Bring the Community Together. That should be your main motto. You need loyal followers; today’s listeners should be your regulars tomorrow. Ask questions, answer their questions, ask for their comments, feedback and reactions, and take them seriously.
If you are a local radio station, talk locally. If you are broadcasting to a broader area, then talk that is trending or that is important. Make your audience part of the entire process.The more you give, the more you are likely to receive. You have to be accessible everywhere. Create mobile apps, radio website, and do everything possible to stay on the limelight. Hope our blog helps you start your own radio station journey. Put our tips in to test and add some creativity, you will definitely bring more than you think. Leave your doubts, suggestions, and questions in comments.