So you want to set up a community radio station?

7 days to go. Today here’s some information on setting up a community radio station. Bear in mind it’s not easy – despite there being over 200 licenced stations in the country. If you’ve got big plans to be on FM too, there might not be room anymore. Read more here.

Setting up a community radio station is expensive, and one of the main questions I’ve been asked over the past 6 years is how much does it really cost? People think you can get going with little investment, so to give an idea of the cost of just setting up a community radio station I’ve outlined some of our setup costs for NE1fm 102.5.

The costs below include professional grade equipment, not entry level equipment.

Studio Equipment – £34,000

  • Broadcast Studio including mixing desk, 2xMDs, 2xCDs, 2xturntables, TBU, and peripheral devices (monitors, headphones, microphones etc…).
  • Production studio equipment including mixer and ancillary devices. DJ mixing equipment. Applicable software.
  • Production equipment including 6 PC based editing suites and associated peripherals. Sony Vaio laptops were used for this role.

Transmission Equipment – £12,300

  • FM stereo Transmitter with peak limiter.
  • Centre fed dipole, suitable through 88 – 108 MHz.
  • Connectors, RF Cable.
  • Digital audio processing unit.
  • RDS Generator.
  • Radio Authority/Ofcom – Ofcom Test Coupler.
  • Spectrum dividing filter.
  • STL, Stereo Studio to Transmitter Link system, comprising link transmitter with limiter, link receiver, 2 x aerials (transmit & receive). + Licence.
  • Installation, setup and configuration.

CBIT, who own and operate NE1fm 102.5 started out with over £60,000 in the bank raised from over 10 years of RSL work and other media projects. It was envisaged to have more than one project running under CBIT, but NE1fm 102.5 has been a massive project to operate and free time to do other projects has not been readily available!

On top of the above figures you must factor in your music licensing, FM licensing, relevant insurances, news provision, rent, rates, electricity, gas and additionals such as internet and television. Some of those are the same for everyone, some will be unique to your position.

Now set up and operational. NE1fm 102.5 costs around £12,000 a year to operate before staff costs. That equates to £33 per day. Assuming a broadcast of 12 hours a day on average that is £2.75 per hour.

Of course you could do it a totally different way. Cheap equipment, cut corners etc. But will your operation still be working 24/7/365 6 years later?

2 Responses

  1. you forgot tea, coffee and the all important pizza budget. There is also the emotional cost, but no one ever remembers that one!!

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