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What Is Community Radio And Its Benefits To Communities?

What Is Community Radio
Community Radio

Community radio broadcasting serves geographic communities and communities’ interest.

Community Radio Broadcasting

Community radio is a type of radio service that offers a model of radio broadcasting beyond commercial and public service. It is a service offering a third model of radio broadcasting in addition to commercial and public broadcasting.

Community radio broadcasting serves geographic communities and communities’ interest. The content of broadcasting is largely popular and relevant to a local/specific audience but which may often be overlooked by commercial or mass-media broadcasters.


Community radio stations are operated, owned, and driven by the communities they serve. Community radio is not-for profit and provides a mechanism for facilitating individuals, groups, and communities to tell their own diverse stories, to share experiences, and in a media rich world to become active creators and contributors of media. 

Community radio stations typically cover a small geographical area with a coverage radius of up to 5km (in cases where the definition of the community and the terrain require a variation, extensions are made by authorities to the coverage area but this shall not exceed 25km in any case) and run on a not-for-profit basis. 


Not-for-profit means that any profits generated by the community radio station cannot be given to shareholders, for example, or used to benefit the people running the service. However, this requirement does not prevent stations from paying staff. Any profit or surplus must be used for securing or improving the future provision of the radio service or for delivering social gain/ community benefits to the station's target community.

Licences are offered to registered companies and when granted, are required to start broadcasting within two years from the date the licence is awarded. No company or organisation can hold more than one community radio licence. 


In many parts of the world today, community radio acts as a vehicle for the community and voluntary sector, civil society, agencies, NGOs and citizens to work in partnership to promote community development. By the core aims and objectives of this model of broadcasting, community radio stations often serve their listeners by offering a variety of content that is not necessarily provided by the larger commercial radio stations.

Community radio is when local people produce and broadcast their own programs and participate in operating the station. It is community space for people to meet and collaborate. It is extraordinarily fun and often life-changing. It typically leads to individual creativity and self-empowerment. Participants find it extraordinarily satisfying, not just to make radio in this unique fashion, but to also help transform community life.

Community radio can play a significant role at the grass roots level for rural development. For instance, issues of poverty, agriculture, gender inequality, education, social problems among others could be the focus for programming.


Community radio is a world-wide phenomenon. Its roots date back to the late 1940s when it was introduced as a way to offer media access to union members and their families during a labor strike in Bolivia.

The urge to do community radio fulfills the basic desire for communication and self-expression and is on the forefront of today’s democracy movements. Typically, two leading aims are achieved: (1) Cultural, political and artistic voices excluded elsewhere get heard. (2) Individuals and communities are enriched. Community volunteers are trained and given a central role in radio production, operation and program development. Youths also get a chance to participate. Stations remain responsive to community needs and consistently seek input from listeners.


Benefits of Community Radio

Community radio stations are non-commercial and provide a valuable service to people of the town and municipality they operate. It is known for greatly improving a community's quality of life. Their transmitters may reach only a few miles, but community radio stations are enabling isolated communities across the world to voice their own concerns.

On air, ordinary citizens discuss issues that are central to them, such as gender relations and combatting HIV/AIDS. They share farming tips and income generation ideas and explore ways to improve education.


Through community radio stations, listeners in remote rural areas can hear news, practical information and the views of their neighbours. They often give isolated villages (many of which are not reached by public and commercial radio stations) a means of education, self-expression and communication, while also promoting the community’s history, music and oral traditions.

Through community radio stations, listeners in remote rural areas can hear news, practical information and the views of their neighbours. They often give isolated villages (many of which are not reached by public and commercial radio stations) a means of education, self-expression and communication, while also promoting the community’s history, music and oral traditions.


Positive change is also happening at a personal level. Community radio stations are offering training and work experience opportunities, contributions to local education and providing a voice to those, such as older people or speakers of minority languages, who may find it harder to access the media.

Community radio projects bring opportunities for community members to learn new skills, thus improving prospects for employment at commercial stations. Local technicians, facilitators and producers, as well as board members, take part in training courses and media workshops run by community radio stations. Participants learn to operate equipment, produce programmes and manage a station.


Below are some key benefits of community radio:

• Encourages communication and connects the people of the community and varying cultures

• Community radio reaches a large section of the locality it covers, listeners were observed to be interested in local issues.

• A positive and distinctive way to communicate with community’s local language of your culture.

• Exemplifies the idea of participatory communication.


Funding Of Community Radio Stations

As a community radio station there is a ceiling on your revenue from commercial activities and advertising. You cannot receive more than 50% of your income from a single funder. You will be very lucky to access all the money you will need from a variety of grants and donations.

So the chances are, you will need to do all of these things and more in order to survive and thrive. These funding possibilities below are not mutually exclusive and a prudent station may use several methods to help ensure sustainability.


In other words, community radio is forced into a mixed economy. Typically, a station’s finances will be kept afloat by some combination of the following:

1. Grants and donations 2. Contracts for services 3. Advertising and sponsorship 4. Other commercial activities 5. Local fundraising

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