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Start a Community Radio Station

What is it? A community radio station differs from other radio stations by being nonprofit and having programming focused on serving its community.  An effective station reflects the diversity of values and opinions present in a community.  Community radio directs its programming towards providing civic value, often in the form of local interest shows.  Some programming is focused on local news and issues while other programming seeks to increase the cultural capacity of the community, through music, arts and performances. In its most basic form, the station serves as a communication tool.  However, it is distinguished from many other such tools because it is participatory and developed in conversation with area partners and residents.

How has it been used? WRIR, in Richmond, VA, is run by the Virginia Center for Public Press.  They have bought into the promise of community-based radio.  The station broadcasts to an audience of 200,000 and is staffed, and operated, by local volunteers.  During the day, WRIR broadcasts a combination of locally produced and syndicated news and talk programming.  Programming includes shows such as: Central Virginia Legal Aid Radio, Community Calendar, and Inspire Indeed, a program that highlights individuals and organizations that are doing good things in the community.  At night, volunteers play their own musical playlists that would not be found on a commercial radio station.  WRIR is playing a vital role in keeping Richmond residents informed about their community and providing them a space for learning and dialogue. (Source: WRIR)

Further Reading

National Federation of Community Broadcasters

World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters

Prometheus Radio Project

Community Radio Handbook – UNESCO