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Maaixuew
Hi all,

I realise that this is a forum devoted to the discussion of television, however I hope that somebody might be able to answer my question. I am curious to know a rough estimation of the costs of setting up an FM or AM radio station. I was informed that setting up an AM station is much cheaper than setting up an FM one, however I do not have any information or experience of setting up either an FM or AM station.

As such, I would appreciate any advice/information anyone can provide in respect of this question.
Critique2,748 posts since 9 Aug 2009
Anglia (East) Look East
Besides getting the frequency, there's a lot more to starting a radio station. In terms of start up costs, you'll need mixers and the like, computers, microphones, sound cards and so on, along with a PRS licence if you're playing music (along with whatever the other licence is called that covers composers and artists, the name currently escapes me). The number of microphones, cost of PRS licence (and maybe even FM frequency) will depend on the size of your station and what it does, whether it's commercial or not.
623058: it just seems like your an mp3 whore
Michael3,988 posts since 5 Sep 2005
Why would you set up an FM or AM station in this current climate and limit yourself to the transmitter area? Set up an internet station for peanuts and reach the entire globe.
2
Jon6,359 posts since 11 Apr 2005
Central (West) Midlands Today
If you're having to ask a question on a forum, you almost certainly won't have the means or capability.

And you can't just set up a radio station, there are no commercial licences left for FM or AM. So you're looking at not for profit. Some AM community licences are a possibility would probably cost you more in terms of transmission costs with less reward.

But yeah it's not as simple as paying a few grand to Ofcom and buying all your kit. Groups take years to fight for community licences and even then many still fail.

DAB has less barriers to entry if money is no object.

Why would you set up an FM or AM station in this current climate and limit yourself to the transmitter area? Set up an internet station for peanuts and reach the entire globe.

The thing is it's probably harder to grow an audience with an online operation than it is by setting up a community station on FM. If you're on FM at least people might find you by accident whilst driving the car to work, realise they quite like the music and local news and stick with you.


With internet radio, unless as a personalty you've got some kind of massive online following or you're the first to capture a niche with a large potential audience, its really hard to build an audience into double figures or an audience of people you don't know personally.

Basically with an FM licence after a few years it's feasible to have an audience in the hundreds or maybe a few thousand, internet radio is a lot harder to build anything meaningful but of course less barriers to entry.
Last edited by Jon on 3 August 2016 12:32am - 5 times in total
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Worzel3,383 posts since 8 Jan 2008
Anglia (West) Look East (West sub-opt)
Hi all,

I realise that this is a forum devoted to the discussion of television, however I hope that somebody might be able to answer my question. I am curious to know a rough estimation of the costs of setting up an FM or AM radio station. I was informed that setting up an AM station is much cheaper than setting up an FM one, however I do not have any information or experience of setting up either an FM or AM station.

As such, I would appreciate any advice/information anyone can provide in respect of this question.


From someone who's on the management team and done just that (rather succesfully) in Cambridge, I can tell you even if you want to do things 'on the cheap' its still expensive.

Firstly you have to apply for a community FM licence when Ofcom advertise CR licence applications for certain areas. If you're doing things properly and not just operating a playout system in a cupboard, you have to factor in engineering/equipment costs (studio and transmission), premesis, PRS/PPL/MCPS licences and electricity etc.

Then there's the costs of employing someone to do sales and a station manager.

That's just a starting point.

AM is pretty much dying out, its in mono, not ideal for music and is very awkward when it comes to finding a suitable transmission site.

Although we're on FM, we also launched on the local small-scale split-site DAB trial in Cambridge, so maybe there's the option to go on small scale DAB (although a little expensive) these options are now starting to become available.

I met with a community group in the East of England recently who wanted to launch their own FM community radio station. When I asked them if they'd actually carried out any surveys or research into whether their town wanted a community radio station, the reaction I got was 'well, we think this is what the town wants'. Golden rule, engage with your audience from the start and don't fly blind. Maybe start by running an RSL?
Last edited by Worzel on 3 August 2016 12:57am
Inspector Sands10,526 posts since 25 Aug 2004
Ofcom recently opened up for applications for new community radio stations, but only on MW outside London. Before you even applied you had to do lots of work on finding a transmitter site which involved frequency Andover coverage planning. Being MW the transmitter couldn't just be a small aerial on a building but normally a big guyyed mast

As I understand it there's no more regular licencing of analogue radio except for when licenses are up for renewal. But then of course not only would you be up against experienced groups but also the incumbents
Michael3,988 posts since 5 Sep 2005
Why would you set up an FM or AM station in this current climate and limit yourself to the transmitter area? Set up an internet station for peanuts and reach the entire globe.

The thing is it's probably harder to grow an audience with an online operation than it is by setting up a community station on FM. If you're on FM at least people might find you by accident whilst driving the car to work, realise they quite like the music and local news and stick with you.


I disagree slightly. Yes there is the serendipitous discovery element of FM, which can be invaluable, but we live in a social media world where likes, shares and retweets spread faster than word of mouth. There's also any number of internet radio providers who will add you to their catalogues such as Frontier Silicon, Reciva etc. Also iTunes have/had a radio station list. Of course you are limited by the amount of listener slots you purchase on your server, but hey, if you're considering FM, you'll want to be considering a decent number of listener slots too.