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How to Start a Low Power FM Radio Station

Date:2019/1/28 11:32:27 Hits:

You have the means to start a low powered radio station without a FCC license. Low-powered FM radio stations are a good resource for nonprofits, schools, churches, community groups, and unions. Note that the FCC rarely hands out permits for commercial free radio. Luckily, there are alternative ways to get your voice heard through the FM airwaves.

Method1: Planning Your Community Radio Station

1 Understand unlicensed broadcasting. Unlicensed broadcasting is legal using a low powered transmitter which was discussed in Part 15 of the FCC’s rules. These devices are limited to 200 feet (61 meter) range. The transmitters are manufactured under the regulation of the FCC and have visible indicators for you to tell.
One of the disadvantages of this system is that you have to accept any disturbance from a higher powered radio station.

2 Find an available frequency on the radio. Before you take into account the necessary expenses of a low power FM radio station, you should seek out availability. The FCC allows commercial radio stations to bleed into or overpower your radio station. Search through your local FM stations and find a station without any radio programming.

* The key is to find the purest static channel. Make sure there aren’t other voices or sounds lingering in the background.

* If there are a couple “clean” stations in a row, then you’re in good shape.
* If you live in a metropolitan city like Chicago or L.A., you will have trouble finding a station like this.
* You can do a quick check by visiting for a search of available stations in your area.

3 Find out what type of station your community needs. You are a member of a community and feel the need to power a radio station that your community is lacking. Consider if other members of your community want the same type of programming on the airways. A good way to receive feedback is by creating flyers with information about your radio station.

* Hang the flyers around town and in community active spots like a coffee shop, library, or a venue space.

* If the station becomes popular, it is legal to profit from advertisements.
* Say on the flyer, “What do you want to hear on the radio?” in big bold letters, and then explain what your station does.

4 Make a list of necessary equipment. It'll help you keep track of what you need by making a quick list of all the equipment you’ll need to power the station. This includes a transmitter, antenna, and basic sound equipment (microphones, mixer, CD player, etc.). Take a quick inventory of media devices you own like a turntable, CD player, cassette player, etc.). Do a basic search online to determine a rough price of the gear you’ll need.

5 Create the mission and vision for your station. Mission statements are meant to be a brief write up of your organization. This is an area where you can share the philosophy model you are basing your radio station around. Other items to include are your goals and your performance standards.
These are goals to strive for with a mission statement: to make it memorable, credible, inspirational, and simple.

6 Fundraise. Depending on how far you plan to take your station, fundraising in the beginning can benefit your long term goals. Look into some organizations that could be interested in your radio station. Once you find a local organization, draft a letter explaining your fundraising goals and include your mission statement.

There are many websites that allow you to make a fundraising pitch online.

Method2: Setting Up Your Studio

1 Gather your source equipment. Your source equipment includes a CD player, cassette player, record player, or other form of media players. You aren’t required to have this equipment available, but it will benefit you if you are a music based station.

Consider getting used audio equipment from craigslist or other music posting websites.

2 Use a reliable computer. There are many benefits to having a computer for your radio station and studio. You can generate the bulk of your station's broadcast with only a computer playing music, miscellaneous sounds, and even your own voice. Many radio stations record shows on computers and play them at a selected time over the airways.

* If you are first starting out, a computer will cut down on a lot of your audio costs.

* You can upload your radio show as a podcast or as an internet radio station with a computer.

3 Get a microphone and audio console. Unless you plan to play music alone, you should invest in at least one microphone, if not two. You will also need an audio mixer to switch between multiple audio outputs like a turntable, microphone, and computer. 

* There are options if you don’t want to deal with audio equipment. You can invest in a USB microphone that goes directly into your computer. These mics have been continuing to grow and offer a range in quality.
*Consider getting help from a tech-savvy friend if you’re beginning to feel overwhelmed.

4 Obtain other audio equipment. Asides from the microphones and mixing boards, you’ll need cables to attach everything together. Most transmitters take an ⅛” jack (headphone jack), so you’ll need to use the right converters for your mixer. Other cables that might help you are XLR cables (for microphones) and RCA cables (for external audio players).

* If you went with the USB microphone, you don’t need to worry about this step.
* You’ll also need one or two sets of headphones depending on how many people plan to talk. For future endeavors, you should have two headphones or more. If you use multiple headphones, you will also need a headphone splitter.

5 Acquire a Part 15 Transmitter. Search through the internet for a professional grade, low powered FM transmitter. There are several options available that are all verified by the FCC. You can spend a small amount of money ($80), or spend a larger sum of around $300.

* For a cleaner signal, shop for a mono transmitter opposed to a stereo transmitter.
* Some transmitters come with an antenna, but these models aren’t as powerful or reliable.

6 Use a good antenna. Remember a good antenna is a must for clear and long transmission. An antenna that works well on one frequency may not work as well on another. Some audio stores will have antennas for FM transmitters, but you will probably have more luck shopping online.

Method3: Broadcasting with a Part 15 Device

1 Prepare a few programs. If your station is dedicated to music, prepare music specials. If your station is about science, create some interesting programs related to science. Consider if you want the length of your programs to be 30 minutes or an hour. You could also plan to do a quick 10 minutes of talking every hour of a music show.

* Plan for a week of broadcasting and choose certain programs for individual days. Consistency is important for programs to develop a following.
* The key to planning programs is that each show is exciting in some way. When in doubt, throw on a catchy playlist.

2 Plug everything in. Before going live, you should ensure that everything is plugged in and properly connected together. Follow each cable in your system and double check each end to be sure everything is in the proper place. Do a quick test of your broadcast and check the levels on your audio mixer or computer.

3 Tune to the station. Power your transmitter on and tune to the radio frequency, you choose, that isn't occupied by another station. If you haven’t found a station yet, go through the FM stations using a normal radio. Take note of the channels that don’t have any broadcasting.

4 Begin broadcasting. Have a friend listen to the station in a separate room. You can’t have the radio tuned to your broadcasting station in the room with you. When the microphones are turned on, it can create feedback that will be audible over the radio.
When the microphone is turned off, you can listen to the radio in the same room.

5 Consider the future. Build your station up to fit your own means, and eventually you can build it into a legitimate station. It is good to begin broadcasting with a Part 15 transmitter to learn all the mechanics of radio and audio. If you develop a fan base, you can contact local businesses for advertising slots. If you’re a successful station, you can announce an advertisement opening on a popular time slot.

* The FCC rarely opens applications for licenses for low powered FM stations. If they do anytime soon, you can take the steps to become licensed and upgrade your transmitter to a more powerful device.

* Once you begin broadcasting your show, you can also stream your show in a podcast form or even as an internet radio show.

Maybe you will need:

1W Low Power FM Transmitter Kit For Small FM Radio Station

7W Low Power PLL FM Transmitter Stereo Kit for Mini Radio Station

15w Low Power PLL FM Broadcast Radio Transmitter Kit for Small Radio Station

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