COMMUNITY RADIO /
Community radio stations are usually set up 'by the community, for the community'. They
differ from national or international radio broadcasters because they feature local news and
issues and often include local people in the programmes. They are also able to broadcast in
the local language. Rural community radio stations often operate on a not-for-profit basis
although they may raise money through advertising.
Most community radio stations broadcast on the FM (VHF) waveband and their coverage
varies depending upon the equipment being used. Some small stations cover areas of a few
square kilometres whilst others broadcast within a radius of hundreds of kilometres and have
very large audience numbers. The regulations concerning the licensing of radio broadcasters
vary from country to country, and should be understood before undertaking radio initiatives.
Advantages of Community Radio / Amateur Radio
Community radio is often greatly appreciated by its
audience because of the localised nature of the
The community feels involved and can
contribute directly to the programme
content through letters, phone-ins or by
visiting the station.
Listeners do not require literacy.
A large audience can be reached.
For isolated communities without electricity
or telephone it may be the only
communication medium that they receive.
Faraja Community Radio Station,
How to use Community Radio / Amateur Radio
Setting up and running a community radio stations is a significant undertaking and
requires careful planning.
A license must be secured before broadcasting can start.
Determine the funds required for equipment, premises and all running costs.
Ensure that the necessary technical and broadcasting know-how will be available.
Decide on the number of broadcasting hours per day and ensure that interesting
programme content is collected to fill time ‘on air’. Consider making your own local
programmes or sourcing material from other stations. Build up a library of recordings
and music, and share with others.
Consider live programming including interviews, group discussions and phone-ins.
Encourage feedback and involvement from the listening audience.
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Community and amateur radio
Constraints of Community Radio / Amateur Radio
Some countries restrict the issuing of licences or have long application processes.
The necessary technical and broadcasting skills may not be available.
The radio station owners/managers are in control of a powerful communications
medium, and must use it responsibly.
Orkonerei Radio: the voice of
The village of Tarrat is located in rural
Tanzania, 80km south of Arusha on
rough mud roads. This is a Maasai
pasturalist region with no grid electricity
or telephone lines. However, the people
living around Orkonerei do not go without
their own local radio station. Orkonerei
FM (94.4Mhz) has been broadcasting
since June 2002 and markets itself as
sauti ya wanchungi, the voice of livestock
Real Life Story
Judging by the huge number of postcards
sent in by listeners, the station is very
popular. Listeners often visit the station
to ask questions and announce local
events. Orkonerei FM uses a solar power
system and has a 60 meter mast which
allows broadcasting to 5 regions within a
100km radius. The station is on air daily
from 12 noon until 10pm, with various
programmes including music,
educational, and religious programmes.
They also have their own local journalists
who make news programmes. The station
has a small support office in Arusha
which finds news and information on the
internet and sends it to Orkonerei by email using a high frequency radio, and
The 60 meter mast at Orkonerei
Getting the station started was not easy; it took 5 years to secure the necessary broadcasting
licence. Staff remain uncertain about whether they are entitled to broadcast in the local
Massia language, given that Kiswahili is the national language in Tanzania.
Real life story written from an Practical Action visit to Tarrat, May 2003
Using Existing Mass Media Practical Action Technical Brief
Podcasting: Recording and Using Local Voices for Knowledge Sharing Practical Action Brief
Community and amateur radio
The Schumacher Centre
Rugby, Warwickshire, CV23 9QZ
Tel: +44 (0)1926 634400
Fax: +44 (0)1926 634401
This document is based on the Micro Media Card Pack: A Tool Kit for Community
Development Workers produced by Practical Action in October 2003. Reproduced
as a Technical Brief in October 2007.
Practical Action is a development charity with a difference. We know the simplest ideas can have the
most profound, life-changing effect on poor people across the world. For over 40 years, we have been
working closely with some of the world’s poorest people - using simple technology to fight poverty and
transform their lives for the better. We currently work in 15 countries in Africa, South Asia and Latin