Potential candidates for radio and television networks must be mindful that frequencies are still in high demand for these networks. Many rival applications are lodged as application processing window times open for new stations. Filing an application does not ensure that you can obtain a building permit for a broadcast or a radio station.
There are no frequencies allowed in several areas of the country where a new station might start broadcasting without competing with existing stations, in violation of FCC laws. Here, we explore how to start a radio station for the aspiring broadcasters out there.
Preparation Stage for Radio Broadcasting Permit
The FM band is limited by the existence of aeronautical operations on 108 MHz to 136 MHz to extend past 107.9 MHz, and Channel 6 television services on 82.0 to 88.0 MHz are still prohibited from extending below 88.1 MHz. Through years of multinational discussions, the AM band was extended from 1600 to 1700 kHz in the 1990s.
These frequencies are, however, designated for existing stations that have created considerable interference in the lower part of the band. In this preparation stage, you have to consider what type of broadcast station you will operate for the FCC to allow you the proper frequency to broadcast. Below are the selection of radio broadcast stations and their frequency rules.
AM Broadcast Station
The frequencies from 540 kHz to 1700 kHz are dominated by AM stations. In a non-interference arrangement, these stations are reserved. In order to be legitimate, a proposal for a new AM transmitting station must prove that no overlap would be induced on the same frequency or on adjacent channels (up to 30 kHz above or below the target frequency) with other US and international AM stations (47 CFR 73.37).
FM Commercial Broadcast Station
From 92.1 MHz to 107.9 MHz, referring to Channels 221 through 300, FM commercial stations can be allowed subsequently. In this category, non-commercial FM training stations can also be approved, but these applications must comply with spacing, city coverage of 70 dBu, and other technical requirements specific to commercial stations.
FM Educational Broadcast Stations (Non-Commercial)
On 88.1 MHz to 91.9 MHz, referring to Channels 201 to 220, respectively, FM non-commercial (NCE) radio channels or stations may be approved (mainly adhered to as the “reserved band”). On such frequencies, no commercial operation is allowed. Under the relevant regulations specific to that operation, FM non-commercial educational stations can also be allowed within the commercial FM band.
FM Translators and Boosters
FM translator stations have been retransmitting existing AM and FM stations to limited regions. On either frequency, non-commercial FM educational translators can be allowed, although FM translators transmitting commercial stations must remain on frequencies from 92.1 MHz to 107.9 MHz (Channels 221 to 300).
Translator stations are forbidden from transmitting any material which is not transmitted concurrently to the originating or main station.
A Table of Allotments allocates full-power TV stations in the United States (47 CFR Section 73.622). Parties involved in forming a new full-power television station would first urge the Commission to grant a new channel to a specific city. The Commission shall then, if successful, perform a bid application window in which interested parties may file an application for inclusion in the auction for the newly-opened channel.
Step 1: Mode of Broadcasting
When preparing your radio station, the first huge decision you have to encounter is how you can meet your audience. Depending on budget, ambition, and municipal legislation, there are several possible solutions.
Classic Radio (Traditional AM/FM)
Classic ‘over-the-air’ AM/FM radio delivers a high degree of accessibility for offices, homes, and cars for the service.
Entry to AM/FM Radio signals is regulated in most areas and, in addition to music copyright licenses, includes broadcast licenses as well. You may also require facilities for physical transmission and connections to an appropriate transmission site.
In certain regions, satellite broadcasting is the only way to provide large regional coverage, which can be a costly choice and requires specialized equipment for both transmitting and receiving.
In the UK, Small Scale DAB is being launched to include a lower cost option for ‘over the air’ providers to reach listeners via DAB radios. DAB is also being used to allow more stations to offer ‘over the air’ services in other areas.
Online Streaming (Web)
For most stations, this is the most accessible approach, as it does not entail costly transmitting facilities or broadcasting licenses. However, you will still be required to obtain appropriate music licenses for your online radio station. Streaming online radio can also be the most available for your audience, as they can use laptops, handheld devices, smart speakers, etc. to listen.
It is highly advised that you begin with Web Radio as your medium of choice if you are new to radio broadcasting. Little specialized equipment is required to transmit on the web and the absence of legislation in most places ensures you can get ‘on-air’ easily and begin creating your listener base.
You may also contend that broadcasting your station on the network has the greatest possible listening capacity since nearly everyone carries a smartphone that can receive your station.
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Step 2: Content Creation
It’s worth taking the effort and time before you jump into anything to decide exactly what type of station you want yours to be. To maintain cohesive branding for all of the programmings implies thinking about scale, partners, and content. If you are planning on collaborating on the station with other partners and radio DJs, ensure that they are aware of this conversation, to guarantee that they are all on the same page from the very start.
If you wish to transmit live shows or produce material with ‘live’ sounding components then you will need some sort of Radio Studio to enable you to incorporate and manage all the elements for your program.
Here are some of the components that you will need.
For any radio transmission, the transmitter is the main component. It takes the signal from your transmission, encrypts it, and transmits it as radio waves that any antenna will pick up. Progressive Concepts provides many different types of radio transmitters. For full-power radio stations, there are powerful FM transmitters and medium- to low-power FM transmitters.
Transmission lines, from one place to the next, carry the signal dynamically. For instance, from the FM Transmitter up the towers of the FM Antenna. Typically, these lines are in the shape of coaxial wire cables. In AM and FM broadcasting, there are also low altitude transmitters used. It will carry the transmission from the studio to the position of the converter.
A mixer helps the user to blend several audio signals and to monitor and control it, including level and equalization, and the different aspects of how the broadcast will sound.
To listen to the contents of your show, monitor speakers will be necessary. Speakers built for music studios are advised to be used since they can give you the most precise signal interpretation.
The audio processor increases the consistency of the audio and enhances it. There is a range of audio processors available from the market. The rest are stand-alone processors linked to the FM transmitter. You may substitute this part with software for desktop-based radio broadcasts.
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After completing your components for content creation of your radio station, consider answering these questions to understand which path will you be taking, and how will you manage the content of your radio station.
● Would my station stream music solely?
● What kind of songs would I like to play at my station?
● Can the tv presenters/radio DJs be present at the station? If so, how many radio programs will there be, and how often?
● What sort of subjects is the radio program going to cover?
● Can the host interviews be broadcast on the radio, and if so, which kind?
Step 3: Mode of Transmission (Where Will Your Audience Listen?)
You need to understand how your audience will be able to find, listen to and connect with your station until your station material is established and you are ready to start.
If you are choosing a more conventional AM, FM, or DAB radio station, then audiences will undoubtedly be able to listen to you on their radio stations. AM, FM, or DAB broadcasting requires advanced facilities and technical experience.
There are a variety of interesting ways in which you can communicate with your audience if you are broadcasting on the internet (whether solely or in relation to AM / FM / DAB).
The most obvious answer is to make it easier for guests to your website to listen to the radio. Streaming packages contain a basic HTML5 player that can be quickly linked to your website to let listeners listen from both mobile and desktop devices regarding your station.
Using a dedicated branded smartphone app for iPhone or Android smartphones is another perfect way for audiences to connect with your station. A specialized app will allow your audiences from their phone or tablet to access your service directly. It also serves as a perfect way for the name and reputation to be extended.
Smart speakers have quickly become an essential part of the web radio environment, such as the Amazon Echo collection. You can add an extra Alexa capacity to your station on over 100 million Alexa-enabled platforms if you broadcast your station on the web.
It is always useful to test frequently if you get your radio station up and running to see which aspects are effective and which elements are not. To measure your development, you can monitor your own growth and, if you have the time and resources, write the data and responses into a spreadsheet to keep track of your progress.
Overall, the most important aspect of setting up your own radio station is opting to adhere to what you’re passionate and enthusiastic about. It would make all of the background work feel like a breeze, and all your effort will be worth it.
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