How to start a radio station in Nigeria

 

Radio has become a part of the life of many people. There are people that cannot do without listening to radio in a day. The popularity of radio has made it a sought-after information source. Invariably, the radio industry in Nigeria and beyond has become very lucrative with a number of stations coming up by the day. Any one with resources wants to own a radio station. The question is: what does it take to own a radio station?
Despite the popularity of social media and other online news platforms, many Nigerians still love listening to their favorite programmes on radio. Several radio presenters have become famous on-air personalities and this shows how popular radio still is as a source of information, entertainment and education. This is why more radio stations spring up by the day.

You can actually own a radio station in Nigeria if you have the resources. There are two ways to launch a radio station in Nigeria. It could be online (which makes use of streaming services); or offline, (which makes use of transmitters). Each option comes at a unique cost and is easily achievable with the right plans and resources.

It is easier to set up an online radio station than an offline one. However, most radio stations combine both online and offline means of broadcast since they both complement each other. That way they increase their reach and audience base.

If you’ve ever wished you could start your own radio station in Nigeria then know that it is possible. If you have the right information it and resources it won’t be a problem at all. Whenever most people hear about radio station their mind quickly goes to the off-line, non-internet radio station that has a large building with several workers. Well, that’s okay but having only that impression of radio station will scare you away from believing you could own your own radio station. There are actually three different types or radio stations you can start: low-power (for non-profit organizations), full-power (for commercial radio stations) or internet streaming (broadcasting live online). Of all these, the internet radio is the cheapest and easiest who could kick off with. Let’s focus attention on how to start a non-internet radio station in Nigeria.

Whether you want to acquire online or offline radio station in Nigeria, this guide provides a breakdown of what equipment, structures, and licenses you’ll need to acquire. First of all, what are the equipment you need to establish a radio station in Nigeria?

Equipment needed to start a radio station:

Antenna:

Antennas are used along with radio receivers.

Audio playback devices:

These could be cassettes, CDs, DVDs, or as in modern time, the use of computers in conjunction with mass storage devices.

Audio processors:

These are devices used for the purpose of electronic manipulation of audio signals. They are widely used for boosting the quality of audio signals. These days, computer software have proved sufficient in carrying out such tasks.

Cable:

Audio cables of various kinds are required to link the components of your broadcast studio to each other.

Mixer:

Mixers are electronic appliances used for the purpose of combining multiple audio signals and controlling how they sound. You use a mixer to regulate features like level and equalization. DJs (disk jockeys) are usually in charge of the operation of mixers.

Receiver:

This is electronic device that receives radio waves and converts the information carried by them to a usable forms. It is one of the most essential equipment you require to set up a radio station.

Speakers:

With the aid of speakers you’ll be able to hear and monitor the quality of your broadcast. There are specially designed speakers for the purpose of music studios that can produce the most accurate representation of the signals transmitting from your radio station.

Transmission lines:

Transmission lines are specialized cables or other structures designed with the aim of conducting alternating current of radio frequency. It could be from the FM Transmitter to the FM Antenna.

Transmitters:

A set of equipment that will be used to generate and transmit electromagnetic waves carrying messages or signals produced at your radio station. This is about the most essential equipment for setting up a radio station.
The focus of the list above is in offline radio-related electrical appliances. Other needs may include, but are not limited to: computers, microphones, power hubs, steady electricity, and buildings (control rooms).
To launch an online radio platform, you may not need a few of the appliances above, as your hosting company takes care of several transmission related component. It is cheaper for you to begin with online radio station if you don’t have the resources to delve into offline radio station on ownership.

All you basically need are: a laptop, complete headset (earpiece & mouthpiece), audio software (Winamp, Edcast, icecast2, etc.), and audio streaming servers (you’ll find free and paid options out there).

You now know the basic equipment needed to setup both an online and offline radio station. Next step is to acquaint you with the process of launching a radio station in Nigeria. Here are basic steps you can take to start off a radio station in Nigeria, whatever it’s a campus or community radio stations, or even a radio station with wider reach.

 

Steps you need for starting a radio station in Nigeria

1. Apply for a frequency:

This is among the first basic things you should do if you want to operate a radio station in Nigeria. Whether you want to apply for an FM Radio licence or Community Radio Licence, the procedure for obtaining a broadcast licence is stipulated by the National Broadcasting Commission Act, Cap N11, Laws of the Federation 2004. Before applying for the licence you would have registered as a Limited Liability Company under the Companies and Allied Matter Act, 1990 with a minimum Share Capital of One Million Naira and one of its objects clauses relating to Broadcasting.

The first thing you should do is to register your radio station as company (corporate entity) with CAC (Corporate Affairs Commission). All registrations come at an extra-cost. In summary, a registration form at CAC is obtained for ₦50, 000; while registration with NBC may cost you to the tone of ₦20, 000, 000 for category A locations, and ₦15, 000, 000 for category B locations. Renewals is set at set at ₦5,000,000 and ₦4,000,000 for category A and B respectively.
Portharcourt, Lagos & Abuja are classified as Category A; while other states and locations in Nigeria are classified as Category B.

After registering the company, you then write a letter addressed to the Director General of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) seeking approval to purchase an application form for the purpose of applying for a broadcast licence indicating the category of Licence and proposed location (s). Once the application is approved, you would be directed to purchase an application form at the cost of N50, 000.00 (Fifty Thousand Naira) in bank draft payable to the Commission from any of its Zonal offices across the Country.

After completing the necessary forms and submitting with requested documents, the application would be processed and if in conformity with the statutory requirements above, it would be recommended through the Honourable Minister of Information and culture to the President, Commander-in-Chief for the grant of Licence. After the grant of Licence by the President, Commander-in-chief, the Commission would convey a provisional approval for an initial term of Five years (subject to renewal), indicating appropriate Licence fee, coverage area and other terms/conditions. After payment of Licence fee in full, appropriate frequencies would be assigned to enable the company install facilities, invite the Commission to inspect and approve Test transmission as a prelude to Commissioning/full transmission.

This seems like a long process but it’s actually worth it. You just have to apply for a broadcast licence and wait for approval because it is illegal to operate an unlicensed radio station in Nigeria, even at extremely low power.

2. Make sure you have the fund:

Owning and operating a radio station is no child’s play. So you have to source for fund or ensure that you already have the fund to start off on a small scale. You will have to pay for studio space and power, among other things. So funding is very essential.

3. Decide if you want to start a low-power or full-power radio station:

This decision will determine how much you would require for setting up the station. Decide how much power you need based on how far you want your station to broadcast. A full-power station will need tens of thousands of watts, while a low-power station may only need a thousand watts. This will reflect on the funding for equipment.

4. Design your studio:

Look for professionals who know how to design a good radio studio. You’ll need sound proofing, headphones, speakers, microphones and more and more.

5. Market survey

This is very essential in order not to waste resources. It wouldn’t be a good idea to delve into buying the equipment without first carrying out market survey on what it would cost to get the best quality devices. That way, you’ll not get stranded along the line.
It will be difficult to state categorically how much all of those radio station equipment cost, as price difference range with quality, company make and sizes. The kind of equipment you buy is also dependent on the kind of radio station you intend to operate based on reach and license given to you. The cost of transmitter and other equipment won’t be the same for a radio station with wider reach and the one with narrower reach such as community radio station.

6. Acquire your structure & equipment

This depends on your budget and the size of radio station you intend to operate. You might need more than just one each of the equipment previously listed.
You’ll need several control rooms, studios, offices, etc. where transmission of several programs, talk shows, and other intended activities will take place.

7. Look for professionals to install your broadcast equipment

The quality of installations will reflect on the quality of transmission. Poor installations could even lead to damage on equipment. Make sure you get professional radio station engineers to carry out all necessary installations. It might require that you make inquiries from already established radio stations in your neighbourhood on where to find professionals fit for the job. This is crucial to the initial success of your station. No matter how expensive the equipment may be, poor installations could affect the quality of transmission.

8. Personnel & Staff Recruitment 

This also depends on the size of the station. A small station could start with very few hands and a small building. For a large station you’ll need to employ several persons to handle various jobs. Important staffers to employ are, but are not limited to: presenters, DJs, engineers, marketers, journalists, security officers, production managers, etc.
You need all the hands you can get in order to guarantee effective production and a good head start. Just make sure the right people with passion to do the job are employed.

9. Begin transmission

Once you have your license, equipment, staffers and every other thing in place, then you can begin to broadcast live on air as soon as possible.

11. Publicize and reach out

As a new station you might need to create awareness through various channels to get listeners from the already saturated market to know about your station. Although people can tune their radio sets and discover your newly launched station, it might be necessary to put in some extra funds into advertisement and reach outs to get the head start needed for your business. This way, more people will get to know about and listen to your station. They’ll get to listen to the interesting programmes you have to offer and become loyal to your station.

12. Broadcast responsibly:

Don’t forget that your licence could be withdrawn at any time once you’ve been deemed to have violated broadcast rules. Be responsible on the air. You never know who might be listening. The NBC always monitors all stations so stick to the ethics of broadcasting. Among the reasons why the NBC can revoke broadcast licence are Non payment of prescribed fees after due date; Non use of License within one year after issuance of same; Failure to apply and obtain Licenses with due process; and Engagement in activities contrary to national interest.

 

The Author

Chinenye Nwabueze

Nwabueze is a communication researcher with several years of lecturing experience in Nigerian universities.

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