Community radio stations are community owned and operated entities that serve either localised geographic communities or communities of interest, such as minorities, religious groups and universities.
Community radio is unique because the stations are run by the communities themselves. They are owned and managed by the people they serve. The management is usually a small team of paid staff with the programming conducted by volunteers.
Unlike commercial stations, community stations are not allowed to run for profit. They must be established as voluntary associations, not-for-profits or trusts. The station’s constitution must say that any profit will be channeled into further developing the station.To ensure the stations are not run for profit they are usually subject to strict advertising controls. Commonly the regulator stipulates that advertising content ought to be capped to allow, for example, a maximum of five minutes per hour of programming.
Community Radio Stations are owned, and driven by the communities they serve. No one can make money from Community Radio but in a community radio station, young and old, with all abilities, backgrounds, and interests, can come together to make a difference to their community.
In making that difference, those involved develop not just confidence and competence in broadcasting skills, but skills for the new economy (communications, IT), skills for active citizenship, and skills for social inclusion.
The communities they serve and the groups and individuals within those communities, gain a voice with which to be heard. They gain diversity in the programming available, and they gain a forum for sharing experience, discovering fresh perspectives, and supporting community activity.
How do Community Stations develop?
New stations often start with a public meeting. Members of a community (either geographic or community of interest) come together as a working group to create a vision for the station, plan programming and develop facilities.
Over time, more and more members of the community are recruited and trained to help out behind the scenes, produce and present programmes reflective of their community and experience.
Community Radio has the capacity to reinforce what is good about the Zimbabwean Society and to help find solutions to its failings. Community Radio facilities individuals, groups, and communities to tell their own diverse stories, to share experiences, and in a media rich world to become active creators and contributors rather than passive consumers. It presents a unique vehicle for the community and voluntary sector, civil society, agencies, NGOs & citizens to work in partnership to make a difference.
What does Community Radio Offer?
Community Radio offers
- rare and direct media access for all perspectives in our communities,
- the potential for innovation inherent in non-profit, community owned and operated media
- diversity in the provision of programming, especially where there would be insufficient profit for the commercial sector and too much cost for the public service sector.
- offers a resurgence of local media highlighting local issues, opinions and voices in contrast to mainstream medias increasingly centralised content production.
- the skills, resources and the opportunity to understand media by members of our communities through actively participating in its creation and delivery.
- a unique mechanism to engage with social exclusion by acting as a vehicle for outcome-driven personal and professional training and development
- a powerful tool in providing services and supports to communities, especially disadvantaged and excluded communities.
- the opportunity to promote democracy, human rights and sustainability.
- a challenge to global media blandness in reinforcing local identities while acting as a catalyst for integration and inclusion.