What is Community Radio?

What is Community Radio?

Community radio is when local people produce and broadcast their own programs and participate in operating the station. It is community space for people to meet and collaborate. It’s fun, engaging and empowering. Participants find it extraordinarily satisfying, not just to make radio in this unique fashion, but to also help transform community life. It’s the town square of the digital age.


Community radio gives citizens an opportunity to fill the voids left by the consolidation of radio station ownership among a handful of big media corporations. Some types of programming are simply not profitable, yet the people of a community still value them, and without community radio are left simply to yearn for them and mourn their loss.

KCMJ Volunteers get interviewed in the studio

OUR MISSION: KCMJ will inform, engage, entertain, and empower the citizens of our community. Our programming will meet community needs that are unmet by corporate media. We will explore issues in greater depth and with more respect for diverse perspectives. KCMJ will be extraordinarily inclusive and local. We’ll celebrate the best of our community and strive to improve the rest. We will be a voice for justice and a platform for the marginalized.

Community Radio Stations are owned, and driven by the communities they serve. No one can make money from Community Radio. In a community radio station, young and old, with all abilities, backgrounds, and interests, can come together to make a difference to their community.   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.


In 1949, Pacifica Foundation established the first community radio station in the United States. Since then, this vibrant media movement continues to spread throughout the world—from Western countries to remote third-world communities. The urge to do community radio fulfills the basic desire for communication and self-expression and is on the forefront of today’s democracy movements. Typically, two principal aims are achieved:

1. Cultural, political and artistic voices excluded elsewhere get heard.
2. Individuals and communities are enriched.

Community volunteers are trained and given a central role in radio production, operation and program development. Youths also get a chance to participate. Stations remain responsive to community needs and consistently seek input from listeners.

According to Wikipedia:

Community radio is a radio service offering a “third model” of radio broadcasting in addition to commercial and public broadcasting. Community stations serve geographic communities and communities of interest. They broadcast content that is popular and relevant to a local, specific audience but is often overlooked by commercial or mass-media broadcasters. Community radio stations are operated, owned, and influenced by the communities they serve. They are generally nonprofit and provide a mechanism for enabling individuals, groups, and communities to tell their own stories, to share experiences and, in a media-rich world, to become creators and contributors of media.

Benefits of Community Radio
Community radio is known for greatly improving a community’s quality of life. This claim is substantiated by research conducted by Dr. Richard Florida of Carnegie Mellon University.  In his book “Competing in the Age of Talent: Quality of Place and the New Economy” Florida explains how “quality of place” influences peoples’ choice to move to a particular community. Based on data collected on labor pools, environment, recreational opportunities, cultural amenities, and the economies of 35 metropolitan areas, Florida made the following conclusions:

– Communities perceived as being inclusive, supportive of diversity, and possessed of a climate of “cultural variety” attracted skilled, innovative workers more effectively.
– Communities encouraging diversity and participatory civic culture – and possessed of highly developed cultural and environmental amenities – enjoyed long-term success in retaining talent.
– Sociological and environmental factors are increasingly as important as – if not more important than – than economic factors in generating and sustaining regional health.

(Thanks to KHOI-FM for much of this)

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