Things to know before you start

Knowing these 10 things can help manage your expectations as you start out


  1. It takes between two and four years from first conceiving the idea for a community station to signing a contract for a full license. A ‘one-year’ limited broadcasting licence is available almost immediately.
  2. Full Licenses are granted under strict conditions for 10 years by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland Full Licences are advertised for areas of the country where the BAI feels there are groups with the potential to operate a full licence successfully. The best way to prove that your group has that potential, is to successfully operate ‘one-year’ licences with full community ownership and in a sustainable manner.
  3. A community station is not-for-profit. There are no shareholders in a commercial sense and nobody makes any money from it. If you establish a cooperative, you will have shareholders, but they are stakeholders who expect to realise their return in programming and local development terms.
  4. Community radios are democratically owned and run by their communities with structures that reflect that ownership and participation by members of the community as volunteers in the creation of programming.
  5. Community stations come in all shapes and sizes; some broadcast 2 days a week, others every day of the year, some have an annual income of 30K and others 500K, some cover up to half a county, others a small town. They all make a difference.
  6. There are clear stages (a development ladder) in progressing to a full license including successfully operating a temporary license.
  7. Community Radio is very distinct from Local Commercial radio, providing access for rarely heard voices, diversity in programming including music, and acting as a means of community expression.
  8. No more than 50% of revenue can come from commercial sources. Community stations generate significant income from activities that address disadvantage and/or support community development, including training, programme making, and information provision.
  9. CRAOL – The Community Radio Network can provide vital support and resources to aspirant stations. Associate Membership is available for just 25 euros per annum.

Please click here to download a copy of the BAI Guide to Pilot Community Temporary Services and the the BAI temporary license application form from there website as well as a copy of Disability Access Guidelines For Community and Pilot Community Radio Services

Using the Development Ladder

The Development Ladder – a very handy tool

The CRAOL Development Ladder is a self assessment tool for groups aspiring to set up or who are currently running a community radio station.  The CRAOL Development Ladder helps with the daunting challenge of setting up a community Radio station by breaking it up in manageable chunks.

Each stage of the CRAOL Development Ladder sets out clear targets for aspirant groups  to achieve in progressing towards a full licence (Stages 1-4). These targets are provided as simple checklists in areas such as

  • Direction
  • Governance
  • Community ownership
  • Volunteers
  • Programming
  • Operations

Setting up working groups to meet the targets in different areas is a great way to focus board activity.  Create an initial steering group of approximately 7 persons to provide an overall driving body for the project, then have working groups of 2-4 people for work on each  the different areas of the Ladder.

CRAOL Resources are currently being developed and are available to all Associate Members to assist in achieving the milestones of each stage.

Stage 1 is Getting Going

Stage 2 is Proving Yourself – Ready to run a successful temporary Licence

Stage 3 is Ready to go for a Full licence/ Associate B CRAOL Membership

Stage 4 is Going on-air (fully licenced)

Each stage builds on the previous one and there are further stages for fully licenced stations.

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