How to Start a Radio Station in Nigeria
Man can hardly stay and relate with his immediate environment without satisfying the need to pass information. The process of passing information from one person to another is known as communication and it is an essential part of our society. Imagine having a person close to you and you cannot pass any information to the person, or you are in need of a certain commodity and you go to the market but cannot communicate with the seller. Life will be boring, unproductive and practically not worth living. In the bid to satisfy the need to pass information from one person to the other, it was conceived in the hearts of some inventors to develop a way by which the same piece of information could be passed through the airwaves to several people at the same time. This is necessary to ensure that people in different places could get information without it being adulterated. This brought about the invention of the radio as we know it.
In 1898 the first commercial radio service was instituted by a 24 year old Italian, Guglielmo Marconi, and he probably never dreamed that the venture will become as big as it is right now. But due to technological advancement and continuous research, radio has become an invention of repute that has taken our world by storm. You hardly find a house where there is no radio presently, in fact most of our mobile phones come with inbuilt radios, that is how important radio has become. Our radios will probably be unimportant if there are no radio stations working very hard to pass important information or providing us much needed entertainment over the airwaves. This article will focus on how you can start your own radio station.
A brief history of radio in Nigeria
Looking back to when radio broadcasting started in Nigeria, it can be traced all the way to 1933 when the first Radio Distribution Service (RDS) was established in Lagos. The RDS was then under the control of the department of post and telegraphs and it was basically a tool whose function was to act as a reception base for the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). Just about two years down the line, precisely 1935, the RDS was renamed to Radio Diffusion System though it still carried out the same functions as it carried out from inception. During the Second World War which took place from 1939 to 1945, the RDS served as a broadcasting unit, providing listeners with necessary information during the period.
1939 saw the establishment of another radio station in the country, this is just six years after the RDS was established. This new station was known as the Ibadan Station. Both radio systems ran till the year 1950 which saw a revolution in the radio broadcasting sector of Nigeria. The year 1950 saw the establishment of the Nigerian Broadcasting System (NBS) and this gave birth to a more improved and functional radio system in the country. The activities of the NBS spanned through different cities in the country, Ibadan, Enugu, Kano, Kaduna and Lagos.
By 1956, through the provision of the bill of the House of Representatives, the first broadcasting corporation in Nigeria was birthed. This process gave birth to the highly esteemed Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) many years later. The first external radio service owned by Nigeria was established in the early 1990s and it is known as Voice of Nigeria. All of these gave birth to all the radio stations we have in Nigeria today and there still more yet unborn.
Tips on starting your own radio station
Do not be deceived that starting a radio station is an unprofitable venture to invest in, that will be about one of the greatest deceptions of the century. Firstly radio is very popular, especially in countries where free expression is not totally allowed, where technological equipment are quite expensive and where illiteracy abounds in great measure. One of the best ways to market a business is the use of radio stations, and this is why. Most mobile phones come with inbuilt radios which six out of every ten phone owners get to use at least once a week. Cars come with inbuilt radios which most car owners use consciously or unconsciously. Radios have a very wide reach as radio waves even get to the villages where television signals are not found.
My guess is that you are beginning to see starting your radio station as a juicy business investment, if you are then you should read the next few paragraphs. They will provide you with important tips on how you can start your own radio business.
- Feasibility study and business plan. Before starting out any business, running a feasibility study is key, this is because the feasibility study will provide you necessary information about the business before you dive in head long. It is advisable to get information about the conditions to satisfy before commencing operations, the kind of equipment you need, where to site the station, the kind of staff to employ, the different departments, what the people want to listen to, the capital needed, etc. This information will guide your choices as to which aspect of radio broadcasting you want to focus on and how you plan on raising capital to begin your station. Your feasibility studies will help you in developing your business plan and please do not make the mistake of saying a business plan is not necessary. For every business, a business plan is very important, it might be all inclusive or it might just be a summary, whichever way work out a simple plan for your business to thrive.
- Make a decision on your broadcast format. Your broadcast format as a radio station is what states the kind of content you will put out to the general public. In plain English, the radio broadcast format is simply what your radio station will focus on when on air. Different radio stations focus on different key content such as sports, music, news, business, etc. These formats are majorly seen as a marketing tool and are mostly subject to change or modification depending on the prevalent situations. Your broadcast format will determine to a large extent the kind of staff you will employ, the kind of equipment you will purchase, the bandwidth on which you will run the station and so on.
- Get the right space for your operations. In reality it is possible to run a radio station from a single room, but it is wise to use a demarcated apartment for orderliness and decorum sake. For an ideal radio station you have sections for the following:
- A broadcasting studio that is spacious and airy enough equipped with two or three chairs, walls fitted with acoustics to prevent noise, and microphones.
- A transmitter room possessing all the equipment that are needed for transmission
- An editing/recording room equipped with computers and recorders as well as microphones
- One or two offices, equipped enough to perform the necessary administrative duties
- A comfortable waiting room for guests
- Equip your studio. This is the next most important step because the kind of equipment you get will determine to a large extent the quality of production of your radio station. You can decide to get the equipment yourself, that is if you are tech savvy and have knowhow with respect to radio station equipment. If not, it is advised that you seek the help of a professional in carrying out this task. You can simply follow the list below and add any others you think are important:
- Audio Sources: These are the 8-tracks, tape decks, turntables, microphones, CD Players, and MP3 players, etc. Practically any device used to play music in the last three decades should work, so long as you are able to plug it into a mixer. It is best however to aim for equipment of top quality as much as you can.
- Mixing Equipment & Filters: The secret you may like to know is to how to keep that signal clean. You should note that even if your voice sounds great in the studio and you like it so much, it may not sound the same way over the airwaves. This is the reason why mixing equipment are needed. To get the best sound over the airwaves it is best to employ a combination of mixers, filters, limiters, and compressors. There are several equipment on the market and it can be a herculean task to pick out the best equipment to suit the purposes of top quality and money saving so you have to do a lot of research.
- Transmission equipment. This is the life wire of the whole process as it is what modulates your broadcasts over the frequency you have chosen. For best results you should choose a transmitter equipped with a Variable Frequency Oscillator (VFO). The major advantage of this is that you have the option of moving your broadcast to any frequency supported by the transmitter.
- Support equipment and materials. There are several other equipment you will need like computer systems, amplifiers, cables, chairs and tables, etc. Ensure you find out which apply to the radio station and equip your station as much as you can.
- Get an open frequency. This task might sound easy but in reality it is not. You will need to make some research to find a frequency that is free for you to broadcast. The challenge is if you hit the wrong frequencies you might end up overlapping on some other stations frequency or even on television or air traffic control frequencies. If you plan to work with AM bandwidth then you have to fall between 540 kHz to 1700 kHz, and for FM bandwidth, 88.1 MHz to 107.9 MHz.
- Employ qualified personnel. The kind of personnel you employ will determine to a large extent the quality of your broadcasts as well as the management of the affairs of your radio station. It is important that you employ people in line with the kind of broadcasts you want to run. You should also consider the kind of equipment you have purchased and employ those who have some level of skill in operating those equipment.
- Acquire broadcast permit. You should ensure you register with the appropriate bodies and acquire the necessary permits to avoid unwanted embarrassments. You should also be registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission as well.
- Test run your broadcasts. Once all is set in place then you are ready to begin broadcasting. However before pushing out your broadcasts and making you station public, you should firstly run a check to be sure you have got everything right. When you get it all right in the studio, get a radio and drive around town checking your prescribed frequency and be sure you are not overlapping on other radio stations. If this is achieved then you are set to go public and start making money from your investment.
One of the major things you must consider is how to make your station popular, especially among the youth because the more popular you are, the more patronage you will get. Use all the means possible, organize events, use social media, run roadshows, etc. The best way to profit from any business is proper management and tenaciousness. Go and make some money.
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