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Starting a radio station in Canada

Starting a radio station in Canada can be a difficult task unless you have a business model and a comprehensive business plan, advertising venues, and a reliable source of financing. There are also licenses and permits to obtain and equipment to purchase.

Equipment and Software for Your Radio Station

You will need media devices and equipment such as CD players, mixers, microphones, antennas, and transmitters. The list of required equipment and software also includes automation and radio production software, programing and editing software, mixing consoles, digital recorders, broadcast mixing consoles, and anything else you can think of.

A Business Model

New business models for a radio station make use of multiple platforms and advanced technologies to reach wider audiences. Audience engagement is the main idea behind this. To this, more and more businesses use portable and mobile devices such as iPods, tablets, and cell phones. A business model of this type incorporates a number of components, including micro websites, podcasts, radio dial, cooperation with local media, and more. The goal is to collect revenue from multiple sources and streams though live events, promotions, and other means. An internet-based radio is also an option to make use of online platforms. Consider factors such as type of music for your playlist, genres, station format, and more.

A Business Plan

Once you have a clear idea of a successful business model for your radio, the next step is to think of a comprehensive business plan. This is one way to secure low-cost financing for your enterprise. A good business plan for your radio incorporates a number of components, including your financial and personnel plan, marketing plan, strategic analysis, overview of your company, executive summary, etc. Make sure you include a section on your target audience and sources of revenue (advertisements). A section that covers your strategic and market analysis will be of help as well. Include details such as competitive analysis, customer profile, industry analysis, and economic outlook. You may want to include additional details such as hours of operation, format (i.e. local news, music, interviews), and sources of content like live music, community bands, and audio files.

Sources of Financing

There are multiple sources of financing for a radio station business, depending on your capital requirements. The big Canadian banks, local banks, and credit unions offer both secured and unsecured loans ( Credit unions usually offer competitive rates of interest. Other sources of financing include non-traditional lenders such as peer to peer networks and angel investors. A good option to find low-cost financing is to apply with your local bank, especially if you are a regular customer and use other products or services. Customers with very good and spotless credit histories are usually offered preferential rates and terms ( Business owners that require additional financing also apply for business credit cards because they go with larger limits and additional perks. Another option is to apply for a line of credit that allows users to draw on multiple occasions ( Mortgage loans go with considerably lower interest rates because applicants are asked to offer collateral. This can be a valuable item or asset such as a vehicle, equipment, home, etc. This makes mortgages riskier compared to unsecured loans. There are also government-backed loans that are available to small businesses. The obvious benefit is the low interest rate. Low-cost financing is available under the Canada Small Business Financing Program and offered to existing businesses and start-ups. Only for-profit entities meet the criteria under the program.

Non-Profit Volunteer Run Community Radio Stations in Canada

Volunteer run community radio stations in Canada are non-profit organizations that produce content for local audiences.

Broadcasting and Programming

Community radio stations are required to offer diverse programming to serve local audiences. They focus on local news, music produced by new and local talents, and spoken word programming.

Community Stations

There are literally hundreds of stations across Canada, run by entities such as the Chase and District Community Radio Society, Aboriginal Multimedia Society, and Radio Malaspina Society. CHET-FM, for example, is run by the Chetwynd Communications Society as a community and campus radio. CHLY 101.7 FM is another station which is partially financed through membership and community donations. Owned and run by the Radio Malaspina Society, the radio features an eclectic format and serves several communities, including Gabriola Island, Ladysmith, Lantzville, and Nanaimo. CHLY 101.7 FM is currently a member of NCCRA and features a mix of genres, including electronic, folk, roots music, hip hop, alternative rock, reggae, jazz, and others. CKXL-FM is yet another community station based in Winnipeg which mainly features Manitoba-oriented content (about 80 percent). It is based at the Franco-Manitoban Cultural Centre and run as a French-language station.

Campus-Based Stations

Campus stations are run at a number of institutions across the country, among which the University of Victoria, University of British Columbia, and Vancouver Island University, among others. CJJJ-FM, for example, is based in Brandon, Manitoba and owned by the Assiniboine Campus-Community Radio Society. The station features a mix of different genres, among which Christian music, punk, heavy metal, worldbeat, classical, folk, and jazz. Based in Fredericton, CHSR-FM is a campus radio with members enrolled at the St. Thomas University and the University of New Brunswick. It is owned by the CHSR Broadcasting Inc. and features podcasts and spoken word and music programming. The station also features a mix of different genres, from traditional and contemporary music to psychedelic music, punk, metal, and a lot more. Content also includes themes and topics such as poetry, filmmaking, fiction, art, reviews, readings and lectures, and interviews. There are shows that focus on current history and weather, contemporary music, and current events. Other shows focus on women's issues, reports, breaking environmental news, native news and issues, health issues, and a lot more. CHMR-FM is another campus station based at the Memorial University of Newfoundland which was first on air back in 1987. It has a community and campus format and features Indi news, campus roundups, music, and a lot more. The radio also features guest speakers, including writers, astronauts, engineers, and scientists who talk about the solar system and universe in general. There are shows focusing on women's issues, environmental news, political personalities, and others. From entertainment and music news to interviews, current affairs, podcasts, and shows, there is something for everyone. Another campus radio station, CKDJ-FM is based at the Algonquin College in Ottawa and run as a low-power station. It features morning marsh-ups, political shows, sports, music, and a lot more. There are also stations based in Ottawa, London, Hamilton, Thunder Bay, Quebec City, Prince George, and elsewhere in Canada.

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