Starting a New Station

So you want to start a station, that’s AWESOME. Here’s some information to get you started:

Available channel

First you must determine if there is an available frequency.  You can do this by using our simple channel finding tool. There are other tools available online that can help you find a frequency such as Rfree and MyLPFM.  If your results come up short,you might want to speak to a broadcast engineer to conduct a study of your geographic area to see what’s available.


If you have found an available channel, next you should check and see if your group is eligible to apply.  LPFM licenses are non-commercial so only non-profits, schools, churches, and public safety government organizations may apply.  For a full list of requirements, visit our Eligibility page.

Organizational Approval

Many of you will perhaps belong to non-profits or schools and therefore, you will most likely need to go through some process to get approval from your board and/or executive director.  We suggest you put LPFM on your monthly board meeting agenda NOW.  Once you get the green light, then you can proceed with planning. One thing you can work on now with your group is coming up with a mission and educational programming statement for your proposed station. This will need to be submitted with your FCC application, so make sure you think long and hard about what kind of station you wish to be.

Completing the Application

The FCC will open up a filing window from October 15, 2013 to October 29, 2013.  This is the period of time that you can submit an application (form 318) to apply for a low power FM radio station (LPFM).  There are two parts,  non-technical part and technical.  If you have a simple application, its possible you can compltete the application yourself.  However, most people living in urban areas or the nation’s top markets will require the assistance of skilled professionals in order to complete the engineering exhibit for a second adjacent waiver.  Here, a study will need to be completed which shows the FCC that there will be no interference issues with the frequency that you have selected for transmission in your application.  But don’t worry, there are many people, including us at Common Frequency, who are here to help!

Start-up Costs

Engineering and legal fees:
Study for application could cost $500-$3000

Studio equipment:
$5,000 is minimal, sky’s the limit!

Transmitting equipment

Recurring Costs

$200 to $5000 a month, again, sky’s the limit!   Its free if you already have a space or can  get one donated!

People power:
Many LPFM stations have 1-2 paid staff, a station manager and program director.  Also consider keeping a broadcast engineer on retainer for emergencies. The rest of the staff is usually comprised of volunteers.

Content licensing:
$600/year for on-air broadcast (SESAC, BMI, ASCAP)
Additional costs for webstreams (Soundexchange)

Equipment maintenance, office supplies, etc.

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