In 2010 a few friends and I decided to start up a community radio station. This adventure takes places in a rural area involving about 35.000 people. The only media was a local newspaper. Since 2012 the radio is up and running; it resides in a 80 square meters building, it counts 100 members, 40 animators and is ran by a core team of 10 people.

This is what I learnt from this adventure:

  • Do not underestimate the power of a good promotion video. This was our video (sorry, it’s in French); we interviewed people in the street and got footage of the most famous local places so that people could relate.

  • Do not underestimate the power of a good website. It has to be active! Keep posting new content, cherish your visitors and your community. And offer interesting content, show your aliveness.
  • Do not underestimate the power of on-the-field presence, talking to people, asking questions, writing down people’s answers, etc.
  • Do not underestimate the power of a dream. If you can make people dream, you’re on the right path.
  • Setup the right collaborative tools.

These are the mistakes I have made during the journey:

  • Not being well prepared for a public presentation
  • Not being realistic about my team’s capabilities
  • Not properly training the team members to use the tools I had setup
  • Not planning finances accordingly to the project’s needs

Model for the genesis of a project

First, the promotion video. You need to create a brilliant promotion video. Make it fun. Make it local. Imagine it so that people can relate. Make them dream. Make them feel it already exists.

Second, make a lot of publicity about an event. It could be anything. We organised a public meeting at the town hall but it could be the opening of a gallery, a live music evening, a corporate event, etc. During the event, project your promotion video. Then step up on the stage and talk. This is when you give out your message. Either “Sign-up now” or “We’re almost there, we just need your participation”.

Third, maintain your presence in the digital world as well as the real world. You must be at the center of culture, at the center of business, at the center of attention! People must be talking about you. You must become an active member of the community,

Fourth, know how to create the need. You must elicit within people the idea that they need you. When people come to you, know how to receive them. Have your pitch ready. Have your business cards ready. Have a starting pack, a free sample, whatever it is. Do not let them leave without a gift from you. They have a foot in the door, now you want them to step inside.

Finally, diversify your offer in accordance to people’s needs. Always listen and record people’s reaction to your service and/or products.

Case study – Starting up a community radio station