What makes a radio station community?

The best way to answer this question may be through the words of AMARC members:

Community radio, rural radio, cooperative radio, participatory radio, free radio, alternative, popular, educational … If the radio stations, networks and production groups that make up the World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters refer to themselves through From a variety of names, their practices and profiles are even more varied. Some are musical, some are militants, and some are musical and militants. They are located both in isolated rural areas and in the heart of the world’s largest cities. Its signals can be reached either within a radius of one kilometer, in the entire territory of a country or in other parts of the world via short wave.

Some stations belong to non-profit organizations or cooperatives whose members make up their own audience. Others belong to students, universities, municipalities, churches or unions. There are radio stations financed by donations from their audience, by international development agencies, through advertising and by governments.

“Waves for freedom”. Report of the sixth world meeting of community radio stations. Dakar, Senegal, January 23-29, 1995.

When a radio promotes the participation of citizens and defends their interests; when he responds to the tastes of the majority and makes good humor and hope his first proposal; when you truthfully report; when it helps to solve the thousand and one problems of daily life; when in their programs all ideas are debated and all opinions are respected; when cultural diversity is encouraged and not commercial homogenization; when the woman stars in the communication and it is not a simple decorative voice or an advertising claim; when no dictatorship is tolerated, not even the musical one imposed by the record labels; When everyone’s word flies without discrimination or censorship, that is community radio.

Stations that are so called do not submit to the logic of money or propaganda. Its purpose is different, its best energies are put at the service of civil society. A service, of course, highly political: it is a matter of influencing public opinion, of non-conformity, of creating consensus, of expanding democracy. In short – and therefore the name – to build community.

“Urgent Manual for Passionate Radialists”, José Ignacio López Vigil. 1997

Historically, the philosophy of community radio is to allow those who have no voice to express themselves, to serve as a spokesperson for the oppressed (be it a racist, sexist or social class oppression) and, in general, to offer a tool for development.


Community radio is defined from three aspects that characterize it: it is a non-profit activity, the community has control over the property and is characterized by community participation.


It is necessary to be clear that the objective of community radio is not to do something for the community, but rather to give the community an opportunity to do something for itself, such as having control from your own media.

“What is Community Radio”, AMARC Africa y Panos Africa Austral. 1998

There are approximately 1,000 radios in Latin America that can be considered community, educational, popular, or citizen. They are identified by their political objectives of social transformation, in search of a just system, with the observance of human rights, with access and participation of the majority in power. They are also recognized for not having profit. This does not prevent them from growing, trying to enter the market.


Community and citizen radio is defined by the community of shared interests it represents and by the political-cultural, communicational and business objectives consistent with those same interests.


Community and citizen radio incorporates new languages, new formats, other sounds, music, and voices. They are other ways of speaking, new deals with listeners, ways of asking and responding, ways of demanding, of petitioning the authorities.

“Management of community and citizen radio”, Claudia Villamayor and Ernesto Lamas. AMARC and Friedrich Ebert Stiftung. 1998

Community radio has become, over the years, an indispensable tool for the development of communities. People can recognize, identify and also communicate with each other.

Community radio is a cultural diffuser perfectly adapted to the context of Canadian Francophony. Their waves reflect the cultural reality: songs, music, writing, of the French-speaking population they serve. Community radios are the best banners of our culture.


Each community radio has its key well modulated with the image of those who listen to it. What is important is the search for difference.

Community radio is a factor of approach, a bridge, a step towards the other, not so that the other becomes what we are not, but so that he can be what he is. It is not about having more, but about being, that is the true mission of community radio in Canada. Isn’t the deepest sense of culture to make people aware of the greatness that exists in them?

Alliance des radios communautaires du Canada, ARC. Canada

Stations that exercise broadcasting as a service to the community and communication as a right of all people.

They seek to build a common path to support and strengthen the communication of our people.

Radio stations that recognize themselves as an integral part of the community in which they participate. And as a medium they develop a pluralistic and participative communication, open to the need for expression of the social and cultural sectors with less possibility of access to the media for exclusively commercial purposes.

That they exercise the right to communication and, especially, the right to information.

That they carry out the broadcasting as a service and not as a simple commercial-profit activity.

Argentine Federation of Community Radios, FARCO. Argentina.

In the commercially dominated media system, community radio means radio in the community, for the community, about the community, and by the community. There is broad participation of regular community members in the management and production of programs. This participation of community members distinguishes them from the commercial dominated environment in the Philippines, which are operated by profit, propaganda, power, politics, privileges, etc. Serving the people, the public, is rather a position primarily to justify the existence in the government bureaucracy of licensing procedures.


Stations operated collectively by people in the community.
Stations dedicated to the development, education and empowerment of people.
Stations that adhere to the principles of democracy and participation.

TAMBULI – Communication Project. Philippines

Free, independent, secular radios, devoted to human rights and attentive to the environment.

They are plural and pluralistic.

They refuse commercial communication.They scrupulously respect journalistic deontology and broaden the cultural scope by allowing the widest expression of artists and their listening channel.

They have an associative status, a democratic functioning and financing consistent with the fact that they are not for profit.

They are in solidarity with each other and constitute working communities that allow each one to fulfill their mission.

Charte de la Confédération Nationale des Radios Libres, CNRL. France

First, community radio is characterized by the active participation of the community in the processes of creating news, information, entertainment and culturally relevant material, and this with an emphasis on local issues and concerns. With training, local producers can create programs using their local voices. The community can also participate in the management of the station and comment on the programming and content of the programs.

Second, it is essential that it be a non-profit company. In these days of high commercialization of radio broadcasting, the character of community radio is its independence and responsibility in serving the community, not the advertiser. Since the station is owned by the community, some responsibility is maintained in managing the station.

Third, community radio programming is designated by the community to improve social conditions and the quality of its cultural life. The community itself decides what its priorities and needs are in terms of the provision of information.