Audience Dialogue

Participative Marketing for Local Radio, Chapter 9
Selling programs and airtime: sections 2-3

9.2 Access to airtime

This activity, also known as access radio, involves hiring out your studio to another organization, and letting it produce a program from our studio.  This is similar to having an NGO sponsor programs and allowing it some influence on the content. The main difference is that your people make the sponsored programs - but people not associated with your station make the access programs - perhaps with help from your technical staff.

In some countries the broadcasting laws don't allow this, and a station is legally liable for what the access people say on air. However, this is an excellent way of encouraging "aspirant broadcasters" - groups of people who'd like to set up their own station one day, but would like to practise at it first. In Adelaide (where I live) the oldest community station, 5UV, has often allowed these aspirant broadcasters to use its facilities. For this, it makes a small charge, enough to cover expenses.

If you sublet airtime to other groups, you need to discuss the arrangements for advertising or sponsorship announcements. If the other group finds an advertiser, or if your station already has advertisers in that time slot: who will produce the commercials? Who will get the revenue (or how will it be shared)? Early discussions will prevent later conflict.

9.3  Facility hire

This is similar to access radio, except that no programs are broadcast. For example, you might hire your spare studio to a local band so that they can record a tape or CD. This is charged by the hour: they usually hire the studio plus a technical operator.

Though facility hire usually involves studios, anything else that a radio station has can also be hired out. Do you have a very popular presenter? If so, he (or she) could be hired out as an announcer at weddings and private events. If you include the necessary equipment in the hire, and perhaps an operator, there's less incentive for the presenter to make a private deal with the event's organizers.

What else do you have that you can hire out? A large studio, suitable for meetings? Computers? Skilled technicians who can fix other people's computers?

As a radio station usually has better communications facilities than most other local organizations, you may be able to charge for the use of fax machines or internet access.

Whatever you hire out, it's best if you can form a continuing relationship with the people who hire your facilities. Charging rip-off prices may succeed - but only once. Because your station has to live in your community, and the people hiring your facilities are likely to share some interest in radio, they may end up being contributors to your programs.

The principle of participative marketing is that "one and one make three." In other words, by close communication with people in their various roles, it's often possible to create unexpected mutual benefits.

The last section of chapter 11, on Telecentres, extends the concept of facility hire, by extending the concept of a local radio station into a local communications centre.


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