How to Start a Football Radio Station

Starting a football radio station can help secure a bright future for your club. Follow in the footsteps of A.C. Milan, Chesterfield F.C & Hereford F.C, create your own and give your side an off-the-pitch boost.

Lucy Rowe

by Lucy Rowe in Production

Last updated 15.11.2022

How to start football radio station 2

Globally, thousands of fans aren't getting enough coverage of their football club. As football is the world's most popular sport, broadcasting rights are big bucks. But they are often a contentious issue. Many fans are left high and dry, not being able to access the games.

While the debate rages, there is a simple solution and a huge gap in the market. One that top flight and lower league clubs alike have found brings home many benefits. The simple solution is starting your own football radio station.

Follow in the footsteps of the likes of A.C. Milan, Chesterfield F.C. and Hereford F.C. and start your own football radio station with our guide.

3 Reasons to Start a Football Radio Station

1) To Nurture Your Fanbase

When times get tough, a football club needs its fans more than ever. In England and Wales, relegation from the Football League may spell an end to local radio coverage. If fans can't follow the games, figures can drop. And this can expedite a club's decline even more.

A crowd of football fans watching a game. A boy in the front of the image is standing up and celebrating.
A football radio station can keep fans interested, even in challenging times.

Hereford F.C (f.k.a. Hereford United F.C) proved that starting a football radio station helps maintain a fanbase. The club faced little external radio coverage when it re-entered the football pyramid, outside of the Football League. As a response, they created their own station, Radio Hereford FC. The station manager and commentator, Keith Hall, explained:

“Fan engagement was key if the club was to progress quickly and Radio Hereford F.C definitely helped both promote the club, plus it's off the field events, sponsorship and marketing initiatives etc.”

Hereford F.C. used Radio Hereford FC to hone in on fan engagement and keep supporters steady. The result? Hereford F.C. enjoyed three successive promotions after Radio Hereford FC was formed. And these successive promotions were only disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

2) To Make Games More Accessible

Visually impaired people make up a good chunk of football fans. According to Forbes, there are close to 2.2 million blind or partially sighted football fans in the UK. For them, audio descriptions of the game are crucial.

Yet sometimes, broadcasters don't do enough to to keep the game inclusive. The BBC even announced it was scrapping its classified football results from Radio 5 Live. This was a key way some visually impaired fans followed football.

A commentator, reporting on a live game from a broadcasting desk in a football stadium. The commentator and desk are overlooking the pitch.
Visually impaired fans rely on commentary & audio descriptions to help them follow games.

Some clubs, quite rightly, are doing more to improve access for this demographic. Many clubs offer audio descriptions at matches, but Current Serie A champions, A.C. Milan, go one step further.

Available on its app are twin radio stations. One provides the standard match commentary, the other offers a bespoke, detailed commentary for visually impaired fans.

3) To Bring in Cash for the Club

For clubs whose owners don't have deep pockets, starting a football radio station can bring some much needed cash. Cash that can help keep football clubs afloat.

Chesterfield F.C. was bought off its previous owners by the Chesterfield F.C. Community Trust in 2020. While transparency and the fans are now at the heart of Chesterfield F.C, it no longer has a major benefactor.

An 1866 Sport, commentator sat in the Spirelites stadium. The commentator has an open laptop and is wearing a microphone headset.
1866 Sport provides the trust-owned Chesterfield F.C. with extra revenue to keep running.

Nick Johnson, the Head of Media & Communications at Chesterfield FC, explains why they started their football radio station, 1866 Sport:

"Since the club was taken over by the community trust, it's very much a case of having to explore different revenue streams to keep the club going."

1866 Sport offers fans free match day commentary as well as exclusive interviews, club news and music. In return, they have advertising on the station. Advertising revenue funds the station, and profits are reinvested back in the club.

Football radio stations, like 1866 Sport, occupy a strong position when approaching potential advertisers. Dom Chambers, the head of the Community Media Association explains:

"A radio station is a way of communicating with a companies customers or potential customers. It has access to local audiences that a company is trying to sell a product or service to."

How To Start A Football Radio Station

Now you know the solid reasons to start a football radio station, the next stage is putting it in to action. Thankfully, we have some expert advice direct from the success stories.

Decide How Football Focused You'll Be

Nick Johnson says first and foremost decide if you'll be solely focused on football or will have a wider reach:

"Are you going to make it purely just about the club? Or you're going to broaden the interest? Or are you even going to make it a sort of general local station?"

Do your research and see if there's already a local station. Many independent, local stations have been bought up by big media brands. So there could be a demand for a truly local radio station, like Suffolk's Gen X Radio, that covers your club. When your club is a major talking point of your town, starting a football radio station will be well received by the local community.

An empty football pitch and empty stands on a sunny day.
Football radio stations have plenty of scope to cover things off-the-pitch as well.

Draw Up Your Club Partnership

If you don’t already work at your football club, decide on if you want to partner with them. There are advantages either way. Doing so can give your content an edge. Think match-day commentary, exclusive interviews and being the first to know club news.

A crest design that reads
Radio Hereford FC is very much an official part of Hereford F.C.

But partnering up with a club isn’t always an option. Especially for the bigger teams. Nonetheless, the likes of broadcasting channel, Arsenal Fan TV, shows there’s success to be had by not being affiliated with your club. Maintain your independence and give your hot takes without stepping on toes.

If do get in to bed with your club, make sure you're all on the same page as Keith Hall suggests:

"Set up a working codes and agreements with the football club detailing commitments, service limits, and codes of conduct etc.

Get Set Up

You can apply for a terrestrial licence from your licensing body like Ofcom, but these can be hard to attain and expensive. And then you'll need to sort a transmitter.

Alternatively, reach listeners far and wide and with no fuss, using online radio. A service like Radio.co, will host your radio station online and let people tune in over the internet.

A blue graphic design of the globe with connecting lines across different countries
Internet radio will let fans far away follow games with ease.

For the most straightforward of set-ups, with Radio.co all you need is a laptop and an internet connection. This is great to kick-start broadcasts from a set (indoors) location.

Football Radio Station Equipment

Depending on your ambitions, your radio station will need some carefully chosen gear. As Keith Hall warned us:

"Ensure the equipment you purchase is fit for purpose."

With that in mind, here's a list of what you'll need:

Essentials

  • A Radio.co account to host your station online so listeners can tune in.
  • A laptop with an internet connection.

For broadcasting outside, you may want some extra bits of gear to create the best broadcasts possible...

Equipment For Live Commentary

  • A microphone that will hone in on your voice, whilst cutting out wind noise. Radio Hereford FC recommend the audio-technica BPHS1 broadcast stereo headset as a great all-rounder. Other options are the Beyer-Dynamic DT 109 headset or the RODE Blimp microphone & windshield (for stationary broadcasting).
  • An audio interface like the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2, if your microphone needs its own power source and can't be connected directly to your laptop.
  • A power source to plug in your laptop and your audio interface.
  • Protection from the elements like a rainproof sheet.

Find Some Volunteers/Staff

If we were to draw a Venn diagram of football fans and people that broadcast, the crossover would be pretty big. Advertise your station on social media as well as job boards like Radio Today, and see the applications come in. While a mix of presenters, producers and engineers is ideal, all of these roles can be taught with some online tutorials or the Radio.co University.

If you want to head-hunt yourself, football Twitter is a great place to start to approach:

  • Students who are undertaking courses in sports journalism, broadcasting, or radio.
  • Fans of your club who have amateur or professional experience in match announcements and commentary.
  • People already making content about your club and who have built up their own audience.

When you have your team in place, you can build your schedule. Don't over-commit too early. Focus on your core shows to begin with, and build from there once the station is running smoothly.

Pair up With an Established Station

"Liaise with an established station to gain insight." - Keith Hall

Radio Hereford FC sought the Insight and advice from the already established station, Football Club United Manchester (FCUM), who gave them solid tips like what hosting service to use (spoiler/humble brag: it was us).

Build Your Audience

Listeners make or break a radio station. The good news is when you start a football radio station, your target audience is very clear. So you know who you want to be listening. Nick Johnson told Radio.co that having a strong social media following is a great jumping off point for a football radio station.

A crowd of football fans watching a game from a stand.
Build your listenership by creating useful or entertaining content for football fans.

While you're setting up your football radio station, produce quality content about your club for social platforms. The biggest leverage a club has is its own news. Reveal club news on your social media channels ahead of the press. Likewise, be sure to produce exclusive interviews with both management and your team.

Once your football radio station is set up, you can use these strategies on it as well to give it that edge. As Nick Johnson said:

"There's no radio station with better access when you've got your own in-house one."

Promote Your Football Radio Station

People need to hear about your football radio station. Outside of the season, or even on non-match days, try broadcasting from community events.

If you've partnered with the club, then ensure that social media posts are regularly linking to the station.

With Radio.co, you can have a web player, listen link or both added to your clubs website. This way you can capture some of the traffic from the clubs site and convert it into listeners.

A crowd shot of the Chesterfield FC fans, with a man and a woman smiling, waving their arms and looking towards the camera.
Keep your broadcasts professional to ensure fans of away teams tune in too.

Go Live

Once you're happy with your formation, it's time to take off the training wheels and go live. How your presenters conduct themselves on air will prove to be paramount to your listenership. Keith Hall recommends that you:

"Endeavour to provide a professional service at all times."

A lot of it is common sense. Being neutral commentators will earn you the respect of away fans, thus increasing your listenership. Keep the language PC and your station will be seen as family-friendly. And if you do want to secure a licence, having particular standards will only help.

Final Whistle

Starting a football radio station can be a win-win situation for many clubs. The fans benefit from increased coverage while the club can enjoy sustained interest, which is worth its weight in gold. If you'd like the broadcasting equivalent of a friendly, try our 7 day free trial today.

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