What’s the Difference Between Public Radio and Community Radio?
If you’re a regular radio listener – or even if you’re just curious about the world of media – you might have heard conversations about pubic radio vs. community radio.
You might assume that because “public” and “community” seem like relatively interchangeable terms, the two forms of radio are essentially the same. However, even though both of these radio types are part of the larger field of radio broadcasting, their differences outnumber their similarities.
Keep reading for a quick and simple lesson on public and community radio differences.
How are public radio and community radio the same?
There are definite similarities between public and community radio.
Both are considered to be a part of the non-commercial media sector. This means that they are not operated to generate a financial profit for owners. Rather, both community radio and public radio are provided solely as a beneficial service to a local community.
Another way that public radio and community radio are similar is that their stations can be low-power or full-power. Certain frequencies set aside by the FCC are specifically reserved for non-commercial, educational use only (NCE). NCE stations are authorized on frequencies ranging from 88.1 MHz to 91.9 MHz, and no commercial broadcasting is allowed on these frequencies.
How are public radio and community radio different?
There are three key differences between public radio and community radio:
- Types of programming
- Funding sources
Public radio stations generally present programming in particular formats, such as news/information, talk, or classical or jazz music. For public radio stations that are National Public Radio (NPR)-affiliated, programming may be sourced directly from NPR or other public radio networks.
Community radio stations usually have locally-oriented programming, which may be provided by local community members and/or volunteers. As a result, each community radio station tends to reflect the particular community it serves. This brings a considerable amount of variety to programming, covering a broad range of topics, including music, education, news, advocacy, talk, and culture.
Because a large majority of public radio stations are a part of the National Public Radio (NPR) system, each one is locally-owned and member-supported. Close to 10% of funding comes from federal funds that are designated for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
There is much more variation in the ownership and funding of community radio stations. These stations can be owned by groups of individuals, non-profits, colleges or universities, and city agencies. Their funding can be a combination of local government funding, with additional financial support from individuals, non-profit foundations, and many other organizations.
Pursue a Career in Radio Broadcasting
Both public and community radio and commercial radio serve as an invaluable source for information, education, entertainment, and so much more. Even as the medium of radio broadcasting evolves, expanding into online streaming and other fields, it remains an important part of our society.
If you’re considering getting a job in radio, there are so many different roles to consider. From hosting your own public radio show to working as an audio technician for a national network, you can choose a path that appeals to your interests and passions. And with new advancements changing the media industry every day, there’s always something new to learn and discover – so your career future is bright!
But before you can get started with a radio broadcasting job, you’ll need to build a solid foundation of education and experience. At the BeonAir Network of Media Schools, with campuses located in Miami, Chicago, Colorado, and Ohio, you can enroll in a media-centered training program that aligns with your unique goals. With options that include Radio & TV Broadcasting, Audio Production, and Digital Media Production, charting a path to your dream future is up to you.
Get more information about careers in radio when you contact our team today!
Image Source: wavebreakmedia / Shutterstock