Community Radio Sustainability

How to turn voices into community change

In our first course 40 participants from 20 countries signed up for this online, 7-module course on how to create, improve and sustain empowerment focused community radios. With weekly training packages including rich texts, audios, additional tools and methodologies, and cases, the participants engaged in in-depth online discussions of the variety of issues important for sustainable community radios
. The course is based on Birgitte Jallov’s new book: ‘EMPOWERMENT RADIO – Voices building a community‘. See the full description of the course below.
EMPOWERHOUSE offers on-line courses like the one above – as well as on-site training in the important aspects needed to create – or improve – an ’empowerment radio’: a sustainable community radio owned, managed, produced, maintained and listened to by the community – for change.

      How to turn voices into community change

A thorough step-by-step introduction to creation of sustainable community radio for empowerment

An EMPOWERHOUSE 7-week course by Birgitte Jallov

Are you asking yourself how to ensure effective ownership and sustainability for Community Radio? Then this course is made for you! It is the first online, digital course on ‘How to turn voices into community change’, answering your questions and providing practical hands on directions and tools for action.
The objective of ‘How to turn voices into community change’ is to take you through the clarification process step by step, so that the framework for a sustainable community radio becomes straightforward and easy to implement.

Participants who took part in the course among others say:

This course is bringing a good and strong message to those who are working with CRs and want it to be truly owned by the community. This course presents solutions – is a guide and a road map for sustainable CR.
The ever present moderator online made me feel that there is someone listening on the other end. The topics we worked with in the on-line course are of paramount importance to me in my work with CR.
The course was educative and it was a wake-up call for some of us who are managing CR for the first time. Especially the rich detail on how to generate sustainability, I have already started to apply in our radio.
To me the most exciting was to be presented with the experiences from all over the world shared in this course – and the ongoing clarifications given by the trainer on any and all issues related to managing a community radio!

The course builds on the EMPOWERHOUSE book: “Empowerment Radio – Voices building a community”.

Reviewers have among others said about the book:

 “In Empowerment Radio, Jallov not only shows the benefits and potential of community radio, she describes how to develop and sustain community radio, and examples are given of how communities are changed as a result of having a community radio station.
The book is very readable and interesting!”

Martha L. Allen, Director, Women’s Institute for Freedom of the Press, USA

“If you want to read only one book on sustainability of community radio, this is the one to read, and as a community radio practitioner in Nepal I have recommended it to my colleagues all over the Asia region: you really need to read and use this remarkable book.”
Raghu Mainali, Coordinator, Community Radio Support Centre, Nepal Forum of Environmental Journalists, Recipient of the IPDC UNESCO prize for Rural Communication

“..a ‘must read’… important because it documents the crucial importance of community radio in processes of people’s development as empowerment.”
Cees Hamelink, Professor Emeritus University of Amsterdam, Netherlands
“… This text is extremely critical to transforming community voices into sustainable empowerment radio for a first timer or a well-seasoned CR collective or individual..“
Patrick Prendergast, Lecturer in C4D, MONA, Jamaica
“…This book is the first of its kind …and a very, very rich resource… with a lot of insights from someone “who was actually there”… An important book for ComDev practitioners and students!”
Linje Manyozo, National Aids Commission, Malawi
“Birgitte Jallov’s book reveals a practitioner’s vast experience, thoroughly rooted in theoretical reflection and fed by the energizing enthusiasm of an aficionado.  Based on her rich hands-on-experience, she provides examples illustrating processes of preparation, establishment, and building of long-term sustainability and empowerment, as well as the provision of an enabling environment.”
Sofie Jannusch, CAMECO
 Full reviews of the book here:
This 7-week and 7-module digital training course is relevant for you, who:
Facilitate and support the community radio in your community, and could use some inspiration from other communities elsewhere;
Are working in a community radio network, assisting a number of community radios with a multitude of challenges in the everyday, and sometimes looking for experience from other radios in similar situations
Works with community radio stations and could use a set of diagnostic tools to support existing station in a needed transformation to generate impact and empowerment;
Needs support to identify the kind of community radio to support, needing clear ideas on how to design the process to ensure community ownership, what it will take, what to consider and how it may be possible to address these areas step by step along the way;
Are responsible for planning at national level, seeing how community radio can support the empowerment of communities and spur democratic cultures that you want so much;
• Work in an International organisation or an Embassy, needing clarity to define policies and priorities, with good use for a tool in the scanning of proposals and applications.
Are a University student, interested in getting a framework for understanding how community radio can become a tool for change and empowerment, and could use a very practical approach to complement the University’s more theoretic entry points.
• Are a Consultant or other professional interested in effective development in general and Communication for Development specifically, interested and in search of (one of) the missing link(s) between development ‘investments’ and development results.
In all of these cases ‘How to turn voices into community change’ will provide you with tools to analyse challenges and find solutions to them, one by one through a systematic and practical learning process where you gain insights, understanding and the tools you need in all important areas from

  • Assessing the feasibility of a community radio in your community,
  • How to mobilise and map the community,
  • How to organise around community visions for a better future,
  • How to organise and manage the running of the radio,
  • How to build capacity – in an ongoing manner,
  • How to develop appropriate programme formats and content, and how to deal with critical issues for the community,
  • How to get the equipment in place,
  • How to develop a strategic plan,
  • How to build partnerships,
  • How to plan, carry out and use research and impact assessment,
  • How community radio can be strengthened by using the internet and social media, and finally:
  • How to work effectively with funders, legislators and (national) community radio networks.

All of these elements make up the foundation of a sustainable community radio, and can be used (i) to inspire creation of a new radio station, (ii) in the diagnosis of an existing station, or (iii) form the basis for community radio policy at national and international levels.

With your own dedicated trainer and coach

The trainer of this course is Birgitte Jallov, the author of ‘EMPOWERMENT RADIO’ and initiator of EMPOWERHOUSE.

People who have worked with Birgitte Jallov say:

“I warmly recommend Birgitte’s services, advice and support in the area of community radio. Birgitte brings a number of special and unique qualities with her as an adviser: Her energy and enthusiasm – very empowering to all who work with her, not least because it is backed with years of valuable technical and organisational experience. We always knew that when Birgitte came, the work was in safe hands. Birgitte’s tremendous energy infused the project for months afterwards, inspiring everyone involved.”
Sarah Ransom, Programme Analyst, UNDP Lao PDR

“At the 2011 Ørecomm Festival Birgitte delivered a highly competent, energetic, inspiring, and very interesting presentation. It combined her long-standing and authoritative experience with community media, with the emerging agendas posed by the dynamic developments with internet and social media in her presentation, ‘How Can the Internet and Social Media Contribute to Community Communication for Empowerment?’ I am glad to see Birgitte pull together her vast experience and putting it into her EMPOWERHOUSE initiative!”
Thomas Tufte, Professor, University of Roskilde, Denmark

“I have known Birgitte Jallov as a prime mover in community radio since the early 1980s when European activists in the field began to join forces. She was a significant voice in AMARC from its beginning and after her work for UNESCO in Mozambique I invited her to speak on sustainable radio in development where her lecture made a deep impression. Her book is important and timely and there is no one better qualified to write it.”
Dr. Peter M. Lewis, Senior Lecturer in Community Media, London Metropolitan University, UK
For more testimonies and recommendations, look here:

Through the course ‘How to turn voices into community change’, Birgitte will be your guide on how to:

Design a community radio in active collaboration with a community, for it to become a powerful community development and empowerment dynamo.
• Prioritize and systematize the way forward – step-by-step.
• Transform a community radio, which does not effectively engage the community, into a community-owned, dynamic tool for the community’s work towards a better tomorrow.
But the first step in the process is to decide to join this digital, online training process, putting you in a position to effectively deal with the many issues it takes to plan – or assist – a community radio to engage the community and generate powerful community impact.

How is the course organized? What will I get?
Birgitte Jallov, will be your trainer and discussion moderator all through the 7-module course. Participation in ‘How to turn voices into community change’ will provide you with:

  • 7 well prepared modules including
    • audio presentations on the many issues to deal with – a total of about 1 hour;
    • models and tools to use when implementing the issues at hand;
  • module by module you will get the relevant chapters from the book: “Empowerment Radio – Voices building a community”. In the end you will have the full book;
  • access to a moderated online forum, setting the stage for questions and answers as well as debate between the participants to discuss the issues raised, and to mutually further exchange ideas, challenges, dreams and solutions. This forum is moderated by Birgitte Jallov.

BONUS: by the end of the course, participants will be transferred to the EMPOWERHOUSE online membership club: EMPOWER FORUM, where you can continue the discussion, sharing and learning until the end of the yearfor free!


A membership in Empower Forum will be like having a virtual coach available. Empower Forum will be of immediate benefit for the many specific target groups interested in the kind of sustainable community radio, aimed at generating community development and empowerment. Through a membership subscription community radio stations, community radio networks, facilitators of community radio, funders, partners and policy makers take part in the moderated discussions. Furthermore radios, networks and individuals will have an opportunity to find future partners for inspiration, support, exchange and collaboration. Based on monthly themes presented to the members and moderated discussion the EMPOWER FORUM will be an informal platform for learning and sharing.”

Courses will take place as agreed, where each of the 7 modules will be available for download weekly.  You can download the audio presentations and stories, the chapters and the models referred to in the audio. These models and tool are partly from the book, partly additional tools for your practical use.

What will I concretely learn?

Each module will provide you with a specific set of learning points outlined at the end of this presentation, and it will be available when you register.
In general ‘How to turn voices into community change’ will provide you with insights, understanding and tools to:
Develop community ownership in and around the community radio through community mapping, mobilisation and organisation;
• Organise, structure and manage a participatory development and empowerment radio;
Mobilise and organise community volunteer broadcasters,
• Identify the technical configuration you need and how to manage this in the community;
• Identify the important issues and priority themes in the community and develop skills to turn these into effective radio programmes,
Address sustainability issues and develop partnerships with the relevant stakeholders.
And in the process you get numerous concrete stories and examples of how different community radios in different parts of the world have dealt with the issues that you are tackling yourself.
Contact Birgitte Jallov at for information about the next course start!

What do I need to know or do, to take part in the course?

Are you wondering whether this course is for you or not? Well, if you work with community radio in one or more of the ways mentioned above, you are qualified to take part in the webinar series. If you simply listen in once a week, you will get a lot of practical knowledge about what it takes to run a community radio and make it sustainable, and you will have heard how radios in different parts of the world have done this. The more time you invest in reading the materials sent, using the forms and models on the radio(s) you are maybe working with, the more benefits you will naturally reap, including spending time in the online forum, to which participants have access, and where questions for discussions will be opened, concrete implementation of the issues discussed in the past module and be further delved into and where you can share your own experience. If you have never worked with community radio but are curious and interested, you will learn a lot also from these discussions – and who knows: you may well join in anyway!
Besides from this the training modules operate in English only and you will, of course, need to have access to the internet. As it is a digital course, you can download it at your convenience: when you have access.
Do you still have questions that are not answered you are welcome to write to your trainer, Birgitte Jallov, here:


The contents and learning points of the course are the following:


Module 1:
Community radio (CR) for development and empowerment – a world movement for action and change
In this module we will cover:
Introduction to the full framework of the 7-week training process
• The characteristics of Community Radio
• The history and evolution of CR
• Potential of CR and generic phases of CR development
In this module you will learn:
• How to distinguish between the many different types of radio, with different characteristics and potentials;
• Positioning community radio within the broader framework of Communication for Development
• The steps needed to create a sustainable community radio for empowerment and change.
Module 2:
Community ownership of your radio: The community organises and creates the basis for sustainability
In this module we will cover:
• What sustainability is made up by in a community radio
• The importance of community involvement and how to generate this
• The importance of community ownership and what it can bring to a community
In this module you will learn:
• How to build sustainability into the basics of a community radio including:
– Social sustainability
– Organisational sustainability
– Financial sustainability
• How to assess sustainability in an existing community radio
• How to ensure community ownership – tools and processes available for this including a 3-step process
Module 3:
The Community Radio Takes Shape
How to get the CR organised and the capacity of community broadcasters in place?

In this module we will cover:
• How to get from the dream and the community vision to implementation
• How to effective let the community structure the organisation and how to ensure effective (community) management
• How to build capacity in a community radio.
In this module you will learn:
• Plans and processes to organise the radio with maximum involvement and for continued community control and benefit – including tools and forms to use in the everyday
• How to mobilise and organise a large number of volunteers and build the required engagement and capacity
• A variety of forms of capacity building that can be used, their strengths and weaknesses and how to build a training policy
Module 4:
The programme content and format production – Critical issues in Community radio programming
In this module we will cover:
• Thematic editorial groups – at the heart of the CR becoming a tool for empowerment
• Organisation and production routines
• Establishing the weekly programme format
• The importance of local language
• Strategic framework, editorial groups and the (weekly) production cycle
• Cross-cutting issues most CRs will cover:
• CR and elections
• CR and Women
• CR and human rights
• CR in conflict and peace building
• CR, stigma and taboos
BONUS: Technical aspects of community radio:
• What makes a sound and sustainable technical configuration
• Technical policy
• Recommended steps for technical capacity building
In this module you will learn:
• How to identify programming needs of the community and organise editorial groups effectively around it
• How to prepare the weekly programme schedule including all relevant languages: what to consider, how to organise
• Inspiration on how to deal with cross cutting issues that most CRs will want to cover
Module 5:
The Strategic Plan and Partnership Strategy
In this module we will cover:
• Why is a strategic plan needed – and how to develop it with participation & community learning?
• What should a strategic plan include?
• Need for partnerships to attain sustainability
• What is a partnership, a partner, and a partnership strategy?
• What should be included in a partnership strategy?
In this module you will learn:
• How to develop a strategic plan?
• How to identify the station’s strategic direction and carry out the strategic analysis, which will lead to the strategic programming?
• How a partnership strategy is developed and implemented
Module 6:
Community-based research – monitoring and impact assessment, along with:
Converging technologies – CR, internet and social media

In this module we cover:
• The importance and methodologies of community based research including monitoring and impact assessment
• Impact assessment to feedback results to the producers, the community and the radio’s partners
• The ‘old-fashioned radio’ moves on: convergence and strengthening of community radio through ICTs
In this module you will learn:
• Why research and documentation is important – also in a community radio
• How to organise the team to do research in the everyday, including Information & communication needs assessment; monitoring & feed-back; Listener groups; Impact assessment; Most significant change; barefoot impact assessment
• How internet and social media have impacted on community radio and some of the ways to use it in a community radio for empowerment
Module 7:
Where support is needed: the enablers and facilitators
In this module we will cover:
• The national enabling environment: elements and function – what can be done?
• Role of facilitators and inverting top-down support
• Joining hands makes you stronger: working in partnerships and forming networks
In this module you will learn:
• How the different enablers operate and how to benefit from each of them
• How to take the support the radio needs without losing community ownership and focus
• How to make a national network effective and staying in touch 

 ©EMPOWERHOUSE, Birgitte Jallov