Roots FM

Roots 96.1 FM is the first urban-based community radio station in the English speaking Caribbean. It was launched by the Mustardseed Communities on May 25, 1998 with the gift of a 20 watt solar powered transmitter and basic studio equipment from UNESCO.

Roots FM’s mandate of fulfilling change within the Kingston Inner cities has been tackled on many fronts, creative ways have been employed bridging the gap of literacy, conflict resolution and dispute mediation as well as AIDS – sexually transmitted virus forums have been instituted within the borders of these dark and fractured garrison communities to bring about hope.

Roots FM is under the directive of the board of Mustard Seed Communities, thus, the station is non profit/ independent community based station. This allows the programmers much latitude in discussing the political and religious culture of the society and what actions are needed to improve the quality of the lives of the people in the most depressed areas of Jamaica.

ROOTS 96.1 FM resides in the heart of the communities of Kingston and St. Andrew, and serves a population of approximately 400,000 residents. Over the years we have maintained strong ties with dedicated listeners who actively participate in programming.

The station’s main objectives are:

To work with the people of depressed inner city communities to alleviate poverty by providing information needs for spiritual, social and economic development and, to foster positive collaborations between Mustard Seed and other community organizations active within the  communities of Kingston and St. Andrew.

In 2001, Mustard Seed Communities’, -again with the support of UNESCO – launched the inner city’s first internet café suitably named Zinc Link. A tribute to its original structure. The centre is fully equipped with 15 work stations and distance education/video conferencing facilities. It is a space for children to do homework research, while adults use the photocopying and printing serves and attend skills development classes. In 2014, Zinc Link received a major capital investment for retooling from the government’s Universal Service Fund.


ROOTS FM survives the economic challenges and realities of community media by finding creative ways to stay relevant. In the years since its formation, community priorities have shifted from political tensions, associated killings and restricted movement.  Now the pressing concerns are dysfunctional graduates, sexual exploitation and violence against boys and girls, poor parenting, teenage pregnancies and unhealthy sanitation practices. Through stakeholder collaboration and a participatory approach, ROOTS sets out to develop a schedule of programmes that reflect the people’s perspectives and alternate solutions.

ROOTS has upgraded its first 20 watt transmitter located at its studios at 1 Mahoe Drive in Kingston, to a 350 watt transmitter located in the hills of Peter’s Rock, St. Andrew. This has significantly increased coverage within the licensed broadcast area.

The station’s day-to-day operations are coordinated by a small team of full time coordinators and 24-hour programming is produced by approximately 20 volunteers. An Advisory Board led by a Board Chairman takes the lead on matters related to policy. Board members are volunteer experts in the areas of radio, education, community development, business and fundraising.

A national media survey in 2015 indicates that ROOTS FM is listened to by approximately 20,000 listeners in Kingston and St. Andrew. Income is generated through a combination of paid programmes; advertising sales; fundraising events and donations.

About Our Parent Company

Mustardseed Communities (see info) are homes for children born with severe physical and mental disabilities and children born with HIV/AIDS. It is a non-for-profit founded by Roman Catholic priest, Monsignor Gregory Ramkissoon in 1978. The organization which started as one small home in the poor community of Mona