With a similar set of principles underpinning the ethos and practice of both community development and community radio, we might expect to find close linkages between community development projects and their local community stations. This article explores this supposition in the context of community radio stations and community development projects in four regions in Ireland and finds, contrary to expectations, linkages between both sectors to be relatively weak. Exploring the reasons for this, we argue that the increased and extensive incursion of the state into the community sphere has resulted in both a sectoralization of community institutions and the hegemonization of a service ethos where, in a move away from the core principles of community development, the emphasis has moved to working ofor' and not owith' communities. Paradoxically, we find that the state plays a positive role in its regulatory function within community stations, opening the space for real and effective community management and control of local public spheres. In the context of the profound marginalization of local communities from mainstream public discourse, we urge community activists to seize the opportunities presented by local stations to open the space for community debate, deliberation and resistance, re-animating and revitalizing local public spheres.