Archive | June, 2005

Brattleboro Reformer Editorializes Cautious Support of radio free brattleboro

Wednesday’s FCC raid of rfb doesn’t seemed to have affected the positive support for the station in the city of Brattleboro. The local paper chimes in with cautious support for the station, without necessarily endorsing unlicensed broadcasting as a whole, nor letting the FCC off the hook:

Granted, the station operated outside the law. Simply put, rfb didn’t have an FCC license. And that’s illegal. But so are some sit-ins and certain acts of civil disobedience, and many of those led to landmark changes in faulty laws and the way government does business. …

We don’t advocate every fellow with a microphone and an antenna challenge authorities on the airwaves or flout the law, but rfb’s point has been a valid one: The FCC had no licensing provisions, and therefore rendered it illegal, for a low-power FM radio station even if the community wanted it. …

We suspect it cost the monolithic FCC far more money and time to fight this puny, 10-watt radio station than it was worth. It would have been far more cost-effective if the FCC had provisions in place for a low-power FM license in 1998. But that’s progress for you…

Of course I do advocate that “every fellow with a microphone and an antenna” get out there and broadcast. Albeit, responsibly, without interfering with other stations nor causing interference on adjacent electronic devices like phones, TVs and stereos.

At the level of 10 watts that can be done, and done easily with a little thought and preparation. If only the likes of Clear Channel extended as much consideration for local communities and neighbors as most unlicensed stations do.

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mediageek on Odeo

Odeo is a new podcasting web app that provides tools for producing, distributing and downloading podcast audio. Rabble from anarchogeek is one of the developers and he added the mediageek radioshow podcast to Odeo’s catalog. Invites to the beta of Odeo have been sent out to 12,700 people.

Rabble sent me one a number of weeks ago, and I’ve finally logged in and claimed the mediageek podcast channel, and played around with the sytem a bit.

What I like about Odeo so far is that it takes a bunch of tools and integrates them. At the moment I don’t think I’ll be using their production tool, since mediageek is produced as a weekly broadcast radio show.

However, the podcast channel subscription and download integration is nice, as is the ability to just listen to feeds right in your browser if you prefer. Unfortunately, the in-browser listening features are limited to play and pause — it would be nice to be able to mark where you left off if you have to stop listening, and to be able to rewind and fast-forward.

So, if you’re one of the 12k+ peeps with an Odeo invite, go ahead and subscribe to the mediageek radioshow channel.

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Roots of Radical Media in Detroit

On yesterday’s radioshow I played part of a panel from last weekend’s Allied Media Conference, Radical Media: The Experience of Detroit. I played portions of the talk by Charles Simmons, who was a member of the League of Revolutionary Black Workers. Next week, I’ll play audio from Abayomi Azikiwe who has been a radio host in Detroit, and now hosts a program at CKLN in Toronto.

The program is now available for listening and download.

But if you’re interested in hearing the entire panel and audience Q&A, I’ve posted the unedited audio at

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Sizing Up Local Public Radio

My pal Jack Brighton is the assistant director for internet at my local public radio and TV station cluster, WILL. He’s single-handedly responsible for getting that station’s good local content onto the web for streaming and podcasting. Jack’s also keeping a blog on station and public broadcasting affairs, where’s he’s able to show a remarkable degree of candor.

I work with Jack on streaming media issues on the campus of the University of Illinois, which runs WILL. There’s very little campus-wide infrastructure or support, so each department or college is kind of on its own. Jack has really helped pull together the folks who do this work so we can share information and skills.

Jack is one of the strongest and sincerest supporters of the truly civic and public role of public broadcasting working in public radio. He sees making programming available on the internet as one facet of that role, but also is actively thinking and working on the information side, on things like metadata and making sure programming is as freely available as it is from WILL.

WILL has taken a lot of budget hits from the state of Illinois in the last year, which mirrors the cuts the university has taken. As I noted yesterday, the funding loss is forcing the station to lose some national programming from American Public Media.

One loss that is ostensibly being blamed on budget cuts is the cancellation of the only locally produced Jazz program on WILL’s FM station, the Jazz Corner. My good friend Mick Woolf, who is also the station manager of WEFT, has been doing the show for sixteen years, well before he became WEFT’s manager.

The show’s hours have been steadily cut back over the last few years. And, frankly, given how little money is actually spent to pay one host for a few hours a week, I really don’t buy the budget cut rationale. While I’ve admired WILL-AM‘s steadfast commitment to local programming and service, I’ve been less impressed with WILL-FM, even though the station over the years has tried to maintain having local hosts.

But that is going away, with locally programmed music giving way to nationally syndicated services. While money may be a reason, I find it tough to swallow, since national programming isn’t free.

No, I see it as a slow gravitation towards the dominant model of public broadcasting which mirrors the dominant model of commercial broadcasting. Go with nationally syndicated programming with brand names and a widely known approach. That was what the CPB and the public radio establishment were selling when I went to the CPB’s national program directors’ conference in 1997, and the drive has only gotten stronger since.

Yes, doing local isn’t necessarily cheap, but neither is doing national. The key is sticking to your guns and finding a way. But I’m not so into light classical, and so I never listened to WILL-FM much aside from Mick’s Jazz Corner anyway. So I guess I’m not in the market that WILL-FM’s program director is concerned about anyway.

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