The effect a community radio station has on the development pattern of a town or a city is immense. We can talk about all the direct effects, but the indirect impact is incredible, for community education, strengthening the non-profit sector, building multi-cultural understanding, and improving the cultural life in your area.
Now is the time for groups to organize and prepare to file applications with the FCC in markets all over the country for a full-power license. And if it’s not in your community, tell somebody else.
Local filmmakers Aaron Yonda and Matt Sloan – creators of Chad Vader, Darth’s little brother – efficiently demolish the idea that YouTube and other social technologies replace the need for community television. They send much love to the Eau Claire and Madison operations where they began to learn their craft.
Perhaps Barry should have been in Massachussetts this last weekend: There’s a parallel discussion on the Center for Citizen Media blog, which features a summary of a panel on The Future of Public Access from the Beyond Broadcast conference in Cambridge.
Why does an “expert” in citizen participation come up with an idea like this one, getting rid of public access over a five-year period? Has this person ever talked with any citizens who produce media at community media centers throughout the entire United States? Can we find a way to introduce him to some citizen producers and some viewers, like buy him a Greyhound bus pass to tour centers throughout the U-S? Or maybe we need to find ways to get community television producers to attend Harvard and UC-Berkeley to learn about developing grassroots media…
Props go out to participants at the event who focused on building on a long tradition of citizen participation in media, and for focusing on innovation to make things better.
Here’s something fun from 2006. George Stoney, NYU professor, filmmaker and community television innovator, came to the Twin Cities as a guest of ACM Midwest and Macalester College. During the week, he met with students at Macalester, and presented a screening of Getting Out, his recent film on incarceration and men’s lives.
In part one, we talk about Challenge for Change, the Alternative Media Center and the development of U-S access centers:
In part two, we talk about creative, structural and political issues affecting community television:
Working with “niche” audiences who intensely value community media, I don’t know if I quite buy the wisdom of crowds philosophy entirely. The number theory geek in me appreciates it. But I also think James Madison would never have written the Bill of Rights with this kind of model. What’s the other term that comes to mind?
More importantly, beyond the buzzwords, Denver Open Media along with our friends at MNN are trying to come up with an innovative approach to reach people, and reach people in relavent ways.
Like Flavor Flav, I typically don’t believe the hype.
But when I read that ResonanceFM, the community radio station run since 2002 by the London Musician’s Collective was calling itself “the best radio station in the world,” I stopped and thought about it.
I think I agree.
Resonance is one of about 100 community radio stations that have sprung up in the UK under the experimentation of the national telecom authority. The country has a storied tradition of state broadcasting (what were they called again?), and developed private commercial broadcast entities in the last 40 years. But the idea of community control of content at a radio station, responsive to local needs, didn’t really exist before the liberalization of licenses in the last decade. (For an overview of getting a community radio license in the UK- and I know you’ve been thinking about it in your spare time – go here.)
I stumbled upon ResonanceFm in 2003, right after they started terrestial and internet casts. Their micro transmitter covers part of central and south London, and they’ve always had some type of web component (now extended to podcasts and blogs for the communities they are encouraging).
I knew it was a community radio station when I saw the pdf of their program grid (that uber-quilt community radio calendar), but the thing I’ve admired listening to it the last three years has been its willingness to experiment, its diversity of content, and its ability to embrace intellectual content and art.
Community radio in the U-S I’ve come across almost always have a populist strain. But like much populist culture in the U-S, it also carries a distrust of intellectualism (you make the argument if that’s healthy or unhealthy). It’s the mirror image of the distrust Western intellectuals of all stripes have of modern culture (I gave up reading Adorno when he told me jazz was a fascist art form…He must have listened to too much Paul Whiteman.)
Have a listen for yourself and tell me what you think.
Time to shill for some friends: Check out the Twin Cities Daily Planet, and see if there’s a way you can steal or apply the concept to your community.
Adapt is the better word. That’s what members of the Twin Cities Media Alliance did as they began putting together this on-line community in 2005. They looked at the success of the Korean on-line innovator OhmyNews, and wondered if there was a way to take the model of citizen’s making and reporting news in their world and use it to foster independent reporting in Minneapolis – Saint Paul.
It’s been pretty successful so far, primarily taking news feeds from other like-minded media outlets (ethnic press, neighborhood press, community radio) and creating their own stringer pool.
The other side of the story is the fact that the website has been increasing English-speaking traffic to great sites like Hiiraan.com, which up until last year produced content primarily for Somali speakers worldwide. Since 1993, Minneapolis – Saint Paul has become a center of the worldwide Somali diaspora, rivalling population centers like Toronto and Copenhagen. Hiiraan has becoming the leading website for Somali news worldwide, basing a lot of its production on talented academics and media producers here in the Twin Cities. Hiiraan is now the best English language site I’ve found for getting news about Somalia (Keep that in mind as you hear more about U-S involvement in the Horn of Africa).
So steal the concept, but at least give them credit.
Here’s my testimony at the Minnesota State House of Representatives on February 2 about the state of community television in MN. The questions are from Rep. Mike Beard of Shakopee and Rep. Al Juhnke of Willmar.
The no-tie thing is a shameless rip-off of Barack Obama.