Friday, October 22, 2004

CURSE on radio

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Food for thought:

Several speakers described the steady process of de-democratization that has been going on there, the transference of decision-making from volunteers to one autocratic paid staff person, and the gag rules and dismissals placed on volunteers who voiced protest. A speaker from KUNM, New Mexico, described the successful listener fight at her station several years back, in a surprisingly similar situation. This kind of thing has been going on at stations all over the country, where those who want to attract ratings and appeal to a "safe," homogenized audience are using arbitrary power to take choice out of the hands of the community. In some of those situations, management has won, but in others, listeners have been successful in taking back their stations.

Both DJ Riz, who spoke at the forum, and the speaker from New Mexico, discussed the necessity not only to take back community radio but also to expand it to become more truly responsive to the community, including a diversity of cultural groups: Latinos, Asians, women, queers, and disenfranchised white males. Speakers were heavily applauded by the audience for such statements as "you are not the respectable Arbitron listeners," and "you don't want familiarity, you want to be offended and challenged by what you listen to." When management says that they want to tone down the station to make it more "respectable," they claim that there is no audience for what the "maverick" DJs are playing. The CURSE meeting showed that there is an audience for so-called "harsh and abrasive" music (and harsh and abrasive opinions), and it is us.

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