Sunday, 9 October 2011

[creative-radio] #Occupy the Airwaves - the Occupy Wall Street encampment established a microradio station at 107.1 FM.


*10/6/11 - Occupy the Airwaves [link to this

Two decades ago, thousands of people took to the air without permission from
the FCC to protest the agency's draconian policies regarding access to the
airwaves. The microradio movement
<>conducted a campaign of electronic
civil disobedience <>,
demonstrating that there was plenty of space on the dial for community radio
while illustrating just how enriching local access to the airwaves can be.
The end result of this campaign was the creation of the

Today, more than 10 years on from LPFM's inception, unlicensed broadcasting
remains alive and well, although the act is not as explicitly politicized as
it once was.

This could change.

Last week, the Occupy Wall Street <> encampment established a microradio station at
107.1 FM. The station simulcasts the 24/7 live
stream<>which provides
coverage of life inside Zuccotti Park, as well as
street-level reportage of daily protest actions in New York City's financial
district. The growth of the occupation has been impressive, and the
establishment of a microradio station is another step in the action's

One idea that's been batted around involves integrating broadcasting into
the occupation's General Assembly <>, which functions as its
governing body. City ordinances forbid the use of amplified sound systems in
the park, which has resulted in the development of a "human
system - speakers talk in sentence-fragments, which are repeated by the
crowd so all can hear the dialogue. While it's a very participatory method
of group communication, it's slow going and not necessarily scalable as the
Assemblies grow.

In this instance, microradio could be employed to provide a non-amplified
public address system - simply plug the speaker's mic into a transmitter.
Radios are cheap, and many smartphones have built-in FM reception
capability. Some involved in the NYC action are
these lines.

As more occupations are launched around the nation, their organizers have
taken notes on how Occupy Wall Street has grown. Adding microradio to the
tactical media mix makes lots of sense.

Radio still remains one of the most powerful tools of mass media available;
one need look no further than the right-wing bastion of talk radio which has
done so much to sully political discourse in this country. Microradio is
easily accessible to a large audience and relatively uncomplicated to
Unlike most other tools of protest-media, the critical infrastructure that
makes radio work is pretty much self-contained, which adds to its

Microradio is also extremely useful as an outreach tool. The station in
Zuccotti Park broadcasts to the occupation and immediate neighbors, which
can be useful in the maintenance of good community relations. Microradio
stations have been deployed in similar situations, such as festivals,
farmer's markets and picket lines, to extend the reach and impact of such
events beyond their physical presence. In addition, opening up access to the
airwaves in such a public manner helps to demystify the act of broadcasting
and introduce folks to the notion that the airwaves, too, are a public

This leads to the final rationale for incorporating microradio into
occupations - it's an occupation of its own kind. One of the
by Occupy Wall Street directly addresses corporate control of the
media. There is no better way to address that grievance than by becoming the
media directly, and unlicensed broadcasting has a long and storied
history<>in the United
States. Nothing signifies independent media quite like a
microradio station.

Microradio is no more or less civilly disobedient than taking over and
transforming a public space. Considering that the airwaves are ostensibly
public property, they should be no less off limits in this context than a
park or public right-of-way. Provided they do not interfere with other
broadcasters, the addition of new signals to a local radio dial is
materially non disruptive; what's more, the FCC does not have police powers
(and they also abhor confrontation).

Occupy Wall Street's media team has been integral to sustaining the
encampment, spreading the word, and inspiring others. New and future
occupations are learning much from what's happening in New York, where
they're heavily engaged in multi-platform citizen journalism, utilizing
everything from the newest of new media forms to publishing their own
newspaper <> and, of course,
the human microphone. Microradio falls comfortably within this continuum and
can help bootstrap more intensive media efforts.

[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

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