News Archive: May-July 2002
7/24/02 - Mbanna Material Resurrected, Good Riddance Randy Michaels?, IBOC Surprise [link to this story]
A busy week. The Human Rights Information Network is back in action - all of Mbanna's previous material is back online, and there's 13 new episodes of the Human Rights Patrol, a new album of music from Ebony Kantako, and the start of a new archive of raw audio from the Human Rights Radio tape library. Mbanna now has more than a gigabyte of audio online, with plenty more sure to come.
There's also new entries to the Enforcement Action Database - primarily a slew of NALs to operators in Florida, and one to the owner of a licensed station in Kansas who operated a pirate station on the same frequency out of a local nightclub. How smart is that?
We'll be putting up the rest of our audio library and more features over the course of the next week. Soon, we'll be back in business for real.
In other news, media borg Clear Channel announced this week that the CEO of its Radio Division, Randy Michaels, is stepping down to assume a "newly created" role as head of the company's "New Technologies Division."
Many are happy to see Michaels exit radio, which he repeatedly compared to Wal-Mart and McDonald's in his ego-inflated quest to strip the industry of all of its humanity and drag its programming to the lowest common denominator. He also masterminded alliances with the now-controversial "independent music promotion" system, whereby record companies funnel kickback fees to Clear Channel radio stations for playing certain artists.
Yes, Michaels has done a lot of damage, but in his new role, he'll be overseeing the company's fledgling initiatives in "new media," like its new Delta V ISP-via-TV service. It's services like these that may eventually replace programming on the radio dial, as large media conglomerates like Clear Channel find new, more profitable uses for the spectrum they squat on.
In other words, if Michaels has been moved to head up Clear Channel's convergence initiative, then we may be pretty phucked, and it's time to start gearing up for an even bigger fight against this behemoth.
Related news: radio engineer David Maxson, head of Broadcast Signal labs, once spoke eloquently to the board of National Public Radio about why the interference arguments surrounding LPFM were specious. This week, RadioWorld ran a guest article by him where he waxes optimistically about the potential for digital radio in America, and essentially admits that the largest potential it contains is in its potential to use radio for more than radio. On the subject of setting the standards for the digital radio infrastructure, Maxon writes:
If this would have been a democratic process from the start, IBOC would have been killed in the womb, and rightly so, and the dawning of a new age in radio just might have been crafted in the true spirit of the public interest. It's sad that the reminder comes from someone once considered an ally.
7/18/02 - Confronting the Corporate Media [link to this story]
In less than two months, the National Association of Broadcasters will hold its annual radio convention in Seattle, Washington. Media activists are mobilizing this year, much like they did two years ago in San Francisco, to confront the conference and strategize ways of reclaiming the airwaves from corporate domination.
From the looks of things, it looks like it will be a lot of fun. Heaven knows, another showdown with the NAB is long overdue.
Visit reclaimthemedia.org to get the full scoop.
7/15/02 - Enforcement Action Database Online, Plea from a Colleague [link to this story]
It's been tweaked slightly,
and there's still more improvements yet to come, but our world-famous
(heh) FCC Enforcement
Action Database is back online. One of these days I'll write a FAQ.
The restoration process should go much more quickly now that the two large
jobs are out of the way...
On a related note, an online colleague, Lisa Nalbandian, a Master's student at the UW-Milwaukee j-school, is working on a video documentary about microradio and LPFM. She's looking for stations (both licensed and not) to speak with, preferably in the Midwest. You don't have to be on camera if you don't want to. Drop her a line if you want fame and enlightenment.
7/9/02 - Summer Break? [link to this story]
May I be frank for a moment? HTML sucks. For building a huge-ass website, it sucks. Problem is, it's the only code I know.
For now, the plan is to resurrect the site in HTML, which is obviously taking longer than expected. Then we can experiment. I know the design needs work, but the priority here is resurrection, not eye candy. Take your info straight for a while.
The good news is, the links library is pretty much functional, there's just hundreds of new links to add that have been collected over the hiatus. Next up on the list is the Enforcement Action Database, then we start adding the audio. Whee!
For some partial closure on the note below, Kaihatsu was released after four days in the Dane County jail, and has a pre-trial conference on his disorderly conduct charge (a disorderly thing, scribbling on a notepad) scheduled for August 8th.
6/19/02 - Where I've been [link to this story]
I know there hasn't been much new up on the site lately, but I have a good excuse. Madison, WI has been the site of the U.S. Conference of Mayors' national annual convention this past weekend. As a member of the Madison Independent Media Center, I've been heavily involved in covering the event and related street actions.
From the 10-plus pages of stories that have been filed about the event and the live internet radio webstream that we had up, it has been incredibly busy, yet incredibly exhilirating. I finally slept for 17 hours yesterday.
I'm sure I'll have more to say about this later, but for now the biggest news is that a reporter for our IMC, Chris Kaihatsu, who was visiting from Chicago (where he's also active with the Chicago IMC), was arrested during a protest Sunday. Bad thing to see freedom of the press under attack like this. There's tons of stuff up on the IMC about this, but I'm too tired to list it all.
Anyway, work will begin on fleshing out the site soon enough.
6/6/02 - FCC Watch: NALs issued, S. Florida Sweep Imminent? [link to this story]
The FCC's Enforcement Bureau has pushed a little paperwork recently, issuing notices of $10,000 fines to unlicensed radio station operators in Michigan and Brooklyn, NY.
The NY case is interesting, because the accused is the Rev. Dr. Philius Nicholas, uncle of Abner Louima, the Hatian immigrant who was worked over by the NYPD in 1997, most infamously with a toilet plunger. It's unknown what his radio station broadcast, but I'm willing to bet it had something to do with police brutality...
In other news, the Palm Beach Post had an interesting story in the paper yesterday - essentially a bitch-fest from some local commercial radio station owners about the proliferation of pirates in the area. Most notably, the article quotes an unnamed official, who acknowledges "a plethora of unlicensed radio operators in South Florida," and notes that Tampa field agents have been investigating.
It is almost summertime, and historically that's sweep time. I don't think there's any clearer indication of pending activity than that.
Once the links library is completed, the FCC Watch section goes up next. Stay tuned.
6/5/02 - Little by Little [link to this story]
It might not look like much, but there are several sections of the links library now online. Most importantly, the stations and schematics pages are functional again! We've gathered tons of news and new links during the short hiatus offline, and we'll be doing massive updates and additions once the existing content is available.
As an active member of my local Independent Media Center, we're f*ckin busy right now preparing for the upcoming U.S. Conference of Mayors annual meeting and the expected protests that will surround it; this all happens a week and a half from now. It has been taking up a lot of energy, and keeps me away from more work here.
Police are playing up the threat of an invasion of "violent anarchists" from out-of-town, but that's just an excuse to get militaristic and whoop some ass. They don't call it "police violence" for nuthin'...
5/29/02 - The Grind is Underway [link to this story]
This is going to take some time.
There's five years' worth of material not only to copy and paste into new templates, but we're going through and doing some extra proofing, updating links, etc. The Radio Links segment takes precedence because it's probably the most useful, but the process is pretty convoluted (not as simple as copy/paste, believe me).
Meanwhile, The Onion
actually has something funny in this week's issue:
On the bad news front, a great source of online music that has remained under the radar of the recording industry, Audiogalaxy, is finally getting sued. It was only a matter of time. Somebody has to come up with something better than Gnutella...
Your suggestions and comments would be very welcome. In a way, we're starting from scratch.
This space, obviously, will be used for the latest news. There's much to catch up on, but it'll have to wait for now...