In a nutshell, the problem is money, and the writing’s been on the wall for a while. Free Speech Radio News has been hurting in that department since the fall of 2010, when it first raised the spectre of going dark. Saved by a last-minute crowdfunding campaign, FSRN’s been teetering on the brink ever since, held together by creative management, another emergency fund drive, and the passion of its crowdsourced production base. That can only take you so far, it would seem.
I’ll be taking a short break from updating the site, as I prepare to move from Wisconsin to New York next week to begin life as a professor at Brooklyn College. Plans for the move itself have been fraught with difficulty – more than I had expected, but things are (finally) beginning to come together. Boxes are being packed, loose ends squared away, and I’m test-dosing the cats with tranquilizers to see how they’ll handle the 16-hour drive.
Once I’m in NYC, I’ll be hitting the ground running. I’m teaching two classes in the fall: one intro-to-TV-production class, and another called “The Broadcast News Process.” The latter should be fun, as I’ve set it up to revolve around two key questions – do you really want to work in the corporate media? If not, how can you find/make the opportunities to be a working journalist without having to turn off your brain and/or sell your soul?
A significant broadcast complaint has been filed with the FCC by the Media Action Center. MAC is a broadcaster watchdog with a particular focus on assessing how radio and TV stations operate in the public interest. Of special concern are the hyper-partisan leanings of talk radio – which makes the basis for MAC’s most recent activity here in Wisconsin.
As you may have heard, Wisconsin is in the throes of an historic recall election which seeks to oust Governor Scott Walker and Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch for promulgating policies that have decimated Wisconsin’s economy as well as its systems of education and health care (these are just a few of the many beefs the electorate has with the current administration).
I developed and launched Media Minutes in 2004, as a doctoral student at the University of Illinois’ Institute of Communications Research. I’d left the broadcast industry in 2000 out of disgust at what it had done to stymie the rollout of LPFM, and had thought that my days as a radio journalist were behind me.
This was not to be. During my master’s work at the University of Wisconsin, I co-founded Workers Independent News, the first labor-centric radio news program to be launched in the U.S. in more than 50 years. My work with WIN caught the ear of Bob McChesney, then a professor at ICR, and when I was accepted into that program he e-mailed me out of the blue to ask whether I’d be interested in starting a similar program focused on issues of media policy and reform.
Routledge has made an offer to publish Radio’s Digital Dilemma: Broadcasting in the 21st Century. It’ll be in their Research in Media and Cultural Studies series and, with luck, will be out by the end of 2013.