Bloch was one of those rare and lucky folks for whom activism was a full-time vocation. After working with Greenpeace throughout the 1980s, he created the Wetlands Preserve in New York City in 1989. The nightclub became a magnet for many bands that rose to fame out of the “alternative” music soup of the 1990s.
On November 26, 1987, Mbanna Kantako founded WTRA, an unlicensed microradio station broadcasting from the John Jay Homes in Springfield, Illinois.
Legally blind and in his twenties at the time, Kantako started the station to protest the imminent destruction of the housing project by the city and the pervasive police abuse that occurred there.
WTRA would later be re-named Human Rights Radio to reflect the Kantako family’s widening concern with issues of social injustice.
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 LPFM service.
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.