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by Tom Ness, Michigan Music is World Class Campaign

For a Measured Act of Civil Disobedience,
Regarding our Nation's Public Airwaves
& the City of Ferndale, Michigan.

I. Background: History of the Michigan Music Campaign and the national movement to legalize community radio.

II. Why Ferndale needs our own radio station.

III. The FCC's role.

IV. The problem.
a. Existing legal options.
b. Our efforts to reform the system.

V. Civil disobedience.

VI. Our plan to demonstrate the potential of Ferndale radio via a temporary unlicensed station.
a. The basics.
b. Support and participation.
c. How it will unfold.
d. When it's over.

VII. The risks.

VIII. The future: What a permanent Ferndale radio station might be like
and who might run it.

I. Background

History of the Michigan Music Campaign & the national movement to legalize community radio.

The "Michigan Music is World Class" Campaign united in 1996 as an ad hoc assembly of local musicians and music-related business owners, etc., with the goal of making room on the public airwaves for local music and, more largely, addressing fundamental problems with how our nation's public airwaves are officially administered and allocated.

Every citizen is guaranteed equal access to our public highways, public parks, public beaches, public libraries, public sidewalks. But only the richest and most powerful among us are allowed to use the public airwaves -- and for private gain!

From 1996 through 2000, we met and planned our activities at Ferndale's Xhedos Cafe. We helped lead a successful national movement to create a whole new form of community-based radio station, "LPFM" (Low Power FM) radio, introduced by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Jan. 20, 2000. But the powerful broadcast lobby convinced Congress to strangle LPFM, keeping the new stations out of the top 50 radio markets completely. The
radio dial is already highly congested in these areas, and the corporations which monopolize the airwaves in cities like Detroit refuse to give up even a sliver for community use.

In September 2003, we re-inaugurated the MMWC Campaign, this time with both a broader and also a more narrow focus:

* Broader in the sense that we now hope to serve our entire local community, not just musicians.

* And more narrow in that for the project at hand we have chosen to specifically focus on one town, the City of Ferndale (where the Michigan Music Campaign was born and where many of us live). We want to demonstrate the critical need for local, community-level content on the public airwaves, to supplement the regional/state/national/international content which
currently exists.

After months of debate and discussion, we chose to launch an unlicensed, "pirate" radio station in 2004, as a measured act of civil disobedience. We will demonstrate the value and necessity of a radio station which serves Ferndale specifically: Ferndale news, politics, community life and projects, businesses, music, religion, health information, etc.

We believe our history of the past eight years, detailed below, illustrates that we have exhausted every legal option well beyond any reasonable standard, in pursuing our legitimate goals. Indeed, our aim is to assist the FCC with its Congressional mandate of serving the public interest first and foremost.

We're going to break the law in order to put news and information about Ferndale on the air. We will do it for the immediate benefit of Ferndale residents.

But, primarily, our goal is to create a groundswell of support for once again changing the existing rules about broadcasting to increase opportunities for local broadcasting all over the country. It was overwhelming public demand which forced the FCC to change its rules in 2000.

Lots of cities should have their own radio station, not just Ferndale! Ferndale will be an example for the rest of Metro Detroit, and beyond. So this project is also for the benefit of the entire country.

We think Ferndale residents are going to love turning on their radio and hearing about our neighbors, our friends, our local government -- about ourselves! When this demonstration is over, we think Ferndale residents are going to demand the FCC change its rules so we can have such a station all the time -- without anyone going to jail.

This paper will describe in detail our plans, goals and justifications for this controversial measure.

II. Why Ferndale Needs Our Own Radio Station.

Radio is unique. Radio allows immediate feedback, timely response and debate, comprehensive discussion, broad participa-tion, etc. Radio can be enjoyed anywhere, while doing many other things. Radio is meaningful to young and old, rich and poor, and people of all levels of education. Radio unites us, and helps build community.

Radio is a fundamental mode of American communication with an important historical role in developing our unique culture.

Ferndale residents demand local, community-oriented news and information. This is proven by the continued success of local publications such as The Mirror and The Daily Tribune. So why is it impossible to find this kind of Ferndale-specific information anywhere on our radio dial?

We greatly admire The Mirror and The Daily Tribune, and we think they make excellent models for what a Ferndale radio station which might be like. However, print and broadcast media have different character-istics, and one cannot substitute for the other. For example:

* A Ferndale radio station would allow far more people to express their views than with print, due to the cost of paper and ink.

* Radio provides a timely response so that rumors, gossip and questions of fact can be immediately challenged.

Thus, for example, a Ferndale radio station could facilitate call-in town meetings and debates in which everyone could participate -- even those who are home-bound! And if a candidate, etc. said something which wasn't true, they could be immediately corrected -- even by someone halfway across town.

* We need a Ferndale radio station to promote local commerce. Why should our local businesses be shut out of the enormous profit potential of the public airwaves?

* We need a Ferndale radio station to promote our local organizations and community projects.

* We need a Ferndale radio station to serve our community in emergencies, such as the recent extended blackout.

* We need a Ferndale radio station for vital announcements from the police, fire and other City departments about health, safety and other matters.

* We need a Ferndale radio station to bring local church service to the home-bound.

* We need a Ferndale radio station to bring the whole city closer to our many annual festivals.

* We need a station to promote local garage sales, block parties, etc.

* We need a Ferndale radio station to spread the word about weddings, births, deaths, illnesses, residents who need a helping hand.

* We need a Ferndale radio station because there are a lot of world-class musicians living among us, and we should be proud and able to enjoy them!

* We need a Ferndale radio station to talk about our schools, and get the word out to parents about ever-changing schedules, etc.

* We need a Ferndale radio station to supplement the public access television broadcast of school events. Many Ferndale residents cannot afford cable! But everyone can afford a transistor radio.

* We need a Ferndale radio station to also supplement the public access
television broadcast of City Council meetings.

Every Ferndale resident has their own unique reasons for why Ferndale must have its own radio station.

III. The FCC's Role