Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Free Speech Radio News

FSRN, as they often call themselves, is one of my favorite radio programs. It's time to put in another plug for them because they exist on donations and need some cash.

When you drive all the time the radio becomes your window to the world. If your vehicle has a radio and you know how to turn it on you know that radio has pretty much become a vast wasteland whose purpose it is to increase corporate profits. You can drive coast to coast and hear the same few songs, playlists selected by some people in a corporate office somewhere, over and over , unless you want to listen to right wing talk radio, which dominates talk radio to the extent that liberal talk radio is statistically insignificant.

There's public radio, which over the years has become a mush mouthed, feel good endeavor afraid to take a controversial stand on anything lest Republicans further slash their funding, and the BBC, which is only marginally better.

Then there's Pacifica, a small network of community run stations that operate on donations from listeners and can say what they want and play whatever music they want. Begun in the 1940s by Leftist pacifists with one station in Berkely, CA, a San Francisco suburb, it now has stations in Los Angeles, Houston, New York and Washington, DC, with a goodly handful of affiliated community stations in places like Kansas City, Fresno, Portland and elsewhere here and there. When I'm not in range of one of their transmitters, which is most of the time, I listen via podcasts, which you can download any time from the internet and listen to any time.

Out of Pacifica have come such programs as Democracy Now, which is broadcast on hundreds of community and national public radio stations now, and Free Speech Radio News, which is distributed pretty widely in the network. FSRN is interesting in that the reporters are just regular people, and they are all over the world. It operates out of the Berkelety Pacifica station, KFCA, with a few staff. They recruit the reporters, who do the fact gathering and interviewing. A staff member helps them come up with the way to approach the story, with questions to ask and so forth, then they help them write the script, and then edit and put together the report. The result is some pretty good journalism, by regular people, who are learning journalism and might be part of the answer to the decline of traditional media.

Last night I listened to a story about the prison system in India, where they had held a contest something like American Idol. The winners have just come out with a Rock CD, recorded in a makeshift prison studio, and the FSRN reporter described the whole thing, interviewed some of the prisoners and played samples of some of the songs. It was fantastic.The musicians talked about struggling through their sentences, how their music was helping, about the deplorable conditions in Indian prisons and how they hoped the CD would bring attention to them.

From the FSRN web site
You get stuff like this all the time, and from the strangest places -- the Ukraine, Hong Kong, Latin America, the United States, which as you well know is stranger by the day. But what's going on in Nepal these days, where the Maoists rebels took over last year by winning the elections? What are the Palestinian people themselves thinking and saying? There's been an uprising in Canada in the past couple years, begun by students and now joined by the unions and other activists, that's pretty much ignored by the American media. Last night I heard an update on the conservative Canadian government's efforts to outlaw public protest. (Yes, you heard me) and an update on the condition of Lynn Stewart, an old, dying radical lawyer the Obama Administration has imprisoned for representing people they don't like, and an update over the battle to prevent the FDA from approving genetically engineered salmon.

At the FSRN home page you can read more about it, subscribe to the podcast (the shows run daily and are a half hour long) and donate. You can also subscribe to the FSRN podcast in iTunes.

Trucking Update Coming Soon 

I wrote a few weeks ago about having to buy a truck. My hourly driving job had been outsourced. Contracted out. Neoliberalism commeth. I've spent the past month pretty much overwhelmed by the task of navigating the regulatory framework around interstate trucking, and all the rest that comes with starting and registering a small business. Despite not having a lot of spare time, part of the reason I haven't written about it yet is I didn't know exactly what to say about it. I still don't, so I'll try to say why. Hopefully this weekend. You know, after I get about eight quarterly reports filed that are coming due already.



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