Prometheus Radio's blog
In 2002 a group of media convened, strategized and coined the term Media Justice at the Highlander Center in Central Tennessee. Since that time Media Justice has grown into a movement with historically disenfranchised communities transforming media and cultural production, rights, and policy with a focus on social justice organizing. Groups such as the Center for Media Justice and networks such as Mag-Net, the Media Action Grassroots Network, have advocated for broadband access and digital inclusion, an end to the racist hate-mongering of Lou Dobbs, and much more. Knowing the strength of this movement it was exciting for us to visit the Highlander Center where some of these initial media justice conversations had taken place. We had the chance to talk to them about the possibilities for Low Power FM in their region and with the groups they partner with in the South.
Organizers with MECHa from UMKC, helped to organize an event bringing together families and youth from latino immigrant communities in NorthEast Kansas City, along with active members of KKFI- Kansas City's community radio station. MECHa is not only active on UMKC's campus but also within local high schools- and they have placed an enormous amount of their organizing efforts to work for the DREAM ACT- so that youth, irregardless of immigration status can gain a college degree.
The presentation we did, explored how radio can be used as a tool for organizing- and many of the youth were interested to know about existing youth radio programs. Thanks to this tour, we were able to tell them about Youth Speaks Truth Radio in Atlanta, GA and KUNM Youth Radio! in Albuquerque as well as sharing resources from Youth Radio in Berkeley.
Indigenous & Immigrant Voices in Lawrence, KS
Lawrence, Kansas is home to the only remaining four-year, Federal Inter-tribal University in the Country: Haskell Indian Nations University. Haskell was originally an "Indian boarding school" where children were snatched from their families- often sent off in train cars to Lawrence, where they were forced to cut their hair, beaten for speaking their own languages, and forced to assimilate to a white Christian culture.
Haskell transitioned from boarding school, to vocational school to Junior College and was eventually converted in 1993 to a University for indigenous people (who have tribal membership within a federally recognized tribe.) Haskell is like no other place; it is one of the most international universities, pulling in indigenous folks from Alaska, the Southwest, many from Oklahoma- and throughout the United States. The legacy of the boarding school lives on in markers that exist throughout the campus. Just southeast of the main buildings on campus there is a cemetery, marking the graves of over 100 children who died or were killed during their tenure at Haskell boarding school. The graves say their christian names, their indigenous nations, and the estimated years of their lives. However, there were many more children that disappeared from Haskell. Many had fled or died trying to escape, and others were potentially killed. The wetlands adjacent to Haskell is a sacred place- it is a burial ground for the children that fled, a place where families set up camp to be close to their stolen children, and a unique eco-system bringing incredible biodiversity to the region. The Wetlands Protection Organization is working to defend the wetlands from the construction of a road that has been proposed for many years.
On our first day in Austin we travelled 30 miles outside the city to go to a protest at the office of MTC, the corporation that runs "Tent City" immigrant detention center as well as many others around the country. Over the past few years, Texas has seen a rise in private Immigrant Detention Centers. The Willacy County Processing Center or "Tent City" in Raymondville, Texas is where over 3000 immigrant detainees are held in Kevlar tents, in inhumane conditions. We interviewed Bob Libal an organizer with Grassroots Leadership about Tent City as well as their partially successful campaign to close the nearby Hutto Family Detention Center.
Listen to the interview above and click Read More to learn more about other struggles in Austin.
Ten years ago the FCC opened up a window for groups to apply for Low Power FM licenses. Thousands of groups competed for 800 licenses and it sometimes took up to 5 years for the FCC to decide who to grant the licenses too. One group that has a very bizarre story concerning license competition is the Baton Rouge Progressive Network. They were awarded an LPFM license in 2005 but then a woman representing a Right Wing Christian organization, ironically named Ethics Inc., convinced the FCC to transfer the license to her group. She claimed to be the present of the board and filed all the appropriate paperwork to divest the Baton Rouge Progressive Network of the LPFM license. For years they fought to get it back and recently achieved success, and now are the LPFM license holders.
Hassan Ghosn, a board member of the Baton Rouge Progressive Network spoke with us about the history of the license and their visions for the station. Listen to the interview with him above.
It has been one decade since the creation of LPFMs, and we now have an opportunity to learn from 10 years of experience of organizing community Low Power FM stations. So far, we got to visit three different LPFM stations in our first three days, WRIR in Richmond, Va, WCOM in Carborro, NC, and WMXP in Greenville South Carolina. We had the chance to speak with representatives of each station to learn about their successes and struggles, learning more about what needs stations have and what creative strategies can help address these challenges. Please click read more to learn about these stations.
Student Action for Farmworkers facilitates theater, media, audio and arts projects with youth to portray the reality of farmworkers and advocate for their rights. They met with us to explore radio as a tool for building awareness of the structural inequities facing farmworker and immigrant communities in the United States. Together, we asked: how can we use radio not only to give information but to actually create transformation. We shared some of the incredible mechanisms that two farmworker-run Low Power FM radio stations, Radio Conciencia of the Coaliton of Immokalee Workers and Radio Movimiento of the Northwest Treeplanters and Farmworkers are using to build a participatory radio that works to transform their working conditions and organize their communities.
El Kilombo Intergalactico is a collective and also a community space in Durham where different groups who share similar inequities and situations come together to meet, strategize, and work.
We started our Making Waves Journey in Harrisonburg, Virginia in the beautiful Shenandoah valley where we met with a mix of people who work with The People United, and The Fairfield Center as well as members of a worker owned coop The Little Grill Collective.
Just recently the FCC opened up a window for groups to apply for Non Commercial Full Power Radio licenses in 65 locations across the country. Prometheus partnered with Common Frequency to assist 28 different community groups who applied for these licenses. One of these groups is The Fairfield Center, a communications organization dedicated to “advancing dialogue and understanding” through conflict resolution, restorative justice and other strategies. We had the chance to interview Harrisonburg's Mayor, Kai Degner who also works with the Fairfield Center. He described The Harisonburg Summits they host where they bring together hundreds of residents to discuss a specific issue in one day. They utilize a Open Space Technology to allow the community members to set the agenda. Degner believes that a community radio station can also serve as a similar tool for open dialogue.
One of the groups who hope to host a program on this station is The People United, a multiracial movement building group who are currently in the process of opening up the Wayside Center, a Popular Education Center in Central Virginia. Over the past few years they have organized around a mulitude of issues including fighting the new construction of an Immigrant Detention Center in Farmville, Virginia. Unfortunately, construction has begun on the detention Center and the People United have issued a case study that includes an analysis of what they accomplished, what they struggled with and what lessons they take with them as they carry on. As we travel cross country we are meeting with many communities who are also organizing around Immigrant Detention Centers, Private Probation companies and Maximum Security Prisons. We hope to hear about their campaigns and help them explore communication strategies and radio as a possible tool for their organizing.
This is a transcription of a conversation between Andalusia and Maka in preparation for the Making Waves/Haciendo Ondas tour that appeared in the Indypendent Newspaper in NYC.
People across Latin America and the United States are increasingly turning to community media as a tool of resistance. Examples include women in Oaxaca, Mexico, who led a take-over of corporate and state media outlets amid their media blackout of a popular rebellion, and the Coalition of Immokalee workers station Radio Conciencia that broadcasts details about farm workers rights to migrant laborers in Florida.
Maka Muñoz, a Latin American radio activist and co-founder of Palabra Radio, plans to use these examples in a cross-country tour to grow Spanish language, participatory radio in immigrant communities in the United States. Muñoz discussed her philosophy with Andalusia Knoll, an organizer with the Prometheus Radio Project who will join her on tour.
Prometheus Radio Project y Palabra Radio
Nuestro derecho a la comunicación
En Estados Unidos al igual que en la mayoría de los países de Latino América, grandes empresas privada son propietarias de las tecnologías de información y comunicación (TIC): telefonía, televisión, radio, Internet, periódicos y revistas, etc. Gran parte de estas tecnologías son utilizadas como medios de consumo de información y entretenimiento, engrandeciendo así las ganancias de estas empresas y velando por sus interéses. Desde esta lógica mercantíl se establece, en el ambito público, lo que es la comunicación, la información, la tecnología y el conocimiento, como un bien de propiedad privada que excuye lo local, lo diferente.
Si las personas de una localidad deciden hacer uso de la tecnología de radio para comunicarse entre sí, se ven excluidos debido a las cantidades de dinero que deben pagar a empresas privadas que administran el acceso a las frecuencias de transmisión en el aire.
Todas las personas tenemos el derecho a la libertad de expreción y opinón, así como a expresarnos por el medio que consideremos aduecuado, sin embrago, esto no es suficiente para garantizar nuestros derechos a la comunicación, sobre todo en la actual era digital.
Recordemos lo ocurrido el año 2006 con la movilización de inmigrantes, cuando algún locutor de radio que motivo a miembros de su comunidad para participar en las marchas, fueron amenzados y hasta despedidos.
En la última decada el Proyecto Prometheus ha colaborado con organizaciones comunitarias para construir estaciones de radio de baja potencia (Low Power FM). En reuniones que se llaman “Barnraisings” muchos voluntarios de la comunidad se juntan para construir el estudio, el trasmisor y la antena, al fin de unos días la comunidad tiene una nueva estación de radio. Dos estaciones de radio que estan trabajando de esta manera nos han dado la inspiracion para colaborar con Palabra Radio con el fin de promover, en esta gira nacional, el uso de la radio en comunidades inmigrantes.
Radio Movimiento, una estación de baja potencia de los Piñeros Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste en Woodburn, Oregon y Radio Conciencia, la estación de radio de la Coalición de Trabajadores De Immokalee en el suroeste de Florida son ejemplos de comunidades que usan la radio como un medio comunitario para comunicar, encontrar de forma organizada solución a necesidades y problemas, preservar su idioma, cultrura y para defender sus derechos humanos. Las dos estaciones difunden una mezcla de programas de información y cultura enfocadas en derechos de trabajadores inmigrantes con música de sus paises de origen.
Objetivo de la gira
Promover el uso de la tecnología de radio como una herramienta de comunicación participativa que facilita la organización y la construcción de comunidad.
Con esta gira queremos a visitar estaciones comunitarias que ya existen y también reunirnos con grupos que quieren usar radio como una herramienta para organizarse como comunidad en la lucha por justicia social. En esta gira vamos a hacer talleres bilingues, incluyendo temas como el analisis de medios comerciales, la radio como una herramienta de organización y las estrategias de comunicación participativa. También haremos presentaciones sobre el papel de los medios de comunicación en movimientos de resistencia popular en America Latina y en los Estados Unidos.