Local Media: A Clear Necessity in the Belly of the Beast

cory - Posted on 04 April 2010

San Antonio is often known for the Alamo, the historic symbol of US conquest, and the Riverwalk, a tourist zone made for outsiders.  For those of us within the Media Justice movement, we recognize San Antonio as the home base of Clear Channel- a for-profit corporation that swallowed up an uprecedented number of radio stations following the 1996 Telecommunications Act.  San Antonio is also home to a creative community of artists, activists, feminists, and community organizers.  Here, in the belly of the beast, there is a desperate need for local media alternatives and outlets.

When Clear Channel purchased the last black-owned station in San Antonio- they said they would not keep the "urban" format but then turned around and sold it for a huge profit to a company that changed the format.  The lack of media outlets owned by and serving the African American Community led to a 200 person meeting in which the decision was made to form a non-commercial community radio station.  However, because there was no space left on the FM band, they are launching the first digital (on a subcarrier channel) community radio station that we know of.  We held a workshop with KROV evaluating radio as a tool to building community and also showed clips of a new documentary Disappearing Voices: The Decline of Black Radio.

The Esperanza Center, an incredibly colorful space serves as an important home to social justice organizing in san Antonio.  Led primarily be queer women of color, the Esperanza Center organizes the largest International Women's Day march in the United States.  Following the 2006 massive immigrant rights mobilizations, the city of San Antonio took away the right to march in the streets by charging a prohibitively large fee or by limiting activity to a "free speech zone",  located in a low-traffic area of the city.  The Esperanza Center is challenging these free speech limitations in federal court in New Orleans in April.

We also had the pleasure of exploring communication straategies with the Southwest Worker's Union.  SWU is an organization of low-income workers and families, community residents, and youth, united in one organizational struggle for worker rights, environmental justice and community empowerment.  They are interested in exploring how radio can help to amplify their message as they organize for participation in the census, voting, community garden projects and mobilization for the USSF in Detroit June 22-26.

We are on our way to a post-Easter community meet and greet with Local 782- an organization of independent artists and musicians, and the Media Justice League.  We will share some films form the people powered radio project and learn about how San Antonio is mobilizing for the Allied Media Conference in Detroit, MI.  While all of these groups are so diverse and working around different issues, the need for local media in San Antonio is very CLEAR!