Thursday, September 11, 2003

There's really a need to expand what's happening with pirate radio. This idea of creating a network of pirate radio stations (1000 over the next 10 years). The only way to do that is to come up with a sort of template that's reasonable and easy to replicate.

First, we need a model of how an individual station runs. What's works? What are the social structures that seem to stand up over time? This includes a primer on how to get started, who to trust, who not to and how to keep your station on the air and safe from FCC interference for as long as possible (if not indefinitely). This includes clear legal advise provided by our legal council in plain English with specific procedures on what to do in any conceivable situtuation.

Second, we need a clearly written technical primer on equipment and setup of a pirate radio station with clear drawings, suggested equipment and suppliers and, potentially, negotiated deals with those equipment suppliers for special pricing that makes it easier for and Real Public Radio (RPR) network station to set up and operate.

Seond we need an informal council made up of members from each of the member stations. Due to the geographically dispersed nature of pirate radio (they are, after all, local, not national) and the lack of funds (pirate radio will almost always run on a shoestring), a way of meeting that’s virtual has to be developed. A website/private discussion board type of set up. This group will set the policies and the direction of the Real Public Radio network and steer it towards it’s ultimate goal of becoming a legitimate (potentially fully licensed) network to rival NPR or Clear Channel in scope and number of stations. Or determining that a different route (such as continuing in an unlicensed way) is the appropriate route to take.

fourth, we need a general meeting place for all of the stations to share information. Stories in text and, most importantly, audio. Audio stories, news, music from local and indie artists that aren’t currently signed to large labels, etc. That means a server with substantional bandwidth (for up and downloading) as well as significant server storage space (a terabyte or more). We’ll need discussion boards, file transfer areas and stream hosting services. This is going to be the key.. this server. It becomes our distribution network and the heart of the system that holds together the overall Real Public Radio (RPR) network.

Fifth, we need a well designed and executed plan for developing influence with political and social organizations that starts at the local level (city councils, mayors, county commissioners, local law enforcement, local businessmen/women, the local chamber or commerce), then the state level (state senators, the governor, the state judicial system, larger businesses based in that state), then the national level (congressmen and senators, federal judicial system and large multinational corporations). Although it may sound paradoxical to get these people on the side of locally focused radio media, in every group there will be a supporter. They will be in the minority, but at every level and in every area (both public and private sector) we should be able to recruit support from sympathetic people that believe in the cause of free speech and the understanding that radio spectrum belongs to the citizens for their use, first and foremost, and for the commercial interests, only after the local communities needs have been satisfied.

So these five things: Local station structure, clear & simple technical and legal primer, a governing council made up of station representatives, an advanced set of internet based communication and media distribution services and a plan for influencing local, state and national political, law and business organizations, are the basic building blocks we need to create this national network of pirate radio stations called the Real Public Radio (RPR) network.

I’ll try to expand on each of these five areas here in the future, developing the ideas and approaches in a way that we can than create documents and websites that contain the information in an easy to read/understand and access way.

More to come!

Monk@kbfr.org

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