But I remain slightly skeptical. Not that I don't believe everyone is committed and pumped up about the restart. It's more of a can it be sustained. These are good people, every one of them. Some of them are truly great people. But I've found that sustaining something like KBFR, over time, can be draining.
I'm not really sure why it is that I keep this going as i do. I'm pretty sure I could just turn over enough equipment to keep it going to these folks and walk away from it and it would keep going.
The hard parts been done. We've gotten it started, learned that the FCC's been bought off by big money/big corporate interests and are not carrying on the public trust in the airwaves as they were chartered to do, forcing us to commit an act of civil disobedience just to put a simple community radio station on the air. We've learned that people really really want this kind of radio. We know that the local music community (which is rich and amazingly talented here in Boulder) desperately want something like KBFR.. We've learned the technical ins and outs of keeping a mobile/fixed/mobile system running and one step ahead- we use low cost computers to run the station, internet access to keep everyone reasonably safe and in plausible deniability and it works. We've learned our legal rights and we've recruited legal support from the local community (we have more lawyers ready to help us than the FCC has working on radio, or so we're told). We've figured out how to support ourselves through collecting dues from our members, having regular benefit shows and doing KBFR presents shows and by selling T-shirts and CD's and other chaka's. And we’ve learned you can be too small to make it work, OR, too big.
And we think we can replicate it. We're helping anyone who asks with information on how to do all this.
The original idea of creating a network of underground stations that rivals NPR or even Clear Channel (1000 stations all over the country) is what keeps me involved, when I think about it. KBFR is the model, the test bed, the place where we see if this is real or just a dream.
I started this thing 4 years ago. And through a lot of hard work, from many people, it’s grown and prospered. And it's clear that's it's not a dream, it's real. And it's also clear that it's just the beginning.
Radio is one of the most intimate of media's. There's something very personal about hearing the voice of a DJ over those speakers in your car, your office, your home, your bedroom. When we listen to radio, we're inviting it into a very private space each of us lives in. It's emotional and viseral. And it's extremely powerful.
Most importantly, radio is the most democratic of media's. It can be used by anyone. It's extremely inexpensive (the cost of a radio is, literally, the cost of a meal at a fast food joint now). You can even be illiterate and still use it to get news, listen to music and stay connected to your world.
A massively distributed network of low powered, community oriented and supported radio stations that exists alongside the commercial world of McRadio is where we need to go. The only way to really do that is to keep plugging away at creating a national network/coalition of underground and low power station.
I used to think this was just pirate radio, but I now think it’s the ‘class’ of low power/community oriented and (generally) non commercial stations that should be concentrated on. Low Power FM (LPFM), College stations and underground stations. Together.
There’s a separate group of folks called the RPR Network here in town that’s working to make this happen. They are not related to KBFR other than being supportive of us being here (and we them). They want to create a system where any non commercial radio station can be a member and they’ll collect original content and music from all the various member stations for redistribution to all the other member stations. They’re creating a sort of national database of audio content with an overlay of intellectual property protection and sharing of programming that’s reminiscent of the open software movement in the computer world. Very good stuff.
I think we’ll work to do what we can to help them, and see where that leads.
In the meantime, the tiny little world of KBFR is reborn, yet again, and we keep movin onward. Old folks who started with us and new folks bringing in new energy and ideas.
I have a rule about whatever I do: if it’s not at fun why do it? When the ‘fun quotient’ falls below 51%, you’ve got to ask yourself: is this worth doing? The couple of months of KBFR saw my fun quotient drop WAY below that 51% number. But it’s back up now. It feels good again and everyone involved seems to really be pulling together to make it a family again.
So, another chapter. It’s kind of like this mutating entity that has the same name (KBFR) but keeps changing, dying and being reborn in slightly (sometimes radically) different iterations. One thing it isn’t: boring. And damned if I’m not having fun again.