Monday, September 27, 2004

Good monthly meeting yesterday. With a smaller group (about 2 dozen) it's much easier to manage the station and the required duties we all have to do to keep things moving.

We took the KBFR duties list and each of the main areas where assigned to a specific point person and then other DJ's volunteered to help that person. I'll check with the point person over the course of the month to see how things are going. One thing is clear, if you don't spread the work, you'll burn out the few people who are putting in too much work while everyone else skates.

Obvious, I know, but amazing how often it happens.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

The Denver Free Radio folks where up for about three days before getting busted by the FCC running a little thirty watt transmitter. It amazes me that the FCC has the time and energy to even bother with this. But, if you think about it, it makes sense.

The first bust is usually the one they try to scare you with. "We can fine you $11,000 and put you in jail for a year'. You're in big trouble. Just cooperate. Give us your equipment.

The reality is, the have no real power and know it, so they resort to fear uncertainty and doubt. They are not at all above lying to get into a transmitter site. They trespass on private property regularly to get a look at things. They do all they can without going through the hassle of getting a warrant to scare the crap out of you to keep you from going on air again.

They are all about complience (shutting it off), first and foremost.

What I've learned over the last several years of running KBFR is that, if you make it clear to them that they don't scare you and you are NOT going away, eventually, you reach a balance with them. They come visit your transmitter site ever six or so months, leave a warning (forcing you to move it) and move on.

KBFR has several lawyers that will work for us pro bono (free) if need be. We've let the FCC know that if they do want to go to court, that's fine. We're prepared and it's not going to cost us anything other than time.

We've let them know we are friendly with the local press and, whenever they bust us, we tell the press and they write a story on it. Not always, but usually friendly to the cause of free speech and local media.

We stay in good stead with the local authorities, especially the political ones. City council type friendliness.

And we make sure the FCC knows that the community, the media and several lawyers support us in our efforts to bring the airwaves, or at least some reasonable portion of them, back to the people in the form of small locally focused radio stations that know and understand the neighborhood and town they serve. That give a shit about what's really going on and report about it. That play local music and local news and announcements and that support local businesses.

If you do that, they'll eventually lay off. They'll harrass you periodically (they have a job to do they'll tell you) but you can come to a sort of uneasy peace with them if you don't let them intimidate you into gong away after a bust or two.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Another KBFR Benefit show this weekend. A Night on Venus. Focused on the feminine.

Our own Granola Girl came up with the idea and put together, pretty much, the entire show. She did a great job all around of pulling it together and, in the last week, the rest of the pirate pitched in and it worked out exceptionally well. ZT in particular, as usual, went above and beyond the call in helping and several other DJ's put in alot of time and effort to make it work.

It was at the Trilogy Winebar.. good friends of KBFR. This was our second show there. It's a good idea, if you're an underground station, to make friends with the various venues in your town. It gives you a platform to put on benefit shows and station produced shows like the one we did this weekend. It also puts you in good stead with the local entertainment scene, making you an integral part of it.

Hats off to the KBFR folks for pulling off another great party!

I hear rumors that Phinn's planning the next benefit already. A jam band blue grass party of grand proportions. And Flowers got her eye on doing a comedy show sometime soon as well.

I think the idea of KBFR Presents, as a sort of local promotor, is a good thing and it's going to continue to get better as we get more exprience at it and more credibility in the community by doing successful shows.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Here we are again... and things are going pretty good. Smaller group, more focus, more attention to the station by a more dedicated set of folks. It's goodness.

I think one way to bring down a pirate station is to let in anyone interested in doing it. Pirate radio, by nature, attracts some fringe folks (myself included). The problem is not all of these folks are thinking in terms of community and working withing a group of people. Some have an axe to grind regardless of it's effect on the overall view of the station by it's listeners (or the effect on the other station members). Some are just into having a party and using the station as the focal point. Some are just plain nuts. But most aren't. No way to tell though until they've been around for awhile.

The key is to have a MISSION and clearly defined reason for being. This time around, I wrote up a Mission Statement and clear set of policies (how we'll operate day to day) and went over it with the captains (that set of folks that help run the station day to day). We then asked everyone to sign it (using their DJ names only, of course).

Not a legal document by any stretch, but a clear statement of why we're here and how we'll operate. If you don't agree with the approach, no worries, don't sign it, and go do something else. I think it's given us a much clearer sense of purpose and direction than before. So far everyone's agreed with the whys and hows.

We also instituted a sort of probation period (3 mo) where your show and contribution to the station get's reviewed at the end of the period by the captains council and you then become a full fledge pirate (or not). If it's not working out, everyone agree's up front that, at 3 mo, we part ways amicably. If it is, we go forward and that person get's more responsibility and say in the running of the station.

We'll see if, over time, it sticks.

You know, the hard part of pirate radio isn't the technical aspects of setting it up. That's learnable by just about anyone, and cheap enough that, if you're really interested in doing it, you can pull it off, even as a starving student or artist.

The hard part is KEEPING it running, month after month, year after year. The last 4 years on air have been an incredible learning experience in how to operate an obviously public yet underground entity staffed (and paid for!) entirely by volunteers. I've done alot of things in life, but this has been the hardest, and most rewarding, to date.