People-powered radio is buzzing in upstate New York thanks to the dedicated volunteers launching WGXC in Greene and Columbia counties. The twelfth barnraising organized by the mighty Prometheus Radio Project took over forgotten factories, a youth center and a Catholic academy in downtown Hudson as hundreds of radio activists gathered throughout the weekend to learn and build and geek out.
As Prometheus expands beyond the 100-watt LPFM radio movement to assist nonprofits with FCC construction permits for full-power stations, WGXC’s approach makes Hudson a great place to start. Galen Joseph-Hunter, Tom Roe, Kaya Weidman, Dharma Dailey and the whole local crew put their vision and values into action with the support of 200 visiting movement-builders and food donations from three dozen area farms.
With a nod to the Amish tradition of coming together for the greater good, the organizers coordinated knowledge-sharing workshops and hands-on trainings spread out across Tech, Infrastructure, Programming, and Community-Building tracks. You can already view a lot of documentation on the crowd-sourced #barnraising page created by The Sanctuary for Independent Media. I want to be sure to point out Gabriel Farrell’s great work on the WGXC website and mention that quite a few locals sang the praises of the station’s core organizers for bringing together such a diverse cross-section of local residents.
Personal highlights were behind-the-scenes chats with Community Media Services consultant Nan Rubin, free hugs from attorneys Michael Couzens and Alan Korn, and quality time spent with Prometheus staff. My biggest discovery of the trip was Sharmeen Khan of CHRY Toronto, who co-hosted a workshop with WORT’s Norm Stockwell called “Community Approaches to Radio Governance.” Wider exposure of her research into outreach and training models throughout Canadian community radio could be seriously useful for indie radio in the States.
In harsh economic times, the Radio For People movement faces an impossible challenge — supporting build-out for 75 more new non-commercial educational stations without anywhere close to adequate funding for the organizing work imagined by Prometheus, Free Press, Pacifica, Future of Music Coalition, NFCB and Common Frequency. WGXC’s innovative approach to transmission arts and the electricity Prometheus brings to social justice work ought to spark new flames to heat up the fight for delivering radio from the ionosphere to the people.
Have a look inside the workshops and studios of the 12th Prometheus Radio barnraising, hosted by WGXC:
Gavin Dahl is Community Broadcast Coordinator at Common Frequency. An Evergreen College grad with 10 years experience in commercial and community radio, his public interest advocacy has led him to lobby Congress, testify in Legislative committee, speak truth to the FCC and expose NAB hypocrisy. Gavin’s writing has been published by Raw Story, Boise Weekly, Austin American-Statesman, AlterNet and on Pat Buchanan’s Twitter. His latest endeavor is bringing a live, local morning show to KDRT-lp.
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