Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Putting the Community Back in Boise Community Radio

Posted By on Tue, Nov 17, 2009 at 12:01 PM

From the first buzz about Boise Community Radio becoming a reality several years ago, people began singing the praises of having a locally based radio station where the music of local musicians to be heard.

But what Radio Boise, as it is now called, would offer when people spin the dial to 89.9 (RadioBoise.org has been been broadcasting over the Internet for about four years) would be so much more than publicity for those on it and entertainment for those listening.

For a piece on an upcoming benefit Radio Boise is holding to raise money for its terrestrial operations (see Arts News, Page 28 in tomorrow's issue), I spoke to Built To Spill guitarist Brett Netson—the band is headlining at the fundraiser. BTS has been a regular element on many a benefit line-up of late, their ability to draw a crowd and their desire to help the community never a question.

But the Radio Boise benefit is of particular importance to Netson. He spoke candidly and at length about how, without something like Radio Boise, a community is left susceptible to the dangers of corporate takeover and how local, community radio isn't a privilege, it's a right.

Here's Netson in his own words:

"Culturally speaking, a group of people like us in a town like this without some kind of a central place, a culture is left really vulnerable to the influences of massive corporate stronghold happening right now in our country and around the world."

This goes way, way beyond local. I'm trying to say, culturally speaking, it's a place where people can call and know that real people are on the other side of the phone. That's a big deal. It's something that should happen no matter what in the sense that citizens own the airwaves. It was designed to be a service. It's not like that any more and it's appalling that there hasn't been any kind of college radio or a local radio of any kind."

We have so many corporations telling us who we are. With a community station, a community can define who they are themselves. Regardless of what they play, that's not even what's important to me, it's just that they exist. We have the right to have that. It should be happening in addition to fire departments and a police force. There's all these instances of catastrophes happening in smaller towns and nobody even knew what was happening because the radio stations were automated. Who do you call?"

A community station offers a place for dialog, real people saying real things. Without that dialog and people relating to each other and people feeling like they’re not alone, our culture is vulnerable."

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