Well, spank my ass and call me Charlie, the L.A. Times reports today that AOL Time Warner has been in talks with Disney about possibly spinning off the ABC News division and merging it with CNN as a stand-alone company. Apparently this has been a morsel of discourse between the two for about 18 months now.
This isn’t the first time Time Warner has tried to spin off CNN; it apparently danced with CBS for a while before that deal fell through. Continue reading “ABCNN? Don't Laugh”
I know there hasn’t been much new up on the site lately, but I have a good excuse. Madison, WI has been the site of the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ national annual convention this past weekend. As a member of the Madison Independent Media Center, I’ve been heavily involved in covering the event and related street actions.
From the 10-plus pages of stories that have been filed about the event and the live internet radio webstream that we had up, it has been incredibly busy, yet incredibly exhilirating. I finally slept for 17 hours yesterday. Continue reading “Where I've Been”
One of the things mainstream radio in America has all but abandoned is journalism. It’s only been a half-century since the advent of television, and from then to now is the time it’s taken for radio news to all but disappear.
Radio news departments were some of the first casualties in the industry’s downward spiral into consolidation and cost-cutting sparked by the passage of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. It costs a lot of money (read: salaries) to produce local news, and offers some of the lowest return on investment (read: ad rates).
As an independent media movement took root at the end of the last century, activists rediscovered radio journalism. A portable minidisc recorder makes it possible for one person to archive a large amount of sound on a matchbook-sized medium; regular cassette tapes are cheaper still. And the MP3 file system makes coverage of events and interviews easy to produce and distribute online. Continue reading “Guerrilla Radio News”
It’s been nearly four years since the radio industry began feeding on itself, but it really didn’t hit home until just this month.
As a child, it seemed that WMAQ Radio (AM 670) was always on in my mother’s kitchen. The station had been around almost since radio broadcasting was born. WMAQ took to the air in Chicago in April of 1922. With 50,000 watts of power, WMAQ easily boomed through to southern Wisconsin, where I grew up.
WMAQ is probably best known for its firsts – it was the first station to broadcast a live transatlantic conversation; the first to do play-by-play of professional baseball games; it hosted the first educational radio program (FM radio broadcasting was still more than two decades away from reality). Continue reading “The Sound of Silence”
The biggest threat to any totalitarian government is not the armed potential of its disillusioned citizens; it is the ideas of those citizens infecting others.
One of the first things Nazi German conquerors did when taking over territory was to silence any media not controlled by the state; doctrine told military commanders to take control of radio stations.
That strategy remains true today, and nowhere else is it more prevalent than in the embattled Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, where tensions between the Serbian-controlled central government, still led by President Slobodan Milosevic, and dissidents from a broad spectrum of ethnic, religious and cultural backgrounds continue to simmer. Continue reading “Radio B2-92: The Fourth Crackdown”
It’s been about a year since the National Association of Broadcasters released its “Anti-LPFM lobbying kit” for its members to use as ammunition in a lobbying assault to overturn the FCC’s proposed low power radio service.
What a difference a year makes. The FCC has since approved a conservative LPFM plan, but the NAB is going full-out with a push on Capitol Hill to try and kill it. So far, the votes in support are racking up, and there’s a better-than-even chance the broadcast industry will succeed in its mission.
As part of last year’s “lobbying kit,” the NAB provided a “sample editorial” for its member stations to use in their local newspapers. It was a cheap attempt at furthering its propaganda; as an antidote, I prepared a pro-LPFM sample editorial directly based on the NAB’s original text. Continue reading “Dueling Editorials, Round Two”
Belgrade free radio station B92 has been under siege for more than four months – much longer than Operation Allied Force lasted. That’s because it’s easier to rebuild things than people, and, after all, the Combined Forces of NATO was dropping tons of bombs on them. A warning notice from the FCC is cake after this.
Providing a true sense of the scene while the bombs fell and providing independent commentary from both sides of the fence, it’s been a dangerous time, with numerous threats, surveillance, and the murder of colleagues.
Fortunately, though, B92’s back on the air, with a slightly new name, but no change in the the old attitude and resolve. Continue reading “Radio B2-92”
While the bombs might have stopped falling, the casualties in Yugoslavia’s war on independent media are still coming in. In fact, the military respite Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic has is giving him more energy and resources to devote to rooting out any remaining opposition and consolidating his power.
It is not a war of words, either. Central to the conflict is radio station B92, a 200-watt free radio station in the capital city of Belgrade. After ten years on the air (and two busts during that time), a third – and possibly final – one happened shortly before NATO bombs began to fall on Serbia and Kosovo.
The Yugoslav central government raided Radio B92, seizing its equipment and briefly detaining its chief operators. After maintaining firm control over the hardware, authorities apparently upgraded it, assembled a new “management team,” and opened up a “new” Radio B92 a few days after the raid – with a signal five times stronger than the original B92 ever put out. Continue reading “Balkan Busts, Bloodshed Continue”
All good things must come to an end, and it appears that’s the case with Yugoslavia’s B92. The Belgrade broadcasters had been an unlicensed, full-service community radio station in every sense of the word.
When the NATO air campaign began, B92’s importance changed significantly. Only hours before the first bombs fell, Yugoslav authorities confiscated B92’s transmitter and arrested and detained its founder for about eight hours.
The station wasn’t intimidated, though: it became a coveted source of information to the rest of the world from inside a country under political siege. Internet and satellite uplinks from B92 staffers continued – until Friday. Continue reading “The Yugoslav Crackdown on Free Radio”
Standing center-stage in the world headlines right now is the current NATO military campaign against Yugoslav military targets in the province of Kosovo. Ideology and other issues aside, information as to what’s happening inside the country right now is sketchy, as all journalists from NATO countries have been expelled from the province and from other key locations in Yugoslavia where regular updates on action can be obtained.
Fortunately for the world, and not so for the Serbian-controlled government, intrepid broadcasters who’ve been counteracting state-controlled media influence are right in the thick of things. And this isn’t just a ragtag bunch of activists looking to make a statement, staring at official letters threatening court action or fines.
These “pirate” broadcasters have it all on the line – and the risk could be life or death. Continue reading “Free Radio Under Fire”