With US forces slowly withdrawing from Iraq, the country’s only English broadcast radio service signs off for the last time on Friday night (9/23). At one point, AFN Iraq covered the entire country on several FM frequencies with transmitters of 250 to 1,000 watts. Beginning in December of 2003, the station signed on with Paul McCartney’s “Freedom,” which morphed into the stations unofficial moniker “Freedom Radio.”
Similar to other AFRS/AFRTS broadcast operations that went before it, AFN Iraq radio was programmed with a combination of news, information, and music as a moral builder for the troops. The local Iraqi population also appreciated the radio station, posting several items on the station’s Facebook page (disappears Monday 9/26, alternate here) asking them to stay, requesting songs, or expressing gratitude or sadness.
In the end, Freedom Radio signed off with Porky Pigs “Th, th, th, th, th, ethea, etha, that’s all folks.”
The average age of a member of the US armed forces in 19 years old.
When Radio is relevant and provides good programming, information and entertainment, it continues to reign king, even among the iPod generation. To all those proponents of new media services like Pandora, Slacker, Last.fm, etc, your product is winning because the opponent has left the field.
And the lame-stream press — how dare they be called the “liberal media”! — only parrot the script prepared by the puppet masters, as corporate “largesse” and control has turned the media into toothless old watchdogs. They make good company for the regulatory agencies once charged with protecting the public from the excesses of corporate greed. They’re good dogs now, too.
Exactly why independent media outlets are not just a nice feature of a democracy. If one where to read the entire constitution of the United States, a theme, loosely known as “checks and balances” becomes apparent. You could also call that theme “Trust Not.” I recommend anyone who is interested in freedom read the Federalist Papers. Even with the watered down press, US Congress has a 9% (Rasmussen, April 2011) approval rating. Surely, the public understands that something is amiss and needs to be fixed.
While the internet and new media is great, it is too easy to mess with the internet. True independent media needs to have independent distribution, not beholden to corporate ISP’s, search engines, data centers and so forth. Radio fits that bill, to the extent that it is not broadcasting homogenized safe, automated, faceless music formats programmed from afar or content from The Borg like collective of NPR. Independent radio still exists in small pockets scattered here and there. Where it exists, it often thrives in spite of corporate conglomerate.
Of course, consolidation has reduced the radio business to a shell of it’s former self. The FCC has no interest in reigning in those corporations, or, so it seems, enforcing many of it’s own existing regulations. Money talks, screw the public.
What is the answer? Get involved. Don’t buy into the lies. Use your God-given senses and do some research. Draw your own conclusions. Make noise. Confront the corporatists with the facts. Use every means possible to get the word out. Write your representative or senator (after you register to vote). Talk to co-workers, friends, family people on the street, etc. It’s time, in fact, it’s now or never.
We see investigative journalism on the endangered species list, hundreds of newsrooms shuttered, reporters fired by the thousands, walking the street looking for a job instead of a story. And it didn’t start with the Internet because the process of media being high-jacked by the profit-at-all cost gang has been going on for decades. For the consolidated owners of radio and TV, the license to broadcast became a license to despoil. Visions of sugarplums danced in their heads–spectrum that belonged, they decided, to them rather than to the people.
Left to their own devices, these absentee landlords would put local and independent programming on a starvation
diet and feed us instead monotonous homogenized music and mindless infotainment masquerading as “news.”
And that has already happened in many places. The issue with traditional media in general is that the public can smell a rat. Watered down, syndicated “news” whether on the TV, radio, newspaper or news-magazine is not fooling anybody. When he was the president, Bill Clinton chided the American public for being cynical. I’d suggest that it wasn’t cynicism but fatigue due to lies. The degree to which licensees have ceded control of their stations to bankster masters is not known. I would hazard that it is far more common than not.
To some extent, “new media” has filled the vacuum. People in search of information and things they have, in the past, found on radio and TV now look to the internet. Youtube has become the launching platform for new music. News from all over the world is available with the click of a mouse. The problem with the internet is miss-information, either by ignorance or design. The other issue is it can be hard to come upon local news. I can read all about the tsunami in Japan, but try and find out what happened at the local school board meeting, good luck with that.
The question is; how to unscrew this mess, return competitive and credible media to this country. Further, this should be done without increasing administrative burden to licensees or increased enforcement and other expenses to the FCC. It should be a simple idea, like requiring a certain number of programming hours be live, from the main studio, putting the main studio back within the city grade contour, beginning to walk back the ownership limits, etc. The FCC is going to have to have the wherewithal to carry through. In this day and age of political expediency, wherewithal seems to be in short supply.
So, we’ve at least acknowledged the problem, now back to the fiddling.
I posted previously about how to listen to radio station streams on an Android phone. In the time between then and now, somebody has come up with a much better way to do it. TuneIn Radio is both a website for streaming and a mobile application for Android and iPhone users alike.
I have found that every local radio station that has a web stream is listed. The major overseas broadcasters like the BBC, CBC, Radio Netherlands, and so on as well as all of the non-government US owned shortwave stations are listed. As their website states:
With over 30,000 FM and AM radio stations from across the globe, TuneIn Radio makes radio local, no matter how far from home you might be.
Far easier than what I posted before. Further, this is exactly the type of service that terrestrial broadcasters needed the most; a concise consolidated listing broken down by genre and locality, to compete with Pandora, Slacker, Last.fm, et. al.
In order to download TuneIn Radio, point your mobile web browser to http://tunein.com and it will automatically direct you to the proper download source. Or one could search through the Apple store or Android Market to find the app.
The New York Times wrestles with a New Media business model. I have been reading the NY times on line edition for years. I find their articles interesting and often more comprehensive than other media counterparts, even if I don’t necessarily agree with the point of view. When I got my Android phone, I downloaded the NYT mobile application and enjoyed reading up on the latest news as time permitted. It became part of my morning routine.
On March 28th, all of that will change. The NYT will put up a paywall, charging $15 to $35 per month for anyone going past a twenty article threshold.
I have no plans to subscribe to any of these plans. I will limit my NYT reading to the twenty articles per month and then get my news elsewhere. This goes to show, once something is given away for free, it becomes very hard to charge for it later on.
This is a problem that new media types, myself included, have yet to figure out; how to make money with it. This blog is a good example; I work away, trying to come up with original material or expound on other’s work from an in the trenches point of view. I have a core group of regular readers (thank you!) and quite a bit of search engine traffic just passing through. Every once in a while, I get a good link in from slash/dot, boing boing, or dig, but those are rare. Some small amounts of money are made here and there, but could I live off of this? No. It is a labor of love more than anything else. Something to keep my mind occupied while in between my children’s pickups and drop offs. This is good because otherwise a fair amount of trouble could ensue.
While I empathize with the New York Times, those rates seem a bit exorbitant for an online distribution system.
I finally broke down and purchased a smart phone. Instead of the ubiquitous iPhone however, I opted for a HTC Incredible Android phone. Not that I have any distaste for Apple, Inc. Rather, it is more because of the lack of ATT coverage in areas where I travel and the new data plans from ATT.
The phone is great, I enjoy the functions, the GPS navigation tool, gmail, news, and all the other apps. It fills many roles while I am out gallivanting around earning a living.
I have tried Pandora in the past on my computer. I found it to be okay, not great. I guess my main issue was it seemed a little boring just listening to music. It was good music, and when I interacted with the programming, voting a song up or down, the music selections got better. But it was distracting to interact while I was trying work on the computer and in the end, I turned the volume down an it became background noise.
In the car, I figured, things would be different. I could listen to Pandora the same way I listened to my car radio. Lots of music would be great and not distracting at all.
Except… I found it to be… boring. The music was great but the whole thing lacks personality. I suppose we are blessed around here with several radio stations that play new music. With Pandora there was almost no new music, even if I created a new music radio station. Further, it seemed like something was missing: human interaction. I enjoy hearing the deeeejay talking about some band factoid or some such. Just listening to music endlessly left me wanting something more. Perhaps that is just me.
Whilst on the road to various places, I like to listen to WEQX in Manchester, VT; WDST, Woodstock, NY; WKZE, Salisbury, CT; WXPK, White Plains, NY. All of those stations have personality and play great music. They also stream audio, which means I can listen to them on my phone.
So Pandora gets a meh, the phone gets a thumbs up.
A pessimist sees the glass as half empty. An optimist sees the glass as half full. The engineer sees the glass as twice the size it needs to be.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
~1st amendment to the United States Constitution
Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both.
The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. To be your own man is hard business. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.
Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes the freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers
~Universal Declaration Of Human Rights, Article 19
...radio was discovered, and not invented, and that these frequencies and principles were always in existence long before man was aware of them. Therefore, no one owns them. They are there as free as sunlight, which is a higher frequency form of the same energy.