Freedom Radio AFN Iraq, signing off

Armed Forces Radio Iraq
Armed Forces Radio Iraq

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.

Rants

Keeping Public Radio Public has a good one.

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.

Michael Copps talks the talk

The rest remains to be seen, of course.  I found this speech given by Commissioner Copps on April 9, at the National Conference for Media Reform in Boston, MA interesting.  He gets this part exactly right:

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.

And this:

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.

TuneIn Radio

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.