Tuesday, April 30, 2002

Ravaging Radio III
Astute Media Dietician Clint Scaff recently sent me several essays written by Davey D, a Bay Area hip-hop activist and journalist -- and moderator of some of the sessions at the Hip Hop As a Movement conference Clint recently attended. The essays are as follows:

  • The Crack Down on Internet Radio
  • Internet Radio's Shaky Future
  • The Crack Down on Internet Radio Part 2: How Radio Really Works

    Davey D brings several important qualities to the debate. First of all, he's an active traveler, and he comments that, "One is likely to hear the same 20 songs down to the rotation whether you're in Boston, Philly or Madison, Wisconsin." This indicates that national, syndicated, commercial radio programming -- while efficient and profitable -- negates any possibility for regional musical trends to truly get attention outside of noncommercial or college -- or pirate -- radio stations. Secondly, he's rooted in the indie/DIY hip-hop scene, so he has access to recordings the rest of us can't access because the small-scale media and music activists don't have access to the large-scale, commercial, mainstream media. People like Davey D can dig for the gems -- but can he share them with us? On the Web, yes. He can. "Many of the people I come across are emphatically dissatisfied with what they are having to hear day in and day out on their local commercial radio stations," Davey writes. "Many have gone through great lengths to rig up their home stereos to their computers and have it programmed so they can pick up Internet radio stations from all around the world."

    Davey goes on to say that much of the politically oriented hip hop -- music that might very well parallel the political rock created during the early days of commercial underground radio -- is ignored by commercial and even some college stations. His involvement in grassroots politics highlights the need to remain politically and culturally aware when you're choosing what media you use as a tool -- or even solely as entertainment. Lastly, Davey bemoans the loss of the personal in commercial radio -- the connection with the DJ, the community service aspect of broadcasting, the feeling that there is a family of listeners tuned in right here, right now.

    While Davey goes far to suggest that Net radio might be the tool we need to combat these dire radio forces, Rene Spencer Saller goes even further, even calling the RIAA "demonic." Rene touches on several examples of Web broadcasters who've come into contact with the RIAA, the Copyright Arbitration Royalty Panel, the Library of Congress and other actors involved in the recent licensing fee proposals.

    The clock is ticking. There's a hearing -- one of many, I'm sure -- at the Library of Congress on May 10, and the decision date is May 21. That's three weeks. It's not too late to get involved and do your part to save Net radio.
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