Regular readers of the JMB.mx blog know that I’m a very avid shortwave radio listener. I am fascinated by the idea that a radio station on the other side of the world can broadcast a signal and I can pick it up (thanks to radio waves bouncing off of the ionosphere) thousands of miles away, but I also love the way that radio waves don’t respect national borders.
Positively, Shortwave radio lets listeners hear stations that provide alternative perspectives. While some countries try to jam these signals, generally no country can block its citizens from hearing all shortwave frequencies.
Negatively, the freedom of Shortwave radio allows some of the worst of human tendencies to get an outsized voice. When it comes to Shortwave commercial broadcasters in the USA, the stations tend to have a very narrow set of perspectives being broadcast – the majority being fundamentalist Christian groups (some more moderately evangelical but most being on the fringe of insanity IMHO), with the rest being a mix of extremely conservative Catholic religious broadcasting (EWTN), several racist groups (including a “Kingdom Identity” sect that promotes an anti-semitic Anglo-Israel message), and paranoid conspiracy nuts like Alex Jones. Which of course seems like a crying shame, that the many shortwave listeners around the world are hearing such a biased and distorted perspective on America and its people.
So… in light of all of this, I saw an interesting announcement on the website of the one of the commercial shortwave stations in the USA, that airtime was available for a very low-cost. The station in question broadcasts an interesting but also rather troubling mix of programs, including the racist groups discussed above, yet I also appreciate the fact that they are free speech purists and are willing to sell air time to almost anyone. And of course that means that the fundamentalists and racists don’t get a monopoly on the shortwave bands.
So in light of that, I’ve decide to a launch a radio project.
I don’t yet have a name for the project, but I’m planning to broadcast a weekly one hour broadcast on 9330 mhz via WBCQ (broadcasting from Monticello, Maine, with the best reception stretching from approximately Milwaukee, Wisconsin, southeast through Chicago and then onward through much of the Upper Midwest and Lower Appalachia through South Carolina, and then varying degrees of reception radiating out from there, with some good chances of reception in other parts of the USA, Canada, the Caribbean, Central & South America and possibly Western Europe.
My rough schedule for the hour broadcast might look something like this…
0-5 minutes introduction to program, thanks to sponsors (assuming I can get some, etc.)
5-15 minutes (NEED TITLE) – Program on peace, nonviolence and social justice issues
15-18 minutes – Program ID, Music and/or sponsor announcement
18-28 minutes – (NEED TITLE) – Program on Human rights and the law
28-30 minutes – Program ID, Music and/or sponsor announcements
30-60 minutes – (NEED TITLE) A Mennonite program, exploring issues of peace, social justice, economy and theology from a progressive/anarchist Mennonite perspective, probably a sermon along with some good singing, but maybe also some interviews, story telling, etc.
So then besides doing the over-the-air broadcasts, the individual programs would be available for online download as podcasts or possibly streaming format.
This might all be craziness but I think it is doable, assuming I can get some folks lined up to help me make this happen.
The needed elements would be…
1. Around $125/month to purchase airtime.
2. Some musicians who would be willing to let their songs be played (without paying royalties).
3. Ideally some content providers, folks who might be willing to put together some short audio segments (i.e. the 10 minute program on peace, the 10 minute program on human rights and the law and the 30 minute Mennonite program), or else who might be willing to write copy that I could read for some of those segments.
4. A lot of help in promoting the programming via social media.
5. Possibly an organizational sponsor — I am up for doing this on my own if need be, but it might be easier to pull off with some folks helping.
So anyway that’s what I’m working on. I’ve told the station that I’m committing for a weekly slot in October but the odds of this happening over the long-haul will dependent on the level of help I can get from the community!
On the money side of things, donations are certainly welcome and can be sent via paypal through this button. I’m paying for the first month out of my pocket but if I can get some donations for future programming that would be pretty awesome!