If you have driven anywhere near larger towns such as Austin, Seattle, Santa Fe, Albuquerque, et cetera, and have had to shuffle through radio stations, you will have undoubtedly come across a radio station’s programming that isn’t quite your typical, commercial Top 40 mash-up of generic music and content.
A station whose programming is more geared toward a local flavoring of music, art, events, auto-gestation and serving as a resource to promote local events and causes. If you think about it, how else would locals have the chance to promote, be exposed to, and be informed and educated about local organizations, events, artistic gatherings all the while being given a public forum for expression and communication without the red tape and hang-ups of commercial radio?
That is exactly what a group of Fayetteville folks is trying to bring to our fair town. Headed by members from various, already well-established organizations and businesses, Fayetteville Community Radio, 97.3 FM, looks to be a radio station of the community, for the community, by the community. Joe Newman, whose background is in media reform and activism, elected station manager and ad hoc organizer, says the genesis of the idea and concept for the radio station was of one that would “give the community a megaphone,” where normally the community did not have one, to share news, ideas and activism, and events of community interest.
Newman points out that with the radio station they hope to service community groups trying to reach the community as well as teach people how to provide information, non-profit education, and provide a platform, as well as support politically-inclined activism. However, the activism is not the totality of the radio station. The programming itself will be produced by members of the community, on a volunteer basis, thusly the content will be created by local DJ’s, personalities, musicians, local talk shows with content that would not normally be found in the Top 40 stations, as well as nationally syndicated shows not typically available from commercial media.
“Fayetteville Community Radio features locally-produced programming and presents cultural, artistic, and political perspectives currently underrepresented in the media. Our goal is to inform and empower listeners to play an active role in our radio station and in the community. Our programming promotes equality, peace, sustainability, democracy and social and economic justice.”
The actual broadcasting radio station will be housed in Nightbird Books at 205 W. Dickson St. with a production station already in existence at the OMNI Center located in north Fayetteville. To be able to build the space and obtain all the audio equipment needed to broadcast, the group is hosting a fundraiser at Greenhouse Grille on March 16. With a goal of $30, 000, Gladys Tiffany, director of the OMNI Center, the nonprofit that holds the license for the radio station, says that it might be “some money upfront, but once done it will be pretty cheap to operate.”
Excited about the initial response from the public and how the project is progressing towards the fundraising date, Tiffany says that Fayetteville is an area with a wealth of creativity, and that “this is a place that has huge creativity to put into a project like this and we deserve this opportunity.” Once built, she mentions that the station wants and expects full participation from the community, since it is theirs. “It is a public square for our voices.”
If you are as excited about the opportunity of Fayetteville having a radio station which focuses on local life, art, media and civic engagement and activism, as this writer is, you can find more information about the station on their Facebook group page, www.facebook.com/Community.Radio.Community.Voice or contact them via email at FayComRadio@gmail.com.
The fundraiser and silent auction will be held at Greenhouse Grille on March 16 from 5-8 p.m., admission is a $10 donation. If you cannot make it to the fundraiser, but would still like to make your tax deductible donations, send them to the OMNI Center at 3274 N. Lee Ave. Fayetteville, AR. 72703. Make sure to write “Radio” on the memo portion of your check or you can donate online at www.omnicenter.org.