We are not conspiracy mongers, but in each of these three depressing cases, Chicago elites ARE attempting to suppress dissenting voices and augment capital accumulation through the theft of public resources. But in each case, errors were made on "our side" too. So let's call this an open conspiracy, for which we are partly to blame.
The WZRD radio club members are organizing to challenge the takeover that started with a Northeastern Illinois University administration lockout of deejays on Friday June 29th. The station is continuing to broadcast with live DJs that the university prepared secretly to run the station. As of now, they are no longer following the freeform programing philosophy of "The Wizard".
According to speech communication associate professor at North Central College Steve Macek, "At the moment, NEIU is headed by President Sharon Hahs -- who not long ago had a vote of no confidence from the faculty for her undemocratic governance of that institution -- and she has been especially hostile to dissident political speech on campus. She implemented a policy restricting demonstrations on campus to two 90-minute blocks on Tuesday and Thursday afternoon, banned posters and flyers and has harassed and persecuted NEIU professor Loretta Capeheart for speaking out on behalf of student protestors.
According to a wizard (deejay) at WZRD another cause is "manager problems. Those were largely the result of a 3 1/2 year campaign of interference from the university media coordinator that undermined club solidarity and destroyed in-house training and management ability."
He continues, "Once the license renewal is complete in December, it is suspected that a new radio club will be formed that will be more inclusive of other university student tastes and attentive to the doings on campus. We were told it could also be placed under the auspices of the Communications department."
More - Northeastern IL University Automates WZRD-FM, Locks Out All DJs.
"The board of Evanston Community Television announced today that it's not renewing the contract of its long-time executive director, Steve Bartlebaugh... ECTV is in the midst of a move to the city's municipal service center to eliminate its rent and utility costs. The board says it plans to rely more on board members to handle day-to-day operations and the build-out of the new facilities."
There is a lot more to this story. The public access channel in the Chicago suburb of Evanston has been dark for over a month. ECTV is broke. It's funding was reduced from $360,00 to $200,000, and this year to $100,000 and its move to new quarters cost at least that. Steve, active at the station from the very beginning in the early eighties, would not have resigned unless things were pretty hopeless and it was time to get out. If the station somehow gets back on the air, it appears that it will limp, stagger and collapse soon. The City wants to keep access for itself of course and for the school districts.
And the story is not over yet. This author has been in discusions with the Evanston Public Library on the subject of community media centers, including a possible low power fm radio station, to enhance civic engagement, citizen journalism, media literacy education, other programming, paid freelance journalists from Medill and elsewhere, and related issues. If/when ECTV goes belly up, there is a very good chance that its equipment will end up at EPL. The Library has finally selected a permanent director and it looks like they scored big: the deputy Commissioner of the Chicago Public Library. Read more here.
More - ECTV drops executive director in budget crunch
And from Chicago Public Media, the third shoe drops:
"Chicago Public Media (CPM) is partnering with the National Museum of Mexican Art to expand community programming. CPM is purchasing the community signal of WRTE 90.5 FM (Radio Arte), the Museum’s youth-driven Latino public radio station. As part of the partnership, CPM is also pursuing options to purchase key programs from the Radio Arte line-up to expand programming of WBEW 89.5 FM (Vocalo), sister station of WBEZ. This partnership between two youth-driven public radio stations builds on a collaborative history and their complementary community missions."
It does not take much money or space to run a low power fm radio station. The NMMA had been operating at the $200,000 level. It can be done for $20,000. And sometimes for $2,000. I was very disappointed with museum director Carlos Tortolero's lack of interest in the station in my phone conversation with him last year. Vocalo director Sylvia Rivera used to be GM at Radio Arte, so I guess things could be worse. But let's hope this turns out to be just a temporary custodianship that CPM is providing until a more suitable overseer is found for one of the only youth run radio stations in the country.
More - Chicago Public Media Partners With National Museum of Mexican Art
So, contributing to the primary evil -- namely, the elites' desire to control speech and information so that they can line their own pockets -- have been: a poor station manager in the case of Northeastern Illinois University and WZRD; an insufficient understanding of how to adapt to the changing media landscape in the case of the City of Evanston and Evanston Community Media Center; and not giving a shit in the case of the NMMA and Radio Arte.
Big problems, including media justice problems, do come in threes.
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