Indie media mogul
Kim Williams during her U.S. Air Force days
. How else to describe Kim Williams
, who manages her own online network showcasing a growing roster of progressive and creative talent? Kim has had an amazing, sometimes bumpy, journey from the Reddest of states to the first Iraq War to her current position as curator of online goodness (disclosure: Messaging Matters, as well as the “Turn Up the Night with Kenny Pick”
show for which the author is a co-host, are both featured at Kim’s Indie Media Weekly
site). We recently caught up with Kim, and we were exhilarated by her accomplishments as well as her views. We think you will be too:
You have described your life as an example of overcoming abuse that occurred early on. How has this affected your attitudes and values today?
I was a childhood and teenage victim of some pretty heinous sexual, psychological, and physical abuse and torture perpetrated by my now-deceased stepfather. My life has been defined in great part by the struggle to overcome the damage and scars that abuse left me with as an adult. In order to keep my sanity and grow as a person I needed to find a way to be at peace, as much as possible with what happened to me. The bottom line for me and what has saved me and given me back a life worth living is the lesson that ALL adversity is here to serve us if WE choose to let it teach us the lessons it has for us. The first lesson and the HARDEST for me was learning to forgive. It’s still a struggle at times, but years of mindful practice around that has truly helped me in so many other ways. The second most important lesson for me was no matter what horrible things happen, the only way to honor that which has been lost is to make positive change in its honor instead of continuing harm in an effort to find peace.
That photo shows you in a U.S. Air Force uniform, where you served during George H.W. Bush’s Gulf War. What made you decide to join the armed forces?
The short answer is: I was bored with life in East Texas and I’m pretty sure joining the military at 27 was the start of my penchant for making drastic changes in my life. The Air Force Medical Corps was a great experience. I was very immature and the structure and discipline around military life and work was a very good thing for me. Our Hospital group from Carswell AFB was deployed to Zweibricken, Germany for Operation Desert Storm and we spent 6 months there working a third echelon hospital we set up in a 300 year old building. I left the Air Force in 1992, and not long after that the base was closed and Robert L. Thompson Regional Hospital was taken away from the 300,000 Greater Dallas/Fort Worth military retirees who relied upon it and turned into a hospital for Federal prisoners. That was an early clue that something wasn’t right with America for me, but it would be another few decades before I realized just how much was really wrong.
What did you do after serving in the Gulf War?
My training and skills as an ACLS certified Paramedic, as well as the skill set I had normally reserved for physicians in the civilian world, was not recognized in the state of Texas. I ended up taking a job as a Phlebotomist in a hospital in Bedford, a suburb between Dallas and Fort Worth. I was shocked to find out that civilian healthcare was, in my opinion, woefully substandard to the military system I had just left behind. I decided it was time to leave when the department was downsized in favor of a new patient care model called the Patient Care Associate. I was retained to train them how to draw blood and one of my first trainees had been making my breakfast in the hospital cafeteria the day before and had absolutely zero medical training. I moved to Houston and worked harvesting bone and tissue from cadavers after that. I got a job as a medical assistant with a large physician group where I eventually worked my way up in training and development. But the company I worked for was destroyed by a competitor and taken out of the market. I sold my beautiful home in the Heights, all the toys and took my profits and golden parachute and purchased 5 acres and a cabin on the Appalachian trail on the Tennessee/North Carolina border.
Do you recall a particular moment or time period when you had a political awakening and decided that it was important to be an active, informed member of the political process?
I had just spent a year on my mountain, on what I call my spiritual quest to find my soul and it led me inside, but it also gave me a reason to look up from my own self-involvement and start to question material reality. The clear defining moment when activism in one form or another became a daily way of life for me was the day I saw [Michael Moore‘s 2004 documentary] “Fahrenheit 9/11.” I had to drive to Nashville to see the movie, and by the time I got back to the mountain I had a plan to start a blog and start speaking out. Not long after that it started getting hits from the Penatagon, the CIA, CENTCOM, etc. I knew back then as many did that the Bush Administration was monitoring dissent and leaving their fingerprints around to give people pause. I admit it scared the shit out of me.
How did you then make the jump from a blog to podcasting, or Internet radio?
I wanted the ability to have live broadcasting by multiple, remote DJ’s, the option for me to break in live at any time, control of a massive auto DJ music library in between live broadcasts AND the ability to schedule prerecorded shows a/k/a “podcasts” all in the same station stream. I learned about podcasting first and used Libsyn to distribute that, and then I discovered Blog Talk Radio. I hated the sound quality and I decided to learn about alternative ways I could do live Internet broadcasting and discovered the platform we use now, Live Web DJ. My main mission in all of this has always been to give a platform for those speaking truth to power. I have been able to do that with Indie Media Weekly. IMW is basically a collaboration of indie media folks from all kinds of backgrounds. I love diversity and that is something I think we are doing a good job of bringing to our audience. Our tag line is “Progressive Talk, News, Innovative Shows and Rock and Roll,” but even that just begins to scratch the surface of the great indie media talent we have to offer at IMW.
We have been very fortunate to have a loyal listener of the “Turn Up The Night with Kenny Pick” (TUTN) show step up and sponsor a large portion of the station expenses. I’m very excited about our Associate DJ program and the opportunity it affords people to join our station and do live Internet DJing with no prior experience and at very little cost to them. So, no prior experience, just a desire, a lot of effort and a collaboration with Kenny Pick that has made all the difference.
You’re now a big part of the home-based Internet radio trend, with “Turn Up the Night” and other channels carried on Indie Media Weekly. Can this programming and distribution method effectively challenge the corporate media, which we know tend to be conservative?
I think Indie Internet media is the only thing that can challenge the corporate-owned mainstream media. Thus the attack on net neutrality. They know we are the only viable threat and it’s already starting to hurt their market share. I do wish more people realized what a vast world of indie media is available to them in the palm of their hand right now with the advent of the smartphone, with apps like Tunein radio and other streaming media player apps. Bandwidth is expensive, be it on a smartphone or in your home, and I get that. I hope we get some competition and prices come down for people in the future, but til then I think it’s an individual choice about what to spend money on. Indie Media is something I am willing to spend it on and I hope a lot of other people feel that way too.
In addition to IMW, you are also involved with some creative media projects that are not necessarily as directly political, including Indie Media Weekly Radio, Blue Sky Highway, Creative Nexus Café and New World Creative Union. Tell us a bit about those.
Actually, I’d have to say I think everything is political to some degree…lol. At least that is how I see the world. The Creative Nexus and its spinoffs are very much about speaking to the challenges of our modern world through poetry, music and art. I guess that is what politics really is to me, an attempt to shape the world in a particular way. I’m very excited about a new collaboration with Roger Allen Baut of The Creative Nexus to bring audio bios/music and/or spoken word pieces to the station. We are currently developing these and will be rolling them out to be interspersed in our regular playlist rotation over the next few weeks.
We have some outstanding prerecorded shows too that people should check out at Indie Media Weekly Radio (IMWR). Another collaboration I am excited about is Michael Ash Sharbaugh‘s new show, "The Broken Doorway," which will be premiering Saturday, January 24. Michael is bringing new Indie music to IMWR from across all musical spectrums in his new show. I produce a weekly cannabis news show for Toke Signals Radio with Steve Elliott. I probably missed something, so I encourage readers to go to IMW and check out the schedule of shows and have a look around.
One exciting thing you touched on earlier is IMW’s Associate Live DJ program. Please tell us more about that.
This program is really a dream come true for me as it really gets to the heart of my mission with Indie Media. Getting people on the air who might not otherwise have the opportunity due to expense, technical expertise or whatever. The new Associate DJ shows that are just music are adding a fantastic new dimension to the station as well, with Paul’s Memory Bank and Midnight Sun with Adam Hebert. We have a page dedicated to all the details of the program and I hope to have more DJ’s signing up in 2015.
Republicans and conservatives are great at playing politics, including staying on message, manipulating the media, gaming the system, raising corporate cash and using every trick in the book. How can progressives compete effectively, and how can media like IMW help?
I think liberals/progressives have such a hard time “staying on message” because we have so many messages. We live in a technicolor world and conservatives live in a black and white one… or rather a white and everything else that is not white one. But ultimately, I think the key to overcoming the conservative lie machine is to share the truth. Find sources you know you can trust and support and share them like your life depends on it because it really kind of does.
I grew up around conservatives in East Texas, home of the Gohmert Republican, and after 53 years of observing their ways, I have come to the conclusion they have Conservative Personality Disorder. A mental disease characterized by the complete inability for introspection and questioning of their own beliefs. Putting them in charge of our government is like giving your car keys to a drunk. Take action where you can. Find Indie Media you resonate with and support it with your heart, dollars and your time. I would like to recommend a great Facebook group where we do just that: Ready to Fight for Liberals and Justice. And join me every Friday on TUTN for my Indie Media Moment segment for more great suggestions.
Turning adversity, both personal and political, into positive change seems to be Kim’s credo. That’s a great role model for all of us
[Originally posted at Messaging Matters. Copyright 2015 -- All rights reserved]