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Young, energetic community activists and grizzled dirty hippies alike hailed last year's Low Power FM legislation. And it's worth celebrating; it's a tiny but important step to correcting the vast disaster that is the American radio dial. But so many questions arise when you sit to think how to capitalize on LPFM, and on the many other technologies that now fall under the "radio" banner. (Ironic, how fewer and fewer of those involve actual radios!)

Let's face it, the future is at least foggy ("glass half-full" perspective) and at worst bleak ("glass half empty") for liberal voices on the traditional radio dial. Look at the contrasts: Air America died quickly, with no replacement in sight; Glenn Beck signs on for more bazillions of dollars. But, my god, potential is still everywhere: LPFM, podcasting, satellite radio, the growing swarm of radio apps.

Question: how do we capitalize on that potential to give liberal voices a proper, powerful place in the public dialogue?

To answer that question, I want your stories and your wisdom.

In case we haven't met, I host a radio show based in Berkeley, airing on We Act Radio in Washington DC, and on KRXA in Monterey, California.

In this weekend's show, we had planned to spend an hour talking about LPFM. And we still plan to - these small, independent community voices play a growing role in educating and inspiring their hyper-local listeners. But along the way, we've discovered this particular topic cries out for extensive listener input on the very future of liberal radio communication itself.

You can't spend too much time looking into LPFMs past and present before you realize the tendrils reach into oh-so-familiar ponds of media murk: corporate ownership, of course, but also the less predictable battle between Corporation for Public Broadcasting entities and the "little guys"; the quandary, as ever unsolved, over how to make a living creating unabashedly liberal programming; what the hell is happening to the business of radio. (Note to our younger readers: see, people used to power up this boxy thing that had nothing to do with the internet, and sounds would come out ... ).

So this weekend, we'll delve into LPFM as planned. But we'll take the time to go beyond it too. What's the future of radio where liberal voices and information are concerned? Who's listening now - and where will they be listening tomorrow?

And the key question: what roadmap can we plot for liberal voices to take the greatest possible advantage of "radio", in its various forms, to inform, educate, entertain, and motivate?
Ideally, the collective wisdom of the Daily Kos faithful, the many guests we'll talk to, and the history we'll probe will coalesce into a DIY radio how-to that can benefit all. And I mean that quite literally -- because our country needs the broadest possible distribution of an honest, liberal point of view.

Please share your own experiences - as a broadcaster, as an activist, as an audience member seeking out the good stuff. Post here - or email me via our site - any of the following:

• your own tales from the trenches at Pacifica, small community stations, larger news organizations;
• the spoils of your search for good political information, well delivered, be it via traditional broadcast, podcasts, satellite radio, you name it;
• adventures in corporate radio;
• kudos to liberal/progressive/activist pioneers of eras past, and how that informs what you look for now.
Finally, let me make room for the naysayers, too. If you think radio is dead - as an art form, as a business, as a venue for political speech - we'll incorporate that into the show, too.

The future of "radio", be it terrestrial, analog, digital, satellite, can only be guessed at. What's sure is that, even as you're reading this, informed and impassioned voices on the Left-to-Center spectrum need a secure beachhead to build on - to reclaim our place in the larger dialogue. What wisdom can you add to this history, this plan? Email me, or post your thoughts below in the comments section. And please, share this all around! We're recording on Thursday and will incorporate the early input into the show, then continue this conversation here.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (9+ / 0-)

    It is a pretty sad situation when it becomes nearly impossible to tell the mentally ill from a political movement. - pgm 01

    by Liberal Dammit on Tue Jun 12, 2012 at 05:18:00 PM PDT

  •  Who has profited and therefore is behind our (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cassandracarolina

    consolidated print, TV, radio, and now internet media?    

    Answer that question and you will have the answer to our most basic problems of unreported corruption, zero investigative reporting, and a media that adores the money of Citizens United.     It's all about motive.  

    These other issues are band-aids to the real problem of permitting the existence of a PRAVDA-Like media CABAL instead of requiring thousands of independent views.  

    Victims of bigotry are the poorest, least influential members of society.......never the wealthiest, most educated, most overrepresented in high levels, and most influential. Bigotry hurts the least influential. To claim or say otherwise is absurd.

    by dailykozzer on Tue Jun 12, 2012 at 05:28:36 PM PDT

    •  Understood (0+ / 0-)

      But the point is -  how do we counter that? How do we marshal our resources, our shared energy, our techno-tools?

      Specifically to your point: what are the logistics of no longer permitting the cabal? Or do we cede them the traditional airwaves and target our energies elsewhere? Ratings show the same aging populace follows traditional radio that we see in the Republican party and in fundie churches. Shall we let them have their toy and die off, while we move in another direction? Or are the historic airwaves worth fighting for?

      It is a pretty sad situation when it becomes nearly impossible to tell the mentally ill from a political movement. - pgm 01

      by Liberal Dammit on Wed Jun 13, 2012 at 11:38:12 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Well, we're doing what we can, and (0+ / 0-)

    soon Daily Kos Radio will be joining the gabfest! But, yes, we need more help and more voices!
    This community is huge. Please support efforts like these to get the word out over the inter tubes! And, get on the radio! We're on tonight, live, 10pm-Mid. Pacific time. Shameless plug or not, we need help in getting the message out! That means we need your voices! Hat tip to Liberal Dammit for fighting the good fight!

    •  Is the progressive community huge? (0+ / 0-)

      The figures I've read say 30% on either side are committed liberals and 30% committed conservatives...8-10% "leaners" on either side (that's about 74-80%)...so that leaves roughly 20-26% the "undecided" or dreaded "independent" voters.

      How is it that conservative radio with Limbaugh, Beck, Hannity, etc can have such a significantly greater presence on the radio dial?  And don't say its a conspiracy with the producers...the radio producers will put people on the dial that make money...PERIOD.   Advertisers will support the programs with a committed base that spend money...when a business can see their revenues rise after advertising with a certain program, they keep on advertising or increase their advertising spend.

      If a company does not see a movement in revenue...they STOP advertising.   Now a lot of progressive companies tried to stick it out with Air America...but clearly, the listenership was just not there to support the companies that advertised on Air America.

      But going back to my original figures...the committed bases should be about the same...so why the huge disparity in the radio contents?

      I would think internet radio, and blogs would allow progressives to get out their message...but perhaps then, they are preaching to the choir.   Whereas, Hannity, Limbaugh, Beck...being on the radio dial...have the opportunity to pick up the listeners who are just scanning the dial...

      Why do you think this huge disparity exists?

      •  We believe the future, for liberals (0+ / 0-)

        at least, is internet radio, mainly due to the number of digital devices and gizmos that now act as the 21st century version of 1950s transistor radios - people can take them anywhere and listen anywhere, including over their car stereo.
        Air America may have failed becuz they were in the wrong markets. Internet radio doesn't rely on markets. It relies on "personalities" and content.
        30% this, 30% that, there are over 300,000 people on this blog and 1 million people read it every day. That's a pretty good place to be, and why we "anchored" our radio station to this blog. Whether or not we can attract any of them to our content is up to us, but I look at it as a HUGE opportunity for libs and progs to get off their dead asses and get involved in a medium that only has upside in terms of progressive activism. Using this medium to get out the progressive message is maybe THE best way to do just that. Finding a handful (among the 1 million readers) that see what we see is the challenge. We're not looking for millions of listeners (although we'll take them). We look at internet radio as a medium and means to attract activists, and to use the intertubes to create an activist network that eventually filters down to the precinct level. A network where Joe Blow on the block can call in to his "local chapter" of the activist radio network and chime in on what's going on in his neighborhood.
        We may be the first in that effort, but we hope we're not the last. Instead of "1,000 Points of Light" we need 1,000 internet radio stations. A network of 1,000 radio stations getting the progressive message out to all those Joe Blows on the block out there with nothing to listen to but el Rushbo and Sean Vanity. We are "open source" radio and we're here to help people get their own station up and running. The more the merrier!

  •  The disappearance of Stephanie Miller... (0+ / 0-)

    For a couple of years I caught an hour of Stephanie on my way to work in Burlingame.  On "Green 960" here in the SF Bay Area.  The station appeared to have some progressive leanings.  Randy Rhodes is still on at noon I believe.  But sometime a few months ago I was shocked to tune in and hear Glenn Beck in her slot.  Really ruined my week.  Obviously the dollar calculation was made; I just can't understand how this hate monger can get more listeners than Stephanie in this capitol of liberals.  

    A rising tide lifts all yachts. But rowboats get swamped.

    by oddmike on Tue Jun 12, 2012 at 08:22:22 PM PDT

  •  Good fodder here (0+ / 0-)

    Way too many points and subpoints to address here, but I'm taking them all down for the show. Thanks for your very important input.

    Meanwhile, I've posted email on the topic to the related blog post on our site.

    It is a pretty sad situation when it becomes nearly impossible to tell the mentally ill from a political movement. - pgm 01

    by Liberal Dammit on Wed Jun 13, 2012 at 11:42:24 AM PDT

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