Why bring Democracy Now news to Rochester airwaves?
The Metro Justice Democracy Now committee is once again meeting regularly. After last years crushing defeat by WXXI who vigorously rejected our input, our petitions and our program, it seemed we had come to an impasse. However, last winter we began hearing about an enterprising group of progressives in Buffalo who acquired a commercial radio station, but whose adventure began with an initiative to buy time for Democracy Now on commercial AM Radio.
This seems like a pretty big initiative, and a little intimidating. However, this spring John invited Brian Cashdollar, the prime mover for AM 1270, The Voice of Reason in Buffalo, to come and speak to us at Metro Justice Office. His story was fascinating, inspiring, and at least the first part seems eminently do-able. They started out by leasing a slot on the local Air America station to run Democracy Now. We think we can do this much. The station wasn't doing very well due to poor management of the programming, so they eventually were able to use the lessons they learned programming their leased time to take over the entire station and actually make it profitable. That’s a dream for the future.
Meanwhile, getting back to the beginning, we are working up a plan to lease time on our local Air America station to run Democracy Now. It will require an investment of a significant amount of time, energy and money to make this happen, but we are very enthusiastic about the opportunity. We have been investigating the possibility of leasing time on AM 950 locally and evaluating our options and resources. So, we are once again in the business of bringing Democracy Now to Rochester radio.
The renewal of this initiative has caused me, once again, to think about what we are trying to accomplish. Why is it so important to bring Democracy Now to the local airwaves? The issue isn't really so that I, personally, will have access to the show because I usually watch it online. It is also on Link TV and FreeSpeech TV Satellite Channels, and on the Rochester Access Channel on cable once a day. All of these venues are accessible to some of the local population. None is accessible to everyone, but more than that, these are all venues that most people aren't aware of, and which a person is unlikely to turn to unless they seek it out. We would like to see Democracy Now in a venue where new people will come across it and have an opportunity to hear it.
And why is it important that people hear Democracy Now? I have been listening to Air America lately, and I notice that the talk is highly politicized, and 'liberal' commentators basically report the same news as the so called 'conservative' ones, but with a different spin. There is lots of lively analysis and competitive talk. The content is framed as ‘entertainment’. What Democracy Now does is provide substance, and it provides it in a dignified and serious format. It not only looks at the news a different way, but it presents the information that the others aren't getting across. It fills in the gaps and reframes events so that they make sense in a larger perspective. When you see the big picture, your understanding of events is forever changed. The blindfolds are off.
Democracy Now is often represented by mainstream critics (for instance WXXI management) as very ‘far out’, but when you actually hear it, you see that they use many credible, often mainstream sources for their stories, and always have solid documentation for them. They frequently interview highly credible sources like Seymour Hersh and Robert Fisk, as well as lots of people on the ground in the places where news is actively breaking, and people like Noam Chomsky, who is renowned for his unique insights into international relations. If an issue is controversial, they invite adversarial commentators and have a debate.
For these reasons, I have high hopes for the success of the current campaign to bring Democracy Now to Rochester. I think we are going to get there this time. And, I think that once people hear the show, they will come back and listen again. Information is habit forming. Aside from the fact that a venture into radio production looks like a grand adventure, it is for a cause that can't be overstated. Freedom of information and the "Free Press" are being undermined from within right now, and we will not continue as a free society if we don't fight back. We need to take back the airwaves, keep the internet free, and openly challenge the mainstream press to tell the truth.
If you are interested in participating in this initiative, send an email to Democracy Now Steering Committee