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I have produced music programming on community radio stations for some years. I love to do it because it is a good way to educate audiences about underappreciated genres and it’s fun. Whether it is sharing some forgotten gem or highlighting a new artist, the special power in community radio is in curating exceptional music. The human touch to music selection makes it interesting. Don’t get me wrong — I love Spotify and Tidal as much as others. Still, unlike algorithms, individual DJs can make music discovery a joy in their unpredictable choices.

Depending on your age and aesthetics, the DJ who brings in milk crates of vinyl records or stacks of CDs may seem like what a DJ is supposed to be. However, as the song goes, though, the times they are a-changing. More labels are going direct to digital or digital-first. …


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On Feb. 21, Milo Yiannopoulos resigned from Breitbart News, just a day after the Conservative Political Action Conference rescinded its keynote invitation and publisher Simon & Schuster killed its book deal with the far-right firebrand. Yiannopoulos, who drew violent protests in Berkeley Feb. 1, came under scrutiny after a conservative website unearthed footage of him seemingly criticizing laws prohibiting sexual relations with minors.

To most reasonable people, the idea that children can consent to sexual relationships with adults is twisted. Yet America’s courts and popular culture continue to hold at fault youth victimized by human trafficking, implying they choose to sell oral and anal sex to old men. …


Black History Month is a time to celebrate African-American contributions, culture, ideas and arts. And community media organizations nationwide recognize Black history every day.

Commercial media outlets are often criticized for distilling Black History Month to simply Martin Luther King clips and brief splashes of good, while delivering negative images the rest of the year. Community radio stations, inspired by volunteer energy in programming, bring something exciting to the table when it comes to Black History Month: media that is not about advertisers, horrors or sponsor logos, but is instead focused on the community, diversity and inclusion.

Community radio stations around the United States feature African-American themed talk shows, music programming that spotlights Black performers and podcasts and shows that highlight conversations about race and the American Dream. Here are some of the best to check out this Black History…


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A new Knight Foundation report on podcasting zeroes in on problems with diversity. It is an issue shared by public media, which had its public radio voice chat in 2015. The observations create space for a natural question: how does one find talent and sounds that are culturally, ethnically and geographically inclusive?

Current is among those which have led the way in talking about diversity:

In my estimation, it is a missed opportunity to not look to community radio for new voices and viewpoints.

Working with an organization focused on diversity in the space, I get to see unique voices that represent America’s promise of opportunity. Across the United States, community media institutions bring together diverse neighborhoods around the idea that everyday Americans can speak to their cities and towns. There are a lot of lessons for podcasting and public media. Whether it’s the welcoming of English-as-a-second-language constituencies on community radio stations like KFAI and WOWD-LP, the work of groups like the Latino Public Radio Consortium and Native Public Media, or the efforts to have the potentially uncomfortable dialogues in small town America, community media is the fourth estate’s frontline. …


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Photo Credit: #WOFinTech

The next great American podcast may not be incubated from Gimlet, Midroll, Panoply or Loud Speakers, but from community media.

Podcasting affairs are okay right now, of course. NPR and many organizations are doing well financially with podcasts. How long it lasts is more uncertain.


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We know, or perhaps are, those folks who put Pandora, Spotify or Apple Music on at the office. Or maybe it’s one of the cool music podcasts from Seattle’s KEXP. A discerning music lover generally likes to hear something they know alongside music they haven’t. Music discovery is why many of us spend so much time online.

For several years, I found a lot of music via podcast and through one of the services I just mentioned. For all the flak they get, fans rely on algorithms because they’re quite good. …


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Now far in the rear view mirror, the (Bill) Clinton years seem like a turning point for contemporary social movement strategy. …


In the final days of the Obama Administration and current Federal Communications Commission, commissioners covered a number of business items, including a brush with license revocation for Pacifica radio station WBAI. The series of complaints lodged over a two-year period are the result of broadcasts in which the radio station reportedly referred to an “an escaped fugitive who was involved in the shooting of a state trooper” — possibly Assata Shakur, the only woman on the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorists list — as a hero.

The decision [PDF] upholds the Commission’s long-held viewpoint on content. The memorandum reads, in part, that the FCC “will not take adverse action on a license renewal application based upon the subjective determination of a listener or group of listeners that the station has broadcast purportedly inappropriate programming.” …


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Much has been said about journalism since Donald Trump was elected in November. Some say journalism failed. Others see this as a call to better reporting. More people than ever see this moment as a chance to boost better media, which will be sorely needed in the years to come.

Supporting trustworthy journalism, Josh Stearns points out, is a great way to wrap the year. As 2016 winds down, you can do no better service to journalism, democracy and media than to donate to community radio.

I’m a fan of WNYC, NPR and the clutch of non-profit media that offer some of the most incisive journalism today. Like everyone else, I am also a fan of the underdog, the Rocky Balboa, the scrapper among the pack. The saying that the wolf at the base of the mountain is hungrier than the wolf on top of the mountain rings true. …


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Once in a great while, big, mainstream outlets cover stuff some of us geek out to, and it feels at once affirming yet maddening. The attention is awesome. Missed nuances are not so fun.

I got that feeling last night, while perusing recaps of television I won’t even admit to you, my friends, that I watch.

There it was, on one of online media’s darlings. A Slate essay forecasting the death of National Public Radio, America’s signature public radio network. Whoa.

Slate’s writeup is among a spate of works circling around a presumably wounded creature in NPR. Public media folks have been debating NPR’s sound, business model, digital strategy and more for quite awhile, so the Slate throw-in was intriguing. …

About

Ernesto Aguilar

writer on pubmedia, diversity, podcasting and culture. Opinions own.

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