The Prometheus Radio Project’s Reclaim the Airwaves Tour comes to Savannah

From the Facebook invitation for an intriguing event on Sunday, December 16th from 6 to 8 p.m. at Trinity United Methodist Church on Telfair Square in Savannah:

Join us for an informal presentation and talk with organizer Jeff Rousset of The Prometheus Radio Project.

Prometheus organizes in support of opening up the public airwaves for community radio, and then helps local communities create stations that can be nexuses of social justice work and local expression. These stations, created and run by the people they serve, can be a great place for local folks to come together, share ideas, communicate about critical issues, and work together for positive change. They are especially powerful because they create communications infrastructure for communities working hard to meet their challenges and create change.

When 2011’s Local Community Radio Act was signed into law, public airwave restrictions were repealed, and the opportunity for communities to reclaim the airwaves from corporate control was created. Communities now have the chance to broadcast local news, independent music and arts, and other diverse programming not heard on commercial radio.

Savannah will be hosting the Reclaim the Airwaves 2012 Tour at Trinity United Methodist Church from 6-8PM to bring together interested members of the community to learn more about the work of Prometheus Radio and how community radio could benefit Savannah.

From a press release on the Prometheus Radio website:

November 30, 2012

Washington DC — Today the Federal Communications Commission announced that for the first time in more than a decade, community groups nationwide will soon be able to start small, local radio stations. Nonprofit organizations, schools, Indian Tribes and public safety agencies can apply for Low Power FM (LPFM) stations in October 2013. For the first time ever, the agency will allow these noncommercial stations in urban areas.

The news is long-awaited by the Prometheus Radio Project and its supporters, who led the grassroots coalition that pushed Congress to pass the Local Community Radio Act of 2010. The law expanded community radio by directing the FCC to make more channels available nationwide, reversing an earlier law that relegated stations to rural settings. The FCC implemented the law by creating more flexible rules on where new stations can be located.

“Finally, communities without a voice on the airwaves will have a chance to control their own local media,” said Brandy Doyle, Policy Director for the Prometheus Radio Project. “Thanks to the significant step forward today, we will see a wave of new radio stations that better reflects the diversity of our country.”

PrometheusRadioThere’s a page with quick summaries of the disparate models of existing non-profit community radio stations.

But what might this look like in Savannah?

Just thinking off the top of my head, I could imagine a hyperlocal non-profit station that includes some mix of the following:

  • a big dose of local music — both live and recorded
  • interviews and live studio sets with touring bands
  • a place where area students can air segments they’ve produced
  • talk shows with guests with some special knowledge of Lowcountry culture
  • discussions with artists
  • special focus on environmental issues
  • literary readings and interviews with local authors
  • discussions on “the art of social change”

Who would actually operate this? Where would it be based? How would startup and operational costs be covered?

All those seem like easily solved questions — if there’s a core of local citizens committed to making something like this happen.