Internet Radio is Booming in Dublin

Little Rock      In Dublin, Ireland, ACORN’s affiliate, CATU-Ireland, shares offices in a progressive, community co-working space with a bunch of different organizations and artists in a building near the Mountjoy neighborhood called Jigsaw.  The name captures the sense of bringing a number of different groups – pieces – in the city together.  Meetings are held downstairs.  There was a rave the Saturday night before I arrived that went all hours.  We share space with the Dublin Tenant Action Group and next door was a small space with D.D.R. marked on the front window.

D.D.R.  stands for Dublin Digital Radio, an internet radio station that started only two or three years ago and has made their studio in Jigsaw.  Different kinds of music and hosts have found a home there quickly.  I talked to Rachel Kiersey at some length for Wade’s World. She and her son are on the board of the Community Action Tenants Union and their family had put me up the first night I was in Dublin on an estate about forty kilometers outside of the city, bordering the Irish Sea.  She acts as the scheduler for D.D.R., so it gave me an opportunity to learn more about how such internet-streaming only stations were getting on.

We’re very interested for many reasons.   Of course, all of our stations stream on the internet, so we know how powerful that can be.  Importantly, we are trying to move mountains, almost literally, but more accurately find the tallest building that might work in the giant Korogocho megaslum in Nairobi, so we can stream at KOCH-FM, which we are now co-managing as a small “voice of the people” station in this area where we have been organizing ACORN for most of a decade.   AM/FM, the Affiliated Media Foundation Movement, is also supporting a joint application for an internet station operating in Uganda with our application before the commissioners now.  We’re hoping that could also be a prelude to a terrestrial station.  The challenging question is whether it will work and be sustainable.

Certainly, the experience in Dublin with D.D.R. seems to be a big resounding, yes.  They are just off of a 20,000-euro crowd funding campaign to move and build out a new studio in larger space, and their support exceeded their goals.  They have more than one-hundred “residents,” which is what they are calling their hosts or DJs.  Their website is gorgeous!

Rachel was unsure about their listenership precisely.  They are using a program that makes analytics difficult, and expensive it seemed to me, but the support from hosts and listeners, as evidenced by the fundraiser, seems strong.  They have found a big opening on the dial for alternative music, partially it seems because the noncommercial side of radio is decidedly not community radio, if I understood her correctly.  Furthermore, such local, community stations that exist are also commercial.  Clearly that helps pay the bills, but it’s different from the US experience by a long shot.

Radio is still powerful everywhere.  We just submitted our renewal application for WAMF in New Orleans, next week we will do so for WDSV in Greenville, and KABF is coming up this spring.  The AM/FM board has its annual meeting in coming days in New Orleans.

Let’s make hundreds of these flowers bloom to create voices – and power — for the people!

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Government Shouldn’t Play Gotcha on Voting and Benefits

New Orleans       Talking to a reporter from Politico about voter purges and why there needed to be supplemental efforts other than failing to answer a letter in the US Mail to determine whether a voter had moved or was still at a certain address, I offered the argument that most of what comes in the mail is junk or bills, and too many just don’t bother.  I thought it was true, because it has happened to me more times than I would like to admit.  I have the extra excuse of traveling half the time, so it’s often “search and destroy” on the mail when I return.  If it looks like junk, recycling.  If not, I’ll open it, when I get around to it.  I’ve almost thrown away checks doing that, and have absolutely thrown away bills and other inquires. Still that might just be me.  It also sounded lame.

Wrong!  The Upshot folks at the New York Times surveyed 4400 adults of various ways and means, it’s not just a case of misery loving company, but one where there is a huge pile of folks who admit that we sometimes mess up even on these relatively simple tasks and interactions with business and government.  The Times was most interested in the draconian way that some states, Arkansas being a prime example under the Affordable Care Act qualifications, try to force continued eligibility determinations based on replies to a simple letter from the government.

They asked the survey participants if they ever flubbed up, and then they calculated the percentages based on income.  Left mail unopened, 25% under $20,000 and 26% over $100,000; forgotten a bill like a scofflaw, 30% on the low end and 26% on the high end; missed an appointment 39% for lower income and 26% for higher, and let me add, both groups are lying – way more of them have missed appointments, misread their calendars, or showed up for a meeting before it was over or after it ended, sometimes by days.  Truth time!  The rich, like the poor, working stiffs, also fail to bring the right documents to the Motor Vehicle office between 23 and 19%, let their car registration expire between 14% for the poorer and 15% of the richer, or let their health insurance expire, 7% of the rich and 16% of the poorer.  I spent a fraught thirty minutes this morning before dawn going through my checkbooks to see if I had let my home insurance lapse!  God knows where the bill might be.

So, we humans who have not yet achieved robotic status or have minions or minders to cover up for our basic frailties, mess up.  Businesses know that.  They don’t just send one notice, they send twenty on subscriptions, car insurance, and a million other things.  Why do governments not understand that?  Or, let’s tell the truth, they do understand that, making their refusal to do more or better, deliberate.  Too many of them don’t want to admit that they are trying to deliberately deprive people of benefits, including their poorer fellow Americans who are desperate for healthcare, food stamps, and welfare.  They also don’t want to admit that they want to keep qualified citizens off the voter rolls, saying it is good politics.

They are wrong.  They need to do better.  Sins of omission are as serious as sins of commission, especially when there is clearly malice aforethought.

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