A radio station by the people, for the people | PostIndependent.com

A radio station by the people, for the people

As a listener and supporter of KDNK public radio, and as the station gears up for its annual fund drive, I’d like to say thanks to the many people who make this station a reality: the members of the community.

KDNK is the station I listen to most, because it’s supported by its listeners and underwriters, rather than by rich corporate advertisers. That means it can choose its own programming, from music to news sources.

KDNK, with its eclectic variety of music programs, airs music by artists you’re not likely to hear on mainstream stations. For example, while the CD “O Brother, Where Art Thou” sold more than 4 million copies and won a host of Grammy awards, almost none of the disc’s 18 songs ever aired on commercially supported stations. The songs simply don’t fit these stations’ formats. In other words, the station managers and the investors they are beholden to want mainstream music aired on their stations. The CD’s old-time and gospel music isn’t mainstream. It’s alternative.

Not KDNK. The station wants what its listeners want.

KDNK’s news programming also provides alternative news from sources. These programs don’t get aired on major network stations for the same reason as the alternative music.

One example is National Public Radio, which airs, as its name implies, on public stations like KDNK. While NPR does cover current national and international stories, it tends to emphasize the human and environmental side of the story, rather than its profit or political side.

KDNK recently adopted a news program that veers way left of corporate-sponsored news programming like mainstream media giants CNN, ABC, NBC, etc., and even a bit farther left than NPR. Through this Friday, “Democracy Now!” will air daily. The program is put on by folks from the progressive left. You don’t hear much about it, mainly because it isn’t backed by big-money corporate interests. It joins another alternative source, “Alternative Radio,” or “AR,” a program out of Boulder and hosted by David Barsamian, which airs from noon to 1 p.m. Sundays.

Democracy Now! is a program of the Pacifica Radio Network, a station dedicated to the preservation of freedom of speech and press. The station provides a forum for various viewpoints that might not be welcome in mainstream media.

This is the type of reporting major networks don’t want aired, since folks from the progressive left have a way of airing dirty laundry that make some corporations and government entities – the ones that support commercial radio – look bad. Since alternative news programs aren’t backed by big business dollars, they can take a close look at the human and environmental human costs related to news stories.

For those of you interested in giving this program a listen, Democracy Now! will air from 5-6 p.m. through this Friday. After that, according to program director Skip Naft, it will either continue to air at the same time or will shift to the 6-7 p.m. slot, depending on public comment.

If Democracy Now! airs from 5-6 p.m., it would replace NPR’s evening news show, All Things Considered. If Democracy Now! airs from 6-7 p.m., it will replace local music programming, which, by the way, is presented by KDNK’s dedicated, knowledgeable and talented volunteer DJs.

KDNK wants to hear what you think about these time slots. Call 963-0139, and tune in to 88.3, 90.5, or 100.1 on your FM dial.

For those of you not familiar with alternative news programming, it tends to focus on taking corporations and the government to task, as any news programming should.

Some of you think this type of programming shouldn’t be allowed, or that the people behind it have a hidden agenda. That flies smack in the face of what democracy – what this country was founded on and what wars have been fought over – means: freedom to speak the truth and fight for what one believes in.

Listeners don’t have to agree with alternative news coverage, but remember who supports it – the people. No one is behind the scenes saying, “If you report that, I’m pulling my advertising dollars.”

As far as its supporters having an agenda of their own, of course they do. They want a fair and just world where people are put before profits, and governments and businesses are accountable to the people. I don’t think this is the case as the world stands today, but it should be.

Before I forget, KDNK offers a whole slew of great local programs by community members, including teenagers, parents, computer geeks and organic gardeners. That’s what listener-supported, community-based programming is about. If you want to support this type of programming, KDNK launches its spring membership drive beginning tomorrow through April 10. Memberships are available at all levels. Even your pet can join.

Call them at 963-0139 for more information.

Tamie Meck is a staff writer for the Post Independent. Her column runs on Tuesdays.

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