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Seize The Airwaves – Language - Part 1

Seizing The Airwaves. With thanks, apologies & respect to the book of the same name, edited & compiled by Ron Sakolsky & Stephen Dunifer published by AK PRESS, P. O. Box 12766, Edinburgh, Scotland EH8 9YE & P. O. Box 40682, San Francisco, CA USA 94140-0682. For pre-assembled transmitters & broadcast assembly kits, call Stephen Dunifer of Radio Free Berkeley, California @ (091) (510) 549-0732 & leave a message.

SAfrican Rock Twins by Dougie Batterson
SAfrican Rock Twins by Dougie Batterson
Free Radio - Sketch by Carol Genetti
Free Radio - Sketch by Carol Genetti
SAfrican Rock Twins by Dougie Batterson
Free Radio - National Lawyers Guild US 04
Free Radio - Sketch by Eric Drooker 06
Free Radio - Sketch by Eric Drooker 06
Free Radio - Sketch by Sean Vile 02
Free Radio - Sketch by Sean Vile 02

The point of this missive & the information & suggestions that follow may not be as urgent or as complex as the war-of-the-waves being waged by media Pirates in other parts of the world; Japan, Italy, Bosnia, Spain and in the USA where Radio (and TV as well) have long been abused by big-business & politics; similar perhaps to SAfrica pre 1990?

My guess is because it’s only radio, or music or (so called) entertainment (Art & Culture?), Radio is used purely to attract consumers to product, rather than inform or educate. In Africa Radio has the power to reach people who can still not read & write, 11 years after liberation, more so than any other medium; the homeless, helpless & confused. And yet despite the political rhetoric, radio – more especially our National Public Broadcaster - does not address the basics of education, information & development. In between the intellectual (?) chat & talk, news & sport, Radio is being used to sell product only; to hit specific (segregated?) target market masses by globally cloned corporate ad agencies; everything depends on ratings. No good, no show! What happened to the transformation & development in the arts?
In our (music) field of endeavour, for example, the SABC does not produce or broadcast informative or educative hidden history music events. Whatever nostalgia catalogue & PR hype they get force-fed from the commercial record industry, is considered Gospel.

Can it be that the South Africa’s National Public Broadcaster (TV & Radio) & ICASA who govern broadcast licenses, are no longer fulfilling their mandate? EDUCATE, INFORM & then ENTERTAIN… in that order. They seem to have lost the development plot to those agencies that have power & money & the means to manipulate through odourless bug sprays & toxic cancer-generating deodorant adverts?

The SABC now openly competes for listeners, at the taxpayer’s expense, with (so called) independent Top 40 formatted commercial radio, TV & talk radio. All that matters are ‘ratings’ and an impressive boardroom bottom line. The SABC has simply become another His Master’s Voice - taking over in 1994 from what the white Nationalists started in 1949. Economic apartheid rules! Perhaps a little more sinister given that we are now at the mercy of a few faceless corporate suits playing Corporate Censorship games from behind a (so-called) free-market democracy; Big Brother’s Corporate Commissars now control what we buy, sell, think, look, listen & learn. Freedom of expression, choice & the means to communicate has been thoroughly compromised. The solution is for ordinary people to challenge this; to be heard, to communicate to become informed, to share & enjoy the sort of music & entertainment that is their human right. It is relatively simple & believe it or not inexpensive to Seize the Airwaves. It is, after all your constitutional right. Don’t laugh it off. Challenge!

This is not to suggest that we get revolting & take-over the transmitters by storming that impressive apartheid-era marbled edifice up at Auckland Park. What follows rather, are a few manageable motivations that could perhaps lead to cost-effective proposals to develop small community, township, suburban, farm & small town country radio stations; using transmitters that one can put on the back of a Bakkie or operate from a living room or kraal. And like the proverbial river that leads to the sea, the trickle down effect - of hundreds of small community stations - will eventually flow into one Rainbow Ocean. People, as one nation, one South Africa, will begin to understand each other & benefit.
Nobody needs a top-down national broadcaster with a top-heavy over-paid boardroom of Beemers to radio control us anymore. It’s not working.

As Ron Sakolsky writes "Every animal knows, and humans are no exception, that when there is a stampede you must join in or get out of the way. Try to stop it, and you will be crushed.” (Doe, 1996, p. 181) Join the great Radio Stampede

"If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear." - George Orwell, 1945

“What is objectionable, what is dangerous about extremists is not that they are extreme, but that they are intolerant." - Robert F. Kennedy, 1964

What follows is 3rd Ear Music’s challenge to those of us who complain about the state of radio in Southern Africa – SEIZE THE AIRWAVES… freedom of speech & expression is our constitutional right. Read these 2 illuminating essays, from the Free Radio Hand Book SEIZING THE AIRWAVES; the intro from co-author Ron Sakolsky - RHIZOMATIC RADIO AND THE GREAT STAMPEDE & how Radio in the US is owned, controlled & subsidized, dealt with by Robert W. McChesney in THE POLITICAL ECONOMY OF RADIO.

We include a few diagrams & an overview of a Studio set up & what to do –from the American experience – when the Jazz Police, NPA or ICASA come knocking on your studio door to take your transmitters (and you) away.

The point is we SAfricans should not expect the government (SABC) or the Corporates - who use (abuse?) our airwaves for their own commercial ends & political agendas - to be sympathetic. Intentional or not, ICASA (Independent Communications Authority of South Africa - our version of the USA’s FCC Federal Communications Commission - rules the waves be re-regulating rather than deregulating the airwaves (Prof Gary Baines, Rhodes University 1996).

Despite the impression that the airwaves in the USA are free ‘n fair, Corporates & Politicians have long been abusing the rights of its Citizens to communicate & express themselves freely, according to Ron & Robert – 2 among many hands-on contributors to this Free Radio Handbook. According to Seizing The Airwaves, the FCC has misled the Americans since the 1930’s, and now they look set to control the Internet & the World Wide Web as well. Big Brother will rule?

Free-radio for education, information, history & the experience of age - “Free speech exercised both individually and through a free press, is a necessity in any country where people are themselves free." - Theodore Roosevelt, 1918.

"The truth is found when men are free to pursue it." - Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1936

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