Is the future of progressive media located next door?
Part of it may be. On a hot-for-April Saturday afternoon, people dropped in for the open house at their neighborhood radio station–We Act Radio. Just a stroll down Anacostia’s Martin Luther King Avenue–which also hosted art festival Lumen8 that day–the station’s small office brimmed over with people sipping drinks and animated by the on-air discussion blaring from speakers. Scenes and slogans from civil rights and labor history projected onto the only wall free from revolutionary banners and station-related promos.
We Act Radio went live early this year online and on 1480AM. Local vision and talent–Cliff Schecter, Kymone Freeman and Alex Lawson–started it up and attracted some high-powered friends to help it along, including former MSNBC anchor David Shuster, who hosts a 3-hour show every Saturday. Co-founder and program director Kymone Freeman calls it “the little station who could.”
It may rely heavily on syndicated programming, but the emphasis is still on engaging the community. “We get a lot of foot traffic,” Kymone says [to Mediaite]. “We welcome it. Being on Martin Luther King Avenue is symbolic of our mission to give people a voice, to continue the work that Dr. King started.”
Kymone Freeman says Shuster has “put his credibility on the line” by supporting and hosting a show on an outspoken and upstart outlet, but Shuster disagrees, saying he doesn’t buy into the “unbiased” point of view for journalists. “Our role should be to report the facts and let the chips fall where they may. We have to follow the facts wherever they may take us,” he said.
His current boss Current TV is extremely supportive, and if anything his colleagues are envious that he gets to be so involved with the community.
The name of the station sums up the mission. “The role of the station is to say, here’s what the facts are, what can we do about it?” Shuster says. “In traditional news, we talk about the budget, politics, but the difference here is, we say, here’s the news, and here’s what you can do about it.”
As an example, he cited the recent death of a baby left outside in the cold in DC. Instead of just reporting the incident as a tragedy, his show also discussed safe haven laws.
The Little Station That Could seems to be only one piece of the emerging network of progressive media shown on this chart created by In These Times. You know what they forgot? All the individuals efforts out there–the blogs (like yours truly), Tumblrs, Facebook pages, Twitter feeds, Livestream feeds, and news aggregators.
Why are these important? Because we’re no longer content-swallowers. We’re content-producers: dreamers, creators, observers and analyzers–and we have a voice.
(Image by coolrevolution.net)