Listen to the audio that got me booted from the radio show.
I Felt It Coming…
Sarasota is a city dead set on staying the same. Suppressing a new creative culture. Scared of the conscious capitalist.
These are the struggles of a stagnant city. A city with no vision, just more of the same… Rich. Old. Stale.
To be honest, I was surprised when the local community radio station (96.5 WSLR Sarasota) said yes to our proposed radio show.
I actually wondered why they were letting me be a part of it in the first place. It didn’t seem like their kind of thing but they said yes; we pitched the show and they said yes.
“Don’t worry about them” Said E-man (referring to the radio station) as he cancelled a team production meeting in order to meet with the station manager.
Apparently they had reviewed the tape of our first show and wanted to talk.
E-man tried to be gentle but I reassured him that I already knew what he was going to tell me.
I told him I didn’t think he put up much of a fight but I know it wasn’t his call.
Told You So
I don’t know how many times I warned the members of our radio show that the station would not just let me come on their airwaves and ask my kind of questions.
I knew they would hate me. I knew it because this is how narrow minds always react to a guy like me. But the guy they got in that show is the same guy who writes regularly on this blog, and the same guy they met in their interviews along the path to approving the show.
Which means they either knew who I was and decided to give me shot anyway, or they were woefully negligent in their screening process.
It could be that they were woefully negligent in their screening process and then decided to cover up their own shortcomings through good old fashion serving of censorship, but honestly, I think they just couldn’t stand the thought of someone articulating views that contradicted the stations politics. I think they had no interest in letting me use their airwaves to challenge their thought process. Which is kind of the purpose of community radio isn’t it?
I guess I didn’t give it much thought at the time. I figured maybe they were different. Maybe there was a chance at open-mindedness.
I figured, what the hell! If they’re game, I’m game.
I Warned The Station
Before we signed the station agreement, privacy policies etc, Arlene, the former Station Manager reassured me “that’s not what this station is about” and “we are a community radio station so that’s fine”. It was her response to me telling her that I did not agree with the station politics one last time before signing our broadcaster agreement.
I told them I was specifically not in line with their liberal progressive political ideology and that they should “tell me now if they wanted me off the show”. I was again reassured that all would be fine.
I was told “different opinions” were not a problem.
We would even read a disclaimer before the show started; a message stating that the views and opinions expressed on our show were not those of the radio station or its management.
You would think they’d have taken a moment to get to know the guy they were about to put in front of a microphone for two hours a week.
I figured at the very minimum they would have listened to me at least one of the times I told them exactly what we planned to do on the show.
We explained that we were going to challenge our audience and break down relevant issues from a fresh perspective. We were going to take on pop-culture, politics, news and entertainment from a young, diverse perspective. We were going to meet at an intersection of ideas.
None Of That Would Matter
One week is all it lasted.
One whole show before someone “complained” and triggered the censorship machinery.
The station manager requested a copy of the tape, apparently hated what he heard, and then decided I had to go.
Of course, the show could continue; just as long as I was no longer a part of it.
Intolerance Of The Tolerant
Forget getting to know what I really stand for or having a legitimate battle of ideas.
Forget about how we might have brought in all sorts of new listeners.
Forget about the fact that a little bit of controversy could go a long way to increase the audience of a station that begs for exposure.
Oh, and please, whatever you do, don’t forget to forget the fact that we might have engaged an entirely new audience. A vastly younger demographic, in a city that struggles for ways to engage the 25-40 crowd.
Forget equal airtime or freedom of speech. Forget about their own mission statement:
WSLR is an innovative, listener-supported, non-profit, non-commercial FM radio station dedicated to serving the Sarasota community. WSLR features locally produced programming and presents cultural, artistic, and political perspectives currently underrepresented in the media. Our goal is to inform and empower listeners to play an active role in WSLR and in their community. WSLR’s programming promotes equality, peace, sustainability, democracy, health, and social and economic justice.
Forget everything they claim to stand for because apparently, none of it is true.
Like everything else in the world we live in, it’s nothing more than a structure, built by and as a direct result of, individual decisions. Built by man and ultimately fallible.
So Here Are A Few Questions I Have For The Radio Station
- Am I not part of the community?
- Did I not fulfill my volunteer obligations, complete station training, sign a contract and talk to you about how my ideology was different than that of the station?
- What was different in the show we produced from the show we pitched?
- Did you stop to think that people might actually like the show?
- Why wouldn’t you at least give the show a chance to see if we attracted a larger listener base?
- How can you be ok with censoring a member of the local community when you claim to fight for equality in so many other issues?
- Why is my voice not as valid as all the others you allow on air?
- Why should any of us even be surprised anymore?
Now Ask Yourself
If this is happening at a community radio station in sleepy Sarasota, then imagine the power structures behind the larger machine that is mass media.
Image Credit – Drooker.com