Prometheus 2012 Conference Reportbacks

Community radio has been a hot topic at conferences across the country this summer. Here's our reportback on with the highlights from recent convenings.

NFCB National Community Radio Conference - Houston, TX

The NFCB’s 37th Annual Community Radio Conference focused on collaboration, innovation, and cultivation.  Once again the conference brought together hundreds of amazing representatives from community radio stations across the US to share ideas, skills, and stories with one another.  

Prometheus collaborated with NFCB to offer a New Stations Intensive for full power stations just getting on the air and a Low Power FM (LPFM) Clinic for applicant groups in the greater Houston area interested in starting new stations.  During workshops like these we have the pleasure of hearing and learning from stations and applicants who represent a diversity of communities. We discover what their challenges are and collectively strategize ways to find resources that address the needs of the field.  Additionally, we get to see successful models of community radio and the best practices managers implement to make their stations viable.

Jazz station KTSU and Pacifica station, KPFT in Houston were great local hosts. The stations opened their doors to conference goers for tours, remote broadcasting, and they provided great music live on the air. KPFT lived up to its interesting history, with a mini museum featuring its once firebombed transmitter, a lobby full of naked bike rider guests on Queer Radio, and a backyard karaoke concert.  Pianist Bobby Lyle greeted conference goers at with a live performance in the radio studios of KTSU, while KOZZ in New Orleans brought their Louisiana flavor with them by hosting a live broadcast of the Papa Grows Funk show at the Continental Club in Houston. These stations reminded us of the excitement of live, local music and the power of community radio to preserve and celebrate culture.  

Prometheus partnered with Austin Airwaves to put on a live television program  at Houstin Media Source, discussing the chance to apply for community radio stations with a studio audience.  This was one example of collaboration between community radio and public access television. 

Next year’s NFCB conference will likely include more opportunities for cross-media collaboration, as the conference will be co-located with the Alliance for Community Media public access TV conference, in San Francisco.

Audio and handouts from the NFCB Conference

Allied Media Conference - Detroit, MI
The 14th Annual Allied Media Conference once again, did not disappoint. With over 20 tracks and hundreds of workshops on everything from prison justice to mini-transmitter making, the AMC is sure to have something for everyone.  Prometheans are still carrying the energy that we received in Detroit from hundreds of media makers, organizers, artists, musicians, and other unique movers and shakers.  If you’ve never heard of the AMC or been to it before, you should put it on your list of things to do in 2013.

One of the best qualities about this conference is its young, diverse, and unique constituency. People of color, women, LGBTQ, youth, people with disabilities, and other underrepresented groups not only have a place to be heard -- they lead the AMC. they are the leaders sharing skills, coordinating events, and proving that they exist.  Adding to the eclectic make up of the conference, is the distinct ability of the AMC to unite the worlds of media, art, technology, education and social justice, making this conference one of the most unique and brilliant opportunities for professional self development. 

Prometheus was proud to participate in creating this experience by coordinating the Occupy the Airwaves: Community Radio track and the AMC Radio station practice space, deemed Really Rad Radio (both on FM and the internet!).  Together with our co-coordinators, Sabrina Roach of Brown Paper Tickets and Adriel Thornton of Allied Media Projects, we offered 12 action packed community radio workshops. AMC’s really Rad Radio featured 18 shows throughout the weekend broadcasted live on 103.9 FM in Detroit and on the internet and offered many first time radio enthusiasts the opportunity to experiment with this still viable technology.  We continue to rediscover we are at our best when we are teaching others how to make radio and facilitating its live production.  

In sum, the artistic and technological innovation of the AMC generates plenty of inspiration for new ideas. Its place where we imagine another world is possible, using our skills to communicate and represent our diverse communities. 

Read more about the AMC on Vanessa Maria Graber’s Mag-Net Blog 

Grassroots Radio Conference - Urbana, IL
The Prometheus crew traveled to Urbana to the home of the amazing Independent Media Center of Urbana-Champaign, IL where this year's Grassroots Radio Conference was held.  Prometheus coordinated an entire Get On the Air track with 12 workshops for new station applicants and we had the pleasure of meeting many applicant groups from Illinois, Ohio, Arizona, Texas, and more.

 Key note speaker Joe Torres of Free Press spoke about his book on the history of race and media in the US, News for All the People, coauthored with Democracy Now! cohost Juan Gonzalez. Albequeque Poet Laureate and Media Literacy Project organizer Hakim Bellamy performed several poems and other spoken word pieces. Corporate FM , a new documentary film by Kevin McKinney, which premiered at the conference, showed the relationship between private equity firms and the buying and selling of commerical radio stations.  


Conference organizers set up a tour of Urbana's federally funded broadband expansion project, one of the few publicly-run broadband projects nationwide to receive stimulus funds. Others toured public access UPTV or simply explored the rest of the IMC which houses a costumed closet, maker space, library, performance space, computer lab,andyoga room.

New technologies and combining platforms were part of the discussion all weekend, as this year's theme was the Future of Community Radio. More broadly, the conversations focused on how we can use community media and public spaces (like the IMC) to organize, create alternative messages, and represent our communities.

Read more about the GRC 
Jeff Rousset’s Mag-Net blog 

Watch videos from the GRC workshops

Alliance for Community Media Conference -- Chicago, IL

Public access TV stations, media policy makers, and other organizers converged upon Chicago for the Alliance for Community Media conference, whose theme this year was "Collaborate."  Prometheus had the honor of accepting the Dirk Koning - George Stoney award for humanistc excellence in communication.  

Community Radio Director, Vanessa Maria Graber was there to accept the award from the alliance.  

"We are honored to be given this award in the spirit of Dirk Koning, who extended the model of grassroots media far beyond cable access and community radio.  By thinking bigger, he showed us how to build a vibrant media center for the whole community.  And it is especially moving to be recognized for continuing along the path fearlessly established by George Stoney.  George was a true pioneer dedicated to using media as a voice for the people, as well as inspirational teacher and a tireless advocate for putting media directly into the people’s hands.   Although we are saddened by his loss, Prometheus Radio Project is proud to be keeping the flame of George’s commitment and vision alive and well. . . So I look to you, in the spirit of collaboration to join us, as George and Dirk would want, in bringing community media to the people . That we may use our resources and our skills to help tell stories which will enact social change and bring more voices to the forefront of our movement."

Prometheus also presented with Jeff Shaw of KDRT and Shawn Campbell of Chicago Independent Radio Project about how Public Access stations can work with community radio station to share content and/or start community radio station of their own.  

Jeff and Vanessa also visited the studios of Northwestern student station, WNUR in Evanston, IL where they received a tour from Radio Survivor writer and station manager Paul Riismandel.

 Access materials from the ACM Conference here.




NAMAC Conference - Minneapolis, MN

Leading Creatively, the conference of the National Alliance for Media arts and Culture (NAMAC), convened organizations and individuals from across the country to examine the state of the field amidst the vibrant and flourishing arts communities in Minneapolis. The conference offered more than 28 panels and workshops, inlcuding four by Prometheus Radio Project staff,  two plenary sessions, tours of Minneapolis/St. Paul media and visual-arts organizations, an open hacker space produced by the Hack Factory, a documentary film festival, and receptions and exhibits at the Walker Art Center, Franklin Art Works and the Soap Factory.  

Prometheus partnered with local hosts, Danielle Mkali of Main Street Project and Miguel Vargas of KFAI, along with broadcast engineer Michael Brown to offer a two-part session, "Arts on the Air I & II"  to discuss ways that arts organizations can develop programming, and collaborate with community radio stations as well as providing information on how to apply for and start a new low power station. We were joined by Twin Cities Community Radio, Two Harbors Community Radio, and Winona Community Radio, all projects to start new stations in Minnesota. 

Prometheus staff also had the chance to visit the studios of KFAI in Minneapolis, a full power community radio station serving over 18 different ethnic communities.  The station has six production studios, a very packed music library and over 25 ethnic/cultural programs on the schedule. Their ties to the St. Paul Neighborhood Network, the Main Street Project, and Twin Cities Community Radio are exemplary of the potential collaborations community media can form throughout cities across the country.  To all of our local hosts in Minneapolis, including the NAMAC staff, thank you!