Free Radio Gainesville Manifesto
January 1998

Free Radio Gainesville is a political radio station. As operators of a micro-powered broadcast station, we intend to educate, agitate, and activate our community for truth, justice, and freedom of expression. It is our mission to contribute to the radical media project of countering the deluge of corporate lies, half-truths and omissions; to open up the airwaves to the wealth of cultural and political diversity that exists in our community; and to thereby build on the hard work of local radical media projects such as the Gainesville Iguana and the Civic Media Center towards constructing a more informed citizenry and a just, democratic, and equal society.

The Free Radio Gainesville Collective is the decision-making body that determines station policy on issues such as equipment, scheduling, legalities, and some aspects of programming. We have decided to run our station as an anarchist collective, following the general anarchist organizational principles of mutual aid, voluntary association, and collective decision-making by consensus and/or vote. This does not necessarily mean that a person has to identify as an anarchist to participate in FRG work, but that persons wishing to be associated with us should understand the spirit and intent of the way we work. Anarchism as we practice it is not about chaos and violence, it is about the long hard project of building a peaceful, cooperative, and radically democratic civil society that is free from the destructive economic forces of capitalism and the abusive authority of the state. It is about revolution the right way--from the bottom up, starting at the community level--and we see micropower radio as a powerful tool for helping to build that kind of social change. Therefore, we have decided to take direct action against unjust laws and commit civil disobedience with our unlicensed FM broadcast.

The primary goal of programming at Free Radio Gainesville is to present information and perspectives from the Outside/ Underground /Left-hand Side of the World which get silenced or left out in the Corporate-sponsored, Government-controlled, Commodity-mad Rest of the World. In doing this we hope to provide our community with a tool that can be used to aid the struggles and promote the perspectives of people who are marginalized by mainstream media: women, young people, minorities, labor activists, poor folks, queer folks, and others who are working to reshape our society so that it lives up to its stated ideals of freedom and democracy.

The for-profit newspapers, TV and radio all tell "the truth" as they understand it. The media industry's portrayal of reality is shaped by the interests of the CEO's and big money investors whose lavish lifestyles depend on its profits. It is also shaped by the politicians whose careers depend on contributions from big business and who therefore work to protect the interests of the corporations. The for-profit media's pretension to "objectivity" is a sad joke. From mangled facts to flat-out lies, our so-called leaders and their "experts" play the same old game they have always played, molding a conveniently apathetic public's consciousness to fit their bottom-line agenda of more power, more profit, and more control for themselves and their cronies. These people are cynical. They don't think that we're smart enough or alert enough to see through their smokescreens of hype and misinformation and think for ourselves, and these days they've got ever-more-powerful tools at their fingertips with which to create the illusions and distractions that they foist on us as "news" and "entertainment."

At Free Radio Gainesville we also strive to tell the truth as we understand it--a truth that is informed by the values described above. We believe that most folks are smart enough to think for themselves. We believe that people do wake up and take action when they get a chance to see things from a fresh perspective. We believe that we can speak freely, with our "angle" up front rather than hidden, and let the listener decide. As anarchists and civil libertarians, we believe that it is our right as a freely assembled group of individuals to make free use of an abundant and easily accessible natural resource, radio bandwidth. Like the squatters who occupy and make fruitful use of empty land and buildings around the world, we have decided to move in on the fringes of a territory that business and government have tried to claim exclusive control of for themselves--the airwaves.

We are not alone in doing this. Around the world regular folks like us are taking to the airwaves in defiance of the power elites in their home regions in order to spread messages of hope, empowerment, and the vision of a better future for themselves and their communities. We are a part of this movement. In our own country, micro-powered broadcasters like Black Liberation Radio in Decatur, Illinois and Free Radio Berkeley in California have made bold strides in the battle to free the airwaves from the clutches of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and its private-sector counterpart, the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB). The NAB and the FCC would like to reserve the right to broadcast for those who can afford the expensive licensing and high-tech equipment needed to run a powerful mainstream broadcasting station. To the grassroots activists who make up the micro-power radio movement the control of radio by the NAB and the FCC is just another element of the on-going abuse of power by Big Government and Big Business in this country. The FCC's use of thuggish enforcement tactics, such as confiscating personal property of "illegal" broadcasters, and the NAB's insistence that its member stations actively seek out and report "illegal" broadcasters are prime examples of the ever increasing power wielded by a small government and corporate elite at the expense of the basic freedoms of common people. At Free Radio Gainesville we are out to expose these abuses. We are out to show that the current process of licensing and regulation is anti-democratic and unnecessary. We're not out to steal bandwidth or airtime from the corporate big boys; we're out to demonstrate that there is a free and easy alternative to the pap that they dish out.

In the spirit of voluntary association, we hope that others in our own community will join in our efforts and help us use this powerful resource by providing us with news, music and other information that we can broadcast. We know that very few folks have the time and energy to think about politics, much less to act, when so many of us are overworked, underpaid, poorly fed and housed, and our creative energy and fighting spirits are constantly being sapped by the so called news and entertainment industries. We hope to reach out to individuals and organizations in the local area that might be able to use radio as a tool to further the work they are engaged in. We can provide free access to airtime through the use of interviews, public service announcements, news shows, taping and broadcasting events, and creative projects such as storytelling and skits. In the spirit of mutual aid, we pledge to give what time and energy we can to help other folks in our community with similar projects, from starting a micro-powered radio station of their own to getting out the word about a struggle that is going on in our backyards--anything that furthers the cause of freedom for us all.

Squat the Air!

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