History of Free Radio Gainesville
FRG began as an idea generated by an anarchist affinity group--a small political work group based on ties of friendship and community--that began meeting in 1996. The affinity group was formed in order to come up with creative programs and actions that would complement and contribute to local grassroots political organizing efforts. Other projects of the group have included the Gainesville Committee for Humanity and Against Neoliberalism, which does solidarity work for the EZLN (the Zapatistas) in Chiapas, Mexico, and a street theater group that performed at a demonstration against the proposed Florida Rock Industries cement plant.
Since its inception some members of our group have been following the development of the micropower radio movement, and in late 1996 we decided that Gainesville was ripe for a free radio station of its own. Given the relative lack of variety in music and information provided by local FM stations, as well as the complementary role that we felt a truly alternative radio station could play in relation to the Gainesville area's strong alternative press, we decided the station would be the perfect project to focus our energies on. Since the station went on the air in summer 1997 the original core group has added members and created financial and decision making structures, transforming itself into the current Free Radio Gainesville Collective.
With the publication of this article, a planned series of benefit shows at local venues, and a forthcoming boost to our broadcast signal strength, we are now ready to take our activities to a higher level. In developing the station, we have consciously chosen to add our voice to help build what we see as a national and international movement of citizens to create a new area of struggle and community-building using radio. We have drawn inspiration and a clearer understanding of the legal history of radio activism from Stephen Dunifer and the crew at Free Radio Berkeley. We have drawn further inspiration and a sense of the use of radio as tool for serving and shaping community from stations like WTRA and Black Liberation Radio in Illinois. Another important element that we have drawn from the movement as a whole is the sense of excitement and fun that is generated when a new space of communication and creativity is opened up in a vibrant, diverse community such as Gainesville.
It is very important for us to stress to our activist comrades and other concerned citizens how important our experience as individuals working with a variety of local grassroots radical organizations has been in the development of this project. Members of our group have been involved in a variety of other local groups and campaigns and have gained invaluable organizing skills. Each of us brings this experience to bear on decisions about how to do programming, outreach, and organizational work within the Collective. Perhaps the single most important experience for many of us has been involvement in and use of the Civic Media Center. It cannot be stressed enough how fundamental the CMC is as a clearinghouse for information, a meeting and events space, and perhaps most important of all, a sustainable, grassroots coalition and community-building effort. So support the CMC, and tune in when you can to 94.7 on your FM dial.
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