New resolve, new ideas and new people. The Grassroots Radio Conference did the job that good conferences are supposed to do. It reminded us why the work is important. We remind ourselves why we do the work we do. Finally, it reminds us that we are not doing the work alone. In the workshop I facilitated (Radio and the Radiohead) , we ended on communication strategies for progressing radio programs, radio stations and the radio movement. However, we began with a simple question (adapted from the film Brown Sugar), “When did you first fall in love with radio?” Hearing our own answers to that question, is almost as reaffirming as hearing others’. As we applied communications theory to issues of messaging, development and distribution, we functioned from the basic premise that our stories are the most valuable resource we have in bringing community members to our movement, and the finding and sharing of our stories is the most valuable thing we do.
Innovation is always the biggest “take home” from any well-designed conference. Props go to the hosts and organizers for getting the right discussions (and discussion leaders) in the program and the right people in the room for the discussions. In the Prison Phone Justice workshop led by Steven Renderos and Nick Szuberla, they not only shared the innovative work of Media Action Grassroots Network (Center for Media Justice), Working Narratives, and Prison Legal News, they also initiated small group discussions that introduced participants to each others’ work, prison radio in Louisiana and Mumia Abu-Jamal.
Finally, GRC 2012 was about new partners in the movement. Sure, the “usual suspects” in our national media justice movement are where they are supposed to be and have been for many years, whether that be on the ground in the community, in Washington D.C., or at conferences like these. But in my capacity there as a poet and performer, it was encouraging to see the intersection of the poetry community in Urbana-Champaign and the Grassroots Radio Conference. This is how new energy, new talent, and new bodies are drawn to a movement. Especially meaningful to me as a board member at the recently transitioned public access television station in Albuquerque, Quote Unquote Inc., was having one of our former employees and current board members there to help our organization evolve from television to radio. Sue Schuurman’s participation at GRC 2012 is an example of Quote Unquote’s willingness to adapt to a changing political environment in order to continue to serve its community. The Grassroots Radio Conference is a catalyst and support group for these kinds of (r)evolutions. – hb
Quote Unquote is a long time MAG-Net member in New Mexico that works very closely NM MAG-Net anchor Media Literacy Project. As the Strategic Communications Director for the Media Literacy Project, Hakim Bellamy is the primary liaison between the organization and media outlets and develops messaging for all programs and campaigns.