Late November Gregory Whitehead visited New York City’s New School to participate in a panel on â€œRadio Communities: The Other Side of the Electronic Divide.â€ (i confused the schedule & arrived long after he’d ended… Although i got there in time to see a man praise community radio using powerpointed Smiling African Children tourist snapshots and vague, rosy statistics about the social benefits of FM broadcasts among unspecified half-literate people pioneering their own future in unspecified sunny countries.)
In summary, Gregory’s one of the only people writing about radio’s artistic and political potential with sensitivity to the medium’s uncanny & unique essence. (I’m always hungry to hear more radio art, broadcast activism… so many unexplored possibilities. any good shows/artists to recommend? terrestrial fm, podcasters, whatever)
â€œAfter twenty some odd years in and around the world’s cacophonous airwaves, I have been there, many times over, inside that inscrutably ambiguous envelope of the simple dot dot dot … because it turns out that the artist’s dream of radio eros and the dictator’s dream of radio thanatos are one and the same, the first being the finger puppet, the second its dancing shadow, or bouncing echo. Or is it the other way around?
Demagogues may well create radio stations to disseminate their monomania, but radio stations may also create demagogues, possibly even from the ranks of those who used to call themselves radio artists, once upon a time, and it is the pure hypnotic power of the beautiful dream, the dream that communication equals community, the dream that everyone is coming, in all races, and all languages, that sets the stage for the power mad despot to do his thing, in a major key.
Radio eros, and radio thanatos: the two vibrational drives, always present, always in the air, on the loose, saving and sinking, laughter and oblivion, whispers and screams, so humbling in their persistence, and their power. For the broadcast activist and the radio artist, the question is always the same. Can we hear the truth in their seductive and dangerous interplay, and what do we make of it?â€
-Gregory Whitehead, Here Comes Everybody