KFAR history


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This eventually will be the page for a history of KFAR and Pirate radio in Knoxville. We will also add a list of previous benefits and links to newspaper articles about KFAR.

(click on underlined text for links to web articles about KFAR)

Hellbender story about Drexie Kaos- FCC's most wanted feline.

Another great Metro Pulse article

An article about a KFAR hip hop benefit

Blurb from the Metro Pulse July 5, 2001

KNOXVILLE, TENN-- When we last heard from the student managers at WUTK, they said they were moving toward a rigidly formatted commercial approach because their main purpose is to train students for the commercial radio. With that excuse, they've been canning a number of so-called specialty shows from the air, including Knoxville Progressive Radio and "It's Just Knoxville." (Funny, we thought universities are supposed to encourage free thinking, not train students to be button pushers. Things sure have gone to hell since Emma's days in the halls of higher learning.)

Thing is, when the University of Tennessee applied for a license to broadcast at 90.3 FM back in 1978, it promised the Federal Communications Commission it would provide the community a range of alternative and educational news programming not heard elsewhere.

"A good many programs should accommodate both the letter and the spirit of these labels: education, information, instruction, news, and public affairs," the university wrote in its application. "Moreover, they should range beyond the local issues identified by community leaders and the general public in the University Community. Rather, they should address a number of topics which affect the physical and mental welfare of the station's audiences."

And if you look inside New Rock 90's Handbook, you'll find that the station considers itself a "noncommercial educational" station, as classified by the FCC. "The FCC set up this classification of stations to encourage alternative programming to serve the public and reach audiences who were not served by commercial radio stations in the market," the handbook reads.

So, it was with great consternation that the volunteers who put on Knoxville Progressive Radio from 9 a.m. to noon every Sunday on WUTK learned in May (without advance notice) that their show was canceled. They thought they were meeting the station's goals, ideals and raison d'?tre.

Knoxville Progressive Radio aired a variety of leftist news commentary. About 70 percent of the programming was syndicated national shows such as Alternative Radio (MIT Linguistics Professor Noam Chomsky was a popular favorite), RadioNation (the radio program of The Nation magazine) and Counterspin (the radio program of Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR)). But there were also a number of local programs, including "Thoughts On Philosophy & the Environment" by UT professor John Nolt, a show produced by the Sincere Seven, a Knoxville worker-rights advocacy group, "Second Look," an interview show by Jacqueline Jones Ford, and tapes of local lectures. The programming was provided by Knoxville Progressive Radio (KPR) free of charge.

"It has been replaced by nothing," says Michael Kaplan, UT professor emeritus and a member of KPR. "They shuffle CDs on the air. They don't even have a human being in the studio."

Chad Harriss, operations manager of WUTK, wrote to KPR that the show was canceled for security reasons (even though KPR offered to provide the whole show on CDin fact, they'd love to have their programs shuffled among the station's play list) and because the station wants to have only music programming. Harriss told Metro Pulse the main reason the show was canceled was because the group didn't apply for a show, as required.

Harriss also says that WUTK doesn't consider KPR a student group, since only three of its nine members are students. WUTK might air Radio Nation or Counterspin, but would rather deal with those groups directly, instead of working through a middle-man community organization, he says. The fear is that if they offer one community group a forum, they'd have to offer it to all of them.

"What would we have done if an ultra-right wing group had come and wanted to air their content?" Harriss says. "What argument could we make to other community groups that wanted to come in and air their views?"

But Kaplan says the station has promised to offer educational programming in its application for the station. He says KPR content cannot be found anywhere else on the radio, and much of it deals with issues important to African Americans, among others. "We consider this a free speech issue," Kaplan says. "I think it was politically, and perhaps even racially, motivated."

Harriss says WUTK does offer non-entertainment fare, including news, interviews and sports programmingjust not during its 10 specialty shows. "We're just trying to manage the place is all we're trying to do," Harriss says.

Kaplan says KPR will appeal the decision, starting with the College of Communications and moving up to the Board of Trustees, the state Legislature and governor, if need be.

What infuriates Kaplan the most is the attitude of those who run WUTK. Barbara Moore, head of UT's broadcasting department, wrote in an email to KPR: "...your use of our airwaves was a privilege, not a right." The airwaves don't belong to WUTK, they're public domain, Kaplan points out. You'd think the head of the broadcasting department would know that. (Read about efforts to start a true community radio station in Knoxville in Citybeat, page 7.)

"UT is completely unaccountable," Kaplan says. "We can destroy every one of their arguments, but what good does it do if no one there is listening? The problem with UT is they never back down. They'll never admit they're wrong."

Link to a great Metro Pulse article featuring KFAR

A great article from the Daily beacon (student Paper)

By John Tarleton Source: Washington DC Indymedia

Washington, DC, Mar. 24 Nikki Larson helped start an eclectic 60-watt pirate radio station in Knoxville, Tennessee last fall after her campus station switched to an automated playlist and eliminated local news coverage. Two weeks ago, a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) marshal and the local sheriff ordered First Amendment Radio to cease programming from a 250-foot-high ridge overlooking Knoxville.

On Friday afternoon, Larson, 20, joined a small but plucky band of public interest angels who descended on FCC headquarters.

Singing anti-corporate hymns and wearing white sheets, tinsel halos, and wings made of cardboard, Larson and a dozen other angels were among an ad-hoc group of 60 media activists who gathered on a bitterly cold day to call for a reversal of government policies that have left the US media system in the hands of a small group of global conglomerates. When the angels tried to deliver a public interest crystal ball to FCC Chairman Michael Powell, they were rebuffed at the building entrance by a phalanx of security guards.

I didnt expect them to come out and say anything, Larson said. But, I dont know how long they can ignore us. Speech is meant to be free. Thats what the First Amendment is all about.

Fridays speakers included Inja Coates of Media Tank, Jeff Chester of the Center for Digital Democracy, Dee Dee Halleck of Deep Dish TV, Richard Turner of the Alliance for Community Media, Peter Hart of Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), Reverend Billy of New York Citys Church of Stop Shopping, and Terry ONeill of the National Organization for Women. They warned that democracy was being eroded by media concentration.

Without a broad array of voices we cannot have the kind of public discussion of public issues that we need to have in order to maintain our democracy, ONeill said.

Jim Land, a 27-year FCC employee, came down from his office to watch the protest. He said the biggest impact of pending media mergers would be an increase in advertising rates. He was confident that the public interest would still be served.

In the future people are going to find their information on the Internet, Land said.

The FCC was established in 1934 to ensure that broadcasters would serve the public interest, convenience, or necessity.

As media ownership restrictions and public service obligations have been erased in recent years, critics have accused the FCC of abandoning its mission.

The Commission is currently moving to end cross-ownership rules that keep newspapers from being absorbed by the broadcast industry. On Feb. 19, a federal appeals court nullified a pair of long-standing government regulations that limited the size of media giants like AOL Time Warner, Viacom, News Corp., and General Electric/NBC. One rule prevented the same company from owning TV stations and cable franchises in the same market. The other rule limited the number of TV stations a single company could own.

Chester warns that the Internet is the next target as cable providers look to monopolize high-speed broadband services.

The Internet is being hijacked by old media companies in order to integrate it into their existing production and distribution apparatuses, Chester said.

Stephanie Finneran, 17, of Asheville, North Carolina believes FCC policies represent an attack on the public good. It seems like another case where the community and the people dont really matter and that profit wins out over what society really needs, she said.

Chairman Powell (son of Secretary of State Colin Powell) has become a lightning rod for media activists since he was appointed to the FCC in 1997 by Bill Clinton. The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) has hailed him as an outstanding choice while Powell in turn has referred to broadcast corporations as our clients, denounced regulation as the oppressor and stated that my religion is the market.

If Michael Powell was a city planner and he was planning New York City, he would probably pave over Central Park and put in another Times Square, or he would take all the neighborhood bodegas and sell em all and turn them into Burger Kings, said Pete Tridish of the Philadelphia-based Prometheus Radio Project. There is no room in Michael Powells future for either public spaces or small businesses because its just the law of the big fish in the sea as far as he is concerned.

Powells office was unavailable for comment.

Organizers envision Fri., Mar. 22, event as the kick-off of a multi-pronged campaign for media democracy in the United States. Plans are underway for protests at NABs Sept. 12-14 annual meeting in Seattle and for Media Democracy Day on Oct. 18.

As for Larson, she and her friends have no plans to take their tiny station off the air. Were going to keep broadcasting, she says, because everybody has a right to good radio.