October 3, 2013

How Modern Radio Isn’t Free

The term “grass roots movement” is thrown around a lot in politics. It comes with a certain allure, and a pure rendition of the idea “by the people, of the people, for the people.” However, real grass roots movements are very uncommon for a number of reasons. One of the primary reasons is the lack of media exposure that movements of this nature can achieve, when compared and contrasted with major media outlets.

Most people get their news and information from a media source of some kind. In past years, that has been almost exclusively the territory of television and radio. Today, the internet provides another alternative with its own complexities. The reality is, media organizations are for profit groups that have investors and owners, and their interests to protect. This means that mainstream media is limited in what it can present and how it can present it.

This is certainly true of radio. Syndicated radio hosts and major media outlets must walk a fine line for politics and other issues discussed. Many of these things must be approved by the station, and radio hosts must spend some portion of their time advertising for sponsors. Beyond that, legal restrictions on who can broadcasts, the costs for licensing, and so forth, are highly restrictive for smaller groups.

One of the proposed solutions to the dilemma is the free radio movement. The free radio movement is comprised of a number of groups who are fighting to make the radio more accessible to individuals, small groups, and real grass roots movements. They do this through two major tactics.

The first important tactic is to open up the media to common users. This is done through providing a number of legally licensed radio stations that allow guest speakers to have some radio talk time. In addition, fighting for more lenient laws on radio broadcasts is part of the agenda. The second method used is media education. These groups spread word about media sources, their interests, and alternative, not-for-profit media alternatives that people can use. This education goes primarily to schools.