Chicago Sun-Times
Tuning in with Thomas Conner

What's that noise? CHIRP!

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The local music community endured a considerable loss in mid-2007 when Loyola University decided to take back its radio station, WLUW, from the hands of local activists and the two talented programmers who were running it, Shawn Campbell and Craig Kois.

Never one to stay down for long -- and, I should note in the interest of journalistic disclosure, formerly a volunteer on my own radio program, "Sound Opinions" -- Campbell immediately began work on a new initiative, the Chicago Independent Radio Project or CHIRP, along with Metro publicist Jenny Lizak and other music- and radio-loving locals. But finding funding and winning approvals for radio ventures is almost as difficult as getting the city to O.K. a new rock club, and it took longer than anyone expected for CHIRP to actually get going. Now it's here.

According to a statement from the group, the "non-profit, volunteer-run organization... will launch its station online at at noon on Sunday, January 17, 2010. The station will broadcast live 21 hours a day, seven days a week from the CHIRP studios in Chicago's North Center neighborhood. [And] each three-hour on-air shift will be curated by a volunteer host, and will feature an array of independent and under-appreciated music from a variety of genres and eras, as well as conversations and information about happenings in the city's diverse arts and cultural scenes."

CHIRP will celebrate its launch with a party and fundraiser starting at 10 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 16, at the Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, featuring Chicago bands the Yolks, Hollows and Rabble Rabble. (Tickets are $8.)

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You know, I wish that these "community" stations would stop calling themselves that when they don't represent the community at all. There are no DJ's of color at Chirp, maybe 2 who are Latino, and no Asian DJ's either. Forgive me if I'm wrong, but CHIRP doesn't represent me one bit. Looks like an insider-only club to me!

Jaison, you do realize the following points, which are stated on the volunteering page of the website, correct?

1) Becoming a part of CHIRP just requires you to show up and start volunteering. There's no secret handshakes, initiation rituals or or special hats that the "insiders-only" clubs seem to enjoy so much. If you feel you aren't represented, come be represented.

2) The DJs on CHIRP Radio are a small fraction of the actual volunteers and organizers that make up CHIRP. Not everyone that makes up CHIRP wanted to be on the radio. Some are working producing the news department while others are working with our lobbying efforts and others still or working in reaching out to the community behind the scenes. So to make assumptions based just off the photos of a small percentage of the people that make up the organization is quite a stretch.

3) Community representation isn't ONLY who is doing the speaking. It's also in what those people are saying, what they're giving airtime to and the outreach they are doing. The color of your skin doesn't automatically make you a representative of your community, nor does it exclude you from representing your community. Community is defined by a larger set of shared circumstances than just skin color.

In this case, you seem to want to rail against some perceived bias when the facts are simply that CHIRP has quite an open and transparent volunteer process. You can read about it on the website, and anyone that feels that they have a different point of view can show up and make it heard. I hope you take that into consideration and I get to meet you at the next volunteer meeting.

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This page contains a single entry by Jim DeRogatis published on January 6, 2010 4:35 PM.

A reason to be cheerful in cold, dark January: Tomorrow Never Knows was the previous entry in this blog.

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