I just wanted to share some very pleasant news that I just got. I have been chosen as the recipient of the Horace Mann Award by the Antioch College Alumni Association. Horace Mann was the first president of the college, and he was quoted as saying, “Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity.” So the Horace Mann prize goes to someone who has made a big impact for social change. It has been won by amazing people like Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, Activist Coretta Scott King, anthropologist Clifford Geertz and one of my personal heroes, the paleontologist and science writer Steven Jay Gould.
Needless to say, I am flattered, humbled, thrilled and embarrassed by the honor, and totally unworthy of the company I have been thrust into. The passage of the Local Community Radio Act was an enormous collective achievement, not the work of one person. But I do want to take the opportunity of this recognition to celebrate Antioch College’s amazing role as the incubator for so many who have had leadership roles in the world of media for social change.
I’ve had other alumni of Antioch as colleagues and collaborators such as Carol Pierson, DeeDee Halleck, Nan Rubin, Nick Szuberla, Rick Phaneuf, Helen Brunner— being an Antioch alumni in the world of community media is like being a member of a Masonic Secret Society. So many community media doors were opened for me when I said I went to Antioch. It’s almost like what happens on Wall Street when you say you went to Yale! When we launched Radio Mutiny, our collective included Antioch Alums Moira O’Keefe and Kathleen Harris. Throughout the years, the organization that we started, Prometheus Radio Project, had at least a dozen co-op students from Antioch, including Sarah Buckingham who is now at WYSO. Chris Hill introduced me to the radio activists who brought me and Danielle Chynoweth to Thailand and Burma. Before I knew Hannah Sassaman, her Antioch alum twin sister Esther was working with a group of pirates in Rochester. And I’ve been psyched to see the achievements in media and journalism by classmates like Sarolta Cump and Annia Ciezadlo. And the last tower I put up, I got to climb it and learn to run a backhoe with Adrienne Bauer! It’s kind of like I never left the college.
My Antioch experience and especially Bob Devine’s Media and Social Change class did so much to prepare me for the work I would do. If you were a classmate of mine, you may remember that I was not even particularly focused on media at Antioch. My concentration was Appropriate Technology. But I came to understand the role of media at Antioch, so I was well prepared when our band of activists recognized the opportunity for a dramatic expansion of community participation on the FM dial. This years reunion also bears the great news of Antioch’s reacquisition of radio station WYSO, which was the training ground of so many great journalists and media activists, so this years reunion is ground zero for those of us who have worked for media and social change!
I’ll be receiving the award during the alumni reunion, from june 13th to june 16.
If you are involved in community media and an Antioch Alum, I hope you have a chance to come to this reunion and share in this recognition of what Antioch has done for media and social change. Or if you were a friend of mine from those years, and have been cautiously waiting ( like I have been) for a chance to check out what is going on with the new Antioch, here’s your excuse!
Pete Tridish ( the student formerly known as dylan wrynn, in the pre-pirate days!)
A quick note from me to my friend Clemencia Rodriguez, who set me up with a bunch of the groups I worked with during my 6 week trip to Colombia. I spent about 3 weeks in the language schools, and the rest of the time visiting and helping out with some of the new community radio stations there…
Hola Clemencia, de Bogotá¡
Hoy, regrese de Bogotá después de varios semanas. Gracias a ti, mi viaje era muy exitoso.
Estudiaba dos semanas en Bogotá, y un en Cartagena. En Cartagena, ayude Nixon con su problema de audio… Hay alambres al revés y tiene sonido muy malo, pero después de varios noches de buscar, descubrí una manera de arreglarlo.
Después, fue a Baranquilla, y trabajaba con Radio Vokaribe. Ellos tiene problemas muy grave. Ellos son en el medio de pruebas de su nuevo transmisor, y el torre de 30 metros( sólo 3 meses de edad) se cae¡ He dañe el techo de los vecinos. La fábrica que hace la torre ten culpa en mi opinión… Yo escribí un pequeño informe por ellos. Hay muchas problemas legal y de asegurancia, y donde poner la torre, porque tal vez los vecinos van a tener miedo de una nueva torre allá. Entonces, hemos construido una pequeño antena que no necesita un torre tan grande…Ellos tienen plans a empezar en marzo. Pienso es posible con alcance reducido… Pienso que es mejor a empezar con pequeño alcance, que a quedar por años por todo los problemas legales y de culpabilidad a acabar.
Después, fue a Bucaramanga y he hecho un convocatorio por la clase de melba. Un hora y medio en español¡ he hecho esto antes con cosas técnicos y con los talleres, pero nunca con una tema política …Falta muchas palabras, y es difícil para mi a contar los historias porque falta los verbos en los tiempos correctos. Pero se fue mas o menos bien, pienso que ellos me comprenden. Melba es una anfitron muy graciosa y amable¡
Depues, fue a San Vincente de Chucuri, y reunimos con Anderson y Leonardo. Quedaba allá por tres días y hablaba mucho con su ingenierío, Isidoro, quien es muy inteligente y simpático. Nosotros tenemos mucho oportunidad por intercambio.
P.S. La noche pasado, hay un momento especial para mi… Por la primera vez, recuerdo que yo he digo algo en español en una sueño¡ Mis palabras: el dicho Colombiano… “Se fue la paloma¡”
Urbana IMC was the seventh barnraising. The amazing activists there had just bought the old post office building, but did not have the cash on hand for a real tower, so we put up a little one on the roof. Problem was, that tower never cleared the rooftops of the other buildings around, and the coverage always stank. So, I got hired to lead the effort to put up a new tower this fall. Instead of the standard tower in the air picture, here i am going to put a picture of where a lot of the real action was, underground: below is the complex set of forms we had to build so that the concrete formed a 16 by 16 foot block underground, with three pillars rising out of it. the bolts had to be set with just a 1/16 inch tolerance, so that the tower leg would fit on top of it!
In one of the most conservative states in the USA, Idaho Community Action Network has started up a new high powered radio station. I spent close to 2 months in Idaho, pulling together a link, a new studio, and installing a transmitter and preparing the group for broadcasting. The guys at ICAN in Burley were wonderful hosts, super committed hardworkers, and never showed even a moments frustration with my disorderly Spanish.They helped inspire me to go to Colombia and really study Spanish in classes, so I don’t sound like a drunken child when i talk!
First big project after Prometheus, a new tower and 5800 watt radio station for KYRS in Spokane. No more encroachment on their signal by full power stations, they are a full power station now!!!! I lived on top of Mount Stensgar in a tent for about 4 months, no water but what we brought and no electricity except Ryan’s solar panel for the first two and a half! I got to work with wonderful people like Lupito Flores and his great family, Ryan Boddy, Mike Brown, Kate Protagonist, Bruce Hormann, Dale Sanderson, Gavin Dahl, Jake Janecek, Donny Sanders, Jan Schiefer, all the union guys, and community radio superheroine Dawn Jewell. More about the project on their website:
Our first project in Nicaragua was at the Maria Luisa Ortiz co-operative in Mulukuku, a station that was started with the assistance of our friends at Radios Populares. You can see a great video about the launch of the station here:
They run an amazing clinic. They wanted us to check out their antenna, which has trouble when it rains, so we climbed up and redid a bunch of the connections.
We also put together a small link set up so that they could do special events, sports, and parties. Next we are heading to Honduras. You can see more on Liz’s blog, centraltransmissions.blogspot.com
Several other former Prometheus people have started a new business, thebabelbox.com
We build a very cool little system that allows an interpreter to speak through a teensy tiny radio station ( which just broadcasts inside the room), and listeners can hear in their own language over headphones from normal FM radio stations. Check it out at www.thebabelbox.com
I am very pleased to announce that as of January 15th, 2010, I will be stepping down from my role and leaving the staff of the Prometheus Radio Project.
For the twelve years since we founded the group in 1998, Prometheus Radio Project and the movement for Low Power Radio has been the central fact of my life.
I can’t believe we actually did all these things:
•Hundreds of new community radio stations we have worked with are on the air,
•Thousands of people attending our radio barnraisings have trained and shared their skills in community media,
•A thriving media reform and media justice movement has emerged with our partnership,
•Two successful court cases with our legal partners, halting media consolidation and projecting LPFMs from encroachment,
•Over a hundred fifty staff and interns have come through Prometheus, many of whom have gone on to leadership roles in other organizations,
•Successful advocacy at the FCC on a number of issues,
•And finally, in December the passage of the first media reform legislation in recent memory, the Local Community Radio Act, which will open up opportunities for community radio in the cities.
It has been an incredible 12 year sprint for me, and i don’t regret a minute of it. From our unlikely beginnings as anarchist radio pirates, we have gone from lawbreakers to lawmakers. I feel that Prometheus has its greatest challenge just ahead: to scale up organizationally to help hundreds of new stations to start up in the cities across the United States. I feel the organization will be served best by our emerging leadership team as we grow to the next level.
Some Stuff I Never Should Have Ended Up In Charge Of:
Since most of my working life before Prometheus was as a carpenter, I have always been baffled by the strange customs and traditions of the non profit sector. Everyone in DC knows I never quite fit with the DC mindset. And finally, I never gave raising money the focus it needed in order to grow the organization and the movement. I did my best, but community radio has grown enough that it can field stronger new leaders in my place. I’ll best serve everyone by moving towards my bailiwick as a trickster and mischief maker, and away from my weakness as a non profit administrator.
I will not be too far away from low power radio and media and social change. I will remain availablas an advisor to the Prometheus team in the coming rulemaking and outreach window, and into the future. But I will be changing my personal focus to some neglected interests that have not been compatible with my responsibilities in building Prometheus organizationally. Some of you may even see more of me than you’ve seen in years, if you have a project that intrigues me!
And now I’ll be shifting gears to do a lot more:
*Community radio and media projects around the world- international work was a distraction at Prometheus but will be a focus for me now. I look forward to spending more time with emerging community stations and media reform movements globally.
*The nascent co-operative business which spun off from former Prometheus staff, interns, and radio station founders: The Babelbox, which makes radios for live simultaneous language interpretation: www.thebabelbox.com
* A year of study, in lieu of graduate school- there’s a lot of things I really should be better at by now- Spanish, Electronics, Driving Stick Shift, Swimming, Paper Airplane Making, Touchtyping, Music Reading, Radio Theater, Sheet Metal Fabrication— you should see my crazy list of things I am going to study this year!
*Providing radio engineering services as a contractor for stations in the US, and alternative energy work- I have not gotten to do much personally on technical projects at Prometheus in years, and look forward to building my technical skills as a radio engineer further
*Some reflection, teaching and writing, so the hard won lessons from twelve years at Prometheus don’t fritter away too quickly
*General mischief and troublemaking, and reconnecting with the broad social movements I have always supported, but have been too narrowly focused to be active in for many years now.
For the next year, I will be focusing on smaller projects of all sorts. In contrast with my twelve years of commitment at Prometheus, I’d like to do a number of short intensive projects. I’ve already got a long list, but if you have a project that you think I’d be interested in, it is no longer a given that I am too busy running Prometheus to consider it! You can catch up with me through my new website, www.petetridish.net My first step will be to help out with a few new stations around Honduras starting in February, details are on the new website.
On the horizon for Prometheus:
I know this may seem abrupt for some of you. I have not shared my plans widely, because I have not wanted to distract community radio’s supporters or opponents from the important work of passing the Local Community Radio Act. But we’ve been building for this moment of transition for a long time. I have total confidence in the new Prometheus team: they will be absolutely ferocious in their struggle for community media. Our collective structure, while not always the most efficient in the quick turnaround decisions, shows its strength in moments like this. We have been training the new leaders of Prometheus for twelve years by involving them in serious, tough decisions at every level of the organization. At this point just about any staff member at Prometheus would make a fine executive director of a more traditional organization.
In place of my de facto ceremonial position in the Prometheus Collective of “Director of Electromagnetism, ” the leadership team that manages the growing organization in conjunction with our fantastic board will now take center stage. Ihave been working on barely anything at Prometheus besides the campaign for over a year now, and the organization is fully ready for my departure. Our policy team, station support, technical staff, development, communications, and strategic planning are all top notch and ready to rumble for a better media. They have exciting challenges ahead as they prepare for and build the next round of community radio stations.It’s been an honor to serve Prometheus and this movement, and i look forward to doing so in new capacities. I want to thank everyone for your faith in us and your activism in your communities to make a more just media!
ps: petri <at> prometheusradio.org will still work, but my new email address is petetridish <at> riseup.net Keep in touch!