Live video streams have been an instrumental tool in publicizing and helping to coordinate Occupy events since the first occupation of Zuccotti Park. But although the streams provide an important 1st-person-point-of-view experience of an action, they lack a meta-perspective—they don’t provide reliable, coordinated information about all the events and actions that are happening around the city on a particular day of action. Also, for the most part, video streams are viewed on non-portable devices, so they’re not terribly useful for coordinating people who are already out and about. On the other hand, twitter feeds are useful for real-time on-the-go updates, but the information can be scattershot, and generally is not coordinated to provide information about the full range of activities and actions as they evolve throughout the day.
We propose a radio program that will begin streaming live in the days leading up to May Day, which would hopefully be hosted on several Occupy-related sites. In the days leading up to May Day, the stream will air interviews with organizers about May Day actions they’re planning and some explication of the politics surrounding them, interspersed with special guests, music, segments on the history of May Day, etc. On the day itself, we’ll provide live updates and tactical information on actions across the city as they unfold, as well as a host of speakers, call-ins, spoken love letters to Occupy, and just a bunch of generally inspiring content.
On May Day, in addition to the live stream, several people will be equipped with FM radio microtransmitters for their livestream-capable smartphones. Each of these people will be able to re-transmit the livestream from their phones on an FM radio frequency across a 200-foot radius—a single transmitter would probably cover the area of Zuccotti Park, for instance. The radio broadcast is important because a smartphone with streaming capability restricts access to a privileged economic class. Also, FM radio technology is far more user friendly. Throughout the day, these mobile micro-transmitters will fan out across the city to microcast the streaming radio show at as many actions, marches and other events as possible. For larger actions—such as big marches—there can be several people with micro-transmitters spread throughout to provide reception across the entire area of the event.
As opposed to a single, city-wide pirate FM broadcast, a mobile network of small-range microcasts is legal, and would be incredibly difficult to disrupt. A single FM frequency can be agreed on in advance and publicized on May Day so that listeners can set their dial and tune in to the same station at any event throughout the day. Word can also be spread to bring boom boxes, portable radios, FM headsets, or FM equipped mp3 players along on May Day. At the end of the march, the mobile micro-transmitters and people with radios can converge to form a giant dance party—a mobile one if necessary!
The result will be a live source of updates and information on the day’s events that are accessible to anyone in the vicinity of an action with an FM radio or a mobile device with streaming capability, and simultaneously to anyone with a computer anywhere in the world. In the spirit of OWS, May Day radio is an imaginative way to claim space that should be ours but isn’t.
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