Sunday, June 10, 2007
This was the scene to my right as I drove just southwest of Santa Fe yesterday, at about 3:30. I haven't checked the news today for more info, yet. Readers from the Great Plains or Tornado Alley might shrug and say "So what?" But the general Santa Fe area rarely experiences this. It was quite surreal. Many people were parked along the highway, taking pictures. Several emergency vehicles were all blazing in the general direction of the twister.
I was on my way to the independent media panel. I heard the promo spot for it on 101.5 on the way there, where I was described as a "long time local personality." My friend Jack Kolkmeyer, who has been on the radio here for 23 years, was also described thusly. We agreed when we met up at the event that such a description is like saying a movie was "interesting."
Anyway, the panel consisted of about 10 media types. I was perhaps the most radical ranter present, largely bypassing the specific issue of radio consolidation and spewing vitriol about the attack on the Constitution, on democracy and on free access to culture and information. I mentioned the Verizon Wireless/Jazz at Lincoln Center/National Endowment for the Arts Jazz in the Schools Curriculum, the Bush takeover of NPR, the FCC as a supposed watchdog for public airwaves being in fact a lapdog for huge media conglomerations. I got rather evangelically heated. Too much coffee. Brian Hardgroove, bassist for Public Enemy who moved here last August, backed me up 100 percent, which was a bit of a rush. DJ Rocque Renaldi told some hilarious stories about some of his commercial and corporate radio experiences.
I had to make absolutely clear that, while some of my activities for money and otherwise are with two local media outlets, KSFR and the Santa Fe Reporter, I was on the panel as a lone wolf, not a rep. I wish I had said "I am an unaffiliated, independently owned local person," but I only thought about that afterwards.
Most of the attendees were left urgently wondering what they could do. There were excellent suggestions from many panel members. I'm afraid by that time I was feeling so acidulously misanthropic that the only suggestion that popped out of my caffienated mouth was "talk to a bunch of rich people and put millions of dollars together. Can anyone here write a $3 million check right now to get things rolling?" Really obnoxious.
Actor Gary Farmer, from Canada, was in attendance. He mentioned a program there where the Canadian equivalent of the FCC requires commercial broadcasters to kick back 6 percent of their gross to emerging artists, public radio, public and independent media. He wondered if the FCC would ever consider a recharging scheme like this. I think that's when my bitterness reached hydrochloric acid pH levels.