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Community Media in a Globalized World: The Relevance and Resilience of Local Radio

Kate Coyer

Introduction: The Need for an Enabling Environment

Miners in Bolivia, rock musicians opposed to Milosevic in Belgrade, rebels in El Salvador, aboriginals in Australia, Muslims in Nottingham, hip hop youth in Tanzania, rural farmers in India, women in Jordan, artists in Ireland, environmentalists in Maryland, residents of neighborhoods, and students at universities in communities across the globe: these are among the thousands of people who have organized community-run radio stations and who have fought for their own access to the airwaves.

One might ask why – in an era of potentially limitless Internet stations and digital futures – is there even a need for access to traditional analog broadcasting spaces? Activists argue that broadcasting policy must reflect the values of community access and public interest, regardless of the means of delivery; that is, we cannot expect our digital future to include a space for independent voices in broadcasting if we cannot actually make room for these voices in the present. And while Internet and satellite radio listening are clearly on the rise, they still represent a fraction of regular radio listening.

Moreover, analog radio remains the primary means of news and information for the majority of the world. Its low cost, ease of use, minimal equipment requirements, and near-ubiquity as a medium around the globe, make radio the most globally accessible ...

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