A Letter to Ken
I’m sorry I didn’t have the chance to say goodbye. The last few times our paths crossed you didn’t seem to recognize me and once before that I got the sense you recognized me but wished you hadn’t! Whatever. I want to say thank you for introducing me to radio. Thank you for giving me the opportunity decades ago to face the reality of a microphone in my face when my mind goes blank. You, of course, saved me from myself. Now I seldom go before a mic alone.
I want to thank you for Sunday afternoons knowing you and often enlightening news and views were just a dial away. Thank you for giving airtime to issues other media outlets wouldn’t touch. Thank you for encouraging me with your enthusiasm. You are missed, but I want you to know that I will stay tuned. I say that not in the sense I expect you return from the grave and continue the struggle for justice and sanity in a world gone mad (though airing of recordings of your show might have the same effect), but in the sense that I expect other voices to rise and inhabit the place you once filled with your tenacity and conviction.
Many of those new voices will come from community radio and the recent influx of low-power FM stations across the U.S. And, some will come from bloggers and the growing international presence of the Indymedia phenomena. Given your history of avoiding many new technologies you probably never experienced much, if any of Indymedia’s influence on newsgathering and dissemination. Quite frankly, sometimes it seems many of today’s bloggers are not aware of Indymedia either. That’s unfortunate, given that the inter-active, open posting aspects of Indymedia more-or-less laid the groundwork for bloggers (at least that’s my sense of it). Perhaps I should not be surprised at this oversight given the infamous fifteen-second attention span that seems to rule in our culture of instant gratification and immediacy, but it irks me no end when people negate or overlook history. As I’m sure you would have agreed, they do that to their peril.
Another National Conference for Media Reform recently concluded down in Memphis, Tennessee. I never seem to have the wherewithal to attend these national events lately, though I did checkout the conference blog. Since you were so focused on local politics here in western Massachusetts I have a hunch you never went to any such national events either. They are important moments, I have no doubt, but all that travel and its effect on the environment, as well as the expense, tend to keep this media activist closer to home. In any case, I bring this up as a way to express my concern, once again, about that tendency for people to fly from one big thing to the next. Did you know when you were alive that there’s even a radio or television show called "The Next Big Thing"? Ha! Unfortunately, such mainstream fad-related fixations are no stranger to the progressive community either. I think if we hope to overcome the mentality that is dragging this nation, and in fact the entire planet, over the moral and ecological abyss, we need to set examples, to create models that show the way beyond living for the moment or the next big thing. This is not to say we shouldn’t react to or create today’s news, far from it. But, our creations and reactions need to be fortified with both visions of the future and an awareness of the past. Sometimes I find that quality in the progressive or radical media, especially on radio. However, in cyberspace the very technology fosters an air of the here-and-now; history as in “you’re history” or “that’s so last year”, is relegated to the dustbin. I wonder what you might have said about that? I think it sucks.
I guess it’s time to wrap this up and get to work putting some bread on the table. Thanks again for all you’ve done to try and make the world a better place. I’ll do what I can to help in this seemingly endless struggle. Rest in peace.