Commie Radio Coming Soon?

This post sort of began as a comment to Big Island Chronicle and a discussion concerning fast food businesses coming to the entry of Pahoa, Hawaii, a truly …unique village in the lower Puna district on Hawai’i Island. A fellow, Mike Middlesworth, writes this comment at the tail-end of a good discussion:

All of this begs the real question:

If local businesses are so much better, why don’t more people shop at them so they can succeed?

Why are WalMart, Target, Costco, McDonalds, Longs, etc. so successful?

Could it be it’s because they offer things more people want at good prices?

Isn’t that what Free Enterprise is all about?

In this instance of degradation of a community’s natural heritage in the name of “free enterprise” perhaps the real question is:

Should capitalism be regulated (by gov’t) such that the public good of a community is dominantly expressed politically, to determine pono (righteous) policy?

An old rivalry: private property vs. public (democratic) government.

Actually, the Capitalist dogs, and the dreaded Commies have merged: institutionally co-opted consumption is the great imperialistic leveler. Community engagement becomes defined — educated — to be that of consuming: food, entertainment, education, health care, information, mileage, and of course lots of stuff: homo economicus is born.

This is where the Chamber of Commerce-types get nervous — but they shouldn’t really. We’re really just talking about an insane imbalance that need be recognized.

Imbalance balanced with what?

Doing stuff, essentially. Doing stuff that produces something. Doing stuff that establishes friendships; doing something that might avoid our tax-money financing slaughter for driving the FreeWay™ !

You know what? The big secret that you never hear? This doing stuff — as opposed to sucking stuff into our spectacular SuckHoles™ — doesn’t require ABC/Disney or McDonalds or yikes! even broadband. What it requires is renouncing all that shit — giving it up. No more DiGiornos. No Hoggy Dog..

Sounds pretty boring huh?

You’re darn right it’d be pretty boring! Hell, I might just rather drive my car way too fast off a cliff with a big ol’ spoonful of RockyRoad hangin’ out my face! No stuff?! Ya right. I’ll just sit on my stump, entertaining myself watching cardinals. …fuck cardinals anyway! They don’t even come from here… bastards…

See what I mean? It seems as though we’d be entirely unprepared to just casually step off of our little program we’ve been raised — conditioned — educated — to… quite like. (I’ll admit it. I actually want to see Paris Hilton driving a MonsterTruck™…like a hundred miles an hour into a vat of grease being fondled by horny leprechauns — don’t know why exactly, its just there…why deny it?)

I digress. What I was getting at is that, in order to adopt widespread advocacy, upholding, sharing, and appreciating of locally self-reliant use-values (doing, producing), as opposed to the thoroughly entrenched, behemoth, lobbied, corporate/institutionally directed, consumption paradigm (our status quo), we would need to develop organizational efforts that have heretofore not existed. The fragmenting and isolating quality of consumer-reality is just too pervasive.

And yet, if you are a corporation/institution profiting quite well from people having your Produkt™ stuck in their Faces™, are you really gonna have a concern for changing this?

This organization to balance, integrate, and foster our doing and producing together as a community must involve: political participation, non-commercial media, and recognition of appropriate business practices and appropriate technology application for optimum community health.

A case in point. I live in a Puna subdivision (Eden Roc). There are 1800 1-acre lots here — perhaps what, 400 homes? A guy around the corner recently puts up a sign indicating that he will sell his locally produced eggs for a reasonable price. You know what? His once overwhelming supply can now no longer keep up with the demand of his now aware customers. The innovation for his new successful business model? A little frumpy sign hiked up onto an Ohia tree on his lot next to the street — it works — a giant pulsating neon egg-sign just isn’t necessary — an appropriate level of technology.

Okay. That’s eggs. But what about social, educational, and other material deficits being met locally with just the appropriate level of organizational technology? Guaranteed, get choke! (translation: The current status quo has people sitting on their asses, conflicted about: “Gee, must I get in my motorized crutch (car) once again to go: buy, eat, watch, play, talk, heal, learn, drink, or generally make whoopee?” (Not necessarily ALL, or in that order — however, I can think of worse itineraries…)

Um, ya, so organization is the thing.

Some of our new digital gadgetry would seem to have great potential as local community organizing tools. However, in the obfuscation that accompanies the marketing of these things (keeping you as a screen-staring client), there seems to actually be more fragmentation — whereas integration of community is our highest goal.

And not to put off the enterprising types out there — this doesn’t mean vilifying business at all. Organizing for self-determination regarding our community wellness has no conflict with businesses that support this. It doesn’t take long to see that the barometer for measuring a company’s appropriateness is, “Are we as a community gainfully using the product/service, or is the business concern a parasite with very little benefit to the community?”

Am I missing something in such a yardstick?

Lastly, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention austerity, which, from where I live, seems almost unnecessary. Nevertheless, the more that you think you might have some God-given right to accumulate as much stuff as you possibly can, or consume like a CokeWhore™ in Miami Beach at a Bacardi convention, the more you would be… deemed problematic in this call to community organization.

Community radio for Hawaii Island — simply advocating for community wellness, public dialog, local government service, synergy, and self-reliance — would be an extremely sensible development at this time. I ask anyone reading this to refute such an assertion with a compelling reason.

More importantly, I hope we can organize to make it happen.

Why doesn’t it happen?

It’s too sensible?

Are we that lame?

I know of a lot of competent people on this island as I’m sure you do too. The idea that we can’t organize around this development to create something decidedly of great value to our community would seem to be absurd.

Don’t you think?

12 thoughts on “Commie Radio Coming Soon?

  1. Hey there. Found you through FBI Blogs (I’ve recently been included in that great collection) and felt an urge to chime in here.

    I can tell from your enthusiasm that you’ve gotten pretty worked up about this issue, and I agree it’s an important one.

    I’ve got an urge to go on and on, continuing your rant about how the “consumer” (it used to be “population”, but let’s face it, in today’s world our largest impact is as consumers) has been hoodwinked by national corporations into thinking that they’re saving more money with more convienence. All it takes is one half-hour wait in the checkout line at Wal-Mart or McD’s drive-thru to realize that it’s not convienent at all, and any amount of time with the product to realize that while you may have saved some cost in dollars, you’ve gained little or no value.

    But I’m not going to go on and on about all of that.

    There is one point I’d like to refute, though.

    “This organization to balance, integrate, and foster our doing and producing together as a community must involve: political participation, non-commercial media, and recognition of appropriate business practices and technology for optimum community health.”

    While the last two are not only valid, but extremely important, I believe the first is unnecessary and potentially harmful. If the community changes, the politics will inherently change with them. You’d have an easier time fostering a community through example, interaction, and production than you ever will through political policy. People will follow and join in if it’s their choice, but if it’s policy, then many will fight tooth and nail, if for no other reason than it’s different than things are now.

    But again, I digress. My interest is in your community radio. I used to live in Ft. Collins, CO and they’ve got a great community-run non-commercial radio station. The programming is a bit ecclectic, but what comunity isn’t? If you’re really thinking about starting up a commuinty radio station, they’re an excellent example to follow. If you’d like, I can put you in touch with some people involved with it. Also, if you need some musical programming, I’d be happy to volunteer. :)

  2. Tiff–

    Thanks for having a look. I like your enthusiasm, particularly coming from one who is well aware of radio production and who obviously gets things done. I’ll let you know what I can find out.


    It’s great to get your feedback. (reminiscent of Nigel’s ’59 ‘Paul)
    No seriously, you raise a very interesting point about whether approaches to policy are worth much. As much as I intrinsically (and from some experience) feel that you might be on to something, I can only imagine that relinquishing my political participation ensures that others are gonna decide policy with which I’ll have to abide/deal with and so on.

    Your take on it does make me think though and I would enjoy if you were to lay out an experience that may have validated such a notion.

    Btw, I checked out your blog and I look forward to reading some more. What can I say? Spinal Tap was a seminal influence.. My entire homestead has been modeled after “Sex Farm” No. That would be an exaggeration. You play?
    Anyway, Mahalo.

  3. You and Tim are getting me all fired up for a rhetorical volley myself and damn it, I’m just too busy to put it all together.

    Nice work, seems to me that the key is “changing expectations.” Looks like it’s working.

  4. Yeah, I suppose my standard approach is probably a bit naive and optimistic, but I truly believe the system is inherently flawed, and therefore is nearly (if not completely) impossible to correct from within. Since a government that is not supported by the people cannot stand (although cleary one can stand on people who support it with ambivalance), I believe that leading by example with a clear but quiet voice will, over time, create a better community and that the government will follow suit. It takes time, but that’s what this discussion started with, right? The idea that the less convienent path is often the better path?

    As far as your need to control policy, to make things better for yourself, I can see where you’re coming from. But for myself, I have to wonder if I, as just one person with one perspective, would know or do any better than some other person, who is just one person with their one perspective? I’d like to believe so, but I have to admit that’d be a bit egotistical of me. But with a strong community who really believes in what they’re doing, I believe the politicians will follow.

    I’ll admit, I don’t care to follow politics too closely. It makes me angry. Not so much the people or the decisions they make, but the system itself. I worked in civil engineering for eleven years, and I’ve had enough City and/or County Council/Board meetings with enough personal bias on the part of the “people in charge” to last me a lifetime.

    You, on the other hand (as well as a lot of people on the FBI blogs – leaving me feeling a little shallow and trite, which I’m cool with – every village needs an idiot), appear to have a passion for it, and in a strong community of like-minded people, people would look to you to look out for these events, such as a proposed plan to install a McDonalds or a KFC or a strip club (clearly no on the food, and yes on the nudie bar :) ), so the voice of the community could be heard clearly at the appropriate time. That would keep you out of the flawed system, but still aware of it’s grotesque and bastardized inner-workings.

    If you needs examples, they’re all over the world, in forms of non-violent protest. This situation is just a little quieter, and more subtle. But the effect is the same.

    I don’t know….. I feel like I’m talking about six different things at once here, and I don’t know if any of them make sense to anyone else. Thus the shallow and trite blog. :)

    So the old homestead is based upon “Sex Farm”, eh? Well, as long as you’re poking the hay once in a while, that’s all that really matters.

    And yeah, I play a bit, now and again, pretty much whatever I can get my hands on. And you?

  5. Cameron,

    Thanks again for your edifying comments. We might interpret ‘policy’ a tad differently, maybe due to our work backgrounds. For what it’s worth, I perhaps define policy, or politics, and participation, in pretty broad terms. Structure of things — having to get up in the morning — all fit into those terms in my little world view. Pulling weeds out of my garden bed too. So, ..”policy decision-making happens!” (a trendy bumpersticker is born?) Nah, but I don’t see how it can be avoided.

    The other thing is that my paying work has been teaching students of various ages — different things — all pretty much giving this great contact-buzz of hope, worth the price of admission. Nonetheless, I’ve been through some humbug concerning very obvious educational scamming — like where you see ‘educators’ partaking in a system in pretty cowardly ways..and yet the ‘marks’ have been kids (adult students too), who are the exploited pawns in a deal perpetrated through career insecurity and reluctance to rock the boat. Anyway, that fuels my desire to express dissenting opinion if I believe it is useful.

    Lastly, I might mention that I reckon I am about 10 years older than you. While not such a big deal, I gotta say that, as my forties roll on, more and more I’ve been struck with the notion that my voice is as valid as anybody else’s; I’m not beholden to any organization to censure myself, so I almost even feel an obligation to raise some of these issues — it certainly isn’t as though I’m pushing it on anybody.

    Perhaps what you call “egotistical” resides in the gratification I get from writing and editing, and then there is this desire to “hang a shingle”– you know, just sort of say, “Hey community, here’s me and my ideas. Maybe some of us can find mutually satisfying ways to interact.” (Heh, sounds like Spock talking.)

    Phew, navel-gazing..

    Yes indeed. I much enjoy playing guitar or drums. It would be nice to have a chance to play sometime! (Check out the music on here if you get a chance.)

    And as for your blog, I find it quite honest and readable. Shallow and trite have this great evanescent quality that can turn profound on a dime!

  6. Given the development nationally over the last nine months, I have a hard time believing I live in the good ole USA. We are sounding much more like Ayan Rands book Atlas Shrugged.

  7. Darren, another great post. I can’t disagree with the importance of public policy. It seems to me that you and Cameron are not disagreeing, simply looking at two parts of an interrelated process. In principle, public policy should reflect the values and culture of the citizens. If you ask me which comes first, I’d have to say culture comes first and policy reinforces the culture. But culture is without a doubt more powerful than any top-down imposed policy could ever be.

    On a smaller scale than local politics, I see policy “deployed” all the time in Japan’s elite companies (but definitely not in Japanese politics). Policy deployment is indeed effective in the great companies, but for a couple key reasons: 1) the leaders embody and model the values of their culture, 2) the leaders have integrity. If either condition isn’t fulfilled, the whole thing falls apart…about where our political system is today.

    I have to laugh at Bill O’Reilly’s Cultural-Warrior take on things. He acts like America is doomed because the “secular progressives” are taking over our political system and turning us into evil socialists. The fundamental truth O’Reilly is missing, is that culture trumps politics every time. As a “cultural warrior” he should be happy, not ranting. It’s the secular progressives who should be worried. If they want to “win” long-term, they better start thinking about changing America’s culture. Starting with politics is bass-ackwards.

    If policy and culture aren’t in sync, if policy is created and driven by leaders with no integrity, then policy is not only worthless, it is harmful. Just ask those poor folks in Iran.

    Just my two cents. Thanks for making me think. And I love the idea of community radio.


  8. Tim-

    Thanks for adding to the discussion. As I say, my use of the word “policy” is perhaps misleading. “Structure” is probably a better choice as that speaks more to the framework of an organization; political, economic, cultural, or what have you.

    On another note, the Fort Collins radio link that Cameron provided..well, its hipness was apparent in the first sequence of 4-5 songs that I heard — swinging and funky and yet entirely eclectic — and that’s to say nothing of the potential for phone-in talk shows and general community resource coordination, etc. Damn, I sure wish we had such a thing. It perplexes me that we don’t, and all I’ve ever heard is from people in Puna who would really welcome community radio. Who knows? Maybe it could happen.. Anyway, give a listen to: if you get a chance. Mahalo.

  9. Community radio? Try Maui’s wonderful community radio station at By far one of the best radion stations ever, anywhere.

  10. In order to start a radio station, you have to get a license from the FCC, buy some equipment, get a place to house it, run power to it.
    You need to spend some money and effort to advertise so folks will tune in.

    Then based on how many listeners and their buying demographic you’ll need to get some advertisers to pay you so you can keep the lights on.

    Organizations like NPR and PBS can get away with shitty programing because they are subsidized. Air America was a complete and utter fiasco because very few people want to hear anti-American rants.

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