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Negativland Uses Mosquito Fleet To Bite Clear Channel and the NAB
by Paul Riismandel, Urbana IMC
8:23pm Fri Sep 13 '02
On Thursday the Mosquito Fleet of unlicensed micropower radio stations in Seattle joined together for a joint broadcast at high noon taking aim at radio giant Clear Channel communications.
Clear Channel's KJR FM is a station promoting itself as the best of the 60s and 70s, but it also plays a heaping helping of tired old songs from the 1980s, as if nobody in their audience would know or care. Surrounded with canned voice-tracked DJs from who-knows-where and inane chatter, the station is a stark indicator of the low regard with which Clear Channel holds its audience and the people of Seattle.
Negativland takes hold of this absurd hypocrisy and explodes it over the course of a 24 minute simulated broadcast of KJR. The program starts innocently enough with the sounds of KJR's canned liners and jingles, followed by a DJ who introduces himself, but then starts to expose the lie, as he cues up a song from Michael Jackson's 1980s hit album Thriller. The rhetoric only escalates from there as the mythical DJ digs in to KJR's lies and naming KJR's program director personally as responsible for the misrepresenation.
This program was simulcast on over 6 different unlicensed low-power stations throughout the city. The stations have gathered here for the Reclaim the Media conference and to demonstrate the power of low-power FM to the National Assocation of Broadcasters Radio Conference meeting in downtown.
Seattle radio listeners could hardly avoid the broadcast as they tuned across the dial. Negativland's KJR program played repeatedly on many of these stations for six hours, through the evening drive-time commute. The Seattle IMC placed a radio playing the broadcast outside it's downtown storefront space, and many confused and amused pedestrians stopped to listen as the faux KJR DJ rants on about the station's lies and how refusing to acknowledge its lies makes it no better than an ax murderer.
One Reclaim the Media participant even brought a radio playing the broadcast into the NAB Radio Conference lobby, challenging the mainstream radio industry to recognize that people are on to them.
Thursday evening Mark Hosler, a founding member of Negativland, gave a talk and video showing where he explained some of the motivation behind the KJR parody. He explained that while Clear Channel's destructive impact on the radio dial in city after city is something meriting protest, the strange absurdity of a 60s and 70s format station not even staying true to its own identity was too hard to pass up, and indicative of the company's attitude.
Much of Hosler's presentation, and many of the Reclaim the Media panel sessions held on Friday have been broadcast on the mosquito fleet stations via streaming Internet feeds set up by the Seattle IMC.
Segments from the Negativland KJR parody-cast can be heard in mp3 at radio4all:
Highlights were also aired on WEFT's mediageek. The program is archived at:
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