‘Our Voices, Our Media, Our Liberty’ fund drive runs through Labor Day

“Our Voices, Our Media, Our Liberty” is the theme of a summer fund drive by the nonprofit Mountain Area Information Network and MAIN-FM 103.5. The drive will run through Labor Day.

The fund drive goal is $10,000 to help MAIN-FM boost its signal to a full 100 watts and to continue MAIN’s rural broadband advocacy.

MAIN-FM and other low-power FM radio stations nationwide recently won passage of a law to remove restrictions imposed by commercial radio lobbyists on nonprofit LPFM stations . The new law, which takes effect later this year, will allow MAIN-FM to boost its power to a full 100 watts, thereby eliminating signal problems which have plagued the station since its launch in 2003.

“We are thrilled that our radio station will soon be allowed to broadcast at its full power after almost eight years of limited coverage in the Asheville area,” said MAIN founder and executive director Wally Bowen.

Bowen noted a parallel between restrictions placed on nonprofit radio stations by broadcast lobbyists and limits on nonprofit delivery of wireless broadband Internet access in underserved areas.

“Both community radio and community broadband have had to overcome artificially-imposed limits by corporate lobbyists whose only goal is maximizing profits by minimizing competition,” said Bowen, citing North Carolina’s recent passage of an industry-written law banning municipal broadband networks.

He called the struggle for independent media “the most important issue of our time” because without it, “corporate-dominated media will have unlimited power to manufacture news, mobilize voters, and set a national agenda to serve the interests of Wall Street at the expense of Main Street.”

Bowen called the battle for community-owned media a “long-term struggle,” and he thanked supporters of independent media for helping MAIN, founded in 1995, become one of the nation’s oldest community networks. He said MAIN is at the center of a growing movement to reclaim the media by demonstrating that community-based groups can build and operate high-tech media infrastructure.

“This movement is revolutionary, yet we’ve seen it before when grassroots activists built ‘self-help’ electric and telephone networks in rural areas. Today these networks continue to be enormously successful, yet this ‘self-help’ story is one you will not hear or see in corporate media,” Bowen said.

Tax-deductible donations to MAIN and MAIN-FM can be made by calling 828.258.0085 or via a secure online link at http://www.main.nc.us. Local businesses can also contribute products and services as premiums by calling or e-mailing as noted above.

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