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Mid-Week Beat: Is Radio Still Relevant in the Digital Age?

large_war-of-the-worldsThis week on the Mid-Week Beat we stray away from our usual format of featuring bands and shows to focus on radio, and more specifically Low Power FM. Radio is an important medium that is just as relevant and useful to independent musicians as it is to community groups and non-profits, even in the age of the Internet. Today, on World Radio Day, we feel it’s important to talk about some exciting developments for independent, community-based radio and to encourage all of you to support the independent radio stations in your own community. Happy World Radio Day everyone!

Every musician wants to connect with their audiences and, in the past, radio airplay has been the key to achieving that. I know some of you can remember the excitement of when you heard your favorite song come on the radio or, if your a musician, the first time you heard your own music on the radio. Younger musicians like Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, have made it clear that the walls of the old school music industry are crumbling in favor of D.I.Y. online solutions, but does that mean that the power of radio has diminished?

No one who listened to Orson Welles’ famous radio play, “War of the Worlds” would have questioned the importance of radio. The realistic “theatre of the mind” made people of that day pack their bags, call the police and go into basic panic mode, because what you create in your mind can be even more powerful than anything that you see or read. Surely, radio as a medium would remain important to artists who’s work can primarily be appreciated and shared through the sense of sound… at least, as long as audiences were still tuning in.

But in the digital age, has radio outlived its relevance?

According to the United Nations, radio remains the medium that reaches the widest audience worldwide, and radio is able to connect better with communities regardless of economics or education levels. Radio can reach listeners who are engaged in other activities and tell stories in a way that resonates in a different way than other forms of media are able to. This is just as true in the world’s largest cities as it is in places without a digital communications infrastructure.
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Nonprofits Invited to Learn How to Own The Airwaves

Are you a nonprofit?

It’s time to dream big! Now, your nonprofit has an opportunity to own a piece of the airwaves, and it’s easier than you might think.

This Friday, November 30, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will announce rules on how nonprofits can apply for low-power FM radio licenses (LPFM) across the United States. These radio signals will reach 3 to 10 miles, serving communities in a similar way to how neighborhood and community blogs do for the online community.

We expect the FCC announcement will guarantee that the new local stations are run by truly local organizations and are broadcasting programming that originates locally. As radio signals go, LPFM isn’t too expensive, and you’d  have two years to raise the money. Watch the live Internet stream of the FCC meeting announcing the rules for application at 10 a.m. EST/7 a.m. PST,  here.  Join me for a #LPFM Twitter Party, hosted by Prometheus Radio Project, sharing comments, questions, and insights as we all watch the event.  If you miss the event, don’t worry!   To learn more about about what this announcement could mean for your school, community organization, or nonprofit, read on!

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Three Ways Brown Paper Tickets Empowers Communities.

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On my blog Spark Change, I’ve been featuring ways you can improve your office and for my final post in this series, I thought I would take this time to examine some things that Brown Paper Tickets does to make a difference in our communities with the hope that other companies will take a piece or two of what we do and create new ways to make their office more giving.

A relatively easy way to make an impact on your community is to make a financial donations to local schools or non-profits. Brown Paper Tickets takes 5% of our quarterly profits and donates that amount to a non-profit. We have also been a part of setting-up micro-loans with Kiva and helping to support people across the world. Look at your profits and give what you can every quarter or every year. Whether it is $10 or $100, the donation will make a difference.

Another great way to make an impact in your community is to give time. Brown Paper Tickets empowers every employee with 40 hours of time-on. This means that each employee could help build houses for a whole week in Africa and get paid as if they were sitting at their desks, working in the office. Employees are also able to break-up their time-on and give one or two hours to their favorite non-profit every week. It is a great way to get people more involved in their communities. This is something easily applied to every company. 40 hours is a lot of time to give as an employer, but even giving 20 hours or even a full working day of 8 hours would make a big difference. It is also a great team building experience when a whole group works on a volunteering project together. Giving employees time to go volunteer takes away the common excuse of not having time to volunteer. Give them time and see what they can do!

In my opinion, one of the most amazing programs Brown Paper Tickets has is our Doer program. Doers, unlike a sales team, are not responsible for business development. Their sole purpose it to go out and help people in their industry, free of charge. They are change makers. Some call it a dream job and I would agree. They are Brown Paper Tickets employees, paid to go out and make a positive difference in our world. How amazing is that?! Now, this one may be a little more challenging to take and apply to your own business, but maybe start by scaling it down and allow some of your employees to take on projects that will make a difference in your community and give them four hours a week to work on that project. There are many variations of a program like this that you could make work for your company.

The more you are able to support your employees’ desire to create positive change, the better world we will have to all share. Go on. Change the world!

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