Found at: 0x1bi.net:70/textfiles/file?hamradio/libradio.txt

Subject: Liberation Radio, Springfield Il.'s 1 watt powerhouse!

Mbanna Kantako and the Micro-Radio Movement
Michael Townsend

(NLNS)--Mbanna Kantako is black, blind, broke, and on the verge of
creating a media revolution in America. Kantako, who lives just up the
street from Abe Lincoln's home in Springfield, Illinois, is a 31-year-old
unemployed public housing resident who operates the nation's most
notorious unlicensed radio station. Known as Black Liberation Radio, it
operates on a 1-watt transmitter the size of a toaster with a broadcast range
of only one mile.
 Kantako's station is six years old and for the last two and a half
years has operated in flagrant violation of a federal court order to cease
broadcasting. No one is quite sure why the government, so far, has not
enforced its court order. Kantako vows he is willing to go to prison if need
be, and supporters of the station say they will ask Amnesty International to
declare him a political prisoner if he is jailed by the government.
 Kantako (an adopted African name which means "resisting
warrior") started broadcasting six years ago as a result of his disgust with
the mainstream media and their failure to cover news, interests, and music
of the black community. Low-watt radio was his avenue for providing an
alternative. The station was largely ignored by the local powers-that-be
until Kantako broadcast a series of interviews with blacks who had been
brutalized by the local police. The police chief responded by reporting his
unliscenced broadcasting to the FCC. When the FCC could not get
Kantako off the air voluntarily, they fined him $750. When he refused to
pay, they took him to federal court. Kantako then refused to participate in
the court process because the judge would not appoint an attorney for his
defense and thereby lost the case by default.
 The federal judge issued and order on March 30, 1990, that was
supposed to shut down the station, but Kantako has defied the court order
and continues to broadcast. Springfield police then retaliated in another
cowardly way against Black Liberation Radio. Mbanna Kantako, Jr.,
Kantako's 9 year old son, was recently arrested, booked, fingerprinted and
photographed for a police mug shot for being involved in a shoving match
during a soccer game at his elementary school! The arresting officer--none
other than a policeman who patrols the Kantako neighborhood when he's
not moonlighting as a "security guard" for the school district. Kantako has
responded by removing his 3 children from public school and teaching
them at home with his wife Brenda's assistance.
 In retrospect, he says it's the best thing that could ever have
happened for his kids. The response of mainstream media in the Illinois
capital to the intriguing and gutsy Black Liberation Radio experiment has
been uniformly negative, ranging from an almost complete failure by
Springfield's nine commercial radio stations to cover the story, to
occasional reports by the daily Copley Press newspaper focusing attention
on the illegality of the station, to hostile and intentionally misleading
reports by the local NBC-affiliate TV station.
 Whatever values and principles local media people once swore to
uphold in schools of journalism have gone completely by the board. Not
one has defended the right to the free flow of information that we
selectively demand of certain other countries. Not one has mentioned the
racial discrimination that is so deeply entrenched in corporate media
operations in the U.S. Not one has mentioned the pro-democracy
potentials of Kantako's model. Racist corporate mentality, in other words,
reigns supreme in Springfield.
 A typical twenty-four hour programming schedule for Black
Liberation Radio would look something like the following:

6:00-7:00 PM
 Kanodi (age 13) reads the lattest chapter from Century of
Dishonor, interspersed with politically conscious rap and reggae music.
7:00-8:00 PM
 Mbanna Jr. (age 11) reads excerpts from J.A. Rogers' book 100
Amazing Facts About the Negro. He too mixes in music.
8:00-9:00 PM
 Dia reads a chapter of The Miseducation of the Negro. More music
between readings.
9:00-10:30 PM
 Mbanna comes on with a live talk show called "Brothers at the
Real Table." Using a $19 speaker phone, Kantako moderates a thought-
provoking 3 or 4 way discussion with black activists and researchers
around the country. The most frequent guests are author Terrance Jackson,
out of New York; activist Bryan "Muata" Harris, out of Columbus, Ohio,
and researcher Zears Mills in Los Angeles. The range of topics include the
expected, such as police brutality, drugs, the courts, prison, AIDS, etc.; but
just as often includes the unexpected such as the role of the World Bank,
the GATT Treaty, U.S. foreign policy, genetic research, the European
monetary crisis and an analysis of the federal agency known as FEMA--
and this is only a sampling.
10:30-11:00 PM
 "Notes on the Devil's News." Mvanna, Dia and local guests discuss
the day's news as presented in the establishment media, from a critical
11:00-1:00 AM
 Kantako presents a mix of socio/political/economic commentary
interspersed with rap and reggae music.
1:00AM-3:00 AM
 Broadcast tapes of recent and historic lectures by black activists,
researchers and scholars from around the country on a wide variety of
topics. Black Liberation Radio has an amazing collection of such tapes
and more keep coming in. The most frequent presenters are researcher
Steve Cokely, historian John Henrik Clarke, Malcolm X, Minister Louis
Farakhan, Dr. Frances Cress Welsing, psychologist Amos Wilson,
Professor Ivan Van Sertima, Jewel Poocrum and Dr. Barbara Justice. But
there are scores of others too.
3:00-6:00 AM
 Rebroadcast of previous night's 6:00-9:00 PM programs.
 Rebroadcast of the previous night's 9:00 PM-3:00 AM programs.
Noon-2:00 PM
 "Good White Sources." Broadcast tapes of lectures by whites
critical of U.S. domestic and foreign policies and aggressions. Again,
scores of presenters including Noam Chomsky, John Stockwell, John
Jydge, Sidney Wilhelm and Barbara Honneger, just to name a few.
2:00-6:00 PM
 Rebroadcast of the previous 9:00 PM-1:00 AM programs.

 Speculation as to why the government has failed to enforce its
court order centers around the possiblity that the Kantako case could serve
as a legal test of the constitutionality of FCC licensing regulations.
Kantako contends that FCC "financial viability" requirements for licensing
are a violation of his First Amendment rights. He argues that it is
unconstitutional to set standards that exclude large segments of the
population from access to the airwaves. Kantako summarizes his case as
 1. Blacks (and other minorities) are underrepresented in the
ownership and operation of radio stations in the U.S. by 600%.
 2. FCC regulations and licensing requirements are blatantly
discriminatory aginst minorities and low-income people.
 3. It takes a minimum of $50,000 to start the smallest licensed
F.M. station (100 watts). This fact means that not only are most minorities
excluded from the airwaves, but so is 90% of our entire population,
regardless of color.
 4. The establishment media does not represent the interests and
concerns of this excluded population.
 5. Exclusion from the media is a form of social control that is
undemocratic and a violation of the 1st and 14th amendments.
 6. Micro-Radio is a way of beginning to empower low-income
citizens; it's the voice of the excluded.

 Kantako's case is gradually beginning to receive wide attention
mainly due to coverage by the alternative press. The mainstream media
has picked up on the case mainly as a "freak" story with tabloid-type
coverage and little in-depth consideration of the important fundamental
issues involved. No story has recognized the possiblity of Black Liberation
Radio serving as a legal test case with national implications. None points
out that the National Lawyers Guild is actively researching the case.
 Kantako's goal is to establish stations, like this, operated by Blacks,
Latinos, Indians, Asians and other minority groups in low-income
neighborhoods all over the country. (His model also has implications for
developing countries which are struggling to maintain their cultural and
political integrity.) He has already been contacted by grassroots organizers
and student groups from 45 states and four foreign countries. Kantako
believes he has developed a cheap ($800 and you're on the air) and easily
replicated model that ought to be operating to empower low-income
people in neighborhoods all across the U.S. Activists in several other
states are working on setting up stations.
 The seriousness with which the establishment takes Black
Liberaiton Radio's potential threat to its power base was dramatically
underscored a year ago when the slug from a .357 magnum smashed
through Kantako's front room window, missing his head by inches. The
bullet temporarily interrupted a live on-air telephone interview Kantako
was conducting on the subject of white supremacy. The Springfield Police
didn't even bother to investigate. Kantako says such risks come with the
turf of what he calls the "Micro-Radio Movement" and, legal or illegal, it
may be coming to your city.

Mbanna Kantako may be contacted at: Black Liberation Radio, c/o 333 N.
12th Street, Spingfield, IL, 62702; (217) 527-1298.  Michael Townsend
can be reached at Sangamon State University, Springfield, IL 62794; (217)