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© courtesy of Neighborhood Public Radio
Jon Brumit, Neighborhood Public RadioNeighborhood Public Radio, Jon Brumit
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NPR\'s storefront in NYC for the Whitney Biennial, Neighborhood Public RadioNeighborhood Public Radio,
NPR's storefront in NYC for the Whitney Biennial,
2008
© courtesy of Neighborhood Public Radio
Dogpatch residents talk with NPR about changes in their neighborhood, Neighborhood Public RadioNeighborhood Public Radio,
Dogpatch residents talk with NPR about changes in their neighborhood,
2007
© courtesy of Neighborhood Public Radio
NPRkestra at the de Young Museum, Neighborhood Public RadioNeighborhood Public Radio,
NPRkestra at the de Young Museum, 2007
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State of Mind interview, Neighborhood Public RadioNeighborhood Public Radio,
State of Mind interview, 2007
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Park Park Revolution, Neighborhood Public RadioNeighborhood Public Radio, Park Park Revolution,
2011, Site-specific performance MOCA, Los Angeles , CA
© Mark Woodworth
Neighborhood Public Radio (NPR) was founded in 2004 by multimedia artists and educators LeE Montgomery, Jon Brumit and Michael Trigilio. Acting as a traveling band of guerilla broadcasters, NPR personnel have hosted thematic broadcasts far and wide including in numerous galleries in San Francisco, at Chicago's Version 5 Festival (2005) and San Jose's Zero1 Festival (2006) as well as various project...[more]


RackRoom
Interview with LeE Montgomery of Neighborhood Public Radio

San Francisco, Mar. 2008 - ArtSlant's Natalie Stanchfield spoke with one of the founders of San Francisco's own radio art collective Neighborhood Public Radio, LeE Montgomery, about their participation in the 2008 Whitney Biennial in New York.

Transmitter Building Workshop at the Headlands Center for the Arts, Marin, CA, 2007; Photo courtesy of Neighborhood Public Radio


Natalie Stanchfield - What initially drew you to radio and audio art as a medium for artistic expression?

LeE Montgomery - Radio is one medium where activism and artistic expression, most perfectly join hands. Especially in the United States where our constitution designates the airwaves as public property, but where the public is hard pressed to find ways to experiment with unlicensed transmission. There is much that has been written, and that continues to be written about "audio" art, but little about "radio" art as distinct from audio art. Gregory Whitehead has spoken of the "nobodies" of radio art, and it's kind of fascinating to think of all the time that radio has been an integral part of people's lives, and how little experimentation has been done purely with the uniqueness of transmission as a medium. Analog radio transmission has the beauty and nostalgia of an "old" technology, but the potential and energy of something wild and new. This combination of contrasts is very enticing, but the possibilities of this exploration are deeply limited by capricious legislative actions. Furthermore, it's kind of an old axe to grind, but media consolidation has clearly flattened the radio landscape to the point of nearly eliminating local content. In 2004 when we began, I think that tendency was becoming more and more apparent. Here again is where activism around free speech, and the creative impulse met, to give life to our project.

NS - Your project for the 2008 Whitney Biennial is entitled "American Life." Can you describe what the project will entail and how you plan to tackle such a broad subject?

LEM - American Life is about bringing some glimpses of the rest of the country to the people of the New York art world...and the people of New York generally. We are looking to plant Portable Radio Instruments all over the United States, to broadcast content back to New York. So we are looking for community groups across the country to host these PRIs, to see the impact that a couple of live microphones can have on a community, and how interesting the mundane details of all of our lives are when we can see them side by side. Perhaps we can eliminate some notions of difference along the way, building larger notions of what our neighborhood can be.

NS - How many Portable Radio Instruments have you installed across the US and in what cities? Can you estimate about how many people are involved in the project?

LEM - We have 2 PRIs currently funded, and the internet radio station for the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, planning to broadcast in to New York. One of the PRIs will be based with the Center for Public Life at CCA, and the one in San Diego will be based around groups in Tijuana and San Diego exchanging content. Estimates of the number of people involved in this incarnation of our project are necessarily wildly inaccurate, so I will avoid pointing to any specific numbers.

NS - Part of what makes Neighborhood Public Radio so accessible and interactive is that it is not only on the air, but out in the open, either on location or at your storefront in the Mission, and community members and passersby can join in, making radio a social event. How do you plan for this aspect of NPR to translate to New York? Do you plan on going out to the boroughs and the neighborhoods?

LEM - Currently we have a storefront two doors south of the Whitney. It's a strange and different kind of location, because of its upscale trappings. We find that our programming does reach beyond the borders of the neighborhood by accident and by design. There are Business Improvement District Police, who patrol the neighborhood, but are not from the neighborhood, who have spoken on the air; we have pursued reporters from local neighborhood papers throughout Brooklyn as regular guests. We plan to definitely draw on New York's very long history of neighborhood identities to build our programming, but much of it will be determined by who among these neighborhoods actively wishes to be involved.

NS - How can we tune in and, for our New York readers, get in on the action?

LEM - You can tune in by listening to our stream at http://www.neighborhoodpublicradio.org, or by sitting near the museum with a radio tuned to 91.9FM. If you live in New York and want to host a transmitter, we are going to try to hand out as many little legal transmitters as we can tuned to 91.9FM. People can feed our stream into their transmitter, to share our content with their neighbors, or they can plug into the transmitter to broadcast their own content. And of course...as always...if folks want to be on the air...all they have to do is visit our storefront at 941 Madison Avenue, and we will either put people on the air immediately, or place them in our schedule... But no matter what...no one is turned away.


ArtSlant would like to thank LeE Montgomery for their assistance in making this interview possible.

-- Natalie Stanchfield

FORMER RACKROOMERS

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