Livening Up the Airwaves

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Carly Nix is passionate about community radio, and her
enthusiasm shines through to anyone interacting with her.
Nix, a Decatur native who graduated this past spring from
Boston University with a B.A. in religion, is the Ameri-
Corps News Media Coordinator at the Urbana-Champaign
Independent Media Center. She’s tasked with helping the
volunteers that run both WRFU-FM and the Public i
accomplish their goals.
Nix decided early on that she wanted to work in radio,
and she did anything she could to get experience. “I was
really involved with my student radio station, and I volunteered
at three or four radio stations in Boston throughout
my college career, and worked at a radio station, she
noted. “So by the time I made it to the IMC, I think I’d
worked at six different radio stations — maybe seven.” She
did internships at WILL in Champaign-Urbana and WBEZ
in Chicago, working on the Third Coast International
Audio Festival there.
All of these unpaid jobs are part of paying your dues to
break into a competitive field. “[In] public and community
radio, you have to volunteer a lot and do internships
before you can actually get anywhere,” Nix continued.
“After I graduated from college, I was doing all this reading
about how to break into the field, and everyone was basically
saying don’t go to grad school, just volunteer and
intern at radio stations, and eventually you’ll get paid.
That’s what I did, and it worked out.” Now she’s making
the not-so-big bucks as an AmeriCorps staffer.
Nix is excited to work for WRFU. She said, “This is the first
station that I’ve worked at that’s really progressively-minded
and really community-minded.” Soon after she started
her position, she saw the Indymedia movement in action in
the IMC’s coverage of the death of Kiwane Carrington. The
IMC quickly organized a press conference featuring Carrington’s
family and friends, as well as local community
leaders, and Nix assisted with the proceedings, posting
audio of the press conference on the IMC’s website. Fellow
AmeriCorps Brian Duggan recorded the event on video.
She recalled, “That’s when I really started to understand
why the Indymedia movement is so powerful, and what it
has to offer to the community. We made the mainstream
media come to us and listen to this story and report on it.
We also covered it and had the whole thing online and on
the radio for people to listen to or to watch. These are all
this things that were said, so that if you weren’t there, you
can digest it yourself and see what you think about it.”
The Public i’s Brian Dolinar agreed, referring to the
“crash course” in independent media that the Carrington
press conference contained. Dolinar said, “While the mainstream
media ran their sound-bites, at the IMC web site
and on the radio we had the press conference in its entirety.
This was one of the best examples of Indymedia at work,
and made possible by the assistance Carly provided.”
Nix cited that coverage as an example of the void that
the IMC fills in the community. “NPR used to cover a lot of
things more in-depth like that,” she contended. “They
haven’t been able to do that as much, for some reason. I
don’t know if it has to do with funding, or it has to do with
the burden of having an increased audience or what. They
used to cover whole congressional hearings and stuff, and
they just don’t do that anymore. They have it on some sort
of alternate web stream, but it’s not going to be on the
radio and it’s not going to be in the #1 program.”
She has high hopes for the coming year at WRFU. “I’m
really liking it, and I’m really looking forward to making
the station stronger, and getting more people on the radio
this year,” Nix said. “We have a ton of free time on our
schedule right now, so I’m looking forward to reaching out
to different community groups and trying to get some
more community-minded programming on the air. One of
our taglines is “Community radio, by and for the people,”
but we need to re-connect with the people, so that’s what
I’m trying to do this year.”
Nix continued, “I think it’s really important for the
community to listen and pay attention to what’s going on
right now in our community. To just sit back and not think
about it, I don’t think that’s the answer.”

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