You hear the voices that filter through your radio dial, from the station up the street. The spontaneity of radio, its liveness, is a feeling that is hard to capture and keep. Voices coming from Honduras or New York City’s East Harlem can all be caught on these waves, a reverb in your memory. The “Free City Radio” show at CKUT 90.3 FM is now taking radio beyond its common means, expanding our experience of that media into a 36-page felt-cover zine.
On January 22, an intimate crowd gathered in place of the book carts that usually occupy the Concordia Community Solidarity Co-op Bookstore’s storefront in anticipation of the launch of a new project by the “Free City Radio” show. The project, pioneered by show programmer and community activist Stefan Christoff, is the Free City Radio zine – bringing you transcripts of radio interviews, artwork, photography, and reflections from the airwaves in a tangible physical format.
Created in collaboration with the CKUT community radio in Montreal, the zine is independently published without corporate or state funding and will continue to do so once every season. To paraphrase Christoff’s words, it is better to print editions according to the seasons than to a specified date four times a year.
The interviews, all conducted by Christoff and Mostafa Henaway, are presented in the zine with two focuses in mind, one local and one international. Within this issue there are discussions on local gentrification and displacement. On the international level, the zine features discussions on massive political shifts.
“I think of radio as the medium for imagination,” said Christoff in his closing remarks. It is also arguably an imaginative realm for something better.
The zine also includes an interview with Juan Haro, an organizer with the Movement for Justice in El Barrio in East Harlem, New York City, who talks about the struggles in Harlem as a project of corporate-driven displacement. Independent filmmaker Jesse Freeston, who was interviewed by Christoff in the winter of 2014, speaks about the ongoing political crisis in Honduras that extends beyond the elections and into the new mediascape post-2009 coup d’état. Alexis Stoumbelis from the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES) speaks of the struggle there for land and social justice, and San Juan, Puerto Rico professor and writer Maritza Stanchich highlights the historical context of the Puerto Rican student movement.
“I can try to do as many interviews as possible – as humanly possible – to document these issues,” said Christoff.
We are brought closer together through our community radio stations, hemispheres closer. Pushing forth both a local and global perspective, the Free City Radio zine is another tactile step in a much larger social movement, bringing a network of social activists and information to you in another format. Listeners become readers. In all this movement, a world of BuzzFeed, notifications, and sound bites, let’s take Christoff’s advice, read this zine, and “slow down for a minute.”
Free City Radio zine is available for a year-long subscription of $20. More information can be found at freecityradio.org.