Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Problem: How to talk about Chicago politics on community radio?

Amisha Patel of the Grassroots Collaborative, will be our guest Friday on Hitting Left

Friday's Hitting Left show should be a good one. Brother Fred will be back from vacation and Amisha Patel from Grassroots Collaborative will be our in-studio guest. As you might expect, we'll be talking about the current list of Chicago's pay-for-play politics and machine scandals in the roll-up towards election day.

These will include, of course, the mayor's Lincoln Yards/Sterling Bay land giveaway which was being greased up until recently by prison-bound real estate attorney, Ald. Ed Burke. Sterling Bay had to dump him after the the feds arrested him. And then there's the little problem of having possibly the dirtiest alderman of 'em all, wire-wearing Danny Solis, sitting atop the zoning committee.

Amisha and her group have been in the forefront of the struggle to put the Lincoln Yards project on hold, at least until the new administration comes in and the city council has time to vet it. Problem is, it's looking now like the top-monied mayoral candidates all have strong Burke/Solis machine ties and unless the polls are way off (entirely possible) City Hall will likely remain in hands that are just a corrupt as Rahm's, or even worse.

Let's hope there's at least some progressive change coming in the aldermanic races, where some insurgents, women, teachers, and candidates of color have a chance to unseat the incumbents.

As listeners know, Hitting left is aired on a community radio station WLPN 105.5 FM in Chicago. It is live-streamed on lumpenradio.com every Friday from 11-noon CT. According to latest numbers I have received Friday, 30-50 thousand listeners are regularly tuned in to Lumpen Radio, with many more listening to our show each week on Mixcloud or downloading it on podcast.

I love being a part of community radio and that's exactly what our show is all about-- community building. But having a political show on a community radio station also has its drawbacks. One of which is language censorship. We cannot uses language that is considered obscenity based on "community standards" without facing serious fines.

As far as Fred and I are concerned, that's not a problem. Mom raised us right and we've managed to get most of our guests to clean up their act for our show. Our producer also keeps a hand on the red bleep button and he's had a pretty strict interpretation of allowable words.

Here's the problem. We're talking about politics and politicians from the likes of our "pussy grabbing" president to Alds. Burke and Solis here in Chicago. We often find ourselves unable to quote them directly or even report the news accurately without resorting to metaphors and code language.

For example, the Sun-Times reports:
The affidavit, sworn out by FBI special agent Steven Noldin, portrays Solis as deeply in debt and routinely on the prowl for sex, Viagra, campaign contributions and other favors.
...In July 2015, Solis called Caldero with another request.
“I want to get a good massage, with a nice ending. Do you know any good places?” the alderman said.
 When Caldero promised to arrange the liaison, Solis asked, “What kind of women do they got there?” “Asian,” Caldero said. Oh good. Good, good, good. I like Asian,” Solis said.
See what I mean? Chicago politics is so vulgar, is so racist, it's unfit for community radio standards. So we have to constantly find alternative ways to talk about it while still keeping our political edge. Actually, it's not such a problem that we can't and don't have fun with it.

Thanks for sticking with us.

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