As Burning Man’s official radio station, Burning Man Information Radio (BMIR) made significant strides in 2001, its second year of existence. Amidst the dozens of pirate radio voices sailing through the ether of Black Rock City (BRC), BMIR is the place for BRC citizens to get all the rumor-free info they want and need. Wondering when the winds are coming to smash the shade structure you spent what seems like your entire life building? BMIR can tell you. Trying to make sure everyone knows about the late-breaking, fun-loving, Derrida-reading hijinks going on at Camp Deconstruction? BMIR can help you out.
The concept of BMIR came from the Burning Man organizers’ desire to have a broadcast radio frequency in case of emergencies. It evolved out of Playa Information because its purpose was to deliver vital information to the community at large. Consequently, BMIR began broadcasting reliable emergency community messages and public service announcements (PSAs) to Black Rock City during Burning Man 2000. Despite a slew of technical difficulties, 2000’s BMIR featured enough PSAs and playa information to guide you through the white-outs. Through its success as a rumor-free source of information, a valuable lesson emerged: make it interesting, clever, and/or amusing and people will stay tuned.
This year’s overhauled BMIR still featured all the info you ever needed, but it also boasted a few changes. Our current technical arsenal consists of the basics, including a transmitter and an antenna. While this was enough to survive 2000’s inaugural run (albeit arduously), improvements were necessary. Technical advancements were thus the order of the day for 2001, with a variety of equipment and expertise coming in from all fronts. Meetings and phone calls began in March. We had team members in both Seattle and LA. Generous loans of high-end mixers, mics, and headphones – along with professional, virtually dummy-proof Enco playlist software-contributed to a more consistent broadcast throughout the event.
Radio Free Burning Man, Black Rock City’s most established living radio station met with us and graciously allowed BMIR to use its tower and provided general technical support and insight. Put all this together and what do you get? When you tuned in to 105.7 this year, you may have heard something that surprised you…a mix of amusing, illuminating information and a variety of music in a continuous broadcast, free of the glitches and off-air time you may have come to know in 2000.
Through the magic of automation, BMIR was able to remain on-air twenty-four hours a day while still accommodating BRC’s dynamic nature; from 3-5PM every afternoon, Burners could visit the station and record PSAs about their activities and services, PSAs that could be thrown instantly into the mix. With the ability to record and broadcast live on-the-street interviews, BMIR brought a touch of the insanity of the city to the airwaves.
Many feel that this year’s event was one of the best ever, and while we’ll let the weather take a little credit, at least part of this success can be attributed to the presence of a well-informed, enlightened citizenry. Through a network of community communication fostered by BMIR, Playa Information, and the Greeters, information flowed freely and potential crises could be curtailed before they struck. When porta-potty facilities first saw signs of being bombarded with unwanted garbage and detritus as early as Monday, the viability of the event came into question. BMIR responded immediately with a barrage of announcements for arriving Burners; coupled with the Greeters? and citizens’ efforts, the information blitz was sufficient to stabilize the situation within 24 hours. There was no further cause for concern for remainder of the event.
So what does the Playa Almanac predict for BMIR next year? More of the heartwarming cautionary tales of star-crossed watermelons and porta-potties you couldn’t live without….a deeper music library so you can keep your tuner set to BMIR without having to hear the same song 354 times during the course of the week…and even more participant involvement in the station’s programming. As always, BMIR will be a key component in getting the word out, whatever the word may be.
BMIR: Remember, it’s not just a radio station…it’s a radio station owned and operated by YOU – a bunch of radical, celebratory self-expressionists living in the middle of the desert for seven days, creating the single greatest event ever known to humankind.