BMIR celebrated its eleventh year in Black Rock City with a bang that reverberated beyond the explosive popping of another speaker claimed by the dust–by moving to a new location that put us front and center of Center Camp on the Esplanade (even if, technically speaking, we had a Ring Road address).
Operationally, BMIR continued to evolve its public persona. Beyond fulfilling our core mission of entertaining and informing Black Rock City, we’re now a meeting place and conversation zone for citizens, a hybrid of staff department and theme camp. Desert denizens hang out in the courtyard, forging relationships and striking up collaborations. Our cocktail parties continue to provide both a celebration and a forum, since each party features different guests of honor. This year we featured Burners Without Borders, the Department of Public Works and, once again, a couple billion bunnies who are indeed very good at trashing the place (but we love them dearly…).
As part of the station’s evolution, and in order to accommodate as many voices as possible, we experimented with having DJs on-air twenty-four hours a day. While we’ve always been a 24/7 service, traditionally we’ve shut down the whole human element and allowed DJ Otto Matix (aka automation software) to take over from approximately midnight to 8am each day. The experiment succeeded, but the managerial logistics were admittedly intense. As always, our goal is to provide the best programming we can and to invite as many into the fold as possible. The reality: there simply aren’t enough hours in the week to have everyone on air who’d like to be. But we’ll continue to do our best to program a station that befits the diversity, creativity, and ingenuity of the city.
While continuing live-from-the-playa coverage of events such as the gate opening, art tours, and Saturday night’s Burn, we expanded our remote broadcasting palette by airing live shows from Dustfish throughout the week. Though these remote broadcasts present their share of logistical hurdles, we are interested in exploring additional programming from locales around the playa. They play a vital role in our goal of providing at least a taste of the sublime mélange of Black Rock City.
Every year provides its share of triumphs and challenges. In the former camp, we were pleased to be able to feed our signal reliably to the world wide interwebs (which was not the case last year), thanks to the hard work of the Burning Man tech team. All in all, we had around 21,000 listeners tuning in during the event. And we were thrilled to be able to provide a vicarious sonic experience of Black Rock City through this programming. As the old cliche goes: there’s nothing like the power of radio. And BMIR provides a dynamic and diverse depiction of playa life to all those listeners tuning in from Camp Envy (aka anywhere that isn’t Black Rock City). With our mix of news and music and interviews and random playa ridiculousness, the BMIR broadcast constitutes a sonic snapshot of Black Rock City history, captured in a way that film/video, photos, or other documents cannot.
On the adversity front, challenges ranged from the trivial (our brand new EL wire sign dying in Monday’s showers) to the significant (our archival recording of this year’s broadcast existing only in a mostly unlistenable state). Fortunately, our crew has developed to a point at which we feel confident that these challenges will be neutralized for 2011.
Next year’s BMIR ops will hold more of the same and, as always, more of the things we can’t even imagine at this point. But one thing we can imagine? YOUR participation, if you have a unique gift that is best suited for the airwaves or behind the scenes at BMIR World Headquarters. We have a good-sized staff already, but please drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org if you feel your bounties are best bestowed upon us. We are particularly interested in producers with the inclination and ability to produce their own programming. This could include theme-based audio spots, such as we’ve done in the past with the Hope/Fear fake newscasts. Or it may sound more like the satirical “Art Car Talk” or Real World BRC spots from a few years back. Then again, it may sound like something no one’s ever dreamed of before. Audio art, radio plays, games shows…..these are a few of our favorite things (along with Julie Andrews mash-ups).
In function if not intent, BMIR used to be a service almost exclusively for the newbies, a means to help them acclimate to the culture and necessities of playa life. Since then, the station has evolved into a fully-realized, alternative universe audio playground that reflects the ethos and inspiration of Black Rock City. We’re grateful to everyone who has participated in this metamorphosis, either by working with us or tuning us in. Whether listeners are funking it up with DJ Small Change or worshiping with Reverend Billy, being inspired by Burners Without Borders or being mystified by Dr. Hal: BMIR is an amalgam of so many elements that make Burning Man the inimitable and irrepressible force it is. It’s a unique sonic beast, the kind of radio that could have only been birthed in the reality-bending community that is Black Rock City.