As the event’s “official” radio station, Burning Man Information Radio (BMIR: 94.5 FM) continued to serve as a clearinghouse for rumor-free information regarding playa life and Black Rock City community events. Programming features a mix of music, public service announcements, interviews, late-breaking theme camp news, and (if the need arises) emergency information, a combination that makes BMIR a resource to support the smooth operation of the event by disseminating information to the citizens of Black Rock.
Well over 100 participants took the opportunity to record announcements during our drop-in hours from 3 to 5 pm each day. Their information was immediately added to the mix and repeated throughout the event. The goals for these announcements ranged from increasing awareness of theme camp services and events to helping locate stolen vehicles through community vigilance. This service is part of BMIR’s effort to accommodate the dynamic, mercurial nature of the event in a way not possible through pre-printed materials.
BMIR staff remain in regular communication with Playa Info, Greeters, DPW, Rangers, and other infrastructure entities, providing a vital link to essential information via public service announcements to city residents. When news breaks the Porta-Potties are approaching a clogging crisis, when unattended trash begins to dervish dance in the wind, when unconscionable activity begins to spread, BMIR pumps up its efforts to counteract these potentially event-threatening issues with friendly, amusing reminders to all citizens: Please take care of your crap, in all its myriad forms, and please take care of each other.
This year the station also attempted to help demystify the workings of Black Rock City and give a sense of the Project’s life outside the week of the event. BMIR broadcasts featured candid interviews and sound bites from staff, volunteers, and participants. Sharing anecdotes, advice, and opinions, these segments illuminated aspects of the inner workings of the event, as well as organizational and participant efforts to promote the Burning Man ethos year-round. By airing these participant announcements, PSAs, and interviews, BMIR harnesses “advertisement” for the community’s benefit; our advertisements promote a rich marketplace of ideas, individuality, and civic participation instead of commodity, conformity, and cynical self-interest.
The goal that guides BMIR is to sound like a radio station you’ve never heard but always wanted to hear. True to the spirit of Burning Man, we invite all participants to . . . well . . . participate as we expand our operations for 2003. Recently acquired technology will soon allow people to pre-load audio into our programming system via the Internet months in advance of the event. Participants from around the world will be able to upload potential playlists, interviews, PSAs, camp announcements, and anything else relevant to the station’s mission. (Check the Burning Man website in 2003 for more information about how to get involved.) Due to significant demand and to enhance the benefit we offer to the community, we plan to expand our drop-in hours. We are looking for a small team to staff these shifts recording participant announcements. If you’ve always wanted to dabble in radio but never thought you had the skills or the chance, this is a prime opportunity. No prior experience is necessary (although it’s certainly welcome); all that’s required is a willingness and ability to learn and an acute sense of responsibility. Finally, we are also looking for a second small team of bonafide radio gear-heads to assist in technical aspects of the station, including (but not limited to) dismantling BMIR once the exodus empties the playa for another year. So if you’ve liked what you’ve heard from BMIR in the past, we’d love for you to help us make it even better. And if you have suggestions for improvement, jump in, get involved, and help shape the station’s future.
Remember, BMIR is not just some signal on the radio dial. It’s an information and entertainment resource owned and operated by YOU-a bunch of radical self-expressionists committed to building a rich human community, on the playa and beyond.