The eagerly awaited new CHIRPradio.org site will launch later this month, and we’re throwing a party to celebrate! We’ve put together a lineup featuring some of our favorite local bands for a show at Lincoln Hall on Thursday, November 29.
CHIRP DJs will spin in between sets. The show is 21 and over, and doors open at 8pm. Proceeds benefit CHIRP, and you can buy tickets here . We hope you can join us and celebrate the launch or our new site!
CHIRP welcomes Henry Rollins for the second and third nights of his “Long March” spoken-word tour at the Old Town School of Folk Music on Friday and Saturday, November 16th and 17th. Though he’s best known for his singing career, Rollins started going on spoken-word tours while he was a still a singer with Black Flag. While he would continue on to successful solo work, his audio memoir of his days in that band, Get in the Van, would earn him a Grammy award. His performances have evolved to include anecdotes from his travels to countries across the world, some of which have been captured in a new book of photography and writing from Rollins, Occupants.
Both the Friday and Saturday shows begin at 8 PM. For more information, visit oldtownschool.org.
You can support CHIRP Radio while experiencing the finest in global percussive arts this Thanksgiving weekend. CHIRP is proud to partner with the Chicago Human Rhythm Project for this year’s Thanks4Giving event, featuring performances by ScrapArtsMusic.
Purchase a ticket to any Thanks4Giving show at the Harris Theater in Millennium Park on November 24 or 25 using the code CHRP-Radio, and The Chicago Human Rhythm Project will donate 50% of your ticket purchase directly back to CHIRP! Not only will your purchase give back to CHIRP, but this special code will also get you a 10% discount.
ScrapArtsMusic delivers an intoxicating mix of rhythm, raw energy, and the most inventive percussive arts concert on the stage today. Five virtuosic musicians deliver adrenaline-laced performances using over 145 invented instruments. “Offbeat” materials, ranging from accordion parts to artillery shells, create a new world of sound. Don’t miss the Chicago premiere of this energetic group from Vancouver!
Don’t forget, you MUST use promotion code CHRP-RADIO (note this is CHRPnotCHIRP) when you make your ticket purchase to this spectacular cultural event. Using this code ensures that CHIRP receives a donation while providing you a 10% discount on your purchase.
Thank you for your generous support of CHIRP and the Chicago arts community. We hope you enjoy the show!
CHIRP welcomes Henry Rollins for the first of three spoken-word performances at the Old Town School of Folk Music on Thursday, November 15th. While known for being one of seminal punk band Black Flag’s many singers as well as his later work in Rollins Band, he holds a Grammy award for the spoken-word version of his memoir, Get in The Van, and has extended his career through acting for film and television, hosting for television and radio, and continued activism.
Rollins’ “Long March” speaking tour is in support of a new book of photography and writing, Occupants, and he will also cover his recent travels to North Korea, Mongolia, Bhutan, Vietnam, India, Tibet, Sudan, Uganda, Haiti and Cuba. All shows begin at 8 PM. Visit oldtownschool.org for more info.
CHIRP is proud to welcome Daniel Johnston for a performance at Bottom Lounge on Saturday, November 3rd. The artist and musician’s most recent project is Space Ducks: An Infinite Comic Book of Musical Greatness, a comic book drawn and written by Johnston, released along with an iPad game and soundtrack album featuring new songs from Johnston and other artists like Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Eleanor Friedberger, Deer Tick, and more.
This show will be a chance to see him play these and more songs from his many releases over a 20-year career that saw him celebrated by Kurt Cobain, covered by artists like Beck and Tom Waits, and having been the subject of an award-winning documentary film (The Devil and Daniel Johnston).
The 17-and-older-show starts at 8 PM with opener Felix and Lyons. For more information, visit bottomlounge.com.
CHIRP welcomes FOUND Magazine’s 10th Anniversary Tour to the Old Town School of Folk Music on Friday, November 2nd.
In addition to the magazine reaching the 10-year milestone, the show will celebrate the release of editor and publisher Davy Rothbart’s book of personal essays, My Heart is an Idiot, as well as his brother Peter Rothbart’s new album (You Are What You Dream) and a brand-new issue of FOUND. Along with the latest finds from the mailbox at FOUND HQ, Davy will share stories from his book and his work for public radio’s “This American Life,” while Peter will provide the soundtrack with songs based on FOUND notes.
There are many types of geeks and most of us can find overlap within our many levels of geekiness. From music to comics to television and film we all find that special place where we spend a lot of our time and gain expertise. Kevin Fullam is a different type of geek. He goes in to the core of these mediums and talks how it relates to society as well as the personal experience. There isn’t a topic that relates to our pop culture driven society that he couldn’t get an amazing dialogue started on. He has talked about plethora of diverse issues on his long running show Under Surveillance and now brings his unique perspective to CHIRP this month in a new podcast called Split Reel where he will continue to blur the lines of sociology and pop culture. I had the pleasure of interviewing Kevin and asking him some questions about media, the importance of these discussions and his hypothetical dream discussion participant.
Your new podcast Split Reel according to your website says that it is “looking at the intersection of pop culture, politics and societal attitudes”. When I think of an actual intersection I think of it as always moving and changing. How do you perceive this?
I think the relationship between mass media and societal attitudes is a symbiotic one; while film and television reflect changes in how we think and behave, they also serve to impact our beliefs as well. One example that I often like to use is how popular culture highlights what we view as problems or concerns during each particular era and how they’ve evolved over time — for instance, back in the ’70s and early ’80s, we saw lots of dystopian films that were undoubtedly influenced by global crises involving both oil and also the proliferation of nuclear weapons. (A concern about energy in general has returned, but few worry about nuclear Armageddon anymore.)
The topic of race relations is another interesting one to track throughout the years — from the un-PC character of Archie Bunker on “All in the Family” (who was still using terms like “colored”) to the well-to-do Huxtable clan in “The Cosby Show,” a program that largely avoided discussing race because of NBC’s worry that a “black” family show would be marginalized. When a “Star Trek” episode featured one of TV’s first interracial kisses in the ’60s, some southern stations wouldn’t even air the show. But I bet that the pushing of boundaries nudged the public in the direction of being more tolerant, even if it might not have been cognizant of it at the time.
One of the ideas that will be explored on Split Reel is the sorts of mass media we choose to consume and how that defines us. In a nutshell how does the types of music, film and related media define an individual? Can you give an example?
Actually, while I’m endlessly curious about this notion (which I first heard Nick Hornby introduce in “High Fidelity”), I’m not sure exactly how much I’ll address this in my interviews. The Hornby philosophy seems to be that our preferences for certain types of culture are often important in terms of compatibility with others… I tend to agree more than disagree, but feel that certain forms of “art” are more telling than others. For instance, while I doubt I’d be compatible with a female that solely listened to metal, shared preferences for narratives (esp. comedy) are probably more telling than those for music? I think you’d likely find more common consensus on the subject of “great films” vs. “great albums,” because the latter seems to be more subjective. This doesn’t really answer your question, but I’m conflicted — I would hesitate to pigeonhole anyone based on the sorts of things they like, but at the same time… tastes are indeed reflective of our personas (or in some cases, at least the ones we try to project).
By the way, there was a fantastic essay written about this general topic by Clive Thompson in the New York Times back in 2008 — the subject is the set of Netflix algorithms used to predict the sorts of films you’ll like based on what you’ve already rated. It’s called “If You Liked This, You’re Sure to Love That.”
Your show has covered many topics that are part of American culture. Are there topics that you look forward to exploring and/or topics you feel are better to avoid?
I’ve always got ideas for shows! With the recent “Inglorious Basterds” and oft-mentioned “Downfall” parodies, I’d like to look at the depictions of Nazis throughout the years — they’ve long been Hollywood’s “go-to” villain, but I also wonder whether the lampooning of the Germans (which was also done decades ago in “Hogan’s Heroes,” a startling show to watch today) has de-sensitized us re: Hitler. In addition, I’d want to look at how technology is shaping the sorts of social interactions we see on screen (we’re in an age now where kids text more than actually talk on the phone)… youth-oriented film is a good topic to continually re-visit (I’ve discussed this in the past with professor Tim Shary of Oklahoma) because trends in this genre shift incredibly quickly.
Another subject I’d want to explore is the portrayal of prison life in film — obviously, things have evolved since the days of Paul Newman’s “Cool Hand Luke.” More recent depictions that come to mind are “The Shawshank Redemption” and HBO’s “Oz,” but one of the best films I’ve ever seen on the topic is a 1979 British film called “Scum,” about nightmarish life in a British borstal (basically a juvenile detention center). The movie actually prompted a government investigation of these facilities — an example of how cinema can shine a spotlight on real-world problems. [Another unrelated example — the Oscar-winner “Braveheart” resulted in the resurrection of the concept of Scottish independence from Great Britain! Pretty heady stuff.]
Why is it important to talk about how popular culture and politics effects society? What would happen if we didn’t?
This is a very good question, and actually one that also speaks to the goal of the aforementioned class. There are two big reasons:
Film, TV, and music are excellent snapshots of life — they tell us how we lived, what we cared about during each era, and how we interacted. (Of course, much was whitewashed in the early days of TV — case in point, the difference between actual ’60s programs and a period piece like the excellent “Mad Men.”)
Narrative fiction is much more influential than many of us likely give it credit for; our guard is down, in a sense, when we’re exposed to political messages in popular culture — as opposed to our natural state of skepticism when we listen to a campaign speech or commercial.
The following quotes do a much better job of explaining the importance than I could, and although they refer to a classroom environment, they’re in fact pertinent to all of us in the viewing public:
“The question is not therefore whether film [and television] is going to appear in the classroom: it may do so directly; it will certainly do so indirectly through the experience and attitudes as well as the intellectual baggage students bring with them. Given these facts we have an obligation to help students learn to deal with this omnipresent and discriminating judgment to the study of film that we expect them to use in evaluating more traditional sources.”
— Patricia-Ann Lee, in Image As Artifact, 1990
(Responding to above) “Lee’s encouragement becomes even more pointed when one considers how television campaign ads influence emotions and perceptions through many of the same rhetorical techniques that come into play in dramatic productions for television and film. American democracy itself may be hanging in the balance of whether viewers (i.e. voters) can learn to view film and television critically.”
— Staci Beavers, in The West Wing, 2003
“Teachers should be less concerned with identifying factual mistakes on the screen and more with alerting students to the characteristic ways popular film and television productions often manipulate and trivialize historical issues… the feelings [we] get from watching a film are not coincidental.”
— John O’ Connor, in Teaching History with Film and Television, 1987
Our world and culture is made up of so many different elements it seems like there is a never ending supply of topics. How do you choose what you feel is important to discuss?
Sometimes I’ve gone with topical subjects — for instance, in the midst of the financial meltdown in early 2009, I did a show about the depiction of wealth and finance in popular culture, where we talked about everything from “The Grapes of Wrath” to “Wall Street.” I recently recorded an interview for the inaugural edition of Split Reel that focuses on the impact of 9/11 and the “War on Terror” and cinema. Whenever I’m stuck, I also check around to see what’s being published in academia — I’ll soon be talking to a professor who just authored a book about Generation X in film.
You have discussed a variety of topics with many people in different areas of expertise from Mental Health Professionals, to Political Science Professors to Pop Culture Critics. Who would you sell your soul to have a discussion with on your show? What you discuss with them and what would make it amazing or possibly anti-climatic?
I would have loved to have been able to sit down with the late David Foster Wallace (my favorite non-fiction writer, who probably was one of the sharpest dudes on the planet) — there’s a great essay that he wrote on “The Terminator” franchise called “F/X Porn” that wasn’t included in any of his collections. However, being a great writer doesn’t mean that you’ll make an entertaining radio guest, and vice versa. It’s entirely possible that he wouldn’t have been nearly as eloquent when asked to spit out insight off the top of his head, which would have been somewhat of a Major Downer.
Music is a huge part of pop culture as well as a huge part of most people’s lives. Will there be more of a focus on how music effects our culture when Split Reel premieres on CHIRP?
See, I wonder about the current impact of music on culture, specifically because tastes have become more and more splintered in the internet age. Even if you primarily listened to indie-rock in the ’80s and ’90s, you were still likely aware of Top 40 radio — whereas I don’t know how many stations even use that term today. The internet (and stations like CHIRP) are a boon for bands in that they no longer need to rely on a corporate PR machine to reach an audience. But at the same time, the fragmentation of tastes means that it will be much tougher for a particular movement in music to have a great impact, especially when compared with the likes of folk music in the early 20th century or the Woodstock-related artists of the 1960s.
If you could pick three songs that you feel have impacted popular culture the most, what would you say they are and why?
A music historian would have a much better answer to this question than I would, to be sure! Two that jump to mind within the last 30 years, though, are “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” and “We Are the World,” simply because they were insanely-popular tunes that attracted millions of dollars for famine relief in Africa. But I’m sure we could come up with lots of notable songs. This is just off the top of my head and post-1980:
U2’s “Sunday Bloody Sunday” (war in Northern Ireland, and put U2 on the map as a “socially conscious” band)
Jill Sobule’s “I Kissed a Girl” (much like Star Trek and the interracial kiss, some stations in rural America wouldn’t play this tune, which was a pop hit in the mid-90s)
Sinead O’ Connor — not necessarily for her tunes, but for her ripping up of the Pope’s picture on SNL — BIG news in its day;
Ozzy Osbourne’s “Suicide Solution” — not a hit at all, but prompted a parental scare about the impact of metal on malleable youth (completely overblown, of course);
Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA” was a hit, of course, but few of the people listening cared enough to pay attention to the lyrics, as evidenced by the fact that many viewed it as a patriotic anthem. In fact, the song — critical of the U.S. government — was trotted out by Ronald Reagan during his re-election campaign;
As far as hip-hop goes, Body Count’s “Cop Killer” in the ’90s comes to mind because it predictably scared white folks, though I’m sure it was never played on commercial radio; sadly, I don’t know that Public Enemy was ever big enough to impact mainstream America;
Prince’s “Darling Nikki” — this song (featuring references to sex and masturbation) indirectly resulted in the introduction of “Parental Advisory Stickers” after Tipper Gore heard her daughter listening to it in the mid-‘80s;
Another tune that comes to mind is Madonna’s “Like a Prayer” — the burning crosses involved in the video certainly created a big hubbub with the Catholic Church. That’s another thing we’ve lost in 2010 — the impact of music videos! They’re still around, but pretty much only on YouTube, right? Again, the fragmentation of audiences — which probably the reason why I can’t think of any influential song in the past decade…
CHIRP Radio has launched, we celebrated at the Empty Bottle the night before, and now you’re surely listening to the stream as you’re reading this. You may be thinking, “What more could CHIRP have in store for me from this past weekend?” Well, thanks to our friends over at High Frequency Media we’ve got video of the festivities from Saturday night for you. Enjoy the following, from The Yolks set at our CHIRP Radio launch party.
Chicago Independent Radio Project is completely volunteer run. No one is making money from this endeavor. A bunch of music lovers just thought, “Hey, we should start an independent radio station.” Well, that was a couple years ago now, but soon it will be up and running. Beginning in January, you’ll be able to tune in online and hear disks jockeyed by real live people, and hopefully within the next few years you’ll be able to tune in on the old fashioned radio to the same station and rock out during your commute.
What CHIRP has accomplished so far is no small feat, and I’m not sure people truly realize how much an independent radio station could mean to Chicago (the FCC certainly doesn’t.) As the media forever falls into the abyss of corporatization, our country basks in capitalism, and new technologies usurp the old, the independent world finds its spaces endlessly fluctuating – up and down, more and less, something akin to the Emperor tightening its grip on the galaxy: the more it tries to hold onto, the more will slip through its fingers.
For a big metropolitan area, Chicago has a lot of “small scale” potential. Small art stores, galleries, and indie venues dot the map, but few things beyond the streets themselves tie them together, they lie in the ether waiting for those “in the know” to go and check them out. Of course that is part of the draw, being one of the few-ish to know, and these places can’t always handle a large crowd, for a multitude of reasons. CHIRP, however, can handle all of these people, and then some.
CHIRP has a virtually limitless threshold for the independently minded media and arts consumer, many of whom are the same people that venture out into the city to discover the independent stores, galleries, and venues. In the independent’s world competition is not number one. Cooperation is. Originality must always be the Independent’s weapon of choice and it must work through the conduit of community. CHIRP has the potential to be that conduit; a “physical” entity around which community can be built.
This is what CHIRP should, in part, be (aside from a radio station.) CHIRP can reach out to those underground and independent groups and shine some light on them, exposing their alternative offerings to those who are interested in being a part of a scene, a community, or even a movement. Hopefully, if you have come to this website, and if you are reading this, you know what I’m talking about and are one of the many in this city and country who are tired of being spoon fed the same superficial and sensationalist media. If that’s the case you’ve come to the right place.
Launched merely a week ago, the fund raising campaign that CHIRP set up in conjunction with Kickstarter to cover the first year of CHIRPradio’s web streaming fees has been a great success. In 6 short days we’ve gotten almost halfway to our goal (As of this writing we’re at 47% of our goal). Can you be the one to put us over the halfway mark? Whether you can donate a dollar or a hundred dollars, we’ve seen this week that it all adds up extremely quickly. Let’s keep the momentum going strong into this weekend and perhaps we can not just break the halfway mark today, but by this time next week I’ll be following up with a post about succesfully shattering our entire fund raising goal!
CHIRP volunteers have been working all summer to get the new station ready to launch at CHIRPradio.org. We’re excited to be getting very close to the point where the new station will go live, and to make it to the finish line, we need your help.
One of CHIRP’s biggest expenses will be streaming fees — our next biggest cost after rent. That’s why we’re so excited that social funding site Kickstarter invited us to launch a fundraising campaign to cover our first year of streaming expenses.
The way a Kickstarter campaign works is that donors pledge money in support of a specific project, but no money is collected unless the group meets its goal. CHIRP’s goal is $4800, the anticipated cost of our first year of streaming.
You can help get CHIRP Radio up and running. Make a pledge right now and you can pick from all sorts of cool thank you gifts, from CHIRP t-shirts and water bottles to limited edition mix CDs and exclusive house parties from well-known CHIRP DJs. And everyone who makes a pledge at any level will be invited to a special open house at the brand new CHIRP studios later this fall!
Well, slowly but surely we get closer and closer to the launch of the web version of our brand new radio station. We embarked on this project just over two years ago with an amazing group of volunteers and a ton of community support, and now we’re almost there!
We spent much of the early summer building the walls of our space at Irving and Rockwell. I don’t mean watching other people build them — I mean framing out the walls, drywalling, painting — all done by CHIRP volunteers! You can check out our construction progress here.
Now that the walls are up, we’re going to be starting to install equipment. Once that’s done, we’ll get all our DJs trained up, and voila! — a brand new station for Chicago will begin. It’s hard for us to pin down the exact date quite yet, but it should be sometime in late October. We’ll have lots of cool launch events that we’d love to have you be a part of.
Thanks for all your help with this long journey — soon, we hope we can repay you with some great radio!