Trans X Symposium

Hey Friends of Fernwood,

I wanted to let everyone know that Fernwood Autonomous Radio has been invited to the Trans X Symposium on transmission and broadcasts arts in Toronto. I’m blown away by the invitation and I want to thank everyone for their help and support. The presentation will be on Community Pirate Radio and I will be uploading the supporting thesis in the near future.

We’ve been pondering the idea of a weekly podcast/simulcast at Fernwood Autonomous Radio and have also been looking into a legitimate broadcast license. Not as lucrative and immediate as Pirate radio but it could be a step in the right direction for community building. I’m interested in starting a format that could be rhizomaticaly spread across communities in different cities. Thoughts?

Cease and Desist

It’s been a week now.

On February 23, 2012 Fernwood Autonomous Radio 99.1 FM was shut down by Industry Canada at approximately 10:00PM. This came to no surprise but was a disappointment nonetheless. We never hid who we were, quite the opposite in fact. In an ongoing act of free speech we operated in open defiance of the law with our antenna hoisted high, risking legal action with every broadcast. We broadcast on a set day and time. We advertised. We were not afraid. We intended to be caught.

It’s been a week now since the government of Canada has forced us to shut down and only now am I beginning to realize the hole this has left in the community. Our community. Thursday nights at the Stanley Avenue house were a vibrant affair, complete with potlucks, knitting circles, paint ins, tears, laughter and love. Tea was in abundance as well as the odd case of local craft brews. I can’t speak for anyone else but Fernwood Autonomous Radio was one of those few moments where I honestly felt a direct and visceral connection to my community. Tonight the airwaves are filled with talk radio, commercials and over-compressed pop music. There is no void left in the wake of FAR but an indistinguishable wall of static, occasionally punctuated by a snippet of 99.3 in Vancouver.

Fernwood Autonomous Radio set sail as a grad project with the intention of building community. We were a collective of creatives, musicians, artists, poets, bakers, guerilla gardeners, poets, DJ’s, rebels, conformists and lovers. By bringing together local culture, talent, art and ideas and providing a forum in which friends and neighbours could speak freely we brought culture to the community, from the community. We were local, centralized in terms of terrestrial coverage. The transmitter now sits idly by in an apple box under a desk. We now have to pay to broadcast.

The law clearly states that for “Every person who contravenes or fails to comply with an order issued under paragraph 5(1)(I), is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction and is liable, in the case of an individual, to a fine not exceeding five thousand dollars or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year […] furthermore, where an offence under this section is committed or continued on mo more than one day, the person who committed the offence is liable to be convicted of a separate offence for each day on which the offence is committed or continued.” We do not have the finances required to speak through an easily attainable medium.

It is wretched of the Government to have shut us down. Wretched for the government to step on the face of free speech, muting our voices with the heal of their boot while patting each other on the back for the good job they’ve done. I was forced to allow Industry Canada into my own house under the threat of being taken into custody so they could capture photographic evidence of our illegal meanderings. I was told of the “legal means” in which we could broadcast our message but in reality those legal means are incredibly difficult to achieve.

I’ve spent four and a half years in community radio before founding FAR and I know the challenge community organizations face when dealing with the CRTC. Gabriola Co-Op Radio CKGI got their community radio license after nine years. Salt Spring is in a similar boat. Radio Cortez received their designation after only two years but were a quasi-recognized station to begin with and the island would sooner see annexation from Canada before losing their station.

PhD Gil Wilkes notes that the Pirate Radio, as a tool in community building, is a thorn in the side of big business. He states that “hyper local is our future. Which means enterprises like yours. It’s the only alternative to the massive media consolidation where a few corporate centres control most of the content. The frontiers are closing in media: with the decline in revenues everyone is fighting everyone else for listeners, income – you were a threat that was easily disposed of.” The inherited loss of our airwaves is just another example of our diminishing public sphere.

What did Fernwood Autonomous Radio offer? We offered immediate access to our airwaves with zero gatekeeping. We relied on our community to monitor our content. You became a part of Fernwood Autonomous Radio by listening. You participated. Some of you bemoaned the fact that we dragged our feet when it came to live streaming online – and rightly so. It now seams that our only option now is to gain a license or go digital. We believe that the momentum is here, the interest is here and most importantly, our community is here for us, enabling us to move forward.

For now, Fernwood Autonomous Radio will be silent on the airwaves. I feel blessed to have been part of such an honourable crew including Orange Owl, Indigo Mermaid, DJ Danny Tanner and the Minister of Casual Living. But these stormy waters have grown far too dangerous for this pirate to sail. I alone can’t face the legal ramifications of operating a pirate radio broadcast.

I encourage all of you to pick up the torch. As a community we can move forward to reclaim our airwaves. Our voice, our rights, our freedom of speech is being taken away from us every single day in the name of privatization, growth and progress. In Canada the internet is controlled by a media monopoly. It’s time to take back what is ours. Dust off your transmitters. Free Radio Berkley sells a very easy DIY kit to build your own micro powered transmitter. Schematics and detailed instructions can easily be found online.

It’s time to hoist your own antenna. Fly the flag. Some of you have transmitters or access to. The colonial ships are spending less time in these waters and there are more of us then them. I may have been muzzled for the meantime, but you haven’t received the knock on the door. I have a cease and desist order with my name next to my BA. I see each honour as equal to one another. The Government of Canada has prevented me from broadcasting on the airwaves, a piece of paper reminding me of the cost of what we are fighting for. It’s time you go out and earn yours.

Thank you.

– Joey Chaos


A few former guests of Fernwood Autonomous Radio have written in with comments on the importance of Community Pirate Radio. 

“Fernwood Autonomous Radio reignites my passion and nostalgia for grassroots media. A welcoming, inclusive and community-based project that sheds light on what the body and soul of Victoria is really made of, its people and the f**kin’ rad things they do that make this city so unique. From a former indie/campus radio host and independent social entrepreneur to another, FAR, it was short and sweet. Thanks for listening, your frequency was formidable ”

Christina Chan, Heart and Hands Community Health Collective

1) Community radio is the underground grass roots voice – seldom heard – transmuted into others living rooms. It is intimate and closest to the cause – RAW and in its unchanged state. Because of this, it does not risk the contamination of slander and outside objectives and controlling forces.

2) Community radio is unlike other forms of entertainment and knowledge dissemination because it does not use the functions of capitalism to exist. Unlike many other social streams that function to some level of commerce – community radio cuts past all that shit and makes it possible to create absolutely free dialogues and knowledge streams.

3) Community radio IS COMMUNITY. It’s something we are building together. Everyone can be a part of it. It has the possibility of being a wildly creative mode of self expression shared with other people and made into a collective synergistic project. Everyone inherently feels it is part of their own – and proud of the fact that they can be influential and expressive. Yes WE own the air waves….xx

– Aubrey Burke, Minister of Casual Living

Episode 09: Short and Sweat

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Hey kits and kats, Fernwood Autonomous Radio took a hiatus with last weeks show but we have the super short super sweet show from February 9th all ready to go! It was submitted in two parts and here you can download it the same way. Enjoy a half hour of Fernwood Autonomous Radio followed by a half hour of A Letter to the Room Full of Mirrors with Morgan Tams! Good times.

Fernwood Autonomous Radio – Episode 09!

A Letter to the Room Full of Mirrors – Episode 04

Don’t Touch That Dial!

Dear Friends of Fernwood Autonomous Radio,

It has been an exciting time here at Fernwood Autonomous Radio! Due to the recent press we will not be broadcasting tonight.The article in Monday Magazine was one thing but the CTV News feature is putting a bit too much heat on FAR 99.1 and we feel it is for the best if we lie low. Fear not for we shall be returning to the airwaves next week for an all new episode of Fernwood Autonomous Radio!

Next week we will  include tales from East Van, on air poetry, an update from the Minister of Casual Living and Hundy Thou will be presenting some tracks from their upcoming album.


Episode 8: Finally it’s up!

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Can you believe it? The coolest episode of Fernwood Autonomous Radio and it’s a week late? And missing the first minute? Well folks, next time catch the terrestrial broadcast live and it won’t happen for you!  But really, our apologies for that. We’ve been busy with the ‘real’ media. Whatever that means.

Episode 8 was stellar. Christina Chan from Heart and Hands Community Health collective came on and performed acupuncture. Serina Zapf discussed community gardens and the death of zines, Aubrey let us know about some fantastic events with the Ministry of Casual Living and lastly Nasstasia Yard performed one of the most beautiful and breathtaking live performances I have ever witnessed.

Episode 8 of Fernwood Autonomous Radio. Check it out HERE!

CTV News Story

FERNWOOD — They say we spend too much time online, they call the internet a corpse. But they insist radio is living and breathing. So at the top of a ladder outside a Fernwood home late last year, in the dark, a pirate radio station is born.

“Hello, hello, this is Joey Chaos giving you Fernwood Autonomous Radio….Victoria’s only pirate radio station, 12 watts of pure FM power, sludging its way toward your stereo system.”

The signal from Victoria’s only pirate radio station reaches from about Fort to Hillside, but it’s strong enough to pay tribute to the counterculture of the 1960′s. “What the local groups are doing is almost an homage to a time when pirate radio was really subversive, associated with subversive movements and the left, to get out a message” says Royal Roads University Communications and Culture Professor Gil Wilkes.

Their potential audience all lives in the same neighbourhood, a very different approach than what’s going on in one living room in Sooke.

Stan Schinners has setup a 24/7 online heavy metal station that can be heard around the world.
“I was actually applying at a different radio station, and I was being denied for whatever reason. My son saw my frustration, and said hey why not start your own” he says.

And so he did six months ago to the delight of headbangers in more than 100 countries, good news for unsigned Vancouver Island talent like group Rotten Rails.

Schinners hopes his favourite pastime can become a career. Gil Wilkes at Royal Roads University says online copyright law could be a buzzkill. “As long as it’s a hobbyist, or someone who really loves what they’re doing, with their niche, everybody’s happy. Once it becomes commercially viable, those already in business will have a problem with it.”

For now the people behind Fernwood Autonomous Radio and Broken Neck Radio are just having a lot of fun.

Follow Andrew Johnson on Twitter:

Monday Magazine

Good news everyone!

Monday Magazine wrote a sweet article on Fernwood Autonomous Radio! I’m not sure about going to jail but I sincerely hope the CRTC doesn’t crack down and shut us down.

Read it HERE!

Episode 7: Podcast and Recap!

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Episode 7 of Fernwood Autonomous Radio was another laid back feel good sort of night. Check it out HERE! Just a lazy ol’ music show for you guy tonight. Thanks to Union Sound System for popping by and keeping us locked on what’s bumpin’ locally!

1. Elevenn Seraphim – Clockwork
2. Hundy Thou – Alzu’s
3. Tribal Machine – Eye Spy
4. Germany Germany – Radiowave
5. Dezine – Wave Function
6. Cedar Senior – Eckied
7. Okibi – Already Seen
8. Philthkids – Take Cover
9. Joey Chaos – Disco Fire House Track (Escape From Wherever Remix)
10. Bridge People – We’re Coming In
11. Buy Product – Ii’ve got a ghost
12. The Ink Pneumites – Irradiator
13. Paul Simon – You Can Call Me Al
14. Buyproduct – A Tonne of Misticking

The Eleven O’Clock Album is Behold by The Jon Cohen Experimental.

Find the rest of the album HERE

Episode 8: It’s Going to be Epic

Alright everyone, tomorrow night’s show is gonna be a big one!

Christina Cham from Hearts and Hands Community Health Collective will be performing on air acupuncture and we will be discussing the aims and goals of Community Acupuncture. Serina Zapf will come on to talk about The People’s Apothecary and her living art installation/community herb garden.

Finally, Nasstassia Yard will be performing her brand new EP For Someone Else Live on Fernwood Autonomous Radio as part of the Eleven O’Clock Album Series.

Aubrey Burke (aka Minister of Casual Living) will be popping by the studio to give us the haps on local art events and DJ Danny Tanner will be on air with another instalment of ‘Hold On to your Pants, it’s the Weather!’

By the way after this weeks show the heat might be on us so we might be laying low for a little while so keep us locked in if you need your Pirate Radio fix!

Community Pirate Radio

Fibre of Community

Pirate radio is a viable option when building community. It is the goal of Community Pirate Radio to localize and re-centralize our communities through grassroots means back to our neighbourhoods and away from the consumer based ‘community’ pushed down by government and media. Connecting local artists, creatives and community members through the medium of radio is a powerful reminder of the shared space and physical contact required for communal culture to grow. The temporary and aural nature of terrestrial radio creates a unique and intimate experience in which the listener can connect to local voices coming through the air waves. Community Pirate Radio is a valuable tool in creating a local dialogue in which we build community.

Community Pirate Radio is vital in the reclamation of public space. Social networking offers a disconnected experience through selective access to an increasingly patrolled perceived public sphere. Instead of tuning into a broader cultural movement through the internet we have dropped out of our community. By creating a weekly autonomous space on air members of the community are able to pass on their stories and passions to build cohesion in the community. Through low watt transmission the audience is physically constrained in terms of coverage and therefore programming will be directed towards a smaller geographic range.

Programming for Fernwood Autonomous Radio is driven through by community. As an aural medium radio allows the listener to become physically liberated while choosing to be mentally engaged. Radio offers a shared experience in which community can come together. Through limited use of social media we are able to breathe new life into an old but gold medium. Furthermore, the move to digital television is opening up the UHF spectrum which is potentially the new pirate broadcast frontier.