Offering up your hours to the service of community radio might not strike you as an insurgent act. One might consider such a task as merely virtuous, perhaps even selfless. Giving back, making a mark of positivity in the world, these are the usual platitudes. Yet, I propose that such an effort for community radio holds a deeper significance, an undercurrent of defiance against the prevailing winds of our society’s norms.

We ought to consider the wider landscape we find ourselves inhabiting to comprehend why this voluntary act holds weight. Our times are governed by a never-ending chase for swiftness and efficacy. More speed, less cost, greater convenience – these are the demands of our era. Scholars of the media refer to this as fast media,” an approach that casts aside depth and quality in favour of the fleeting and the showy.

This ethos doesn’t merely reside in the media. It suffuses every facet of our existence, from the tempo of our labour to our consumption patterns. We’ve been moulded to crave immediacy, with scant regard for the repercussions that stretch out into the future. It’s against this relentless momentum that the slow-living movement pushes, proposing a better life is possible by easing our pace, taking a breath, choosing intentionally.

Volunteering at a community radio station is one manner in which to adopt this slow-living philosophy. The choice to invest your energy and time in this endeavour signals an intentional pivot away from profit and towards community, from efficiency to nurturing relationships, from the superficial to the profound. It’s an active refusal of the notion that all must be transient and speedy, a choice for deliberate and purposeful living.

Lending your hours to community radio is more than just an embrace of the slow, though. It’s a challenge to the deep-seated values of our capitalist world. As a volunteer, your drive isn’t profit or personal benefit. You don’t aim to exploit your labour for another’s financial gain. You offer yourself freely, motivated solely by the desire to serve your community, to make a positive impact.

This, then, is rebellion. It defies an economic system hell-bent on commodifying every aspect of our existence. In the capitalist paradigm, our worth is gauged by our capacity to produce and consume. Our value, quantified in currency, is often dismissed if it doesn’t turn a profit. Yet volunteering with community radio confronts this. It postulates there’s value in selfless giving, in serving our community without expectations of personal advantage.

The roots of this anti-capitalist ethic can be traced to black theology and afro-futurism, movements challenging dominant narratives that perpetuate systemic marginalisation of black communities. They present alternative visions of the future, where justice, equity, and liberation hold sway.

Volunteering at a community radio station is one way to breathe life into these alternative visions. It’s a rejection of the prevailing societal norms, an embrace of a more just, more equitable way of living. It’s a way to build community, nurture relationships, and forge a life of meaning, for oneself and those around.

In conclusion, dedicating your hours to community radio may appear a small, even insignificant act. But it’s a tangible statement, a radical gesture of defiance against societal norms. By volunteering, you’re choosing community over profit, relationships over efficiency, depth over shallowness. You’re pushing back against the status quo, laying the groundwork for a more just, more equitable future for all.

Andrew

Andrew Backhouse is a Yorkshire-based artist working with time-based media and digital collage. He is a self-confessed radio geek and he hopes to share his wonder. He also wants to share his naivety and enthusiasm for finding something interesting. Henri Chopin, AGF, and RuPaul influence Andrew’s artistic enquiry. Documenting “The new shiny thing,” Andrew tries to share his excitement for it. But, he also asks about its authenticity and worth.

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