AFTERBURN REPORT 2009
BURNING MAN INFORMATION RADIO (BMIR)
To embrace the theme once more, before moving on to Metropolis: BMIR experienced a burst of punctuated equilibrium this year, through which it metamorphosed into a blissful state of evolved homeostasis and advanced awareness of itself and its mission. Despite some key personnel changes in 2009, the station engaged and informed Black Rock City, and rocked and rolled through 325 hours of programming. And we were on-air earlier than ever, beginning the broadcast on the Wednesday afternoon before the event.
Operationally, BMIR continued to enjoy the more visible on playa placement that began in 2008. Citizens congregate in the courtyard, trading tales and talents; a steady stream of participants flows through the station to interact on-air with DJs and record pubic service announcements and theme camp promos; and daily cocktail parties provide both a celebration and a forum to interact with people who are moving and shaking, on-playa and off. This year's guests included delegations from Burners Without Borders and the Black Rock Arts Foundation, as well as a billion or two bunnies on Thursday afternoon. These scheduled gatherings, along with the impromptu connections that happen on the courtyard couches all week (no, not that kind!), augment the station's core mission of providing a mix of music, news, interviews, vital information, and--if necessary--emergency info to Black Rock City.
Some Highlights from 2009:
Beyond the staff changes mentioned above, we made a concerted effort to attract new voices to the station. While it's essential for us to have a core team of on-air personalities, inclusiveness is critical as well. Accordingly, over a dozen new DJs debuted this year, and many of them have now found a new home on the playa. It should be noted that this is also a challenge. We have many more requests for on-air slots each year than our schedule can allow--until some ingenious playa persona invents a contraption that will physically expand time out There as much as it feels psychologically expanded. But we're open to volunteers of all types; drop us a line at BMIR (at) burningman (dot) com if you'd like to get involved, either on-air or behind the scenes.
We continued this tradition, bringing you live event coverage and beautiful-freak-on-the-street interviews, culminating in a Saturday night broadcast of the Burn, anchored by Tom LaPorte and Dan O'Day.
Exodus Info Relay
'Nuff said. Glad to do our part and many thanks to the Exodus team for doing their difficult and often thankless job.
Ten Times the Fun, One Tenth the Porta Potty Announcements
As has been true for many years, the event ran so smoothly that we were able to spend the majority of our air time illuminating and entertaining rather than admonishing. But we're always ready to get necessary emergency info on the air, regardless of the size of the emergency.
BMIR continued to play a vital role as an information and communication nexus. Whether it's newbies separated from their campmates within minutes of arriving, or AWOL critical supplies/expertise for theme camps, we view connecting people with vital resources as part of our public service; there are few things as satisfying as making an announcement and having someone walk in with a solution before the announcement is even finished. (And yes, we vett these requests so as not to bombard our listeners with trivialities. A few inebriated souls were looking for monocles for their costumery and we kindly directed them to, um, more appropriate playa channels. If we had nothing more pressing, it would be one thing....) We also helped those facing auto breakdowns or ride issues as the event wrapped up. Facilitating these communiques can be a drain on our resources and significantly delay our pack-up, but it's been an important service--both as a gift to the community and as a way of taking some of the burden off of other Black Rock City departments and individuals.
And a Few 2009 Hiccups/Hopes for the Future:
Automation and Equipment Exigencies
We've outgrown the capabilities of our current radio software package, as we did with our old software package a few years back, and need to find a new solution. Ideally free of charge. Additionally, much of our gear has been getting dusted for the better part of a decade, and we're looking to replace or upgrade much of our equipment. If you'd like to donate your resources of money or expertise to this cause, you can contact us at BMIR (at) burningman (dot) com .
Due to some connectivity issues this year, we had trouble getting a reliable BMIR webcast out to the wider world via our audio outlets at www.bmir.org and www.shoutingfire.com. But the signal was loud and clear at www.burningman.com, where BMIR audio accompanied the webcam on the Man.
With our more prominent location, we'd like to find ways to be even more interactive, ranging from the self-service recording booth we've been contemplating to musical installations. Got an idea? (And, crucially, the ability to make it happen?) Get in touch at BMIR (at) burningman (dot) com .
As the station has evolved over the past ten years, our team has worked hard to transform BMIR from its humble roots as a utilitarian conduit of information into a full-fledged sonic playground befitting Black Rock City, broadcasting programming that embodies the ethos of this singular community. And the feedback from the community has been stronger each year; as one example, a 14-year playa veteran and current DPW worker said she came by for the first time and had an absolute blast rocking in the dust with us. Few things are as fulfilling as that personal feedback, so let us know if you like what you hear! (Or if you don't...)
To paraphrase what we've said before: this isn't your shirt-cocking, flame-spitting, gun-toting, fire-shouting grandpappy's BMIR from way back in '79 when Peter Frampton headlined the Hookadome and the Burn was soooo much better. It's something new, and something increasingly vibrant: world-class, alternative universe radio befitting a universe-class, world-shaping event.