AFTERBURN REPORT 2011
BURNING MAN INFORMATION RADIO (BMIR)
- Stronger and cleaner signal than ever due to a new transmitter and antenna.
- BMIR is now so much more than a radio station. BMIR is an art installation.
- Live 24/7 for the second year in a row.
- Successfully archived 98% of our broadcast
- BMIR is now a destination, where people come to hang out, chat, make art, etc.
Rite of Passage: an event that marks a progression from one status to another, a universal phenomenon that can show the values and beliefs that are important in specific cultures. 2011 very much marked a rite of passage for BMIR. As this project has grown and matured, it has emerged to be so much more than just a radio station. While still serving as a source of critical information and absurdist entertainment for BRC citizens, BMIR has also become a community gathering point, a theme camp, a creative catalyst for artistic expression, and an art installation.
Bolstered by a new transmitter, new antenna, better compression, and advanced signal processing, BMIR's signal was stronger and clearer than ever. With this new technology, BMIR continued to serve the community by ensuring public access to the airwaves; anyone who showed up with a poem, song, instrument or just something to say was ushered into the studios at the first available moment. Live streaming over the Internet continued to provide a vital link to the playa for Burners across the globe who could not attend the event.
Our second year on the Esplanade (technically Rod's Road, but who's counting?) has put BMIR not only on the literal map, but even more so on the proverbial map of our fine community's lips. While we have always been accustomed to putting year-round energy into ensuring that the execution of the radio station programming is as flawless as can be, we're still newbies to this whole "creating a public gathering space for people" thing. Always looking to raise the bar for ourselves, BMIR has emerged as a destination on the playa. People seek us out and know that they can find people in our lounge 24/7 discussing whatever topic is at hand, creating art, planning mayhem, enjoying a beverage. etc. We continued our tradition of several happy hours during the week, playing host to the well-dusted Gate Staff, a Billion or so Bunnies, and our dear friends and cohorts Burners Without Borders through a remote happy hour (with live broadcast).
As for what was heard on BMIR this year: well, the color wheel is made up of 12 different hues. Every imaginable (and as of yet unimagined) piece of art the world has ever known has drawn from those 12 unique compositions of light. And in her twelfth year of service to the denizens of our beautiful home in the desert, BMIR graced the airwaves using a larger and fuller pallet of audio hues than she's ever had at her fingertips. From art tours and interviews to news and weather to rock and hip hop to insightful moments and completely unreal hijinx, BMIR was a constant source of audio sensory overload for the greatest city in the world--a soundtrack that matched the "anything can happen" environment, as well as keeping our fine citizens up to par on things they actually do need to know. For the second year in a row we were live 24 hours a day...well, 23.5 if we average in one of our overnight guys falling asleep on the job for a few hours late in the week. We did several live broadcasts, interacting with the community at the annual Sunday night gate opening party aboard the Lady Monaco, for the Media Mecca Art Tour, from the CORE and Man burns. Additional highlights of 2010 included Cunning Minx's program on polyamory on the playa, Raindog's unique blend of music and British comedy, a live performance from Keno Mapp and Heart Touch, Spotlights on Art, The Rockstar Librarian with a sound camp sneak preview, Reverend Billy, and the first live broadcast from an airplane over BRC with your host Bobzilla.
Radio stations are not generally known for their visual presence, yet BMIR literally dripped with art in 2011 (because, yes, we had an actual working fountain). For the first time ever, BMIR had an artist-in-residence (Ken Griswa aka Winchester the Mysterey Artist, so named because every 15 minutes you would turn around he had added a new piece of art or burned an old one and made a new one) design the facade and courtyard of our beloved station. What was formerly inconceivable amongst a bunch of audio geeks and tech nerds became an amazing amalgamation of copper egg chairs, sculptures made of re-purposed materials, strange wooden shapes, and bicycle wheels that invited even the shyest stranger to come spin the wheel of fate! Then, if you were so inclined, you'd wander into the confines of our ever-so-comfy beachfront lounge, a welcoming safe haven even in the wee hours of the morning, attested to by the two or five or eight sleeping bodies we'd find on our couches every sunrise. Then as if as it were a sign from nature, at the very end of the week, a lost friend of the avian variety found a home amongst our shade and cooled off in the fountains water, returning again and again over several days.
This is where the magic happens. Where new friendships are begun, old ones solidified, and the future of who-knows-what collaborative projects are incubated.
Bob Sommer and Joshua Cunningham