FIRE´s Internet Radio Station


The Asociación de Comunicaciones Feminist Interactive Radio Endeavor (AC FIRE) was re-born on the 8th of March 1998, as a non-governmental, non-profit organization based in Costa Rica but came into existence much earlier. AC FIRE began broadcasting originally on shortwave in 1991 and in 1998 began its innovative Internet Radio initiative. Today AC FIRE can be heard around the world on local radio programs and stations, in magazines, on the Internet and in workshops and classrooms internationally.

 

AC FIRE is a non profit, non governmental organization with a legal status in Costa Rica. Its Board is composed of 12 Latin American and Caribbean women, and AC FIRE founder and chief funder Genevieve Vaughan.  It is produced by a permanent staff of 3 Latin American and Caribbean feminists, together with many volunteers.

 

                                                            Objectives: 

AC FIRE is an international communications venue working to contribute to bring a wide diversity of voices to the world’s media. Its mission is to: amplify the voices and ideas of women; promote the human rights of women; connect multiple voices, technologies and actions; strengthen women’s and Third World media efforts by participating in networks, and in local, regional and global initiatives; generate individual and collective commitment to movement building and action; and produce high quality, non-sexist, activist programs in Spanish and English for radio and the internet.

AC FIRE disseminates women’s voices in all their diversity and allows their perspectives to be heard by men and women around the world, crossing barriers of nationality, culture, race, geography and language, and gender. FIRE’s feminist perspective is not about ‘women’s rights’ it is women’s voices and perspectives on all issues. FIRE is not ‘for’ women; it is by and about women talking about every issue, for all. While it is international in scope and reach, it is mainly done from the identity of Latin American and Caribbean feminists who are FIRE´s permanent producers and directors.

                                                            Context:

 

The evolution of humanity is characterized, among other processes, by the need that individuals and collectives have, of establishing forms of interaction. We know that the first efforts of the newly born are a way of emitting sound in order to generate a space of communications. The spoken word, in any tongue, is a tool for dialogue since the beginning of life itself.

 

The right to information, the exercise of the freedom of expression and the human right to communicate through the media, access, the appropriation and use of the new technologies, all constitute, at the present, rights denied to the extensive majority of the women.

 

 

FIRE´s contribution is about the spoken word by women in the context of a civilization in transition where systematically:

 

·        more women are integrated to productive activities,

·        education is recognized as a means to fight the poverty,

·        knowledge and information are at the center of the development,

·        access to information is the motor of the economy,

·        new technologies are instruments in the daily life of a high percentage of the human activity;

 

But also:

 

·        women continue to be excluded from the right to the development,

·        extreme poverty strikes one thousand two hundred million persons that live with one dollar or less per day.

·        near 130 million children in the world, of which 80 million are girls, do not have access to schooling.

·        educational inequalities still exist, with regards to quality, quantity and opportunities,

·        information and communications networks are concentrated in a few countries (25% of the countries of the world do not have sufficient fixed capacity of lines for the development of the new technologies, since is calculated that in those countries, the capacity is barely one telephone per 100 persons.),

·        only the 15% of the world population live the industrial countries, yet they have the 88% of the users of Internet,

·        the population of only 55 countries, use 99% of the technologies of the information, as are services, applications and goods.

 

In the framework of this universal context, it is necessary to take advantage of the new technologies of the era to create spaces of interaction and communication that favor the breaching of the gap that configures today’s world: the gap between the included and the excluded.

 

We need to transcend the present context, and to do it extensively, and that is the power of  the role of radio in Internet. The development of our Web Radio in cyberspace showed us that the transience that characterized radio repeated itself in this new venue. However, Web Radio provided infinite possibilities for information and sound file storage that counteracted the apparent characteristic of immediacy, making interactivity an essential element where the news and information can be heard over and over again.

 

As of 1991 in Costa Rica, Feminist International Radio Endeavour (FIRE) was created in order to use radio to the fullest, as a resource to amplify the voices of the women worldwide.  From within its feminist, Latin American and Third World identity, in 1998 this organization expanded its mission to include the creative combination of new technologies with traditional radio.

 

One of its main characteristics is that seeks to develop new forms of communications, contributing to change the flow if information in the world order, providing to the world order access to the voices and perspective of women through the combination of traditional radio and new technologies such as computers and telematic, in order to access a new concept of radio.

 

It combines conventional radio with Internet, and contains a strategy that transcends the users of Internet, to be multiplied in diverse formats of communication, through rebroadcasts in local radios, international shortwave radio, magazines, newspapers, electronic networks, Web pages, etc.

 

Internet provides the possibility of converting the computer into a transmitter of high frequency, at a more economic cost than traditional radio, to be combined with other venues of dissemination.

 

The strategy that integrates the construction of a radio station through  the combination of new technologies with conventional ones from the perspective of women apparently constitutes the first project of this kind, owned and administered by women of the  South.

 

FIRE is about an international radio that broadcasts a critical content that combines sound with text and images with colors with an innovative treatment of the information. This interactive concept of radio is the creative process of a group of women that learn day to day to take advantage of the technological resources, in order to open channels that enable conversations within the networks and that allow women to create new forms of inclusion and disclosure of issues and perspectives for the sake of advancing their own human rights and those of all of humanity.

 

                                                FIRE’s Internet Radio Station.

 

Since it began webcasting in 1998, Feminist International Radio Feminist (FIRE) has designed its own concept of what a feminist – Internet – international – community – radio – station in the Internet can be. It combines the multimedia capability of the Internet in a radio format, that is, a format that has the oral language of women at the center, with a multiplying strategy as the backbone. ‘By all means connecting voices, technologies and actions, amplifying women’s voices worldwide’ became FIRE´s slogan as of 1998 when it substituted the world of shortwave radio broadcasting  (1991-1998) for a multimedia approach to radio production.

 

Internet radio productions take four forms at FIRE: “on demand” monthy features, special coverage of and from events, webcast marathons on special ocasionas and womens PEACECASTS.

 

                                                A. On Demand Monthly Features.

 

Thus, beyond being a site where FIRE acquires an identity in the Internet, FIRE´s web page is mainly a media venue where you can hear, see and read women’s voices about all issues.  Monthly in depth features portray women’s perspectives about diverse issues, identities, cultures and countries. All the reports since 1998 can always be found in it, as they remain indefinitely posted.

 

The combination of text, images and embedded sound files for ‘on demand’ listening, form a unity where the oral voices of the women are centerfold. Texts that can easily be read on the air in any other radio to introduce, compliment and contextualize what women themselves say about a specific issue. Because of this combination, radio women in Latin America and the Caribbean have baptized FIRE´s Web Radio as “the visual radio by women.”

 

The Internet features are also turned by FIRE into written articles that are published every year in its magazine ‘Women’s Voices on FIRE’. Its objective is ‘to continue reconnecting with our shortwave radio listenership that accompanied us between 1991-1998.  We also want to record on paper the oral language of women from our radio productions, and build new audiences that expand our Internet audiences, particularly those listeners of radio who do not have access to the Internet.  While many of the articles included in this magazine issue are also available on the FIRE web page (at www.fire.or.cr), others are new, or are updates of the original Web features.  

As of 2002, the voices of women on FIRE are also featured systematically for the local audience in Costa Rica were FIRE is based, via montly articles in the women´s newspaper La Pregonera.

 

By combining multiple sources of oral language including local radio, Internet radio, and shortwave, we were inspired to produce this magazine.  We hope it will form part of libraries, documentation centers, desktops, classrooms, buses, kitchens, and homes, but primarily will reach the hands of those of you who have allowed us to accompany you, who have inspired us, whom we miss and whom we continue to learn from.

 

Example: see “Oil” in Case Studies

 

 

B. FIRE-PLACE Special Broadcasts.

Besides the monthly ‘on demand’ reports, FIRE organizes special webcasts from conferences and events where women come together to influence agendas at the local, national regional or international level. The FIRE-PLACE in Internet began in 1999 as a virtual radio station placed in the middle of any conference or meeting to open its microphones to women so that they can share with an international audience their news, reports, debates, sorrows and joys when developing advocacy and mobilizing skills and actions to influence agendas. Such webcasts are designed under a strategy of FIRE’s own creation in interaction with other women in media and media groups.

One example is the FIRE-PLACE at the Beijing + 5 UN process.

(box) "Voices Without Brackets" was webcast from the building across the United Nations in New York every day between June 4-9.  Women guest producers from around the world hosted programs focusing on the role of media in relation to the 12 critical areas of concern of the Beijing Platform for Action. The special coverage had the collaboration of Women Action, a 

Sponsored by UNIFEM, Feminist International Radio Endeavour (FIRE) and the Latin American and Caribbean Women’s Network of the World Association of Community Radios (AMARC)  also organized three training sessions in Internet broadcasting for women and girls at the Special Session.

Through FIRE and CIMAC, the Beijing + 5  Latin American Regional Women’s Articulation developed a media initiative during the Special Session of the General Assembly of the U.N. It consisted of the creation of a regional electronic network of press releases based on coverage of the events in New York and on the FIRE radio broadcasts on Internet. They were sent out on a daily basis to a 250 e-mail list of networks of activists, communicators and journalists throughout the region. Receivers of the information multiplied the news in local radios, newspapers, magazines, television and women’s networks and organizations.

A previous experience in the coverage of the Latin American and Caribbean Regional Prepcom in Lima, Perú in February had begun to develop the innovative experience. The VIII Conference Regional Conference of the Economic Commission for Latin América and the Caribbean (CEPAL) constituted the Preparatory regional meeting for the Special Session of the General Assembly of the ONU in June: the Beijing + 5 UN evaluation of the implementation of the Platform for Action of the IV World Conference on Women. 

FIRE covered the meeting in coordination with women’s communications organizations in the region, such as: ISIS Chile, Women’s Feature Service (SEM) Costa Rica, the Latin-American Press Agency (ALAI) Ecuador, Red ADA Bolivia, Flora Tristán and the Center of Communication and Information of the Woman (CIMAC) in Mexico.  Together we develop the following media initiatives:

·        Organized a Press Conference with 25 journalists that came to cover the official conference. In it, leaders of the Regional Articulation of Women presented to the media their assessment about the results of their own NGO meeting in preparation to influence the governments: “More Than Words…Mechanisms, Resources and Justice Towards the XXI Century,” thus receiving coverage in radio and written press in Peru and other countries of the region.

·        Wrote daily features that were sent to media in the region, to place in our WEB sites and to send to women’s electronic networks in all the countries in the region.

·        Covered the presentation of the statement of the women’s NGOs at the official UN Regional Prepcom and gave it the place it should have in media, as the expression of civil society in an official UN meeting.

·        Drafted and distributed among UN delegates, governments and the media, a press release and document about our own assessment of Point “J” of the Platform which speaks about women and the media. We also asked the women’s caucus to lobby the media issue with their governments while we did media work with them.

·        Flora Tristán wrote and distributed a daily electronic bulletin for the women’s ONG of the region.

The results of the media strategy is that the NGOs received coverage in the media, women in the region were informed throughout, and point “J” gathered visibility and was included in the final statement by governments, known as the “Peru Consensus”.

2. Another precedent to the Beijing + 5 coverage was FIRE´s participation in the global Prepcom in New York in March. FIRE covered the Prepcom in a joint strategy with the CIMAC of Mexico. ALAI, FIRE, CIMAC, ISIS-CHILE, SEM and Red ADA had agreed to include one of CIMAC´s journalists as part of the media team of the Regional Articulation Women’s NGOs.

The following activities were carried out:

Work with the Women’s Media Caucus:

·        Influence in the women’s media caucus in its document to governments so that the issues and strategies of women’s media in the region would be included. The main contribution of FIRE to the language of the document was that of defining the criteria of the voluntary codes of ethics of the media, based on the international framework of the human rights. This focus allowed women in media to solve a critical problem in the debate: by placing the discussion in the human rights framework we prevent arbitrary codes.

·        Another contribution included by FIRE in the language proposed by the Media Caucus for the official document was the reference to access by women to radio, and access to the allocation of frequencies, which was absent in the Platform for Action of the IV World Conference in 1995.  The Women’s Network of the World Association of Community Radios (AMARC) had prepared to include it

·        Another contribution of FIRE to the Media Caucus was that of inviting the women media practitioners of Asia, Africa and Europe to express its experiences in the daily webcasts done by FIRE from the International Women’s Tribune Center. 

Work with the Latin American and Caribbean Women’s Caucus:

On March 28 -first meeting of the Caucus – the media team was named:  FIRE, CIMAC and ALAI. While ALAI organized the lobby work for Point “J”, FIRE and CIMAC did the media work of the Caucus:

·        We committed the women activists to lobby Point “J” with their governments while we did the media work with them.

·        We distributed daily the bulletin Women in Action in Spanish among the participants in the regional caucus.

·        Wrote and distributed daily features in Spanish and English, distributing them among the women activists.

·        Invited women from the region to participate in the daily webcasts on FIRE´s web radio between the 6 – 14 of March.

·        We worked with the women activists members of their official delegations to commit them to support Point “J”.

Productions: CIMAC and FIRE produced and distributed daily features in English and Spanish that were sent to electronic directories of media in Latin América and the Caribbean and to women’s organizations and networks. Many were features in local radio, newspapers and electronic newsletters.

FIRE also covered numerous panel presentations by women and uploaded the sound files, pictures and introductory text for “on demand” listening.

Webcasts: With the use of simple technology for Internet webcast, FIRE did daily programs where women talked about the proceedings, thus creating their own news that could be picked up in their countries and in media at the UN.  Two daily hours, one in Spanish and one in English were organized.

The experience was characterized by WomenAction, WomenWatch, United Nations Radio and UNIFEM as one of the most innovative and creative use of the new technologies in the hands of the women, allowing an international audience to listen directly to the activist present at the headquarters of the UN.

Special Coverage of the Special Session of the Un General Assembly Beijing + 5: Finally, between the 4-9 of June, at the UN headquarters in New York, FIRE organized a special broadcast. The FIRE-PLACE “Voices Without Brackets” did daily four hour webcasts from the women’s media center across the UN building. Half of the programming in Spanish and half in English, 60 activists participated in the endeavor, either as producers or interviewees

Each program dealt with one of the 12 critical areas of concern of the Platform for Action of the IV World Conference on Women in 1995 in Beijing, thus disseminating, in the voice of women, what each area of concern states, what has happened in the implementation of the issue discussed, what governments were debating across the street at the moment and what women in civil society have done to demand accountability of governments in light of what they signed on to do. The role of media in contributing to the advancement of the issue, or being an obstacle to its understanding was also included.

The FIRE-PLACE was organized by the FIRE staff with the contribution of the women’s regional communications networks, the Regional Women’s NGO Articulación, WomenAction, the International Committee of NGOs (CONGO), The Women’s Network of the World Association of Community Radios (AMARC), the International Tribune Center (IWTC), UNIFEM, HIVOS, REAL SERVER, AMERISOL, Genevieve Vaughan and especially all the producers, participants and the women’s movement.

More than 60 reception reports from all parts of the world were received for FIRE. One of the main characteristics of almost all the letters is that in them, men and women talk about what they did to re-forward, re-broadcast, re-publish and re-distributed the information in venues in their countries, multiplying the information through radio, press written, magazines, TV and in electronic networks beyond the beyond, like the airwaves themselves.

The FIRE-PLACE was also featured in other media while at the UN: AMARC´s PULSAR Press Agency, Australia Community Radio, Wisconsin Public Radio, United Nations Women’s Radio, Women’s International News Gathering Service, the newspaper WomenAction during the Beijing + 5 process and The Independent of Mexico, Ciberbrújas of AMARC, Radio France International, Radio Caracol of Colombia, France Press Agency, the electronic magazine Drum Beat, FAIR in EUA, etc.