With relief we leave the commercialism of Black Friday and Cyber Monday behind, and consider making a gift to organizations that change lives and bring us closer to community. But, what cause to support? With desperation all around, from families at our border to drought and climate change, community radio and our musicians may take second fiddle – not seeming all that urgent, after all.

But, as T Bone Burnett said in his moving address to AmericanaFest in 2016:

“Artists risk everything in everything they do. Risk is what separates the artist from the artisan. Art is not a career, it is a vocation, an inclination, a response to a summons…Music is to the United States as wine is to France. We have spread our culture all over the world with the soft power of American music. We both have regions — France has Champagne, we have the Mississippi Delta. France has Bordeaux, we have the Appalachian Mountains. France has Epernay, we have Nashville. Recorded music has been our best good will ambassador. The actual reason the Iron Curtain fell, is because the Russian kids wanted Beatles records. Louis Armstrong did more to spread our message of freedom and innovation than any single person in the last hundred years. Our history, our language, and our soul are recorded in our music. There is no deeper expression of the soul of this country than the profound archive of music we have recorded over the last century.”

And what of a “kid who walks out of his home with a song and nothing else,” and conquers the world?

“We have replicated that phenomenon over and over. We could start with Elvis Presley, but we could add in names for hours — Jimmie Rodgers, Rosetta Tharpe, Johnny Cash, Howlin Wolf, Mahalia Jackson, Bob Dylan, John Coltrane, Billie Holiday, Loretta Lynn, Chuck Berry, Hank Williams, Aretha Franklin, Jack White, Dr. Dre. That is the American Character. That is Johnny Appleseed…

“At last year’s MusicCares tribute to Bob Dylan, Jimmy Carter said, ‘There’s no doubt that his words of peace and human rights are much more incisive and much more powerful and much more permanent than any president of the United States.’ I believe that is undeniable.”

With media ownership consolidation in recent decades, fewer voices are heard and programming is often created thousands of miles away – the media trend that sparked several broadcasters to join in the creation of Portland Radio Project six years ago. Today, with support from listeners and community partners, we are keeping this vital platform alive for local voices.

PRP currently has over 640 local artists in regular rotation, which gives the artists needed exposure along with performance opportunities and help building the foundation for their career. (Please see testimonials below.) We have also profiled more than 150 nonprofits who perform crucial public service work. And, we’re growing our Podcast Co-op, providing more opportunities to share local arts and culture.

This is community media, in contrast to distant media giants that control most of what we see, hear and read. To play our own music, and tell our own stories (whether of families, drought, or the blues) real stories, real music now seem pretty important, after all.

We are committed to using our platform to promote and support local voices – we play a local artist every 15 minutes! If you would like to support PRP, we welcome your #GivingTuesday donation here. Thank you!

 

Rebecca Webb

Rebecca Webb is the Founder and Team Leader at Portland Radio Project Listen Now

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