About R.F.A

Radio Free Alabama & Monolith Radio

Radio Free Alabama is 501(c)3 consortium of producers, musicians, dramatists, and artists. Together we have created a new  radio station in the Birmingham area that services the greater Alabama and Southeast area. Radio Free Alabama  aims to provide an accessible, sustainable and accountable community radio service for Central and West Alabama focusing on the needs of diverse groups and individuals. Marginalized and unrepresented by local radio, we will build a platform for discussion and empowerment through a diverse mix of locally relevant speech and music programs. While most internet radio stations focus on music we will mainly be focusing on cultural programming addressing the needs and concerns of under-served communities. We will be heavily focused on providing alternative programming such as panel discussions, talk shows, comedy,  audio drama, documentaries , as well as programming centered around arts and literature – from poetry and fiction to the plastic arts and dance.Of course there will still be music but unlike most stations we will only feature music from local and regional record labels  and we will be featuring everything from the eclectic and ambient to locally produced hip hop and gospel.

Radio Free Alabama is planning  to launch Monolith Radio on June 1st at 8pm with a 48 new,  unique  programs that includes a curated collection from local pod-casters and dramatists from all over the country. While most internet radio stations offer a constant stream with no ability for download or playback we will  offer each show as a standalone stream. Downloads will only be available for a small fee but you will be able to access the programmed streaming shows whenever and wherever as well as , pause. Yes that’s right we are bringing 1970’s technology back to your internet radio. You will be able to start, stop, pause, rewind and fast forward all of our programming. Amazing technology, right?

How will all this work?

The League of  Artistic Directors.

RFA programming is set quarterly by a committee  of Artistic Directors who agree to sign on for at least 3 production cycles (9 months). The committee will meet 4 times a year,  (every three months)  to discuss business and work on program scheduling for the following quarter.  The board will try to identify and reach out to under-served communities to help them find their voice and help to foster the creation of  programming that addresses issues of local concern.The Board’s only function at this point is as artistic advisers whose purpose it is to maintain stability by inviting new artists to participate in programming and actively research community outreach opportunities. They will function more like an Art Council than a traditional Non Profit Board of Directors. Each cycle of programs will run in 3 month increments. Shows will fall under weekly, bi-weekly, and monthly categories. The type of programming determines the frequency of production.

Radio Dramas              Bi-Weekly (Premiers)

Documentaries          Monthly

Music Programming          Weekly

Panel Discussions            Weekly

Station Managers

They will be in charge of maintaining the space, keeping up equipment, scheduling engineers and working with the Program Directors who will work directly with the artists and schedule recording / uploading files to the website.

Programming Directors

There will be a P.D for every Topic and Issue that is of concern to RFA.  Arts and Literature, Radio Drama, Talk and News, Race and Gender Issues, Children’s Programming,  and Documentaries.   Show Hosts, Documentarians, Sound Artists, etc…   All programming will be completely autonomous and function without interference from the League of  Artistic Directors.  Once a show is in production it cannot be cancelled for any reason however the League has the right to refuse renewal of a program if the artists fail in any way to complete their previous contract, or through sheer laziness consistently bring in content that does not meet the production standards of R.F.A.

The Day to Day.

Production meetings will be held on Saturdays and will be led by the Station Director. They will meet with the production teams of the shows who are scheduled to be uploaded in the coming week and they will go over the shows script, outline, or general premise. Shows will be uploaded on the following Sunday. This will give teams 8 days to produce a weekly show. Currently 1 day over most weekly programming. The advantage of an extra day ensures that ample time will be given to artists to complete their work.   Sundays will be upload days where the engineers upload and listen to upcoming shows checking for quality, bit rate issues…etc.

Topics and Issues of great importance to RFA.  

  1. Race and Gender  issues. RFA will give a voice to everyone. This also includes the LGBT community.
  2. Arts and Culture. This includes literary arts, programs about dance, theatre and traditional painting, folk art, sculpture, etc.
  3. Sound Art/Noise. This covers everything from experiments in sound art to artists that push the boundaries of that thing we call music.
  4. Local Politics, Community Issues. – This will be a little more difficult, while Birmingham has enough going on to produce a weekly show, other areas of Alabama might only be able to muster up a few minutes  that is why I would like to have “weekly round up” type show divided into segments covering different regions in Alabama.
  5. Documentaries – Besides cultural programming around the arts I would like to reach out to local documentarians to produce audio docs on a variety of topics.
  6. Children’s Programming – I would very much like to have some type of children’s programming along the lines of “Rabbit Ears Radio”- where celebrities read children’s books, or something to that effect.
  7. Traditional Music programs – Though we will focus heavily on non traditional radio we will also feature several music programs. The main difference is I would like our programming to focus specifically on local artists in the Region. This will involve reaching out to local record labels, recording artists and local studios.
  8. Radio Drama – This is something near and dear to my heart. I will be personally heading up this division and I will be working with Radio Drama companies and producers in the greater Southeast region. I would like to feature programming from all over the world as well as sponsor locally produced shows.  Radio Drama is the new wave of theatre, with rising production costs, long rehearsal process , and many other issues-  there are a great number of traditional theatre companies and playwrights turning to this medium to get their message out while maintaining their budgets. Overseas and in country this form of drama is making a huge comeback and I believe it will have a huge impact in the years to come.

The  Studio

The studio space will be located at MONO Bham in the Woodlawn area will be a place where producers and artists can edit, record and upload their programming to the network. We will function as a community space and provide all equipment, engineers, computers, software and everything else one needs to produce, record and edit their programs.   Will hosts or programmers get paid?   I am not quitting my day job nor do I expect those involved to. This is community radio. Our purpose is to create and give license to artists and producers who serve a disenfranchised or minority community who have no means of getting out their message. At its most basic this station will serve as a voice for those who wish to use it. We will provide equipment, engineers, editing software and anything people need in order to bring their vision to the airwaves.. well.. internet. But no, we will not be paying hosts. However….   Each show will be scheduled to run in installments of 4, 6, or 12 shows per quarter. Also, these shows will run independent of one another. While streaming will be free if anyone wishes to download an episode of a program they may do so for a set fee that will go directly to the artists responsible. If artists want to include advertising and find sponsors for their shows (as the old fashioned radio shows did) They are more than welcome, even encouraged,  to do so. Any artists that wishes to find sponsors can seek the advice of the station director who will sit down with them and create a “budget” allowing them to determine what should be charged for advertising.

As the community gets to know us I plan to work with local business and organizations to provide small grants ( In the 100-500 dollar range) to help create programming. However, and again, this being community radio one should realize that as the programming blocks are for 4,6, or 12 shows over a 3 month period. With such small numbers the amount of time spent putting a show together comes to a very small fee.


Michael Tesney & Milton Ragsdale

Co-Chairs,  League of Artistic Directors

Studio Managers, Monolith Radio

Founders, Radio Free Alabama


Contact us at radiofreealabama@gmail.com

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