Knoxville First Amendment Radio

"I had a lot of good friends involved at KFAR," says CROK's John Mayer . "We just want to get a community station started up again. But to call it a continuation would be the wrong word because the pirate station was illegal. For now, we're just streaming on the web."

Once it's on the air, CROK will stay within the legal boundaries, Mayer says. He adds that previous national campaigns to promote low-power community stations have been stomped out by larger stations for fear of competition. Despite the

Clinton

administration's attempts to start a number of low-power non-profit stations, Mayer says, "The commercial stations weren't too keen on it. NPR really came down hard on it." Many non-profit stations were among those that feared that introducing the low-power stations into small markets would hurt their fundraising efforts and conflict with their signals. Now however, Mayer says that Sen. John McCain has reintroduced a similar bill "to make low-power stations available again. So that's a possibility, or we may look into buying a station."

owned,

Up

renaissance

Not a CROK

Since KFAR ( Knoxville First Amendment Radio ) was shut down by the FCC last October, Knoxville's airwaves have been a little less community-minded, politically active and musically diverse. Recently, a station called CROK ( Community Radio of Knoxville ) has sprouted in the wake of KFAR's demise to fill some of the void. Listeners can only access it streaming on the web for now, as organizers don't want to risk meeting the same fate as KFAR, which was raided by the FCC after being accused of broadcasting without a permit. Many regard the shutdown as a reaction against KFAR's political outspokenness.

Although KFAR was operating illegally, CROK's organizers see the station's tradition of hosting all local shows as something worth reviving.

"I had a lot of good friends involved at KFAR," says CROK's John Mayer . "We just want to get a community station started up again. But to call it a continuation would be the wrong word because the pirate station was illegal. For now, we're just streaming on the web."

Once it's on the air, CROK will stay within the legal boundaries, Mayer says. He adds that previous national campaigns to promote low-power community stations have been stomped out by larger stations for fear of competition. Despite the Clinton administration's attempts to start a number of low-power non-profit stations, Mayer says, "The commercial stations weren't too keen on it. NPR really came down hard on it." Many non-profit stations were among those that feared that introducing the low-power stations into small markets would hurt their fundraising efforts and conflict with their signals. Now however, Mayer says that Sen. John McCain has reintroduced a similar bill "to make low-power stations available again. So that's a possibility, or we may look into buying a station."

Until then, check out www.crok.org to listen to the eclectic mix the station is programming so far. We've randomly tuned in this week to hear everything from Jimmy Cliff to Lucero to All .

 

No More Thongs

While people of all sexual preferences may enjoy a little eye candy in the form of a well-sculpted man pole-dancing in a thong bikini every once in a while, the thumping house music and clubby vibe at the Electric Ballroom in its most recent incarnation just didn't quite catch on in Knoxville. That's why Sara Crass , longtime bartender and new manager at the Ballroom, is transforming the gay dance club into a more diverse venue. "This is one of the best live music venues in the region, although it got away from that for a while. We want to pull in different regional bands as well as local," says Crass. In the '90s, the Ballroom hosted local band showcases, raves, and national touring acts such as Belly , Danzig and GWAR .

Crass and assistant manager Robert Frazier hope the shift won't drive away loyal clientele. "The gay community just wasn't able to support such a large venue as well as all of the other gay bars in Knoxville," Frazier says. "It's still gay-owned, we're just not having drag shows anymore. We are going to have theme nights like Carnival Night with dancers in cages and girls on swings." Crass also hopes to bring in local independent film showings as well as fashion shows.

The club will kick off with a six-week battle-of-the-bands competition on Friday nights beginning April 29. Bands can pick up applications starting April 22 at the Ballroom for a $50 entry fee. The top three bands will receive $2,000, $1,000, and $500 in prize money, respectively. Crass also has a few shows booked; Blame It on Rio and The Assault on April 20 and Pick Up the Snake with Galaxie on April 22.

 

He's The Man

We already knew R.B. Morris was a renaissance man, but now we can add drama to his canon of poetry and song with the premiere of The Man Who Lives Here is Loony . Morris wrote the one-man one-act play in the mid-'80s and adapted it into a video that was shown only once in public in 1992. After some rewriting and further adaptation, The Man made its stage debut earlier this week as part of the James Agee Celebration organized by the University of Tennessee.

Those familiar with Morris' vivid stage presence at his poetry readings and musical performances won't be surprised to hear that Morris is an actor of considerable charisma. He embodied the personage of "Jim" Agee with the forthrightness, passion and humor Agee's readers would like to imagine in the Knoxville native whose spirit lingers in our midst more now than ever. Morris adopted accents to speak in the voices of Agee's critics and cohorts; he even mimed famed Hollywood director John Huston lecturing Agee about writing during a tennis game. And still, Morris' own persona shone through—his wild-haired, abstract self, his literate Southern drawl loping in Beat rhythms and his singing voice taking up snatches of song. On both nights, the audience was dotted with local musical luminaries and cohorts of Morris and his onstage players, bassist David Slack and guitarist Dave Nichols . The premiere performance concluded with a standing ovation, an appropriate response to this unique work of art 20 years in the making. Shaking hands with well-wishers, Morris demurred that he could still have played the part better. Director Kim Midkiff exclaimed to the contrary that it was his best performance yet, especially considering he'd just driven back from South Carolina where he opened for John Prine the night before.

Two performances in the beginning of a weeklong celebration of Agee's work couldn't possibly sate the appetite of everyone who would like to see—should see— The Man in action. Perhaps with the Agee Trust's consent, the recorded version of the stage play will be available for the community at-large.

 

Molly Kincaid, Paige M. Travis

© 2005 MetroPulse. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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