Letters

Letters 08-31-2015

Inalienable Rights This is a response to the “No More State Theatre” in your August 24th edition. I think I will not be the only response to this pathetic and narrow-minded letter that seems rather out of place in the northern Michigan that I know. To think we will not be getting your 25 cents for the movie you refused to see, but more importantly we will be without your “two cents” on your thoughts of a marriage at the State Theatre...

Enthusiastically Democratic Since I was one of the approximately 160 people present at when Senator Debbie Stabenow spoke on August 14 in Charlevoix, I was surprised to read in a letter to Northern Express that there was a “rather muted” response to Debbie’s announcement that she has endorsed Hillary Clinton for president...

Not Hurting I surely think the State Theatre will survive not having the homophobic presence of Colleen Smith and her family attend any matinees. I think “Ms.” Smith might also want to make sure that any medical personnel, bank staff, grocery store staff, waiters and/or waitress, etc. are not homosexual before accepting any service or product from them...

Stay Home I did not know whether to laugh or cry when I read the letter of the extremely homophobic, “disgusted” writer. She now refuses to patronize the State Theatre because she evidently feels that its confines have been poisoned by the gay wedding ceremony held there...

Keep Away In response to Colleen Smith of Cadillac who refused to bring her family to the State Theatre because there was a gay wedding there: Keep your 25 cents and your family out of Traverse City...

Celebrating Moore And A Theatre I was 10 years old when I had the privilege to see my first film at the State Theatre. I will never forget that experience. The screen was almost the size of my bedroom I shared with my older sister. The bursting sounds made me believe I was part of the film...

Outdated Thinking This letter is in response to Colleen Smith. She made public her choice to no longer go to the State Theater due to the fact that “some homosexuals” got married there. I’m not outraged by her choice; we don’t need any more hateful, self-righteous bigots in our town. She can keep her 25 cents...

Mackinac Pipeline Must Be Shut Down Crude oil flowing through Enbridge’s 60-yearold pipeline beneath the Mackinac Straits and the largest collection of fresh water on the planet should be a serious concern for every resident of the USA and Canada. Enbridge has a very “accident” prone track record...

Your Rights To Colleen, who wrote about the State Theatre: Let me thank you for sharing your views; I think most of us are well in support of the first amendment, because as you know- it gives everyone the opportunity to express their opinions. I also wanted to thank Northern Express for not shutting down these types of letters right at the source but rather giving the community a platform for education...

No Role Model [Fascinating Person from last week’s issue] Jada quoted: “I want to be a role model for girls who are interested in being in the outdoors.” I enjoy being in the outdoors, but I don’t want to kill animals for trophy...

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Radio, Radio -- 40 Watts from Nowhere

Nancy Sundstrom - April 8th, 2004
Continuing with a trend that this reviewer has been particularly enjoying as of late, another engaging and entertaining memoir has surfaced The title is “40 Watts From Nowhere,“ and the author is Sue Carpenter, a feature writer for the Los Angeles Times and a senior contributor to Jane magazine., whose work has also appeared in such publications as George, Marie Claire, and Cosmopolitan.
“40 Watts“ is the frank and funny tale of Carpenter‘ s foray in fast-paced journey into the world of mid-‘90s, California pirate radio, and her amazing story is a salute to free-spirited mavericks everywhere who attempt to do something about a situation that they find sub-par.
In this case, it was what Carpenter, then a bored, broke, yet terminally hip college grad heard - or wasn‚t hearing - on the radio that led her to take matters into her own hands and create two different radio stations. It‚s a story that is all the more remarkable because it is true, and one that needs to land on your “must-read“ list if you‚ve ever had a brush with being a DJ, worked for a college radio station, or fantasized about what it would be like to fill the airwaves with all of the music with which you wanted to enlighten the rest of the world.
In the Introduction, we quickly learn that for author Carpenter, the radio is much more than something one puts on for background distraction or entertainment:

“It‘s a Friday, about 11 A.M., when the station turns to static. My pulse doubles in an instant. I can‘t believe they did it again. I don‘t even know who “they“ are, but it‘s the second time they‘ve turned off the transmitter in two days.
Yesterday, they figured out which antenna and transmitter were ours from the half-dozen others scattered on top of the same high-rise, but they were gone before we could get there and identify them. Today, I‘m not going to let them get away. I run out the door and kick start my beat-up Honda. Ordinarily I‘d let the little junker warm up, but there‘s no time. I keep the choke on and speed down the street, revving the throttle hard.
I‘m about to shift into second when a red light stops me. I train my eye on the signal and peel out the instant it goes green, taking the corner so fast my left knee almost scrapes the ground. My front tire is inches from rear-ending a Mercedes. I can‘t believe this traffic. It isn‘t rush hour. It isn‘t even lunchtime. Where did all these cars come from? And why are they moving so slowly? I scream at them through my face shield. They need to get out of my way.
Don‘t they understand what‘s happening here? KBLT, the radio station I built from scratch, the station I‘ve sacrificed my apartment for -- and my sanity -- might be permanently kaput. I lay on the horn. I can‘t stand these L.A. drivers and their lane-hogging SUVs. I can‘t squeeze through. I pass three cars in the turning lane, praying the cops won‘t bust me for reckless driving.
Three glorious years -- well, sometimes glorious years --of squatting on the FM dial. It can‘t be over. What have we done wrong? Who turned us in? Why now?
This Friday morning is no different from any other at my radio station: Eddie knocks on the door, I let him in, and he spins dub, krautrock, or whatever other music he wants for whoever‘s tuned in. Two hours later Hassan stops by with his crate of classic jazz, and so it goes, nonstop, around the clock, twenty-four hours each day. So what if I don‘t have a license to operate? I just couldn‘t scrape together the $100 million I needed to buy my way onto the FM band in L.A. It can‘t be so wrong to co-opt a little underutilized air space so music lovers can show off their record collections. It makes no sense that that‘s illegal.
I focus on the tower at Sunset and Vine two miles away. A jumble of antennas and satellite dishes clutter its roof. Shit. There‘s something moving up there. There are people moving. I feel sick. I need to calm down. If I don‘t pull it together I‘m going to slip under the fender of a Mack truck and sever a leg.
Okay. One mile. Just one more mile and I‘m there. Jesus, the sun is bright. In my rush, I didn‘t manage to grab my sunglasses. I‘m squinting and can barely make them out in the distance, but two tiny ant people are wriggling somewhere in the vicinity of the KBLT antenna. This just might be the end.“

Carpenter‘s radio odyssey began when she was going nowhere in a dead-end job as a law office receptionist and her relationship with a junkie boyfriend seemed on the skids. In 1995, she turned a chance meeting with an attorney into an opportunity to become a radio station owner. As she does with all things, Carpenter did it her way, though, and with the help of some subversive-minded technology geeks and pirate-radio veterans, she built her first transmitter in her hilltop San Francisco apartment, and launched KPBJ, which she named after the sandwich.
When she lands a magazine job in Los Angeles, Carpenter takes her transmitter with her, and establishes KBLT, again named after the sandwich. Over the next three years, it grows into one of the city‘s best-loved radio stations, staffed by more than a hundred DJs who said and played whatever they felt like, and sought after by major music labels who wanted to tap into her eclectic cult of an audience. Through it all, our fearless leader stays one step ahead (barely) of the FCC, hosts everyone from members of the Red Hot Chili Peppers to an unbelievable cast of local characters in her living room/studio, and becomes a pop culture icon in her own right.
The wilder the times and people are in Carpenter‘s book, the more fun it all is, and she has a casual, self-deprecating sense of humor that works well in her narration and makes the reader quickly feel as if they know her. Her motives were fairly simple at first - Carpenter just wanted to play better music than what she was hearing - but when you‚re running a pirate radio station, things aren‚t going to stay uncomplicated for long. The station eventually becomes a money pit, Carpenter doubts herself and her hobby constantly, and the non-stop parade of oddballs wandering into her home all begin to take a toll. Eventually, the FCC will shut down her operation in 1998, but not without an array of mini-dramas taking place.
As with most stories of this sort, the downside is never as much fun as the rise, but it still makes for enjoyable reading. As much as anything, this is a tale of a young woman in search of herself who never could have predicted what she would find through the love of music. This seems destined for the big screen, or at least an installment of VH-1‘s “Behind the Music,“ but until that happens, don‚t miss the fun of Carpenter‚s own words and rebellious attitude.

 
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