The Radio Art Hour: Jon Brumit, Earwax Productions with David Lawrence (Audio)

Jan 22, 2022
Produced by Wave Farm Radio Artist Fellows and Artistic Director Tom Roe.

This week tune in two radio art works: "Catch & Release: Critical Mass" by Jon Brumit, introduced by Jess Speer and "Virtual Paradise—The Reality Tape" by Earwax Productions with David Lawrence.

Neighborhood Public Radio is a project led by Lee Montgomery, Linda Arnejo, Michael Trigilio, and Jon Brumit that creates short-term microbroadcasting stations in communities and supports community and artist-created content for broadcast. The project’s name, acronym, and even logo are intended as critiques of National Public Radio, making the argument that truly non-commercial and community-based programming can be more powerful and meaningful to people than corporate-sponsored “public” content. In a 2005 interview with Punk Planet, founder Lee Montgomery admitted, “on a certain level, what we are trying to emulate is what National Public Radio used to be,” contrasting coverage of Vietnam War protests by National Public Radio in the 1970s in which reporters immersed in the protests letting the people around them tell their stories, to contemporary coverage of global protests against the Iraq War consisting of brief reports from journalists in different sites reporting from “above the crowd” and little more than estimates of numbers of people. The Neighborhood Public Radio project has riffed on other National Public Radio themes, producing a crowdsourced show called “American Life” that included broadcasts from Portable Radio Instruments (PRI), a riff on distributor Public Radio International and its popular show This American Life. Since its founding in 2004, Neighborhood Public Radio installations have taken place in galleries, museums, art festivals, and store fronts in a wide array of cities including San Francisco, San Diego, Chicago, and Hamburg, and were included as part of the Whitney Biennial in 2008. Installations often include partnerships with local community organizations and artists to create programming, workshops on creating transmitters and other electronic instruments, performances, and interactive broadcasting events that invite the community to be part of the station’s content. During the 2004 installation of NPR at the Southern Exposure Gallery in San Francisco, artist Jon Brumit hosted a regular program called Catch & Release, which featured content gleaned from the streets of the neighborhood, as well as interviews and performances by artists and musicians, musings on garbage and revenge, and a live broadcast from Critical Mass in San Francisco. In this, the first episode, Brumit’s remote transmitter wasn’t working so he presented recordings taken from the streets on his Broadcast Bike, a bike modified with a drainpipe to function essentially as a large phono cartridge on the street, amplifying the sounds of potholes and other street textures, as well as recordings from a Honda Civic Brumit modified to become a percussion instrument/traveling performance. - Introduced by Wave Farm Radio Artist Fellow 2020/2021, Jess Speer.

Earwax Productions with David Lawrence bring an exciting production created in the spirit of the technology it focuses on in this hour's second art work. "Virtual Paradise" examines the ideas, issues, and attitudes that currently surround virtual reality. As this technology evolves, it brings with it the potential for redefining our most basic assumptions about media, experience, and reality. Virtual Paradise features many voices recorded at Cyberthon, a 24-hour virtual reality event presented by Whole Earth Institute in 1990. It also includes interviews with such visionaries as science-fiction author William Gibson, VR architect Jaron Lanier, artificial reality pioneer Myron Krueger, and Timothy Leary—all intercut with music and sound effects and shaped into a highly entertaining and insightful "virtual" tape composition. Virtual Paradise was the winner of the 1994 AIR Award for Innovation and Excellence. Production assistance by New American Radio. 1992-1993.

Welcome to "The Radio Art Hour," a show where art is not just on the radio, but is the radio. "The Radio Art Hour" draws from the Wave Farm Broadcast Radio Art Archive, an online resource that aims to identify, coalesce, and celebrate historical and contemporary international radio artworks made by artists around the world, created specifically for terrestrial AM/FM broadcast, whether it be via commercial, public, community, or independent transmission. Come on a journey with us as radio artists explore broadcast radio space through poetic resuscitations and playful celebrations/subversions of the complex relationship between senders and receivers in this hour of radio about radio as an art form. "The Radio Art Hour" features introductions from Philip Grant and Tom Roe, and from Wave Farm Radio Art Fellows Karen Werner, Jess Speer, and Andy Stuhl. The Conet Project's recordings of numbers radio stations serve as interstitial sounds. Go to for more information about "The Radio Art Hour" and Wave Farm's Radio Art Archive.