Marie-Jose Klaver on Sat, 15 May 1999 17:20:40 +0200 (CEST)

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W I R E D   N E W S
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Belgrade's Radio B92 Is Back
 by Laura Martz 

AMSTERDAM --This weekend, Belgrade's old rock-and-roll Radio B92 is back with a vengeance, but it's on the Web.

Just days after NATO began bombing Belgrade, police commandeered the B92 studio and installed a puppet station manager. The original staff quit, and now, instead of B92's alternative programming, the state-controlled station plays Balkan folk music and Serbian state news.  

Starting at midnight Friday, Central European Time, 24 hours of music, live performances, and messages of support for the station will go out across the world on the Free B92 Web site. B92 DJs will conduct the NetAid webcast live from a borrowed Austrian state radio studio. The site will be stored on servers in Amsterdam.

The DJs will be joined by musicians and sound experimenters from around the world, including Sonic Youth's Steve Shelley, who will DJ a set at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, and Mike Watt (late of Firehose), who will close the broadcast with live music at 11:30 p.m.  

"[B92] stands for a cosmopolitan, open way of life. For the time being, B92 will not be able to gather news. [But] B92 mainly has been radio, music. They embody a specific rock-and-roll spirit people recognize," said Amsterdam media theorist and B92 advocate Geert Lovink.

Adam Hyde, of Australia's online radio station radioqualia, is helping with the webcast. Hyde said that it is intended to publicize the banning of independent media in Yugoslavia "and to show solidarity to the many, many completely isolated and demoralized individuals."

Julia Glyn-Pickett, a former B92 news editor, said that the webcast would "show there are forces for peace, to show there are people who protest the use of violence to deal with political problems."

Ex-staffers also hope that the events will kick off a series of monthly webcasts until the "real" B92 can return to the airwaves. Meanwhile, staffers have filed a lawsuit to get their station back.  

Journalistic accreditation in Yugoslavia is under tight control. When the reporters left B92, they lost permission to gather news. Currently, they're using the Free B92 site to direct readers to other news sources on the Web. "B92's slogan has always been 'Don't trust anyone. Not even us,'" said Glyn-Pickett. By presenting a range of media takes, "we want to provoke people to think critically about the information they've got."  

Ousted B92 personnel have scattered to cities across Europe, including Budapest and Amsterdam, said Glyn-Pickett. NATO strikes started while she was vacationing in the United Kingdom, and she has remained in Western Europe ever since. But most B92 castaways remain in Belgrade. Many will be involved with the webcast.  

"The thing about Serbia is you never know when the ax will fall and which is the straw that's going to break the camel's back," Glyn-Pickett said. "If you think [of the danger], you'll never do anything."

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