Posted by Billyjam, March 13, 2008 10:54pm | Post a Comment

The Bay Area's NPR (Neighborhood Public Radio) is currently broadcasting in New York City as part of the Whitney Biennial 2008 and will be there through early June.  During this time they are broadcasting, doing live concert events, and holding workshops. For more information check out Neighborhood Public Radio's website or the Conceptual Art website.

I recently visited Lee Montgomery and Jon Brumit
(pictured L to R holding one of their NPI boxes) to talk about their current exhibit "American Life" on Madison Avenue, a few doors down from the Whitney Museum.

AMOEBLOG: Can you explain the set-up in New York City for those you are not able to visit you at this location?

JON/NPR: We have a broadcast booth in the front window and the door is unlocked (during all broadcasts) and a signup sheet so that people from the neighborhood or visiting the museum (Whitney) can come in and sign up on the sign up sheet to do a show, tell stories, interview people.

AMOEBLOG: And how many hours a day/week are you broadcasting exactly?

LEE/NPR: We are broadcasting 24/7, though sometimes it's just the sound of the pedestrian and automotive traffic outside our window.  New stuff can be heard Thursday through Sunday.  Wednesday we keep office hours, and sometimes use the time to broadcast experimentally and spontaneously
improvisationally or to invite insistent newcomers on the air.  You just never know what'll happen.

AMOEBLOG: What is the one thing you would like to get out of the NY installation?
LEE/NPR: One thing, hmm? I think we never are inclined to be so goal oriented, but I will say that any positive effect we can have on people's attitudes toward ideas of free speech, and any critical stance we can foster towards media analysis will be considered a success.  Beyond that, it would be awesome to see new relationships forged between people in the museum, and in the community, and new connections (two ways) made between average people and the art world.. We love the fact that no one ever has to pay to access our work in this show..even if we are way up on Madison Ave.
AMOEBLOG: How is it going so far and what interesting things have happened or who has shown up to check out the NYC installation?

It's been crazy fun. Of note, we have had a visit from a bitter, fired ex-NPR (National Public Radio) reporter, a current NPR reporter, a WNYC producer, two National NPR trustees, a woman retired from the National NPR's general counsel's office, Anabella Sciorra, and the accountant for The Who, The Stones, Monty Python and Uriah Heap, and his very dynamic and charming wife.  Additionally, we have had students and children from the neighborhood, The Enablers, EDAS, Daniel Goode, Scott Rifkin, and friends from San Francisco talking with artists in New York and talking about a protest against the Detourned Menu art show at the ISE in SOHO.  The museum has been brilliantly supportive (if sometimes a bit nervous) throughout, and we have been surprised and pleased by the diversity of guests and points of view on display.

You mentioned before the "talking homes" aspect of what NPR does - what exactly is that?

That (Talking Homes) is what we call it but I think if you search on Ebay they are commercially referred to as "Talking Properties" transmitters.  They are used by real estate sales people to record sales pitches about houses for people to listen to as they drive by the home in question using their car stereo.  We, of course, use them to other ends.
How are the spider networks going?

We haven't yet had time to distribute many transmitters locally, but got a lot of business cards and phone numbers of people at the opening interested in helping out.  I am hopeful.  We have already broadcast programming from Chicago (documented on the FMU blog) and have plans for more Chicago and Oakland programming in the near future. A gallery owner in Miami has also expressed an interest in acquiring one of the PRIs (Portable Radio Instruments).

What are some of the special shows and performances you have lined lined up for NPR in NYC over next couple of months?

We have a day of programming from our home in Oakland (specifically 21Grand) planned for March 22nd and 23rd with added bonus morning programming from Billy Jam and the Conspiracy of Beards.  Jason Asstroland hosts the Shitshack every Friday at 6:30pm. There will be a day of programming from Baltimore on March 29th.  April 5th is a day of programming from San Diego that will be originating both in San Diego and Tijuana, with a conversation between the two. Sunday mornings at 11 Mark Weinstein and Joree Adilman have a fantastic sports show.  We plan to have a Thursday afternoon show of the music of people performing at 77th street 6 train stop. The band Apollo Heights will perform March 28th.  The Appalachian music group Peaks and Valleys will perform on the night of March 21st and former Bay area electronic musician relocated to Rhode Island Blevin Blectum will perform April 18th.  And we are hoping that some portion of Matmos (recently relocated from the Bay to Baltimore) will perform at some point, but no date is confirmed as of yet.