Tune In, Turn On,
By Mark Hawthorne
While technology can isolate
us, it also has the power to bring us together. This has become especially
evident to me
recently as more vegans and animal protectionists have taken advantage
of podcasting and radio to advocate a cruelty-free lifestyle. Now
activists have a means for disseminating information widely and
immediately, though not always cheaply.
Here’s just a sampling of what has become a virtual vegan
Among the earliest animal advocacy radio programs still broadcasting
is Animal Voices (animalvoices.ca), which originates from Toronto
every Tuesday and is
available in cyberland at www.ciut.fm. Co-hosts Rob Moore and Lauren Corman cover
a lot of ground in 60 minutes, including plenty of news from the world of veg
living and interviews with activists. “Animal Voices” hit the airwaves
in 1996, and its audience is now global thanks to the Internet. “Once we
made our shows available for free download online and began podcasting in October
of 2005, we really started to understand the potential for connecting the international
movement,” says Moore. “We get a lot of feedback from people in rural
communities who feel their only connection to the animal advocacy movement is
through our show.”
The weekly Go Vegan with Bob Linden show (goveganradio.com) is heard on radio
stations in Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco. Not on the left coast?
No worries: you can hear the hour-long programs on the web. “On the streets,
as an activist with a megaphone protesting the circus, I would get arrested,” says
Linden. “But if I use a microphone, people call me a celebrity.” With
no love for the Bush administration, Linden punctuates his irreverent broadcasts
with tongue-twisting malapropisms like “bribeocratic corruptocracy” and “The
United Steaks of Listeria.”
Derek Goodwin had the idea for a vegan radio show back in 2000, but it took five
years for him to launch Vegan Radio (veganradio.com) at a station in Massachusetts.
He hosts the show with Megan Shackelford, and their approach is lively and engaging,
bringing some levity to a topic that often tests the mettle of even ardent activists. “My
goal is to inject some humor into the seriousness of the issues in order to keep
people’s spirits up and keep them entertained while we educate them,” Goodwin
says. Featuring news and conversation with guests, “Vegan Radio” is
broadcast live on alternate Thursdays; shows are also available as podcasts with
added material that would otherwise run afoul of the FCC. The hosts are working
hard to reach an omni audience.
Go Vegan Texas (govegantexas.org) highlights what’s happening in Houston’s
vegan scene, but hosts Janice Blue and Shirley Wilkes-Johnson interview many
of the national movers and shakers. You can listen live or download archived
Without having to worry about the constraints accompanying broadcast radio, podcasters
can dictate not only how long their shows are but what kind of language they
use. Bob and Jenna Torres of Vegan Freak Radio (veganfreak.com) are a good example.
Their year-old weekly podcast can clock in at anywhere from 20 minutes to more
than two hours, and intelligent commentary on ethical eating can segue into subjects
like eproctophilia (look it up). Try not to laugh as Team Torres rant about the
latest misdeeds of agribusiness. Cool theme music, too.
Another good ranter is Erik Marcus, who got the vegan podcast revolution turning
with Erik’s Diner (vegan.com) in October of 2004. The format of his show
has changed in recent months, but Marcus still features interviews and insightful
remarks on factory farming.
If you’re anything like me, you’re dying to know where vegans get
their protein. So check out the podcasts from Colleen Patrick-Goudreau of Compassionate
Cooks (compassionatecooks.com/audio.html). Each segment covers a single topic
on nutrition or animal rights and offers good responses to common questions.
Bay Area Veg founders Chris James and Tammy Lee started the Generation Vegan
podcast (generationv.org) last year as a result of their other outreach efforts,
and they now estimate they have listeners in 15 countries. The couple focuses
less on news and more on strategies for activism—what works and what doesn’t,
at least for them.
Representing veganism’s holistic side is Raw Vegan Radio (rawveganradio.com).
Host Steve Prussack discusses the nutritional benefits of this growing health
movement and the influence of raw foods on the mind and spirit.
Vegan radio not only educates listeners; it offers activists a plethora of resources,
ways to publicize events, and helps build networks. All of these shows rely on
the generosity of listeners to keep going, so if you like what you hear, consider
voting with your wallet.
Mark Hawthorne is a California-based writer and animal advocate.
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