Atlanta Zine Fest Speaker Talks Benefits Of Radio Saturday

Naomi Lavender

Scrolling through the FM dial, there is plenty of static in between stations. But, in the right place at the right time, the sounds of one Atlanta artist might be heard.

That artist is Meredith Kooi. She is also a Ph.D. student at Emory University, and she is doing a lecture and performance called “Why Go Terrestrial: How Radio Can Benefit You and Your Life” at the Atlanta Zine Fest this Saturday.

For her projects, Kooi taps into the air to not broadcast, per se, but to narrowcast, which is a type of broadcasting that reaches a smaller audience. She tunes into whatever empty signal is available. 

“Why I’m really interested in terrestrial broadcast and narrowcasting is that it’s all about proximity. You have to be within a certain range to access the broadcast,” she explained.

She recently did some narrowcasting for the weekend art showcase Little Five Arts Alive, where she invited people to co-host with her, live on the radio.

For Kooi, radio could be a medium of exchange, instead of just a one-way transmission. Quoting a 1932 essay by Bertolt Brecht, she explained his idea of having radio transmitters on street corners. “Anybody could engage, interact, participate in radio instead of just being a consumer and just being on the receiving end,” Kooi said.

At the same time, though, Kooi said, “Radio is a really existential medium. You’re always asking, who’s out there?”