From Pete Andersen, WZRD In Exile volunteer contributor: “WZRD 88.3-FM continues to face the most severe crisis in its 38-year history. On June 29th, staff members at Northeastern Illinois University abruptly ‘deactivated’ the student club which runs WZRD, and locked out all club members from the station’s facilities. NEIU is the station’s FCC license holder and sponsor. Click here to sign a petition and save WZRD!

The ultimate agenda of the administrators responsible for the lockout at WZRD remains unclear. What is clear is this: Using a set of unfounded, trumped-up accusations as their justification, and without any mechanism of due process, they have attempted to take control of WZRD away from its own club members.

Throughout the decades, WZRD has maintained its distinct and vibrant place in Chicago radio precisely because of its membership’s ability to capably handle the station’s affairs internally and autonomously—free from the moods and machinations of bureaucrats.

WZRD was founded by NEIU students, and has been governed by student leaders, elected from within the club, since it first went on the air in 1974. The founders’ aims were lofty. They envisioned an ideal for non-commercial community radio, and then set about bringing their ideal to life. They created a programming philosophy which respected the intelligence of their audience. They focused on broadcasting music, poetry, news, viewpoints, and community information that was largely unavailable elsewhere on Chicago’s airwaves. They intended to foster curiosity, critical thinking, and civic engagement among their listeners. Most profoundly, they aspired to use the medium of radio as an art form in itself. The ethics and the vision of WZRD’s founders have been consistently and enthusiastically reaffirmed by each new generation of the club’s members.

WZRD has made significant contributions to Chicago’s independent music scenes throughout its history. The station strongly emphasizes giving exposure to artists from beyond the narrow focus of commercial pop radio formats. Recordings by Chicago-based musicians, and releases from local record labels figure prominently in WZRD’s extensive music collection. Many of WZRD’s DJs have been and are also musicians, club DJs, and sound engineers, who work and perform around the city. Of special note is the station’s live music showcase Thursday Nite Live, which has featured hundreds of local and touring artists, reaching back to the mid-1980s.

WZRD’s legacy and its future are at stake in this crisis. The station’s exiled club finds itself struggling against considerable institutional powers. Even so, we are continuing to resist the injustices we are faced with.

We are working on a number of approaches to counter the actions taken against the club. Our intentions are to clear the reputation of the club and its members, and to regain governance and stewardship of the station. We want to get WZRD back into the hands of the people who care passionately for the station and its special place in Chicago’s media. And we want to return to serving our dedicated—and deserving—listeners!

One of our initiatives is the publication of our own newspaper. Issue #1 of ‘The Wizard’ is out now, and it’s packed with important information and perspectives to further shed light on WZRD’s unique history and its current plight. The entire issue is contained in the PDF file attached to this email. We hope you check it out!

We also hope that you’d like to contribute your (online) signature to the petition we’ve established at the website. To date, we’ve gathered over 500 signatures. Please consider adding yours, and then passing the link along to others you feel might be interested. Here it is:

We’d also be grateful if you would ‘Like’ us on WZRD’s Facebook page, and welcome you to check in at our website for periodic updates. Both the website and the FB page are still under the club’s control, and have not been overtaken by NEIU personnel—unlike the station itself.”

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