Community radio stands strong in defense of free speech against attacks

Press release from 103.3 Asheville FM

Community radio has long been a beacon of hope for those who seek to amplify their voices and participate in free speech. However, recent attacks have threatened to silence the diverse voices represented by community radio station 103.3 Asheville FM.

“Asheville FM is under attack from a small group who seeks to silence our diverse voices, and the expression of community thoughts and ideas,” said Asheville FM Executive Director, KP Whaley.

According to Whaley, a private Facebook group calling itself Asheville Coalition for Public Safety has been trying to get local businesses to discontinue sponsoring programming on Asheville FM, presumably because they object to criticisms of the police aired on March 20 on one of our programs called The Final Straw. The views expressed on that show, or any show, are not the views of Asheville FM, and in fact, our volunteer program hosts have a range of opinions on policing and many other issues.

“The issue is not how one feels about policing, but whether a community radio station should have to face attempts to censor opinions expressed on its shows,” said Whaley. “We believe the people of Asheville want vigorous debate and discussion on local political issues. The Coalition for Public Safety has expressed itself to City Council and in letters to the editor. They have no business trying to silence people who take to the airwaves to disagree with them. We stand behind our volunteer broadcasters and we hope local businesses will stand with us.”

Asheville FM is nonprofit, noncommercial radio and is financially supported by individual donors and business sponsorship. According to Whaley, community radio is a unique space that is driven by the community, for the community, allowing people from all walks of life to share their stories, perspectives and experiences. It provides a platform for underrepresented communities and historically marginalized voices. One talk show, Sweet Tea, often discusses queer and trans visibility. Several other shows include interviews with people associated with racial justice and the Black Lives Matter movement.

Additionally, community radio plays a crucial role in fostering an informed and engaged citizenry, a fundamental pillar of any democracy.

Instead of giving in to the threats and intimidation, Whaley said the staff and board of Asheville FM is asking our community to stand strong in defense of community thoughts, ideas and expression. “We must push back against any attempt to limit or censor the voices of those who participate in this unique and important space,” he said. “We must ensure that Asheville FM has the resources and support necessary to continue to provide a platform for diverse voices to be heard.”

In the face of these attacks, Asheville FM calls on community leaders, policymakers, and citizens to stand up for the principles of free speech and democracy that community radio embodies. They urge all to defend the vital role that community radio plays in our society. “Together, we can defend the values of free speech and democracy and ensure that community radio continues to serve as a beacon of hope for all those who seek to be heard,” said Whaley.

For media inquiries, please contact: Asheville FM Executive Director, KP Whaley 828-348-0352 or the Asheville FM Board

About 103.3 Asheville FM

Asheville FM keeps Asheville thriving by producing diverse and eclectic programming that inspires listeners to build connections across our communities and to discover new music and ideas. It is volunteer-driven, community radio at its best, with programming that includes community-focused news and talk radio in both English and in Spanish and the most eclectic, free-form mix of music in Western North Carolina.

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