Wednesday, May 23, 2018
One of America's Great Newspapers ~ Toledo, Ohio


B.G. event gathers `grass-roots media'

Imagine a cool time in Bowling Green this weekend called the Allied Media Conference. You bet it's tough. “Not the sexiest name, that's for sure,” said organizer Jason Kucsma.

Sounds like a lot of suits holed up in a convention hall with beige walls - perhaps locked in heated deal-making in the wake of the recent FCC bombshell, the one allowing even further consolidation of TV and radio stations and newspapers into the hands of a few owners.

The reality couldn't be more different. But the big topic will no doubt be the same: that FCC ruling.

For four years now, Kucsma, the earnest editor of Clamor, the BG-based alternative culture magazine, has held a gathering of independent publishers and artists, and their fans and supporters: mostly writers and editors of homegrown zines, slightly slicker newsstand publications, and small-press books. He called it the Underground Publishing Conference.

Anyone can attend, but despite a crowd last year of 800, even “`Underground Publishing Conference' started to sound alienating and exclusive,” he said. “As much as [the conference] is about underground media, it's about ways to make the media accessible.”

He wants to build an indie community.

This year Kucsma expects about 1,000 writers and artists to attend - and not only from publishing but TV, radio, film, the Internet, and street art. There'll be a panel on starting a magazine; a class on investigative reporting; another on how to drop cameras into a community and use photography as an empowerment tool; mini film festivals, and a discussion on hip hop and activism.

Chicago producer Julie Shapiro, from WBEZ, home of National Public Radio's This American Life, will talk about creative ways of using radio to tell stories.

Back in the 1980s this used to be called “D.I.Y.” media - do it yourself. But Kucsma is more professional, better organized, and more politically savvy than the post-punk generation. He calls this latest movement “a kind of decentralized grass-roots media.”

FCC deregulation - along with the war in Iraq - will be the new rallying cries, he said. “Corporate media consolidation is so rampant, it's more important than ever to show people how to share tools and make their own rules, to connect people doing a film in Iowa City with people from a microcinema [a sort of living room-based theater] in Cleveland.”

And when you're exhausted after a long day of decentralizing your grass-roots media project? Four words: Allied Media Bowling Party - tomorrow night at Varsity Lanes in Bowling Green.

The Allied Media Conference begins today and runs through Sunday at various locations in Bowling Green; most of the panel discussions and workshops take place in Olscamp Hall at Bowling Green State University. A $10 fee covers admission to most of the events tomorrow and Sunday. The keynote address tonight at 7 is free. Prices for other events vary. Information: 419-494-6850 or

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