Dan Williams and Uncle Dave Lewis helped create the WAIF show 'Art Damage' about experimental music, and it eventually led to the creation of The Art Damage Foundation and Lodge. This outlet for experimental music is undergoing some changes, as The Lodge hosts its last shows this weekend. Lewis talks about 25 years of 'Art Damage' in Cincinnati.
For 35 years, WAIF has been a valuable outlet for news, opinions and musical genres that are absent for other places on the radio dial. But that began changing in the early 2000s, when board chairman Donald A. Shabazz started stacking WAIF's board of trustees with his supporters and systematically started purging the station of volunteers who questioned his management style or asked about details of WAIF's finances.
Ideologically speaking, the local radio programs 'Every Woman' and 'Alternating Currents' are cornerstones of independent media. The movements they give voice to (women's music and LGBT news and issues, respectively) were foundational to WAIF-FM, which both shows have called home for more than 30 years. Last month both jumped ship to Media Bridges' emerging low-power FM station, WVQC.
When Michael Riley died in June from a massive stroke, it was clear his passing would leave a gaping hole in the Cincinnati scene and that his life and talents were worthy of significant tribute. His longtime professional and personal companion Tebbe Farrell has been planning that tribute for months, and it comes to fruition Saturday at the Clifton Cultural Arts Center with "Man of Music: A Tribute to Michael W. Riley."
Like any non-profit organization entirely operated by volunteers, WAIF (88.3 FM) has its weaknesses. Operating on a tight budget (WAIF reported net assets of $164,000 in 2004) the station competes with larger commercial stations for listeners. In recent months WAIF has been riven by discord among its board of trustees, programmers and members who believe the station has drifted from its mission. But most serious is a series of alleged violations of regulations promulgated by the Federal Communications Commission, which issues -- and can revoke -- WAIF's license. The station that describes itself as "What radio is meant to be" doesn't appear to be living up to its statutory obligations.