Michael Brown Shooting

The Volunteer-Run Digital Radio Station Behind Some of the Most Essential Ferguson Coverage

Meet KARG Argus Radio.

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If you've been watching the nightly unrest in Ferguson online, chances are good that you've seen the stream from KARG Argus Radio. And even if you've haven't watched it live, there's a fair chance you've come across some of its coverage. That video I posted last week of police tear-gassing a neighborhood? It came from KARG. That viral footage of a cop yelling "You get that light off or you're getting shot [or was it 'shelled'?] with this!" as he pointed his gun at a cameraman? KARG. Even when there isn't much happening onscreen—just a stationary camera pointed at a mob of cops in military gear—the stream can be mesmerizing: sort of a violent, dystopian Warhol movie.

So it's worth noting that this outlet offering some of the most essential coverage of the conflict is a volunteer-run digital radio station based in Maplewood, one of St. Louis' many micro-towns. The Huffington Post profiles the operation:

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KARG Argus Radio

"We've just been told by the St. Louis Police Department to turn off our cameras," said the voice on KARG Argus Radio's livestream broadcast. "We will not be turning off our cameras. We will continue to broadcast, even if it is at our own peril."

That voice belonged to Mustafa Hussein, a political science student who volunteers at the small, urban music station based in nearby Maplewood.

Hussein told The Huffington Post that Argus Radio, which launched online a year ago and is run by five volunteers, recently purchased video equipment so it could livestream concerts. But the station decided to use the equipment for the first time Wednesday to cover the interaction between police and protesters, which it was worried local affiliates would not continue to cover through the night.

For several days, protesters in Ferguson have been demanding answers to why a police officer shot and killed Brown last week. The police response to protests intensified Wednesday night, with heavily armed SWAT teams shooting tear gas and rubber bullets into crowds.

Hussein filmed the confrontation, operating the camera alone on foot even as he ran from the tear gas and projectiles. Some local affiliates also provided streaming coverage online, but TV satellite trucks did not have Hussein's ability to maneuver around police roadblocks. Hussein managed to get ground-level footage that major cable networks didn't have, and both CNN and MSNBC aired his footage throughout the day Thursday.

Read the rest of the piece here. Read me singing the praises of independent, volunteer-run community radio stations here.