102.9FM Sounds You Never Hear
Homestead, PA, 2007
Collaboration with John Pena
102.9FM was a radio transmission broadcast from a vacant building in Homestead, Pennsylvania in a neighborhood devastated by the loss of the steel-industry and the development of a big box shopping mall nearby. This eight-block radius low-wattage transmission takes its inspiration not only from the socioeconomic dynamics of the neighborhood but also from the history of the building, which in the late 40's was the site of a radio station that hosted DJ Porky Chedwick. Porky was one of the first DJs in the country to present authentic African American music (gospel, blues, R&B and jazz) by African American artists to popular radio. In this spirit, 102.9FM challenges the homogeneous redundancy of popular media by presenting a model for radio as a site for rare and first-time discoveries. The station was only made apparent to the public through the sign on the side of the building.
The ongoing transmission was a field recording of "A Dusky Seaside Sparrow (Extinct)" which played on a 24/7 loop. The species went extinct due to habitat destruction, the single largest cause of extinctions today. And ironically the habitat was destroyed to make way for the Kennedy Space Center and our own quest to fly.
By March 31, 1986, only one little male, called Orange Band, was left. "The last member of the rarest species known to us. He became blind in one eye, became old for a sparrow, and yet he persisted as if he knew his sole task was to sustain the bloodline as long as possible." -Robert J. Waller, entitled My Name is Orange Band
The field recording of the Dusky Seaside Sparrow functioned in the midst of the cacophonous noise of contemporary radio as a moment of near silence.