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Political power backed by 1,000 watts

As the fall season continues to gain steam in anticipation of Nov.. 2, a WBGU radio program, titled “Operation Banish Bush,” has leapt to the forefront of political broadcast media here on campus.

For the past 14 Sunday nights, Daniel Boudreau has taken it upon himself to conduct interviews with political activists, cultural artists and a variety of field experts from around the nation, and has shared their views and experiences with his listening audience.

After training for a semester with WBGU 88.1 FM, Boudreau was given his Sunday night time slot from 8-10 p.m. in the spring of 2002 and has held it ever since.

“I have a wide-ranging taste in music but have always dug political music,” he said. “I think it’s also political, in and of itself, to play a show that’s not bound by genres, where different types of music butt up against each other.”

Boudreau plays a free-form music show for the first hour and-a-half, with political news, interviews and commentary beginning at 9:30 p.m.

After Sept. 11, 2001, and the following legislative approval of the Patriot Act, listeners started to notice that his show was beginning to include more and more political commentary.

“As an inherently political person, I couldn’t help commenting in between songs on what I felt was an illegitimate Bush administration,” Boudreau said. “Well, it didn’t make for very engaging radio. So I began to structure part of my show to include news points that [I felt] had been suppressed by the major media outlets.”

Some of the guests Boudreau has had on his show over the past two years include: representatives of voter registration groups throughout the battleground states; authors of various books on foreign and domestic political issues; and a soldier from Iraq who described what he felt were the “horrors of war.”

This Sunday night, Boudreau’s guest will be political activist and humanitarian aid worker Sarah Warren.

While the Taliban was still in power, Warren worked inside Afghanistan for Afghani freedom and women’s rights. She has also spent time in war-torn Kosovo working on similar humanitarian efforts. Warren is now with both The Alliance for Security and the Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation, the latter having been represented by Bobby Muller at the University on Sept. 21.

The focus of Boudreau and Warren’s discussion on Sunday night will be the possible reinstatement of a military draft and how it would affect America’s youth, especially those at the college level.

On Capitol Hill, Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) has introduced a bill that would reinstate the draft. Rangle believes that a draft would spread the risk of going to war to a wider range of young people, and feels that this would increase opposition to future wars.

“We already have a draft — a back-door draft,” Rangel said, in reference to military officers who have been recalled to duty in Iraq after their service terms were completed.

The legislation proposed by Rangel has minimal support, with only 13 House representatives who have signed on as co-sponsors.

Some people feel the government seems to be taking the first steps towards the preparations for a military draft, one that targets Americans with special skills in computer technology and foreign languages.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has repeatedly said that he will not ask Congress to authorize a draft.

While that may be the case, a March 13 article in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported that the Selective Service System began creating the necessary procedures in the fall of 2003 to conduct a special skills draft, in the event that one is approved by Congress.

The SSS is an independent federal agency that would organize the conscription of a future military draft. About 13.5 million men between the ages of 18 and 25 are currently registered with the agency.

Boudreau is both confident and fearful of a military draft reinstatement if President Bush is elected for a second term.

“There are already retention problems in the Army and Marines,” he said. “I think that any expansion or extension of war in the Middle East would make the draft an absolute necessity.”

Boudreau also exhibits a sense of pride when highlighting the fact that his radio show is non-partisan, and does not endorse the Democratic party, or attack the Republicans. Instead, “Operation Banish Bush” examines what he believes is wrong with the current administration.

“I think they [Bush Adm.] are the epitome of protectors of the corporate interests,” he said. “The lies he [Bush] told to get into Iraq, where we’ve lost more than 1,000 soldiers,” along with an “erosion of our civil liberties here at home” has provided Boudreau with a significant amount of material for his weekly program.

In regards to the lack of a “conservative” radio voice at WBGU, Boudreau expressed a genuine hope for the future of political discourse over the airwaves.

“I welcome and encourage debate from all sides and perspectives,” he said. “A [radio] show putting forth conservative views would only enrich the debate on campus.”

While working as a Ph.D. candidate in the American Culture Studies program, Boudreau is also currently teaching in the Ethnic Studies department. Before coming to the University, he earned his undergraduate degree in American Studies from the University of Massachusetts in Boston.

In addition to his radio show, over the past several months Boudreau has been working in Toledo to help register traditionally disenfranchised voters.

“I’ve just been talking with people about political issue that matter to them,” he said.

While he’s been at WBGU for more than two years, Boudreau will be the first to admit that he has yet to master the art of radio.

“I’m not a particularly tech-savvy guy,” he said. “I have a love and appreciation for the form of radio. I often stumble, but this is work that I’m happy to do because it allows me to be a political actor in the society in which I live.”

“One of my favorite quotes is, ‘Democracy isn’t something we’re given, it’s something we make’,” Boudreau said. “I see this [radio] as just an extension of political activism.”

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