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After 20 years of cable-tv production, and our 8 years of radio production, Labor Beat and Labor Express remain the only regular electronic media for working people in the Chicago area.

These web pages will tell you about what we do and about the kinds of unique shows we bring to Chicago-area tv views and radio listeners. After that, we'd like you to think about how we do this, and to make a donation to help us keep going (we are a bona fide IRS 501[c][3] tax-exempt organization).

THE LABOR BEAT SHOW

Labor Beat is available to over 300,000 homes in Chicago on cable Channel 19 every Thursday night at 9:30 p.m. and Friday at 4:30 p.m. And it is regularly rebroadcast in St. Louis, Rockford, and other areas. In a corporate tv environment utterly hostile to the points of view of working people, we have provided the best in pro-labor television to the general population, to people who are probably not on anybody's mailing list. We have been winning folks over to labor's cause who would not normally be reached, and winning them over through the media that create public opinion -- tv and radio.

In one year alone, we produced four new videos on the Illinois War Zone, from Decatur to Bal Harbour to New York, and although battles have been lost we will continue covering that War, our War.

Labor Beat went south of the border with four shows on the effects of NAFTA: "Cross Border Organizing: Stepan Chemical" and "Zoned for Slavery: The Child Behild the Label". We've exposed post-Zapatista Mexico, with "Todos Somos Marcos," and "Prado Pacayal".

Labor Beat covers important local union stories, to put the message out to thousands of viewers, and creat videos which the local organizations can use. For Chicago Jobs with Justice, there were three shows: "Two Warriors", JwJ Teamster City rally featuring speeches by Diana Kilmury and Lorell Patterson; "Organize!", which is a recruiting video for JwJ; and "Jobs with Justice March & Rally/June 17".

For Chicago City Colleges clerical workers Local 1708, we produced a video about their fight against cuts, "We Are 1708!" And for SEIU 25 we did "He's No Angel", the Newly Wed Foods battle.

Because of the news vacuum in the corporate media on the details of the Detroit newspaper strike against the Gannett chain, the only place in Chicago you could come to CCin televisionDD for the facts was Labor Beat. We gave the public four shows: "Skirmish in Sterling Heights", "Showdown in Motown", "A Night in Detroit", and "The Detroit News Agency Strike".

One of the biggest stories in labor in 1995 was the leadership shakeup in the AFL-CIO. Labor beat took its viewers to the 50-yard line with CCthreeDD shows: "The Fight For Leadership", "AFL-CIO 1995 Convention Debate", and "Dan Lane and Friends at the 1995 AFL Convention".

We've not mentioned all of the important stories we've covered just this last year, but you get the picture. Or at least the picture is available to you and 300,000 cable homes in Chicago.

LABOR EXPRESS

For tens of thousands of radio listeners who pick up WLUW, 88.7, the weekly hour-long show Labor Express is a unique source of labor news and pro-worker messages.

Labor Express offers a strong overview of various aspects of the labor movement from issues of national importance to the thoughts and feelings of rank and file workers often finding themselves in struggle for the first time. The most pressing hope of all of those who have worked on the program is to be relevant to the struggles working people find themselves in. The program on paramedic organizing at LifeCare was especially gratifying because the three paramedics involved used the interview to help build their successful campaign at the company.

The intensity of struggle is something that can make a program rewarding as when one of the organizers from the Ontario Federation of Labor explained the reasons for the successful general strike last December in London, Ontario, or when Dan Lane explained on the 30th day of his fast why he felt it necessary to put his life on the line to bring attention to the fight of the brothers and sisters at Staley Manufacturing in Decatur. The most encouraging programs on Labor Express are those interviews with those who are just getting involved in the labor movement, possibly in their work place, possibly in support organizations, but always with a deep interest in telling their story to as wide audience as their voice will carry.

Labor Express is on 7:00 p.m. Sundays on www.wluw.org and on Chicago's north side on WLUW-FM, 88.7MHz.

EVERYTHING COSTS MONEY

For reasons few can understand, the Chicago Federation of Labor still does not have any strategy for producing its own electronic media news, so Labor Beat and Labor Express are the only cable-tv and radio series that are of, for and by workers. The Committee for Labor Access, which produces both, is a non*profit, 501(c)(3), affiliated to broadcast production local IBEW 1220. We are not funded by any single union local or international, nor do we get grants. We have no paid staff, and all of us are workers, union members, video artists or students. We survive through video tape sales and donations from union locals and individuals. Please help us to continue.

How To Produce A Cable-TV Series

  1. You have two new shows a month, and you can't miss your deadline, or you lose your slot. Start shooting and logging tape on a labor story you can get to; meanwhile, start e-mailing, calling or faxing to other labor video producers in the U.S. to talk them into sending you their latest shows.
  2. Get an office from which you can work on this, store 3/4", VHS and Hi-8 footage and Masters, and pay rent every month.
  3. Buy a DV, Hi-8 or Super VHS camera, decks for making DVD and VHS copies of your masters...then buy lots of blank tapes for editing masters onto, and blanks for making copies to sell. Oh, and don't forget to buy lots of blank tape for shooting footage, because you need to shot a lot more footage than what you actually use in the final edit.
  4. While that other show from some other city is on its way in the mail, start logging (taking notes with time indicated) all the footage you took, so you know which way to edit it, as you prepare the next Labor Beat original.
  5. Be sure to reserve time for editing, and pay up your annual fee to the Chicago Access Corp.
  6. Spend a Saturday editing, then making a dub each of the show to mail to Rockford, St. Louis, and other cities.
  7. After you hand in the new show, go back to #1 and start over again.

How to Produce a Radio Series

  1. Labor Express starts with the decision to develop issues or events to cover. Time is spent lining up interviews either for the phone or in person. News items or calls from friends usually can give some direction.
  2. Interviews are done sometimes quickly after initial contact, sometimes after weeks of phone tag. Ten to fifteen minutes preparatory discussion is often useful for a twenty to twenty-five minute discussion.
  3. A day or two before editing labor news is taken from the Internet sources available. This is used in the Labor News from Around the World segment at the beginning of each show.
  4. Each show is put together in segments: Labor News, 1st interview, 2nd interview or presentation. Often music is used to give a bridge between segments.
  5. Finally the tapes are taken to Loyola and mailed to St. Xavier for broadcast.
This is a short version of what those of us who produce Labor Beat and Labor Express do to get a pro-worker message into the Chicago-area electronic media. If we can do this, perhaps you can get a pen, write a check, and mail us a donation. Or order one of our popular videos.