Celebrating self-expression as a basic human right essential for the

healthy growth of youth, individuals and communities


Stephen H. Baird, Founder and Executive Director

PO Box 300112, Jamaica Plain, MA 02130-0030

Telephone: 617-522-3407

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MBTA-Radio Threatens Subway Performances October 2007

 Federal Law Suit to protect rights of street artists in Boston

Community Arts Advocates Site Map

MBTA-Radio Threatens Subway Performances


Stop T-Radio Petition HERE  On-Line  Petition  http://www.PetitionOnline.com/TRADIO/petition.html

News and Meetings HERE

List of Subway Performers HERE

Newspaper and Mass Media Articles HERE

Background and History 1976-2007 HERE

Letters and Comments HERE


THANK YOU! THANK YOU! to everyone who signed petition and complained on MBTA web site "Feed Back" to Stop T- Radio.  The petition was receiving 300-400 signers every day and was growing (expected over 10,000-20,000 signers by Thanksgiving and 50,000 or more through the holidays).  The MBTA sited the 1800 mostly negative feed back comments as reason for suspending T-Radio immediately.

October 27, 2007

The MBTA suddenly announced a suspension of T-Radio around 12 noon on October 25th. Articles about the suspension appeared on the internet sites immediately and many media outlets the next day:

October 23, 2007

BostonMetro Article with Pyramid Radio.  "T-Radio Clears the Air" by Christina Wallace http://www.metrobostonnews.com/us/article/2007/10/23/02/0901-72/index.xml

The subway artists, Federal Courts and public have all stated the T platforms are a public space.  Public spaces can not be controlled or monopolized by any single person, group or corporation.  Will T-Radio have blacked out spaces for the public? 

The T-Radio format does not reflect the diversity of Boston.  Subway artists are from all over the world from Mexico to South Africa and India to China plus play styles from traditional music of Haiti to classical violin to New Orleans jazz.

This issue is bigger then just the subway performers.  The subway artists are also extremely concerned about T-Radio's impact on the riding public.  We are T riders ourselves.  Read the diversity of comments of over 700 online petition signers to understand the public's point of view.  Please share this url with friends and colleagues. http://www.PetitionOnline.com/TRADIO/petition.html

October 22, 2007

The On-Line Petiton has over 500 signers. View the signatures to read many great comments on the issue.  Subway performers are also collecting written signatures.

The Artists Foundation sent an action alert. A letter requesting support from the T-Riders Union was sent.

Sound levels were measured with a decibel meter this past week at all three T-Radio locations:  South Station was 62-68 db from 200 speakers, North Station was 65-70 db from 500 speakers, Airport Station was 68-74 db from 200 speakers.  No one can escape the radio.  It is everywhere.  The Airport Terminals at Logan with radio broadcast from the same company were at similar sound level ranges.

Anyone who wants to "experience" the full impact of T-Radio should to go to North Station and count the 500 speakers!  Go to Airport Station or Terminal A at Logan Airport where the volume is higher and listen to the radio from 200 speaker and see how it suppresses conversations, people covering their ears to talk into their cell phones, how it invades and degrades intimate greeting moments when people are returning from long trips.

The speakers are in the 30-60 foot ceilings and to be 70 db and higher at ground level the entire space is saturated with a dense sound blanket that is abusive to everyone.

Boston Metro published article on Monday. "Riders tuning out T-Radio Hundreds sign petition to stop new service" by Christina Wallace  http://www.metrobostonnews.com/us/article/2007/10/21/22/3157-72/index.xml

Boston Globe is doing interviews for story in City Weekly section.

Caleb Aronson will coordinate Open Public Meeting location and date.

Pyramid Radio requested meeting this week with subway artists to present proposal and possible compromise.  -- Stephen Baird

October 17, 2007

Subway artists met to form  a consensus and discuss the best strategies to challenge T-Radio. Historical and background information was shared. Ideas and actions discussed include:

October 10, 2007: Here we go again!  The MBTA has launched T-Radio. See


BostonNOW multimedia article link: http://www.bostonnow.com/go/tmusic
Boston Magazine and Rob Noyes web blog here:

The MBTA is desperate for cash.  It will abuse patrons and subway artists to get it.  The new program violates many previous agreements with the subway artists.  

The negative impact on subway performers will be immediate.  South Station, one of the pilot stations for T-Radio, is a favorite performance spot.  The subway artists were not contacted in advance even though the MBTA has their addresses and telephone numbers as required by the permit system.

I was caught off guard by this new program and will host a public meeting to discuss the opposition plan after the subway artists have time to learn about the issue and form a consensus on the best strategies to challenge this policy. -- Stephen Baird

Newspaper Articles, Multi-media articles, Blogs

Subway Artists contact information:

Caleb Aronson http://www.calebaronson.com caleb@calebaronson.com

Tom Bianchi tom@24hourtom.com

John Bigelow JonLorPro@aol.com

Bobby Bishop tastybeats@yahoo.com

Micheal Borkson nosanctions@yahoo.com

Aron Chas mailto:subtonejazz@yahoo.com

Gifrants  gifrants@yahoo.com

Mike Hasting mikehastingsband@yahoo.com

David Holzman DaveyTClown@comcast.net

Lisa Housman lisahousman@hotmail.com

Meg Hutchinson info@meghutchinson.com

Ned Landin ned@flatworld.net

Daniel Lawrence danielkeithlawrence@gmail.com

Kevin McNamara harmonicakev@yahoo.com

Carlos Romero alro@rcn.com

Eric Royer ericroyer@msn.com

Molly Shira http://accidentalfiddler.blogspot.com/ triquetra13@gmail.com 

Gonzalo Silva gogosilva@gmail.com

Mare Streetpeople mares02@rcn.com

Michael Sullivan http://www.myspace.com/buskersworld busker@myway.com

Roland Tumble  617-921-3223

Alfredo Velasquez alfredo_jv@yahoo.com

John Westerfield Bostonbanjo@aol.com

Sharrhan Williamson sharrhanw@yahoo.com

The Boston Accordion Lady thebostonaccordionlady@yahoo.com

Stop T-Radio Petition:

On-Line  Petition  http://www.PetitionOnline.com/TRADIO/petition.html

Click on images to download high resolution printable version (One page)

Click for PDF printable two page petition HERE

Background and History:

Subways in Boston 1980-2007
The history of subway performances in Boston and the country could easily become an entire book. In fact, Susie Tanenbaum wrote her graduate thesis on New York City subway artists and it was published by Cornell University Press. It is a wonderful reference and I recommend it highly. See Wesleyan University Olin Fellowship Thesis by Maggie Starr for her thesis on the Boston Subway Artists. Several other students have written or developed multimedia thesis on subway art and performances. Below are list of these sites and resources:

The short outline of Boston subway performers:

Click on image to view and download larger version

Members of the Subway Artists Guild who all put in countless hours to improve

performance conditions for artists from left to right:

Lorraine Saltre, Sharrahan Williamson, Harvey Smith, Elliot Gibbons and John Bigelow

January 13, 1987 TAB article by E. Dennis; May 5, 1987 TAB article by Dennis Gaffney

Click on image to view and download larger version

Click on image to view and download larger version

Click on image to view and download larger version

"For many persons who do not have easy access to television, radio, the major newspapers, and other forms of mass media, the only way they can express themselves to a broad range of citizens on issues of general public concern is to picket, or to handbill or to utilize other free or relatively inexpensive means of communication. The only hope that these people have to be able to communicate effectively is to be permitted to speak in those areas in which most of their fellow citizens can be found. One such area is the business district of a city or town or its functional equivalent....

It would not be surprising in the future to see cities rely more and more on private businesses to perform functions once performed by governmental agencies. The advantages of reduced expenses and increased tax base cannot be overstated. As governments rely on private enterprise, public property decreases in favor of privately owned property. It becomes harder and harder for citizens to find means to communicate with other citizens. Only the wealthy may find effective communication possible unless we adhere to Marsh v. Alabama and continue to hold that "(t)he more an owner, for his advantage, opens up his private property for use by the public in general, the more do his rights become circumscribed by statutory and constitutional rights of those who use it."

Justice Marshall from his dissenting opinion in Lloyd Corp. v. Tanner:

The Legal Court Citations section refers to the New York City subway Federal Court Cases and also includes a Boston subway Federal Court Case: Carew-Reid v. Metropolitan Transportation Auth., 903 F2d 914 (2nd Cir. 1990) (Subway) Jews for Jesus v. Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (1991) (Subway)

Subway performing artist and supporters who went to the Massachusetts State House to obtain political support from elected officials. Including: Michael William Wright, Mare Streetpeople, Jamie McLaughlin, David Fox, Pumla Bhungane, John Patton, Michael Sullivan, Dave Falk, Lisa Housman. Photo taken by Lauren Ingram.  

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